National Observatory of Athens - Thiseio
Multimedia Map Description

How to get

The National Observatory of Athens is a research institution, the architectural monument, and an interesting site in the historic heart of the capital. It hosts the Geoastrophysics museum of Athens for the last few years. The exhibit items inside demonstrate the viewing of the planets, the stars, and the atmosphere of the planet history in XIX – early XX.

What is exciting about this place?

The attraction occupies a graceful structure of XIX century. It was set upon a design by Theophil von Hassen. Its major quarter is a stone-made structure of the Neo-classic style, adorned with a copper dome. It owns the status of a historic monument. You can find it on the peak of the Hill of the Nymphs. The choice of such a location was not made by accident. Moreover, spectacular panoramas of the sky were not the reason behind such a decision either.

The Ancient Greek mythology states that the nymphs held there sacral rituals with astronomical bodies. In the V century BC, this place hosted Heliotropium – the great-great-grandparent of meteo-astronomic stations we have today. Moreover, there was an octagonal Tower of the Winds by the foot of the hill centuries ago. It functioned as the water- and sun clock and the air vane.

The establishment of the ladmark dates back to 1842. This institution is closely tied to the advancement of fundamental and research, evolution of culture, and the popularization of knowledge on astronomy in the country. Another exciting fact, related to this place is that it was built the way so that each of its sides is oriented due to the four corners of Earth. There is also a small viewing dome in the observatory, suitable for a telescope.

You will be surprised to know that the landmark is one of oldest institutions of such type in entire South Europe. Four different organizations function in its territory. Among them is the Institute for Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications and Remote Sensing, and the Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development. There is also a department, specializing in natural disasters issues. It operates thanks to the UNESCO sponsorship. On site, you can also see the Greek coordinator of the Global Earth Observing System (GEOSS).

Doridis is the gem of the landmark. It is a refracting telescope. The French company, PF Gautier, built it in 1902. It sits in a spacious hall, set upon the project by Ernestos Tsiller. You can find it in the vicinity of Sinas (main quarter of the observatory). On 30 August 1905, the researchers already could admire the eclipse of the Sun.

Within the territory of the site, you can see:

  • the rich series of ancient geoastrophysic tools;
  • the map of the Moon. It was created based on the data of the study by J. Schmidt, held from 1855 to 1874;
  • the Syngros Meridian telescope;
  • the copy of Antikythera, the first adding machine (3:1-scale0. This old apparatus dates back to 87 BC. The scientists used it to build the forecasts for astronomic positions and eclipses in the calendar and other astrological purposes.

The library is one of the components of the developed complex of the observatory. It stores scientific magazines and priceless editions of books by Apollonios Pergaios, Chrysanthos Notaras, and many scientists of XVIII. The observatory caters to the needs of the oldest meteorological observing station in the country, sitting in Thissio.

Exposition and halls

The landmark comprises four different buildings, set in four different places. The central quarter enjoys location on the top of the hill. It sits opposite the Athens Agora and the Acropolis. These institutions include the main administration office and the Institute of Geodynamics.

The Penteli astronomical station sits on the Koufos hill, in the Penteli municipality. Travelers are offered to admire the refractor here. The device was constructed in 1869 by Tomas Cooke, the British manufacturer of scientific tools.

The Kryoneri Astronomical Station sits on Northern Peloponnese, on the peak of the Killini Mountain. Its establishment dates back to 1972. It houses one of the biggest reflector telescopes in the country, constructed and set in 1975 by Grubb Parsons Co, the UK-based company. On the territory of the station, you can also find the Helmos Observatory, housing a 2.3-meter Aristarchos telescope.

Getting around

The National Observatory of Athens tickets are sold on site. It offers tours for schoolchildren, students, and adults. The excursion is held in Greek or English. If you need any other language, you can request for that beforehand. The average duration of an excursion is 1.5 hours.

You can access the landmark by train (station Thysseio) or using metro facilities (station Maroussi of the first line and station Halandri of the third line). If you are going to travel by private transport, you should move towards Lofos Koufos, the street the observatory sits in. You can leave your vehicle at the parking nearby.


  • On the official website of the institution, you can always check opening hours and days, when the excursions are held in English;
  • In winter, travelers can enjoy morning educational programs from Monday till Friday from 11:30. This opportunity makes it possible to request a guide who speaks not only English and Greek but many other languages as well;
  • The evening is the best time for a visit here. Especially if the sky is cloudless. In such a case, you will have the possibility to admire the night sky through the telescope Doridis;
  • There are no shops here – do not forget to take some bottled water with you on a trip.