Kaisariani Monastery is one of the best-preserved Byzantine heritage sites in Athens. It was built in the Middle Ages on top of an ancient temple, surrounded by the lush Vyronas forest of Mount Hymettus.
Just a 10-minute drive from the central Syntagma city square, the monastery is perfect not only for history lovers but for hiking, picnicking, bird-watching, herb-collecting, and weekend relaxation.
Find out how to visit Kaisariani Monastery in my personal guide to this tucked-away hidden gem, often overlooked by travelers to Athens city.
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Need to Know Before Visiting Kaisariani Monastery
🗺️ Kaisariani Monastery Address: Mount Ymittos (also written as both Mount Hymettus and Mount Hymettos) – Kaisariani, 16121 Athens – Kaisariani, Greece.
📱 Phone: +30-2107236619
🚘 Getting There: The site is no more than 5 miles away from the city center.
You can grab a taxi (a 15-minute trip, around €10) or if you are feeling adventurous, you can hop a 224 bus from the Syntagma square and get off at the last stop, after which there is a 40-minute walk up Mount Hymettos to the monastery.
🚵🏽 Take a Private E-Bike Tour!
Why not get up to Kaisariani Monastery on a private e-bike tour?
Ride through historic areas of Athens then on a scenic winding paved road that takes you smoothly to the peak of Mt. Hymettus. You can opt to visit Kaisariani Monastery, enjoy the amazing views, and then pedal downhill all the way back!
5 hours, free cancellation up to 24 hrs before. Learn more.
🌇 Take a sunset hike!
Alternatively, hike up Mount Hymettus at sunset for incredible views of Athens with this perfectly reviewed Athens Sunset Hike.
As you walk through the woods and the Botanical Walk, you’ll visit the Church of Agios Marcos Frangomonastirio ruins and can also visit inside Kaisariani Monastery. 2.5 hours, free cancellation up to 24 hrs before. Learn more.
⏳ Opening hours and entrance fees: Open every day except Tuesdays from 8:30-16:00.
🎟️ Entrance fee: €3
⌚ How much time do I need to visit Kaisariani Monastery?
You will need anything between 1-2 hours for the walled complex and another 30 minutes for the surrounding area.
However, it’s possible to make a day of your trip, exploring the hill and its various monuments, hiking paths, and scenic spots if you’re not in a hurry and have already seen the major sights of Athens like the Acropolis and the other Athenian Ancient Ruins and mythology sites.
👒 What to bring along?
Wear proper shoes for walking, sun protection, and water, and a way of paying for the entrance fee, bus or taxi.
Since it is an active church, dress appropriately (covering shoulders).
Make sure to bring bottles of water, as you cannot buy any food or drinks on-site. Plan ahead and bring some snacks to enjoy the area better.
What to Expect at Kaisariani Monastery
The Kaisariani Monastery is not an active monastery anymore, but an archaeological site managed by the Greek Ministry of Culture.
Built in the 11th century on top of the existing 6th-century Roman temple (that itself was built on top of, as the legend goes, an ancient temple of Aphrodite), the monastery was an autonomous entity for almost a millennium.
It was one of the most important sites of knowledge, learning, and literacy in Attica during the long centuries of Turkish domination.
Traces of this multilayered heritage are evident all over the site, most importantly in the four columns remaining from the Roman temple that support the dome of the church.
The Monastery of Kaisariani is a walled complex consisting of churches, dormitories, a library, a kitchen, gated courtyards, oil presses, and a famous bath.
Together they provide a glimpse into the very elaborate economy of the monastery and its lasting importance. Above it, the River Ilissos springs, whose waters were believed to speed conception.
The monastery was famous for its well-developed library with an important collection of books used by many scholars and visiting monks.
The collections were destroyed during the invasions and liberation wars but also sold off to British merchants trading in antiquities.
Some of its manuscripts were even used to ignite fuses during the siege of the Acropolis!
Equally beautiful are the surrounding forests that once belonged to the monastery where the monks kept bees and grew wine.
Nowadays, the lush vegetation, old trees, herb bushes, and Mediterranean plants dominate, providing one of the favorite places for Athenians to escape for walks, city views, and relaxation.
Part of the complex is now a Botanical Walk, a trail lined with traditional and rare plants, starring a 1400 BC Asyrtico grape variety.
What to do around the Monastery of Kaisariani
1. Enjoy the walk to the monastery walls
The monastery grounds start on the northern side of the road that winds around Mount Hymettus.
The walk from there to the walled complex is a beautiful stroll through tall cypress and plane trees and vegetable gardens.
TIP: Note the marble ram fountain on the eastern side of the monastery, where a spring from the Ilissos River still flows (unfortunately not drinkable anymore).
2. Admire the Monastery’s church
The site is not a monastery anymore, but the church is still active.
Dedicated to the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the church, built in the shape of a Greek cross, is a beautiful example of the sacred architecture of the period.
The frescoes are well-preserved examples of the Byzantine codified church wall paintings structure.
In these paintings, Christ is always in the dome, prophets are around the windows, and the Virgin Mary is in the apse surrounded by angels and above the apostles.
3. Visit the Chapel of Anthony the Great
You can also visit the small chapel dedicated to Agios Antonios (Anthony the Great.)
You’ll find it to the right of the church entrance was a 17th-century addition to the monastery, along with the bell tower.
4. Visit the Refectory
The beautifully restored refectory is where you will read most of the information about the monastery along the meter-thick walls of the communal spaces and a dining room.
Make sure to visit this space first and get acquainted with the complex.
5. Enjoy the Quiet Gardens of Kaisariani Monastery
The gardens of the monastery are a serene sanctuary – the church is in the middle, while the sides are occupied with living quarters.
Well-kept vegetation, combined with millennium-old buildings gives out a very peaceful vibe, so plan some time to just hang around in the shade, soaking it all up.
6. Climb to the Monks’ Cells
The south side of the complex is where the monks were living and working.
You can climb the first floor of the structure and peek through the windows to admire the restoration works done during the 1950s.
7. Learn about the Kaisariani Monastery Bathhouse and Oil Press
The monastery had a very elaborate bathhouse, proving that monks were enjoying the comforts of Roman-style baths with cold and hot water and a heating system for the monks’ cells and common spaces.
The bathhouse was turned into an oil press during Turkish rule, providing much-needed space for economic activity that yielded wealth, which was in turn used to secure and maintain religious and political freedom.
Keep Exploring the area around Kaisariani Monastery
After the visit to the holy monastery complex, press on to discover other buildings and ruins, including the Catholic Church of St Mark – Frankomonastero – on a very peaceful spot opening up to the west and the cityscape of Athens.
If you feel like exploring the magnificent area further along, take the botanical walk to the left and follow the well-marked hiking path.
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