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The name Parnitha derives from the word "Parnis", which has originated from the ancient Pelasgic language. The root of this word is related to the words Parnonas and Parnassos (Nezis, 1983).

Parnitha is first mentioned in ancient scripts at 423 B.C., in Aristofanis's "Nepheles" and later, by comedian Antifanis of Rhodes (405-333 B.C.) and by philosopher Theophrastus. Pausanias mentions in his "Attica" (32,1-2), written around 150 B.C.: "The mountains of Athens are Pentelikon where querrys exist, Parnis which is a good place for hunting wild boars and bears, and Hymettus, that hosts bees". This report is significant, as it describes Mt Parnitha as a place for good hunting of wild boars and bears. Obviously, in order to correctly interprete the citation, it must be taken into consideration that the term Parnitha was referred to a much broader geographical area at that time.

Parnitha was inhabited since the Mycenean times. Its importance is evident, from its location as a stronghold of Attica from northern invasions. Along with mountains Pateras and Kitheron, it constitutes a 60Km long natural wall, that starts from the Evvian Gulf and stops at Megara Gulf.

The mountain appears to be the most embattled of Ancient Greece. During the Peloponnesian War, harsh battles took place for the control of Panaktos Fort. Finally, the Athenians rebuilt it and made it extremely powerful. Dekeleia's Fort was the Spartan's headquarters for many years during the Peloponnesian War.

Parnitha was also a worship place for the Athenians. Pausanias mentions in his "Attica" that there was a copper statue of Parnethius Zeus on the mountain, as well as an alter of Simaleous Zeus, who controled rainfall, and also two devotional caves.

During the Classical Period, Athens knew exceptional growth and glory, huge social, political and cultural evolution. However, the Athenians respected the natural environment and this is obvious in their religion and their myths. The protection of nature and flora in particular, were undertaken by all Olympus' Gods and each God took care of a specific tree or plant, such as Athina for the olive-tree, Apollo for the laurel, Zeus for the oak etc.

Athens' glorious era was succeeded by decay and obscurity, that lasted several centuries. Attica's environment endured not only time, but also multiple attacks of barbaric tribes, who camped and stayed for long periods of time on its territory.

Later on, the mountain was a base for bandits and a colonization area of Arvanites that appeared around 1350 A.D. and their basic activity was farming. This continued until the early years of the Hellenic State, when Parnitha has already become a big pasture.

Following the liberation of Greece, Athens was declared the capital city of the Greek State and its population increased tremendously. The inhabitants of Athens, from 4,000 in 1834, became 66,000 in 1879. This fact had bad consequences to Attica's natural environment. The few forests that had survived the recent destruction by Kioutachis's army, were destroyed for the needs of the capital city. Loggers, calcifiers, charcoalers, bakers, potters etc., deforestated the mountains of Attica.

In modern times grazing was drastically decreased, until it was forbidden in 1953. However, the human impact on the mountain was not decreased. It is noteworthy that, during their retreat, the German soldiers burned part of the firforest, in order to control the attacks of the rebels. Moreover, a large part of the firforest was degraded by cutting the firs' crowns for christmas trees.

The declaration of the National Park of Parnitha in 1961 was made according to a research carried out by the former Chief Forester of Parnitha, Professor K. Makris (Makris . 1958). This event was catalytic for the salvation of the mountain and today it is the only mountain in Attica that hosts such a rich biodiversity (Amorgianiotis, 1997).

In the photos an old stone bridge is seen, bearing an inscription citing the time it was built.



Play our game and meet the animals living on Mt Parnitha!



  Forest Service of Parnitha
  Thrakomakedonon Ave.    142, Acharnes. GR13601
   Athens, Greece.

Tel.: 0030 210 2434061-3 fax.: 0030 210 2434064



  Eirini Aplada, Biologist-M.Sc. Environmental Biology and Terrestrial and Marine Ecosystem Management