Penteli mountain, Athens
After the fall of the Byzantine Empire, Greece came under Turkish rule for 400 years. Churches were turned into mosques and the operation of schools was outlawed.
Children nowadays who moan about having to go to school would benefit from a visit to Athens' only clandestine school which is now operating as a museum. There they would see how clandestine schools were organised with monks teaching children to read and write the Greek language risking their lives if they were found.
It is thanks to the Greek Church that our culture and language did not perish in these 4 centuries.
In the monastery, apart from the monk's cell, the church and the nice grounds, one may visit the museum which exhibits religious artifacts and has an interesting pictorial display of the Bible. Our young guest was able to recognise the stories of the Bible, even though she is Jewish, which to us signified the universal appeal of this venue.
How to find it: it is located near Penteli and there are buses to it (sorry, don't know the number). The monastery is called Moni Pentelis and as with all religious grounds, sensible dressing is advised (no shorts, naked arms/torsos or mini skirts.
After your visit, why not stop at Telis' taverna across the street and have some nice lunch? Telis is a firm favourite of locals and I've discovered his taverna whilst working nearby. The food is displayed behind glass so even if you don't know the names of dishes you can surely point to what appeals to your eyes! In winter time Telis has the fireplace lit up in the dining area and in summer time people dine al fresco under the shade of trees. There is plenty of space for children to play outside and the toilet facilities when last inspected were adequate.
Telis is not cheap by taverna standards but the food is tasty and authentic (not modified to suit the tourist palate!) and it is located in a very pleasant spot.
The most bald mountain in Nomos Attikis, the prefecture where the capital of Greece is, is situated about 25 km north of Athens, . This happened because of some big fires in the past...
Despite it, Penteli (1.109 m) remains attractive for many reasons. You can visit the astronomical station -10' on foot by Penteli square- Penteli Monastery (it is at the picture, a great one, with even a museum-"krifo sholio"), Davelis' cave.
The mountain produces high quality marble since ancient times. This marble was used for the construction of the Parthenon and numerous other buildings.
Lastly, it is an ideal place to try a 4X4 vehicle at its dirt roads...