Xirotagaro – The first airport and zoo of Athens

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We explore the landmarks along Poseidon Athens Half Marathon cources: Historical walk in Faliro!

Xirotagaro – The first airport and zoo of Athens

Xirotagaro was a district that extended along the coast from the Faliros Delta to the end of today's Syngrou Avenue and reached approximately as far as Flisvos. Xirotagaros was home to the first airport and the first zoo of Athens. The name arose at the end of the 19th century from the name of the owner of lands and buildings in the area, Chr. Xirotagaro who was the owner of large areas from the beach to Vourlopotamos.

Xirotagaros had originally opened an inn in the area for the excursionists from Athens in the area which at that time was quite far from the city and required a day trip and then maintained bathing facilities. The inn of Xirotagaros was famous for the mezes, cheese and seafood it offered to its customers. The gourmet Athenians who were able to visit it preferred it and spoke highly of the quality of the food they ate there. All politicians, even King George I, used to honor the inn of Chr. Xirotagarou.

In the area there is the medieval church of Agios Georgios and traces of the ancient Faleri port of the Athenians. At the point where the Amphithea Nautical Club is located today, there was a natural harbor that excavations have shown was used by the ancient Athenians for seven centuries as their port.

History – Mythology:

From there it was said that Theseus set out with his ships to go to Crete and kill the Minotaur.

Faliros also left from there to find Jason in ancient Iolkos in Magnesia outside today's Volos, and for the Argonauts to go and bring the Golden Fleece.

Finally, Menestheas set out from there with the Athenians and their ships to join the Greek fleet that was going to conquer Troy.

From the port of Faliro, the apostle Paul also arrived in Athens to teach the new religion of Christianity.

Modern times:

At the beginning of the 20th century around 1900 in the Xirotagaro area there was the Maraslio Aquarium and the first Zoo of Athens. There young and old saw for the first time various exotic and wild animals such as elephants, giraffes, bears etc.

Around 1900, in the sea area of ​​Faliro in Xirotagaros, the first air transport area of ​​Athens was created with seaplanes and was used for military purposes initially and later also for the transport of passengers.

A Naval base and naval depots were also created for it and it was called the Naval Airport with facilities for mooring military seaplanes.

In addition to the waterfront areas, the Naval base also had hangars for seaplane repairs.

It was used by the military mainly because of the wars of the 1910s and the first world war.

In the mid-1920s, the first aircraft manufacturing factory, K.E.A., also operated in the area of ​​the airport. State Aircraft Factory which was originally called E.A.F. Faliro Aircraft Factory.

From K.E.A. aircraft were manufactured for the Greek Army and the Navy which created the Naval Air Corps (NAS) its section with seaplanes which had been created since 1914.

During the occupation it was used by the Germans to support their air force and was bombed by the Allies.

The first use for passenger transport.

During the interwar period and up to the Second World War, the Naval Airfield was used by seaplanes for landing and passenger transport and scheduled services.

The routes were taken over by an Italian company, Aeroespresso Italiana, and carried passengers to:

Istanbul, Prindez, Patras, Mytilini, Rhodes, Syros

In the area of ​​Xirotagaros, several wealthy Athenians built luxurious mansions that they used as vacation homes.

Many luxurious hotels and entertainment centers were also built, making Faliro the main tourist destination for wealthy Athenians during the interwar period and in the first years after the occupation.

Many of the buildings were neglected until the 1960s.

Today, the historic ships Battleship Averof and Anti-Destroyer Arrow are located in the old port of Faliro and are open to the public.

Editing: Maria Dafnou, Municipal Children's Library of P. Faliro"

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