Tatoi Royal Palace - History and Facts | History Hit

Tatoi Royal Palace

Athens, Greece

Lucinda Smyth

21 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Tatoi Royal Palace

Tatoi Royal Palace is a deserted royal palace in the foothills of Mount Parnitha.

History of Tatoi Royal Palace

In 1872, King George I of Greece bought the Tatoi estate, at the edge of Mount Parnitha, from a government minister. He ordered it to be redesigned in a St Petersburg style, with classical features including statues and a cemetery as well as a swimming pool, stables and a garage. For the next 100 years it would serve as the summer retreat for the Greek royal family.

In 1967, when the ‘Regime of Colonels’ seized power, King Constantine led a failed attempt to overthrow the military dictatorship. The family was forced out that December and – having to go quickly – left many of their possessions behind. Subsequently the Tatoi Palace became a time capsule, abandoned to decay and overgrowth by vegetation.

Until 2002, it was more or less untouched: allegedly, you could sneak in and see everyday items like children’s toys, old bottles of wine, crockery and clothing. Following a decades-long legal dispute, the Greek Ministry overtook it in the early 2000s and it now is owned by the state.

Tatoi Royal Palace today

Roughly 30 minutes from the centre of Athens, you can still find the estate in the foothills above the suburb of Varibobi. It is now open to the public and has been protected from demolition by Friends of Tatoi, a charity group comprised of volunteers.

The Greek government announced in February 2021 that they had plans to finally turn it into a museum – reportedly at the cost of around €100 million. For now, however, it still stands as a semi-derelict ruin, an Ozymandian reminder of a once-influential dynasty.

While the artefacts recovered in 2002 are not on display, there are enough tidbits still scattered around to rouse the imagination. Gates and crumbling buildings have been overtaken by nature. Rusting vehicles sit abandoned around the backs of sealed buildings. The feeling is like you’re stumbling on a piece of hidden history. It’s great as a twilight walk (bring a torch), a cycling spot or as an interesting stop-over when you’re visiting the tomb at Acharnes.

Getting to Tatoi Royal Palace

Tatoi Royal Palace is around 35km from the centre of Athens, or 45 minutes by car. Make sure you have a clear map or Sat Nav system. This isn’t the kind of place you want to be stranded late at night.