Set on the southeastern slopes of Parnitha, Tatoi covers an area roughly the size of the ancient state of Dekeleia, known to many for its archaeological finds – some of which are now exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum – and for its part in one of the final episodes of the Peloponnesian Wars. Thucydides (VII.27.3), writes that the Spartans, under King Agis, wishing to create a more effective blockade of Athens, took up a fortified position in Dekeleia during the summer of 413BC. They chose the summit of a hill from where they could scan the plain of Athens as far as the sea, including parts of Mesogea and the Thriasian plain, Salamis, and the main route towards Boeotia and Evia. Some remains of the ancient fortification that still survive have given the hill its present name: Palaiokastro. The base of a watchtower from the 4th century BC has survived at Katsamidi. Centuries of complete obscurity were to follow, the only surviving trace of civilization being the mysterious Palaiopyrgos (old tower), which was built in around 1600, on the western slopes of Kiafathermi. Maps from the second half of the 19th century (Muenter, Kaupert) mark the existence of some ruined chapels, primitive windmills and limekilns, as well as the remains of some small settlements. For a long time the place names have been principally Albanian, evidence of the presence and large scale settlement of Albanian speakers. The road to and from Chalcis passed through this region from ancient times onwards. Directly after Greek Independence in 1821 the road divided the estate (tsiflik) of Tatoi on the west (towards Parnitha) from the tsifliks of Liopesi and Mahounia to its east. The latter formed part of the manor owned by the family of the Mufti, the religious leader of Athens, while Tatoi belonged to the Omer Aga (later Pasha) of Karystos. After independence, the tsiflik of Tatoi came under the ownership of the Phanariot Alexander Cantacuzino, and the estates of Liopesi and Mahounia initially went to one Georgios Leventis and later, in 1842, to the Phanariot Scarlatto Soutzo. In 1838 Soutzos married Elpida, the daughter of Cantacuzino. And so in 1842 the three original tsifliks were united under one owner, and given the name of Tatoi. The Soutzos family owned extensive properties in the wider region, covering a total area of about 150,000 stremmata. (37,500 acres) The Soutzos couple built a modest one story house in Tatoi, on the site where the pavilion of the aides de camp stands today. To the east, on the summit of a rise, a windmill was constructed: evidence that cereals were grown on the estate. A few farmhouses, probably fairly basic, were built. During all this time, as before, Tatoi was a thoroughfare, but also a refuge for bands of brigands, to whom the Soutzoi occasionally offered protection in exchange for their political support. In August 1843 Queen Amalia visited Tatoi and was captivated by its natural beauty. Late in the evening of the 6th April 1865, King George I, on his way to Chalcis, came to spend the night there as the guest of Scarlatto Soutzos, who was Marshal of the Court. Tatoi was the first stop on the king’s tour of Greece, taken with a view to learning more about his country after arriving there for the first time in the autumn of 1863. In 1870 Ernst Ziller, (the architect of neo-classical Athens), hearing that King George was looking for a place to set up his summer residence, showed him round Tatoi. The king had been tempted by Petalioi, a property belonging to his wife Olga. But Ziller knew that Soutsos would be happy to sell Tatoi, and extolled the virtues of its climate, abundant water supply and direct communication with the capital. George I seems to have agreed at once to Ziller’s suggestion, judging by the fact that in that same year Ziller drew up various highly ambitious designs – enormous villas, in various styles (renaissance, neogothic and “Greek-Swiss”), some of which have survived. The contract of sale was eventually signed on 15 May 1872, in Soutzou’s house on the corner of Korai and Panepistimiou Street. The price was agreed at 300,000 drachmas, to be paid by the king within the year, in four installments. In 1877 Bafi was added to the original area of about 16,000 stremmata (4000 acres), as a present from the parliament to the king, and which was to become part of his private property. Later some smaller areas here and there (small in the terms of the time), were either bequeathed, traded or subsequently purchased in Keramidi. Finally, in 1891, the plateau of Driza was bought by George from Andreas Syngrou, who had owned it for a while, though it too had previously belonged to the Soutzos family: with this last purchase the royal estate reached its maximum area: to wit 47,427 stremmata (11,857 acres).As soon as he became the owner of the original core of the estate, George began to implement his plans for reforestation and the building of an infrastructure – one of the few such endeavors in Greece: this included digging wells, devising methods for channelling and containing water – and ice – irrigation systems, cutting tracks and fire breaks through the forest, building mills and bridges – the two most imposing were decorated with the king’s personal emblem – and constructing water tanks and a reservoir at lake Kithara in case of fire. Meanwhile he set about making the estate financially viable by putting certain areas under cultivation, mainly with vineyards and olive groves. He also embarked on an extensive building programme, which was to include the construction of a first, temporary, dwelling with an annex, (later known as the Sturm house), and its own chapel to the Prophet Elijah, joined to the royal residence by a shaded walkway covered with climbing plants and foliage. Two stable quarters were also constructed: the first, a little distance away to the west of the palace (where the garages would later be built), to house the horses belonging to the king and members of the court, and the second, lower down, on the crossroads between the main road to Chalcis and the road to Palaiokastro, to provide further stabling for horses, along with a cowshed.The architect of the temporary royal villa – which is referred to in old maps of the Estate as a “guest house” – describes his creation as being “Greek-Swiss in style”, meaning a building that is essentially neoclassical, but with a pitched roof, and with details of ornamentation that alternate between the neoclassical and the “picturesque”, or romantic. If you compare Ziller’s design for the “negengebäude”, or annex, intended for Tatoi with the only – so far as I know – photograph of the royal villa in its initial form in the Royal Library in Copenhagen, it shows clearly that the second was a simplified and considerably smaller version of the first. The first royal villa consisted of a narrow, one story house, with a pitched roof, three windows at the front and six on either side, on a base of solid blocks. The pediment was decorated with murals in the classical style, on either side of a narrow window lighting the attic. At either end of the house a broad, two story balcony connected the house to the garden by means of a relatively wide staircase. Instead of a railing, the stairs had stepped walls on either side upon which round marble flower containers were placed, carved with the emblem of George I. The four doorways on the first floor opened onto a narrow balcony, which ran along the east side of the building. The roof was decorated with floral motives and finials. A little beyond the southeastern corner stood the statue of a Fisher Boy, by Dimitrios Filippotis. The inauguration of the first royal residence at Tatoi was celebrated with a simple blessing on the 7th April 1874. Over the following decade there was more building, to include the estate manager’s house, the ‘princes’ school’ for teachers of the royal children – which was also used as an extra guest room for the royal villa – a winery, the head gardener’s cottage (which appears on a map from 1878, and must be linked to the early design and planting of the garden in preparation for the proposed palace); and another building, namely the easternmost of the two buildings eventually constructed to house the workers on the estate. The old Soutzos windmill was transformed into a medieval style tower, with the addition of another level with crenelations. A flag fluttered over them whenever the king was at Tatoi, and a clock on the tower gave its name to the hill. On the first floor of the tower George I kept a collection of all the archaeological treasures he was able to find from ancient Dekeleia – most notably a stele describing initiation rites for the young citizens of Dekeleia, (396-395BC). The second and third floors were dedicated to the fauna of the estate. A number of other buildings were also built, for the most part ancillary buildings or isolated dwellings for forest workers, which however were destroyed later in the large forest fires. We know about them (without being sure of their exact design and purpose) either because they appear in the older maps, or from photographs, or finally from the reminiscences of former inhabitants of the estate. Finally, in the same row as the workers’ accommodation and running diagonally behind the cowshed, to the left of the road which led up to the royal villa and which, as has been mentioned, was once the main road to Chalcis, there stood, since time immemorial, the khan of Lygdas, an inn and customary stopping place for all passing travelers.Building activities continued up until about 1900. In around 1885, and certainly before the royal villa, the hotel “Tatoion” and the small carriage house opposite were built, to the south east of the workers house, so that these three buildings begin to form a separate little enclave. The hotel may be classed as belonging to the more romantic era of building on the estate. Subsequently another building for housing the workers was added to the west of the existing one, and to the west of that, at right angles to it, the khan of Lygdas was transferred to a newly designated building.Later on a building for the officers of the royal guard was built on the crossroads, and to the east of it another two rows of workers cottages – plain, with whitewashed walls and tiled roofs. By 1898, at the latest, the dairy was built, looking rather like a picturesque cottage from a fairy tale. A year later, in 1889, the church of the Resurrection – copy of a medieval church in Athens – was erected on the foothills of Palaiokastro (the acropolis of ancient Dekeleia). This was the place chosen, in the year 1880, as a burial ground for the royal dynasty, and was already the site of the little grave of princess Olga, who had died in that year when she was only seven months old. To the south east of the old royal residence, on the site of the old Soutzos house, an aides’ house/billiard room is built in 1892, copy of a small villa at Bernsdorf in Denmark. Towards the end of 1895, a bell is placed on a metal plinth to the south of the stables, and is rung to regulate the work on the estate. In front of it a temporary shelter is built for hay, subsequently known as “remiza”.At around 1888-89 a third low story is added to Ziller’s building, which thus loses its fine proportions and a part of its neoclassical decoration. This relatively makeshift alteration was due to the building of the new royal villa. After the wedding of the crown prince Constantine to Sophia of Prussia, in October 1889, the newly wed couple were to establish themselves in the old, enlarged and relatively ill built Ziller villa, which would subsequently be known as “Constantine’s palace”. It was in this house, during the following summer, that the baby who was to become George II (1890-1947) was born, and two years later, Alexander (1893-1920). Most of the buildings from this period (from about 1885-1890), were the work of the architect Savvas Boukis, under the direction and constant supervision of George I. The church of the Resurrection however is the work of Anastasios Metaxas.The very young and as yet quite unknown Savvas Boukis was chosen, for reasons unknown to us, by George and Olga, and was sent to St Petersburg with instructions to copy one of the two neogothic villas which had been built in the great park of the Peterhof palace, on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland. “The Ferme”, which was the work of Adam Menelas or Menelaus – a german architect who had accompanied the well known Scottish architect Cameron to St Petersburg, was built in 1828/29 and was subsequently extended during the time of the Tsar Alexander II (1856-1881), who lived in it long enough for the Ferme to be associated with his name. Although Boukis introduced certain changes for Tatoi – it isn’t certain whether he himself took responsibility for them or whether he had specific orders from King George – the royal villa at Tatoi is a fairly faithful imitation of the Ferme. It is uncertain what made Queen Olga chose this design, out of all the many residences of the Russian Tsars, since it was relatively insignificant and though she had visited it she had never actually lived there herself. Building went on from 1884 to 1886, but earthworks in the area of the palace, as well as the completion of its decoration and interior furnishings, delayed the royal family’s move there till the spring of 1889. The inauguration of the villa was celebrated with a blessing on the 18th May, in the presence of the royal family and a small circle of courtiers and friends.The villa overlooks a garden, originally laid out on two and later on three levels, which had already begun to be planted before 1878. On the upper terrace there was a statue of a Cossack hunter, the work of Yevgeny Lanserai, bought and transported by Queen Olga from Russia. On the way to it a marble semi circular bench with antique carving, overlooking the view, which disappeared during renovations in the pre war period. In between a “grotto” was constructed, and a marble lily pond into which water flowed out of the marble mouth of a lion. The lower and more extensive terrace was divided by a wide central alley, to the right of which lies the lawn tennis court and a greenhouse – marked on the survey of 1896, but disappearing later – and to the left a small “maze”. Near the tennis court cypress trees were planted in a circle, their branches interwoven so as to form a sheltering dome overhead.The way of life of the royal family at Tatoi was a combination of refinement and simplicity, and the court in attendance was usually limited to aides de camp and ladies in waiting. The daily round was interrupted by visits of friends and foreign diplomats from Athens, but mostly by the arrival of relatives, some crowned heads and some not, from other European countries. The Prince of Montenegro, in 1899, and the King of Italy, in 1907, were both welcomed at Tatoi during their official visits to Greece. The biggest festival each year was Queen Olga’s name’s day on the 11th July, which began with a liturgy in the church and continued with a feast in the open air, to which all members of the Government were invited. A little beyond – on the site where the garage would later be built – the managers of the estate served roast lamb and wine to men of the Royal Guard, and to the workers on the estate, as well as to many of the villagers who lived in the area. It was known as the “Feast of the Lady-Queen”. After the food there was dancing, which the royal family came to watch once they had finished their more formal dinner. The king, moved by the music, would press a gold sovereign to the sweating forehead of each member of the band. A similar feast was repeated on the 22 August, on the day of Olga’s birthday, but usually not in the presence of the royal family, who tended to be abroad at that time of year.For the management of the estate George I chose in succession two exceptionally conscientious and expert Danes, at first Ludwig Munter (1873-1892), who was somewhat eccentric but much loved in Athenian society, and afterwards Otho Baisman (1893-1914). Together with the King they might be considered to be the creators of Tatoi. Thanks to them many of the current methods for the cultivation and preservation of forest land were established in Greece for the first time at Tatoi. For the oxen and horses on the farm George I introduced harnesses that were less painful for the animals, which he tried in vain to bring into wider use, mainly through the Agricultural Foundation of which he was honorary chairman. The work of Munter and Baisman was diligently continued by Ioannis Kokkinis (1914-1923). It was during his day that Tatoi was to encounter its first serious challenge. For political reasons, and due to the fire of the 25th December, which for a time rendered the palace in Athens uninhabitable, the royal family were obliged to spend the winter of 1909 in Tatoi. However there were not enough rooms for all the personnel, and they were ill equipped for winter, which that year was a particularly heavy one. Prince Nicholas notes in his diary that it was the obvious discomfort of so many people that prompted George’s decision to construct a building for his Staff. Political events and consequently the Balkan wars of 1912-1913 delayed the realization of the scheme, which the new king eventually carried out in the winter of 1913-1914. After the murder of George in Thessaloniki, on the 5th March 1913, Constantine and Sophia had need of more space, given that they continued to live in the old villa, since George had left the palace itself to queen Olga in his will. The building for the Staff was built behind the pavillion of the aides de camp, almost parallel to Constantine’s palace. It had a notably functional character, reflecting the personality of the new king, who was essentially a soldier. At some distance behind it, the old “pharmacy” – which by local tradition was referred to as “Queen Olga’s hospital” – was turned into a house for the steward, who was responsible for the male personnel in the palaces. During that period also a building was constructed as a barracks, on the hill overlooking the palace enclave. Once again the troubled times that followed prevented the completion of the internal decoration of the church of the Resurrection on Palaiokastro. In front of it – and at a little distance from the grave of Princess Olga – George I, who had died for his country, was buried in a simple grave, overlaid with a block of Pentelic marble. Difficulties notwithstanding, Queen Sophia, who was a lover of gardens and of everything green (Athens owes many of its parks to her) was able to improve the gardens surrounding the old as well as the new palace, and took delight in showing them to her visitors. In the summer of 1915 king Constantine stayed at Tatoi to recuperate from a serious illness which nearly cost him his life. His inability to travel to the palace in Athens meant that for a few months the royal estate, and especially the old palace, became the centre of decision making for critical national questions, and the scene of significant events in the political life of the country, thrown into the turmoil of the so called National Schism. The foreign powers, France in particular, were pursuing their own illegitimate and hidden agendas. It was therefore only natural that public opinion in general and the royal family itself (with the exception of the king) should blame the forest fire that broke out on 30th June 1916 on the violent Schism and on foreign intervention. 33,000 stremmata of forest were burned, as well as buildings, including the residence of Constantine, the church of the Prophet Elijah, the royal stables, the Clock tower and the princes’ school, along probably with other buildings lying outside the core of the estate. Constantine himself narrowly escaped being trapped in the flames. Nine others were less lucky and lost their lives in the burning forest. Despite appearances justifying charges of arson, it was an accusation that does not truly hold, if one considers that during those very days and after months of drought, the whole of Greece was in flames. Whatever the reason for it, the fire of 1916 was the first major setback in the history of Tatoi from 1872, and it put a violent end to its first golden age. As a result of it the greater part of the fauna of the estate perished, including the deer, many of whose charred remains were later found beside the fences. It was then, too, that most of the springs dried out.The political events that followed, the dethronement and expulsion of Constantine by the Entente Powers, the tyranny of the Venizelist party and finally the war, prevented any possibility of a healing of wounds. On the 12th October Constantine’s second son, king Alexander, died of a monkey bite in his room at Tatoi, after weeks of frightful agony, aged only 27. The monkey had become embroiled in a fight with his dog on the road below the Sturm house, where Alexander was given first aid. A referendum brought Constantine back to be king in December 1920. But still there was no lee-way, in terms either of money or morale, (due to the war, and the mourning for Alexander) for any kind of renovation, large scale repairs or tree planting at Tatoi. The country was trapped in the asia minor impasse of 1922, which led to Constantine’s abdication that same year. This ‘Asia Minor Disaster’, for all the politic agility demonstrated by Constantine’s son George II, who in turn became king, and the attempts that Venizelos himself belatedly made to save the regime, was fated to carry the monarchy away with it. On the 19th December George II went abroad, ostensibly for a holiday, knowing that he would not return. On the 24th March 1924 the National Assembly declared the establishment of a republican democracy in Greece. In a Greece without a monarchy, what would be the fate of Tatoi? Unusually in the Greek annals, political change did not harm Tatoi, thanks to the cleverness and decency of the country’s then leaders, who were able to ignore the heightened passions of the day, and took immediate measures for its protection: to secure adequate funding as well as a new framework and purpose for the estate. From 1926 onwards, when Tatoi was attached to the ministry of Air Defence, (and afterwards to the Office of State Property), opportunities were offered by the government under its Act 3213/14 of August 1924, which were exploited by the appointed manager, the energetic forester Vasilios Drouvas (1926-1961) a somewhat dubious character to whom however Tatoi owes much. Thanks to him, the former royal estate was able to recover from the wounds inflicted by the great fire, and to arm itself against the threat of more fires, with wide firebreaks and the planting of thick rows of trees which do not easily burn, combining measures for the development of the estate with strict economy. Drouvas imposed methods of control that were allowed by the legislation of the time, such as the imposition of fines on personnel, fines for illegal felling, illegal pasture and even trespass. This meant that by the beginning of the 1930s the estate had begun to be productive, with a yearly income of about one million drachma. The National Agricultural Boys Orphanage, based in the former staff house and in the kitchen buildings, brought new life to the local community in winter. The royal villa operated as a presidential residence in summer – it was inhabited only by Alexander Zaimis – and in parts of the basement a simple exhibition was set up, open to the public, with souvenirs from the royal dynasty. The fact that the estate flourished financially allowed the construction of some new buildings, such as the “mandra”, a fenced yard into which various workshops of the estate were transferred, and where residents were rehoused to make room for the new police station, on the site where their dwellings had previously stood. During the same period the hotel “Tatoion” was used as an annex to the hotel “Cecil”, at Kefalari in Kifissia, while the “khan of Lygdas”, under new management, was renamed Anaktorikon Dasos, The Royal Forest.The inhabitants of Tatoi joyfully welcomed the returning King George II on the 1st December 1935. Despite the attempts of many to undermine Drouvas, who had been an extreme Venizelist and supporter of the Republican Democracy, George supported Drouvas, recognized his worth, and kept him on as manager of the estate. The burden of work and the many cares of the king, who was now taking on a country falling apart at the seams, prevented him from directly occupying himself with Tatoi. On the 22 November 1936 the bones of Constantine, Sophia and Olga, brought from Brindisi in the battleship Averof, were buried in pomp at Palaiokastro. Olga was placed beside George, in front of the chapel, and Constantine and Sophia in the mausoleum which had begun to be built at the centre of the little clearing. Alexander was put beside them, taken from his original place in front of the chapel. Rejecting the royal title on his epitaph with the inscription that he had “served in place of his father”, George II was to restore the constitutional and dynastic order that had been disturbed in 1917. The architect Manolis Lazaridis was the inspirer of the design for the mausoleum in the byzantine style. Probably for financial reasons they carried out the modifications in the simplest way possible, with the help of the royal architect Anastasios Metaxas. The second world war began when the mausoleum was only half finished, and prevented its completion. On Palaiokastro the royal princes, Nicholas (February 1938), and Christopher (January 1940) and Princess Maria (December 1940) were to find their final resting place, along with the grand duchess Alexandra, wife of Paul of Russia and darling of the Athenian people. Alexandra had died in 1891, and her remains were now sent from the mausoleum of the Romanovs in Leningrad to Greece by order of Stalin, fulfilling, after some delay, a special request from the Greek king.The financial surplus that was left in the kitty thanks to the honest management of Drouvas allowed the king, between 1927-1939, to embark on a significant building program, by the end of which Tatoi had changed substantially. Along with the removal of the ruins of the old palace, the princes’ school and the royal stables and annexes round about, other buildings untouched by the fire were also pulled down, either because their style was not suited to George II’s taste, or because they weren’t considered to be sufficiently practical. Among the buildings that were knocked down to be built again from scratch were the kitchens of the royal villa (which were connected to the palace, as before, by means of an underground passage) and the estate manager’s house. The latter, with clear Anglo Saxon features, is the work of Pericles Sakellariou, who also designed the guardhouse at the main gate of the estate, known as the “Varibombi Gate”. The gate itself, with its distinctive small marble obelisks (which were stolen in the 1980s) was built in 1939.The second major change brought by the renovations of 1935 was that public access to the estate was stopped and the main road diverted to the west, fortuitously joining the ancient road from Athens – Chalcis which traversed the foot of Palaiokastro. When Tatoi was closed to the public the hotel also ceased to function as a hotel, and the Royal Forest was now relegated to a hardware shop and grocery store, which also served meals to the people who ran the estate and to its workers.At that time a building was constructed with bedrooms for the seasonal staff, and the pavilion of the aides de camp also changed its aspect – losing its purely Danish aesthetic – probably as a result of the intervention of Anastasius Metaxas.But the building that suffered most from the George II’s passion for alterations was indisputably the royal villa itself, in which during the two years between 1937-1939 large-scale work was carried out to modernize its interior – putting adjoining bathrooms into bedrooms and adding central heating – but also disfiguring the outside, mainly its southern facade which looks onto the garden. On its northern aspect, the only change was to remove one of the entrances leading to the dining room and the half basement. On the south side the double balcony was effectively abandoned and all the fine white iron latticework removed, replaced here and there either by cement additions or heavy concrete beams. Rough copies of the crenellations that adorned the balcony above the royal office were now added to new hayiat. The only old latticework to survive was on the balcony at the north western end of the house, and on some of the lantern windows to the attic. It is still uncertain however whether the new railings on the windows to the cellar and on the balcony belong to the period 1937-1938, or whether they were put there during the impromptu (due to the constrained finances) overhaul of the villa that followed – most probably between 1947 and 1948 – after it was twice ransacked during the civil war in December 1943. The evident concern to spend as little money as possible makes one incline to the latter period. Whichever the case, the result was that the elegant neogothic villa built by George I, so in keeping with the times, was changed by his grandson and namesake into an ill conceived, hermaphrodite building without soul or character.His extensive meddling with the historic building is even more astonishing when one considers that George was intending to build a villa cum eagle’s nest on the top of Kakourthi on Parnitha, and had begun, with Kithara as a starting point, on the construction of a road that would lead to it. The whole enterprise was delayed by the war and eventually abandoned due to the foreign occupation that followed.With the exception of the Princess Nicholas (Eleni, grandmother of Prince Micheal of Kent) and Princess Andrew (Aliki, mother of Prince Philip and great grand daugher of Queen Victoria) who refused to leave as the Germans approached, the rest of the royal family abandoned Athens, traveling first to Crete and subsequently to Egypt. At Tatoi the royal villa was sealed up during the Occupation by the authorities, who used various ancillary buildings for the rest and recuperation of officers returning from difficult assignments. In the tragic years of the Occupation, Drouvas was to show his true worth. He extended the cultivation of the land, selling the produce at a good price in the markets of starving Athens and thus increasing the reserves of the estate coffers. Even the two princesses were obliged to buy what they needed, and Drouvas limited any expenses that were not directly productive. He dealt masterfully and for the benefit of the estate not only with the occupying powers but also with the guerrillas who appeared on Parnitha at the end of 1943 and to whom he gave whatever they asked for, without committing himself to either side. Guerrillas appeared at the heart of the estate during the Easter of 1944. They found its inhabitants hiding in the anti aircraft shelter beside the kitchens, trying to avoid the English planes that were bombing the entire area around the airport. The guerrillas were friendly to everyone, but took a great many lambs from the estate for their Easter festivities high up in the mountain.The civil war was to divide the inhabitants of Tatoi into two camps. On the side of EAM there were the newer employees and the workers, many of them refugees. On the other side were the older inhabitants of the estate. During the summer months, the pressure from “the mountain” became intense, and theft and looting from the stables and storehouses increased. People were forced to gather for compulsory public meetings of indoctrination, either at the local police station or in the open air, beside the estate manager’s house or forester’s office. At one of these meetings, a brigand, crying out “I am George III!” took aim at the crown on one of the black and white cast iron flower containers, moved from the palace garden to stand in front of the estate office during the works of 1937-1939. The bullet holes in George I’s flower pot are today the only visible record of that period of anarchy at Tatoi. Foreseeing that the situation was likely to get worse, the Master of the Civil List, Athanasios Filon, was able in time to transfer the most precious objects from the royal villa to the palace in Athens. By the autumn of 1944 any kind of authority other than that of EAM-ELAS appeared to have disintegrated.During those months of chaos Tatoi was looted twice. The first time on Christmas Day 1944 and the second time – along with most of the farms of Attica – on Epiphany, when the forces of ELAS, along with crowds of people leaving to escape persecution and revenge killings, were retreating in a state of chaos towards the north, having lost the battle for Athens. A blacklist was drawn up, with the names of 11 ‘opponents of the estate’. Someone known to them, who was a member of ELAS in Kifissia, warned the people on his list to flee and hide. As happened in many similar situations, behind the extremism and political conflict lay an enmity that was in fact personal, motivated often by self interest. Three of those warned did not leave, because they saw no reason to leave. They hadn’t harmed anyone, who could possibly want to harm them? They were Panayiotis Korovezis, Georgis Kefalas, and Anastasis Balas. Their bodies were found by Leonidas Dionysiatis, hacked to pieces in the place called Kremala (the Gallows). They were taken to the “mandra”, to be mourned by their stricken families. On the following day, near to the stream of Vassilopoula, the body of a girl was found hanging from an olive tree. She was the bride to be of one of the victims and had taken her own life. The unfortunate young woman was expecting a child. And so the tragedy continued, with a fourth and a fifth victim.The last episode of the Civil war that caused so much bloodshed all over the country was to reach Tatoi in the form of arson. From the 1st to the 3rd of August 1945 the whole forest was ablaze, encircled by fires that had been deliberately lit. There was no way to fight the fire. By good fortune it did not reach the buildings. After the theft of the flocks, the destruction of the harvest, and the wine and oil in the store houses, there came the loss of the entire forest. For the first time famine became part of the life of Tatoi. To survive it the local community, often families who had worked at Tatoi father to son, for three generations, were forced to leave. The royal estate was abandoned for a second time.In September 1946 the royal family’s return gave heart to the indefatigable Drouvas, who was trying to reorganize the estate. A start was made, as in so many Greek estates, with the arrival of a few basic supplies from UNRRA. Drouvas attempted to compensate for the loss of the forest by concentrating on the production of wine and oil, but mostly by significantly increasing the number of flocks and animals on the estate compared to former times, beginning, yet again, completely from scratch. First he embarked on the construction of a piggery (1948), and then a new cowshed, one of the most elegant buildings on the farm, built to house 90 animals (1952). The architect during this period was Constantine Ginis, and some time later, Alexandros Baltatzis. Around the same time (1950), an edifice was built to house a milk herd for the production of pasteurized milk, the management of which was undertaken in 1954 by a Dane. Due to virulent protests by sections of the opposition, who objected to the undertaking of any commercial enterprise by the Palace, the unit was to close in 1959.By the end of 1948 Tatoi was the permanent residence of the royal family, who spent their summers first at Petalioi, and later, after 1956, at Mon Repos in Corfu (which was repaired at public expense in time for Tito’s official visit to Greece). Thereafter the royal villa was home to a loving and growing family who passed their days there in a way that hardly differed – much to the disappointment of visitors arriving at Tatoi for the first time – from any upper class family living down in Athens. Except for the few months, in the winter of 1956-57, when for financial reasons king Paul was forced to shut the palace on Herodus Atticus, and apart from the swearing in of George Papandreou’s government on 19 February 1964, which was due to the ill health of the king, no business of state was ever carried out at Tatoi, and it remained a strictly private place. However, as was natural given the official status of its owners, lunches were often held in honor of the leaders of foreign countries on formal or informal visits to Greece, distinguished diplomats, military personnel, journalists passing through the Greek capital, and members of other royal families who visited Athens. Politicians and people who contributed to the common good were invited to the lunches, as well as eminent figures from the fields of science, culture and the arts. The day would end for members of the royal family by the fire side in the royal office, or occasionally around the piano where King Paul would play. The gift of a film projector, in 1953, from Spyros Skouras of Fox Films, led to the half-basement directly beneath the king’s office being converted into a cinema. Domestic staff were also invited to watch films. A major feature, by general agreement, was the classical music that echoed through the quiet of the forest at Tatoi: the piano, played with sensitivity by king Paul, and later by his daughter Princess Irene; the records, played by the queen at full volume; the music of Gina Bachauer who occasionally played on the villa’s piano; or the violin of the great virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin, en route to his house in Mykonos. Both musicians were close friends of the royal family. Social functions were few: parties for the young, and more rarely dinner dances with a select guest list, such as those held in honor of prince Maximilian of Bavaria (who had repatriated the royal regalia of King Otho back to Greece), and for Herbert von Karajan, after his triumph at the Festival of Athens.During Lent the palace was transformed, almost into a monastery, with services morning and evening during the first week of Lent and in holy week (up until the Wednesday before Easter, after which services were held at the Palace in Athens). It was at Tatoi that the services for Pentecost were also conducted, in the presence of the archbishop of Athens and representatives of the orthodox Church from around the world. And it is to King Paul, a man who was a practicing and devout christian, that we owe not only the resurrection of the Royal Children’s Choir, but also the completion, with every attention to detail, of the chapel at Tatoi. The frescoes were finished by an oblate from Madytos in Eastern Thrace, Komninos Kalothetos, during the two years between 1950 and 1952. In the family cemetery at Palaiokastro, where the graves were gradually multiplying, only the inside of the mausoleum remained half finished.During 1955-1956, on the middle terrace in the garden, a swimming pool was built, and at around the same time a small greenhouse for vegetables, standing between the forester’s office and the estate office.The decade between 1954-1964 might be described as a second golden age for Tatoi, its first having been during the long reign of George I.On March 6th 1964, in an atmosphere of great sadness and widespread public mourning, King Paul took his last farewell at Tatoi. He was buried at Palaiokastro on Thursday 12 March, in the place he himself had chosen. Amidst the mourners at his funeral there were four kings, two queens, the patriarch of Jerusalem, Makarios of Cyprus, two ministers of state, three kings without a kingdom, three heirs to the throne, two crown princes, a king’s consort, the wife of the President of the United States, former president Harry Truman, the president of Cambodia, parliamentary leaders from Yugoslavia, Italy and Austria, the vice president of Egypt, the foreign ministers of France and Spain, and around forty other princes and dukes.Vasilios Drouvas died in 1961. On the estate a spring was named after him at Mahounia. His successor was the agriculturalist Frangkiskos Filippas, who was the son of an aide de camp to George II, and had served before the war as a cadet in the air fleet of the then heir apparent, Prince Paul.During the preparations for the wedding of the new king Constantine II to princess Anna Maria of Denmark, which took place on the 18th September 1964, three wedding receptions were held at Tatoi. For each one about 2200 invitations were issued, representing every class in society. They were to be the largest gatherings in the history of the royal villa. The frequent pregnancies of the new queen, and, not least, the deep political crisis into which Greece was submerged after July 1965 – a crisis which destabilized both the political regime and the country – naturally had an effect on everyday life at Tatoi. Social occasions were limited, although the tradition of royal lunches was to continue, as was the tradition of hospitality towards kings and members of other royal families, especially relatives of Anna Maria. In 1966 and 1967 the liturgy for the ‘Sunday of Orthodoxy’ (the first Sunday in Lent) was conducted in a fully orthodox manner at Tatoi, instead of at the Cathedral in Athens. It was the annual festival that for those two years became the most important event on the calendar at the royal estate. During that same period work began to make a helicopter pad in the “big vineyard”, but it was never completed.Tatoi’s involvement in the political history of this troubled period was limited to two famous secret meetings between two prominent political leaders, George Papandreou and Panayiotis Kanellopoulos, who were attempting to bring down the government of the “apostasia” (dissidents), and preparing the way for elections to be held. Their first meeting, at the end of November 1966, was held at the aides de camp’s house at Tatoi. The king was represented by the head of the royal political office, Ambassador Dimitrios Bitsios, and Constantine’s aide de camp and friend, Michalis Arnaoutis. The second meeting, at the beginning of December, took place at the royal villa in the presence of the King. The so-called “Tatoi agreement” was finalized during a conversation carried out in a particularly genial atmosphere around an open fire. On the 22 December the transitional government of Paraskevopoulos was sworn in, with the promised support both of United Cyprus, and of the ERE (the radical right wing party in Greece). It was agreed that elections would take place in June at the latest. However new complications, largely caused by Andreas Papandreou, who was putting pressure on his father to break the agreement, led to the fall of the government and to its replacement, on the 4th April, by a unilateral, right wing government under Panayiotis Kanellopoulos. Meanwhile rumours ran rife of an imminent coup and the imposition of a dictatorship.At that time there were two separate factions in the military – the generals, and unbeknownst to them, the colonels – both plotting and preparing for a coup, and fearing that if they did not intervene in time, George Papandreou’s left wing party, with the backing of Andreas, would be certain to come to power. The generals were frustrated by the fact that the king, despite being aware of their intentions, refused to give them the green light to intervene, and so they decided to make their move independently. However what they did not know was that they had in their midst a conspirator who was on the side of the colonels. General Zoitakis, commander of the 3rd Army Corps, advised the colonels to speed things up in order to preempt their superiors. It was agreed that on the night of 20th-21st April the colonels would declare their coup. At Tatoi the night passed without incident. After supper, the royal family watched a film in their cinema, after which Queen Frederika and Princess Irene returned to their house in Psychiko, while Princess Sophia, who was visiting her mother, was invited by Constantine to stay on and watch another film. It finished a little after one. Sophia was taken back to Psychiko in one of the royal cars, and Constantine had just gone to sleep when he was woken by a telephone call from Arnaoutis, in a state of considerable agitation, who told him that his house was surrounded, that men in army uniform were trying to break down the door and that measures should immediately be taken for the protection and defense of Tatoi! The king alerted the Tatoi guard (20 or 30 lightly armed men), and tried to find out what was going on, to communicate with the outside world and to bring his mother and sisters to Tatoi. He didn’t have time, since in the interim Tatoi had been surrounded by tanks, cutting it off from the rest of the country. Vague rumours from people who were themselves too upset to understand what was going on added to the anxiety of those trapped at Tatoi, who were all the more concerned because the queen was about to give birth. Constantine asked Georgios Rallis, who had managed to telephone him from the Police department in Maroussi, to convey an order to the commander of the 3rd Army Corps in Thessaloniki (Zoitakis!) to move with his forces to Athens, and help him restore law and order, informing him also that the president and members of the Government had been arrested. A little later Rallis told him that the 3rd Army Corps had changed sides and was supporting the coup – apparently surprising even the American ambassador, with whom Constantine was eventually able to communicate. At around 4.30pm all telephone communication was cut off, except, bizarrely, for the police station in Maroussi, which was also eventually cut off about an hour later. An aide de camp gave Constantine the names of those responsible for the coup, who managed to inform Rallis that they were planning to come up to Tatoi to meet with the king. Rallis told Constantine that he would try to reach Tatoi on foot. He advised the king that if he himself was unable to get there in time, or was arrested on the way, the king should offer “passive resistance, in the hope that you may one day be able to get rid them”.The leaders of the coup, G. Papadopoulos, Stylianos Pattakos and Nikolaos Makarezos, arrived at Tatoi a little after 6, and were received by a furious king who severely rebuked them and actually swore when they told him that they had “saved Greece” for his benefit. They listened to him attentively, but with an evident certainty – which did not escape the king – that they were the ones now in control of the situation. He asked them to come back to Tatoi with Spantidakis, the Head of the General Staff. The latter confessed to an angry Constantine that he had judged it advisable to cooperate with the leaders of the coup, in order to be able to control them better. After this the king drove himself from Tatoi in his own car, with one of his aides de camp beside him, and headed for the Ministry of Defense, where further disappointments were to await him.In the period after the coup of 21st April, due to the peculiar circumstances and conditions of tight surveillance which the Junta had imposed on the royal family, they chose to keep all official ceremonies to a minimum. Of these the most significant was a ceremony of investiture for the new Archibishop Ieronymus, former chaplain to the king, on the 17 May. However the most important event at Tatoi during this time was the birth of Crown Prince Paul, on 20th May 1967.The king detested both the dictatorship and its perjured leaders, and feared that a regime would be established that enjoyed the open support of the USA. Since all the generals who had previously supported him were gradually being removed from key positions in the army, it became imperative for the king to attempt its overthrow. The 13th December, “Omega” day, was chosen for a counter coup. The plan, thrown together without enough thought, anticipated the removal of the royal family to Thessaloniki. Most of the armed forces were concentrated in northern Greece, because it seemed likely that a war with Turkey would break out at any moment, due to the revival of the Cyprus problem. Although preparations were carried out with the utmost secrecy, and Constantine took myriad precautions before attending meetings, held in the farms near Tatoi, with the people involved, the plan was leaked to the Junta and the regime was able easily to suppress the royal counter coup, for which the king had risked and lost so much. Even so, when the small royal convoy passed through the gates of the estate towards Tatoi airport, on the morning of 13th December 1967 at about 10.15, (the delay was due to a long search for the archbishop, whom the king was hoping to take with him), both the king himself and all the members of his family believed that they would soon return. The events that were to follow made it clear that the royal family, who had fled to Rome, would not be coming back for the foreseeable future. The palace was sealed up and the protection of all royal property entrusted to a three member committee of officers. Political developments meant that Tatoi was essentially left in abeyance. Because its existence was of no importance to the regime and its future uncertain, it entered a period of inescapable decay. Constant attempts on the part of the king, who tried ensure the future of faithful former employees of the estate, and to save the animals – mainly horses that were growing old and likely to end up in the knackers yard – were most often to meet with failure.After the 1st June 1973, when the Junta formally abolished the kingdom of Greece, the buildings at Tatoi were assigned to the ministry of Finance, and its land to the ministry of Agriculture. Act 225, passed on the 5th October 1973, ordered the compulsory expropriation of all the royal estates. The act included a detailed listing of all movable property, based on an exhaustive inventory that had been prepared over the previous summer.The situation on the estate deteriorated after the referendum of 8th December 1974, whose outcome was negative, both for the reestablishment of the royal family and for Tatoi. The estate, now abandoned to looting and neglect, became a victim of the fanaticism of the time and the timorousness of a series of governments, who were incapable of following the civilized example of the first republican democracy of Greece in 1924-1925.Under the new government of Konstantine Karamanlis in 1975, Tatoi was acknowledged to be the property of the royal family. It was returned to them, along with movable heirlooms from the other private and state palaces that had been collected at Tatoi.There followed about a decade (1984-1993) of negotiations between the former king and the governments of Andreas Papandreou and Konstantine Mitsotakis for the settlement of outstanding financial matters. This resulted in an agreement by which the former royal family would retain its ownership of Tatoi, with full titles to 3.962,710 stremmata, having paid the requisite taxes, and the remainder of the estate would be ceded to the state under the following conditions. A. 401,5 stremmata would be transferred to a children’s charitable foundation, with the aim of building a children’s hospital, and B. the remaining land, an area of 37,426 stremmata, would be run by the Tatoi National Park, whose aims were to be the conservation, protection and development of the forest. Permission was granted by the Mitsotakis government to the former king, allowing him to remove his goods and chattels from Greece. However this aroused such opposition (the “containers affair”) that the government was forced to renege on its decision, even though the transport of goods had already begun. This meant that while a part – the most significant – of the royal possessions were kept in England, the rest would remain at Tatoi.The last government of Andreas Papandreou, under Act 2215/1994, was to revoke this agreement in its entirety. Evangelos Venizelos, the then minister of Justice, reinstated the Junta’s law 225/1973, and this, along with the enforced removal of Greek nationality from the members of the former royal family, led Constantine to have recourse first to the Greek justice system and subsequently to the European Court. On 23rd November 2000 the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg found in favour of the former royal family on the one hand, and recognized their full rights to the ownership of Tatoi, Mon Repos and the estate of Polydendri. On the other hand it gave both sides a reasonable deadline for the agreed settlement of a compromise solution. If this was not possible, the suitors were ordered to proceed with an evaluation of all the moveable and immovable property, with a view to the payment of compensation, the value of which would be decided by the European Court of Human Rights. After the refusal of the Greek government to come to any understanding with former King Constantine, the European Court, on the 28th November 2002, finally decided on a compensation of 13.200.000 euros.The Greek State took possession of Tatoi as its new owner on the 3rd March 2003.During this time the estate, apart from being abandoned and looted, suffered two large forest fires due to arson. On the 16-18 July 1974, 13,500 stremmata of forest were reduced to ashes, followed by a further 4000 stremmata on 10-11 July 1977. To cap it all there was a devastating earthquake on 7th September 1999, with its epicenter very near Tatoi.The only area to keep some continuity with the past, throughout this period of total collapse, was the cemetery on Palaiokastro. And this despite the looting of the church and mausoleum, and the damage inflicted by time and human hands on the various graves, and on the guardhouse. The burial of Queen Frederica on the 12 February 1981, in the presence of the royal families of Greece and Spain, representatives of royal houses, friends of the departed, old courtiers and many ordinary people, was the most memorable event at Tatoi during this period. On the 7th February 1993 Princess Aspasia of Greece (Manou), was also buried at Palaiokastro, together with Alexandra, the daughter of Aspasia and Alexander and last Queen of Yugoslavia. Lastly, on the 11th October 2007, the burial took place of Princess Aikaterini of Greece (Lady Brandram), the youngest sister of George II, Alexander and Paul.The small mindedness that resulted in the abandonment of the Estate by the government, the fanaticism and malice that led to arson, looting and destruction, and finally the earthquakes and heavy winters, brought Tatoi, undefended as it was, to such an extreme state that members of the public were eventually forced to intervene. Indignant, determined and tenacious, they took upon themselves all the obligations that for a long time should have been the responsibility of the state. It took almost seven years, from 1998 to 2004, for the historian Kostas M. Stamatopoulos to chronicle the life of the estate for posterity. His two volume work, The Chronicles of Tatoi (1800-2003) was published by Kapon Editions in 2004, with a double aim, both to enable future governments to act on the basis of established research, and to bring the uniqueness of the Estate to the attention of a wider community of people. The author of the Chronicles, in his capacity as general secretary of the Elliniki Etaireia (the Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage), enlisted the help of that dynamic organization in the efforts to save Tatoi. The first step was to put together a file with all the architectural designs, photographs and historical details of the buildings on the estate, apart from the palace. This work was carried out by Mr Iason Kavallinis, and was handed over to the Ministry of Culture in 2001, accompanied by a request that Tatoi should be a listed for preservation by the ministry of culture. The ‘listing’ of the estate covered the 15,000 stremmata where almost all of its buildings stand, and was obtained after two years’ delay in September 2003. The second step, undertaken by an interdisciplinary committee of the Elliniki Etaireia, was to work out a management proposal in general terms, for the revival and productivity of the Estate. The proposal was made public by K.M. Stamatopoulos, president of the committee, at a press conference in March 2005. In 2010 the society of The Friends of Tatoi came to the aid of the subsequent efforts of the Elliniki Etaireia, and under the highly energetic presidency of Mr Vassilis Koutsavlis, bravely drew the attention of the public to the question of Tatoi – at which point it began to be a popular issue supported by the press. In November 2011 a guide to the estate was circulated, also published by Kapon, entitled: Tatoi, Travels in time and place. It’s author was Kostas M. Stamatopoulos.And although the public diligently did their duty, the Government continued not to do its own. A period of neglect was followed by one of indecision, confusion and negligence, during which a few restorations of dubious quality were carried out, as well as an inventory and the partial restoration of precious items by departments from the ministry of Culture. For nigh on ten years no one set foot among the piles of objects – which include the royal carriages – in the old cowshed, with the result that heirlooms stored there since 1977 have begun to rot and fall apart. A Presidential Decree of 2007 abolished the historic boundaries of the Estate, placing the greater part of its wooded area under an administrative body, the National Park of Parnitha, and dividing the Estate into zones, some of which were designated for uses incompatible with the buildings that stood within them. The inevitable result was that worthy efforts, for example by the architectural practice that won the competition for ORSA (a government planning department for Athens), have so far met with failure. The financial crisis has worsened the situation. The legally assigned Committee for the Management of Tatoi, in April 2012, instead of simplifying matters, complicated things further and only generated yet more dead ends for the beleaguered estate. The crowning admission of total failure came in the form of an announcement, at the end of 2012, that Tatoi was to be classified among the State properties either to be auctioned or leased as a State asset! One thing is certain: the future of the Estate is still undetermined, uncertain and constantly changing, and all the while the dilapidation of its buildings and the destruction of its entire infrastructure continues ever more rapidly.
Source and for more informatiom: www.tatoi.org