Nestled on the lower slope of Mt Hymettos east of the city, this beautiful 11th-century working monastery is maintained as a well-restored archaeological site. The monastery itself is a destination only for serious Byzantine buffs, but its location in the large Kesariani Vyrona Forest, a park popular with hikers and bikers, makes for a nice break from urban Athens.
The walled monastery complex, dotted with cypress trees, has a central court surrounded by a kitchen and dining rooms, the monks' cells and a bathhouse. The domed main church was built atop foundations of an ancient temple, and classical columns support the dome. Most of the preserved frescoes date to the 17th and 18th centuries. Double-check opening hours by telephoning. Dress appropriately for a religious venue.
To reach the park take bus 224 from Plateia Kaningos (at the north end of Akadimias) to the terminus. From here it’s about a 30-minute walk through the park to the monastery.