On a sunny Sunday in Greece, it is nice to walk in the countryside or visit an historical location, enjoy an open-air meal in good company and possibly drive a beautiful Jaguar!
We managed to do all of the above with a spicy ingredient that tabloids and people all around the world are curious about: history and gossip about a royal family.
Today we are trying to compress in a few words the birth of this part of Greek history in order to satisfy your curiosity and introduce the fairytale location that we reached on board of ten different Jaguars.
The Greek War of Independence (1821–1829), was a successful revolution waged by the Hellenic population to win independence for Greecefrom the Ottoman Empire. After a long and bloody struggle, with the aid of the Great Powers and the Philhellenism of European aristocrats such as Lord Byron, Greek Independence finally was granted.
In 1827 Ioannis Kapodistrias was the first governor of the independent Greek Nation. As head of state of Greece, he proceeded with crucial changes for the advancement of the State, as well as the enactment of the state legal system in order to restore law and order. Moreover, he reorganized the military forces under a united administration. His reforms and measures, along with his effort to boost the country evoked feuds that led to his assassination in Nafplion on October 9, 1831.
In 1832, at the Convention of London, the Great Powers formed by the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of France and the Russian Empire, established that Greece would be governed by a Monarchy and Prince Otto Friedrich Ludwig of Bavaria of the Wittelsbach dynasty was appointed first King of the newly created Kingdom of Greece. Otto’s parents were the Crown Prince Ludwig 1st of Bavaria and Therese, daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen.
On January 25, 1833, at the age of 17, Otto disembarked from the British frigate “Madagascar“, in Nafplion, amid cheers of the crowd, with 3,500 Bavarian troops as his army and the three members of the Bavarian Regency, planned to rule until Ottowoud come of age (reach adult status) in 1835.
On December 22, 1836, King Otto I of Greece was married in Germany, to the Duchess Amalia of Oldenburg. Upon her arrival in Greece, the 17-year-old beautiful Queen Amalia was heartily welcomed. Here you can see her coat of arms. She started working on social issues and wisely realized that her style of dress should emulate the style of the Greek people. She created a “romantic folksy court dress” which became the Greek national costume and encouraged Otto to adopt a Hellenistic style in his portraits.
Until the completion of the building project for the Athens Royal Palace, now the Greek Parliament in Syntagma Square, Otto and Amalia temporarily lived in the mansion that was the first permanent base of the Greek National Assembly, now known as the Old Parliament on Stadiou street.
Afterwards, the Royal Couple moved in the building which is now the Museum of The City of Athens at Paparigopoulou street. The interior of the Royal Palace was not completed even until their exile.
Throughout the reign of her husband, Queen Amalia gave prominence to the redevelopment of the green spaces in the city and particularly, the creation of the Royal (now National) Gardens of Athens.
Before finishing the plantation of the Royal Gardens, she decided to purchase a vast area of 250 hectares in the north of Athens in the rich valley of Kifisos river.
The climate was perfect for grapevines and fruit trees. Queen Amalia also created a husbandry model in her property including many domestic and farm animals. There are sources indicating that there were cows, chickens, beehives and sheep of the “Merino” race, as well as a pair of giraffes. Old horses of the royal family were used for the tillage and for other agrarian work so that those animals could serve much longer to the farm.
Meanwhile she supervised the construction of a royal villa with tower depicting the gothic style of Schloss Ηochenschwangau in Bavaria where her husband Otto was born.
In this amazing picture, you can admire the Queen’s Tower protected by 10 gorgeous Jaguars.
The Queen Tower is the unique monument of new-gothic architecture style in Greece. The portal of the building is monumental since it resembles a castle with its ramparts and smaller side towers in gradual forming. The main room of the Tower, which depicts elaborate decoration with the coats of arms of the two Houses held a prominent status concerning the organization of banquets.
The precious, delicate and beautifully preserved marquetry of the wooden floor made it necessary to request visitors to enter the big Hall without shoes or wearing the special “Queen’s slippers”.
Otto's reign would prove troubled, but managed to last for 30 years before he and his wife, Queen Amalia, left the way they came, aboard a British warship.
During the early years of his reign, the group of three Bavarian Regents ruled in his name and made themselves very unpopular by trying to impose German ideas of rigid hierarchical government on the Greeks, while keeping most significant state offices away from them. Nevertheless, they laid the foundations of a Greek administration, army, justice and education system.
Otto was sincere in his desire to give Greece good government, but he suffered from two great handicaps, his Roman Catholic faith in an Orthodox country and the fact that his marriage to Queen Amalia remained childless due to a rare congenital syndrome that prevent the formation and development of the uterus of the Queen.
After the royals were exiled, the government declared the estate as public property. The management was assigned to the Ministry of Finance that afterwards delivered it to the new Danish king, King George I of the Glücksburg dynasty. In 1863, Otto was given the estate once again, as proxy. Following his death, the estate was purchased by baron Sinas and after that, it was sold to the Pachis ’s family. Next, it passed on the Serpieri family.
By an interwar law, which forbade the existence of very large real estate in private hands, the Serpieri family was forced to offer the 90% of the estate to the Greek public to become an Environmental Awareness Park and maintain only an area of 25 hectares, inside of which the Queen’s Tower stands to date.
The estate of the Queen’s Tower nowadays, is an Agricultural Commercial Company. Inside the property we to encounter horses, chickens and beehives. The stables which are offered for rent, make it possible for horses to be accommodated and get proper physical exercise in an ideal habitat.
The Estate still produces excellent organic pistachio, olives and grapes. After having visited the winery, we had the pleasure to taste the all varieties of white and red wine, produced locally, accompanied by cheese and a delicious vegetable pie.
Refreshed by the chilled wines and amazed by the natural surroundings, all the gentlemen drivers switched on the “horse power” of their Jaguar engines and together with the ladies, slowly follow the path among the horses’ fields to gain the exit.
We drove to our final destination: the vintage classic taverna Eleftheriadis in Drosia, a well-known family restaurant that since 1928 offers its speciality: the “Peinirli’”, a kind of Greek Pizza in a shape of a 30 cm long boat-craft filled with cheese and everything delicious and fattening you can imagine!
We parked our cars nearby and we prepared our taste buds under the shade of the fig and plane trees.
Another successful gathering was over and we toasted to meet again at the next one, always proud to drive our beautiful roaring Jaguars.