name Parnitha derives from the word "Parnis", which
has originated from the ancient Pelasgic language. The root
of this word is related to the words Parnonas and Parnassos
Parnitha is first mentioned in ancient scripts at 423 B.C.,
in Aristofanis's "Nepheles" and later, by comedian
Antifanis of Rhodes (405-333 B.C.) and by philosopher Theophrastus.
Pausanias mentions in his "Attica" (32,1-2), written
around 150 B.C.: "The mountains of Athens are Pentelikon
where querrys exist, Parnis which is a good place for hunting
wild boars and bears, and Hymettus, that hosts bees". This
report is significant, as it describes Mt Parnitha as a place
for good hunting of wild boars and bears. Obviously, in order
to correctly interprete the citation, it must be taken into
consideration that the term Parnitha was referred to a much
broader geographical area at that time.
Parnitha was inhabited since the Mycenean times. Its importance
is evident, from its location as a stronghold of Attica from
northern invasions. Along with mountains Pateras and Kitheron,
it constitutes a 60Km long natural wall, that starts from the
Evvian Gulf and stops at Megara Gulf.
The mountain appears to be the most embattled of Ancient Greece.
During the Peloponnesian War, harsh battles took place for the
control of Panaktos Fort. Finally, the Athenians rebuilt it
and made it extremely powerful. Dekeleia's Fort was the Spartan's
headquarters for many years during the Peloponnesian War.
Parnitha was also a worship place for the Athenians. Pausanias
mentions in his "Attica" that there was a copper statue
of Parnethius Zeus on the mountain, as well as an alter of Simaleous
Zeus, who controled rainfall, and also two devotional caves.
During the Classical Period, Athens knew exceptional growth
and glory, huge social, political and cultural evolution. However,
the Athenians respected the natural environment and this is
obvious in their religion and their myths. The protection of
nature and flora in particular, were undertaken by all Olympus'
Gods and each God took care of a specific tree or plant, such
as Athina for the olive-tree, Apollo for the laurel, Zeus for
the oak etc.
glorious era was succeeded by decay and obscurity, that lasted
several centuries. Attica's environment endured not only time,
but also multiple attacks of barbaric tribes, who camped and
stayed for long periods of time on its territory.
Later on, the mountain was a base for bandits and a colonization
area of Arvanites that appeared around 1350 A.D. and their basic
activity was farming. This continued until the early years of
the Hellenic State, when Parnitha has already become a big pasture.
Following the liberation of Greece, Athens was declared the
capital city of the Greek State and its population increased
tremendously. The inhabitants of Athens, from 4,000 in 1834,
became 66,000 in 1879. This fact had bad consequences to Attica's
natural environment. The few forests that had survived the recent
destruction by Kioutachis's army, were destroyed for the needs
of the capital city. Loggers, calcifiers, charcoalers, bakers,
potters etc., deforestated the mountains of Attica.
In modern times grazing was drastically decreased, until it
was forbidden in 1953. However, the human impact on the mountain
was not decreased. It is noteworthy that, during their retreat,
the German soldiers burned part of the firforest, in order to
control the attacks of the rebels. Moreover, a large part of
the firforest was degraded by cutting the firs' crowns for christmas
The declaration of the National Park of Parnitha in 1961 was
made according to a research carried out by the former Chief
Forester of Parnitha, Professor K. Makris (Makris Ê. 1958).
This event was catalytic for the salvation of the mountain and
today it is the only mountain in Attica that hosts such a rich
biodiversity (Amorgianiotis, 1997).
the photos an old stone bridge is seen, bearing an inscription
citing the time it was built.