While you are on the top side of SYNTAGMA and desire respite from the baking heat and noise of the city, in less than 5 minutes you can enter the National Gardens, formerly the Kings Royal Gardens, by continuing down Amalias St. (to your left with your back to the tomb).
The National Gardens stretch for quite a ways (5-6 square blocks). They even have a small Zoo. Its more like a petting zoo really but with out the petting. Its a wonderful bit of nature in the middle of the city. The gardens are irrigated by a channel initially laid by the tyrant Peisistratos as an aqueduct in ancient times. You can read about that in the actual Syndagma metro station and even see the clay pipes themselves or if you cant wait you can also read about it here.
The Garden serpentine walks boast peacocks, waterfowl and cats'
The public toilet you will see used to be the cold storage facility of Queen Amalias larder. The young Bavarian Queen Amalia was the driving force behind the gardens back in the 1840's.
I dont mean to sound snide and demeaning but at one point in the too not distant past the Zoo was under financed by the city. Its also too small for the larger animals they had at one point. Somebody went and shot the lion a few years ago and his mate the lioness died from lonliness or perhaps fear.
Here in the Gardens there are a few forlorn critters left though. Lots of ducks and cats mostly. The poor ducks were attacked by the "stray dogs" you'll see roaming around Athens and there are no animal shelters in Greece although a lot of concerned Greeks are trying to get some governmental support for this issue. It seems to be on the governments back burner.
Its safe to say that thousands of foreigners who live in Greece know just how indifferent the Greek 'animal lover' can be. Especiallay the Greek officlals appointed and paid to safeguard their humane treatment. A nice loving flogging with 'the cat' perhaps properly applied might be in order. I do hear good things about the Attika Zoological Park out by the airport however.
Now the National Ducks cringe behind the railing of the fish pond and are suspicious and wary. These turtles above far right look fat and sassy and without a care in the world... thats the job I want in the next life!
Most Greeks arent much for pets for some reason. Some Greeks are fanatics about animals and collect strays, most however, if they own a cat, may confine it to the balcony. Some extremely misguided dog owners do the same.
The Garden also has busts of Count John Capodistrias, a Corfiot (a native of Corfu) patriot, en-nobled by the Venetians and Greece's first president. He was assassinated in 1831 in Nafplion.
The poets Valaorities and Solomos as well as the Swiss philhellene Eynard are also immortalized in bronze. Behind the palace, but inaccessible for security reasons are the remains of Roman baths and remnants of Hadrians' city wall.
If you are a cat lover you'll find plenty of kitties roaming around or.... stoically engaged in other activities. Cats know how to have fun everywhere... shameless creatures!
Unlike American cats, saying kitty, kitty , kitty will only earn you looks of disdain. If you want a Greek cat to respect you, you have to speak to it in its own language and make "PSSST, PSSST, PSSSST" sounds, sort of like a hiss. If that fails, a little food will get their attention.... at the right moment of course.