The hall of fame starts right after the church, to your left. First the graves of ecclesiastical dignitaries, then philanthropist Georgios Averof, actress and politician Melina Mercouri and her husband, film director Jules Dassin, archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, former prime minister Andreas Papandreou, the Goulandris shipping family, actress Aliki Vougiouklaki, the author T.H. White, missionary Jonas King, architect Ernst Ziller, poets Odysseas Elytis and George Seferis, musician Vasilis Tsitsanis… the list is endless.
But it doesn’t matter who lies in these graves, who chiselled their tombstones. I recognise some of the names, but barely know their backstory. You don’t need to know all this to feel the energy, the peace, the history. Walk the garden’s streets, soak in the art, and if you want to learn more, get your hands on “The First Cemetery of Athens; A Guide to its Monuments and History,” a comprehensive directory of a place one can easily get lost trying to navigate. I can’t think of a more enchanting place to lose an Athenian afternoon.