The National Garden is located behind the Parliament at Syntagma Square in the center of Athens. It was created by Queen Amalia and her German gardener Schmidt in 1839 and it used to be the garden of the royal palace. It covers an area of 15.5 hectares and today it is owned by the state. It is open daily from sunrise to sunset and it's a beautiful, safe place to take a break from the hassles of modern, urban life.
The Garden contains a large collection of plants and trees from all over the world, a pond with lots of ducks (feeding the ducks is a favorite pasttime for local and visiting kids alike) and aquatic turtles, a small zoo, a kids' library, and a playground. It is also home to a large population of stray (non-aggressive) cats and dogs. The landscape architecture follows that of the style popular in England in the 18th century, in which human intervention was in harmony with nature, in contrast to the more geometric French style adopted in the adjoining Zappeion park.
The are lots of wandering paths that provide surprises as one comes across an open glade, a sunken Roman mosaic floor, a fountain, an alley overhung with wisteria, part of an ancient column overgrown with a vine. You'll find pensioners discussing the state of the world in a little square off the main entrance while tourists collapse on shady benches, finding respite from tramping around the city's sights, and grandparents let their charges run ahead without fear of passing vehicles.