Vrilissia (Greek: Βριλήσσια) is a mildly urbanized northeastern suburb and a municipality of the North Athens peripheral unit, in the Attica Periphery. It is located at the southwestern accessible foot of the Penteli Mountain, from which it was named after as the ancient name of the mountain was Vrilissos (Βριλησσός). Vrilissia lies within the Athens basin, which is surrounded by the Mountains of Penteli, Parnitha, Aigaleo and Imittos and is subsumed in the Athens Prefecture. In the ancient times formed part of the Flya Municipality, which covered the land spanning from Psychiko to Agia Paraskevi and mainly centered around what is now known as the Municipality of Chalandri.
The administrative limits of the municipality expand from the Halandri gully up to first hills of the Pentelikon, known as Patima and Koufos Hills (Footing and Deaf Man's Hills). In distance of approximately 10 kilometres north-easternly from the centre of the Greek capital and 5 kilometres northwesternly from the city of Pallini, center of East Attica, the Vrilissia region amounts in 3.8 km2.
At the 2001 census, the Municipality presented 25,582 residents, while today, according to the local estimates, it has a population of 40,000 individuals. This means that 6,634 residents lived in each km2 during 2001 while today this number reaches to 10,373 people. The biggest population increase was observed during the decade of 1980 of 118.4%, while the building saturation comes between the decade of 1990 and the first decade of the 21st century.
Among the city's features one notices the mild building layout which covers four apartment floors maximum at the center, while particularly high is also the rate of private gardens. The centre of the city is built up around the Analipseos Main Church (Jesus Christ's Ascension Church), while the trading region mainly expands throughout the Penteli Avenue. The Municipality is characterized as region of immiscible residence, while the residents are considered to be among the mediate and upper income layers.
In 1949 Vrilissia constitutes an autonomous administrative entity of East Attica deriving from the Municipality of Halandri, while in 1990 the region is recognized as a Municipality of the Athenian Prefecture. The suburb is granted with rapid growth during 2004 in the general spirit of reformation for the Athens Olympic Games, with the city's peripheral road circuit completed, works of the city's regeneration, widening of the central avenue and averting of the inner traffic. The city is connected with all urban and suburban means of transport of Attica with the completion of Attica's turnpike Attiki Odos, the Imittos Ring Road, the Metro and Suburban Railway stations and the connection with the city Train Line. After long-lasting conflicts, the Naval Base region is granted to the Municipality with an official ceremony, while all the renovation spirit gives the spark for mass creation of small parks in each neighbourhood.
Tax Values of the land in 2007 fluctuate from € 1.550 – 2.050 / m2, in similar levels with the neighbouring Halandri and Agia Paraskevi. The trading prices break the dam of the € 2.000 / m2 between € 2.200 and 3.000 / m2.
Mayor of city is since 2007 Mr Kostas Ioannidis, while Mr Nikos Papadopoulos is granted with the title of Emeritus President of the Municipality as chairman of the Vrilissia Community for many years, assisting on local issues.
One may come across many references of the "Vrilissos" (or alternatively "Vrilittos") name in some of Thucydides, Herodotus and Strabo's writings. The name probably means "Great Rock" and derives from the words "vri" (βρι), meaning "forceful", from the verb "vriao" (βριάω), meaning "I'm full of power", "li" (λη), from the word "laas" (λάας) meaning "rock", and the Pelasgic ending "sos" (σος). The Penteli Mountain was called that way because of the great white stones and beautiful marbles mined out and used for the magnificent Greek world known monuments of Acropolis in antiquity (as well as for the modern buildings of the 19th century in Athens), before the Great Penteli Abbey being set at the foot of the mount in 1576 by the bishop of Evripos, Timotheos Mentelis.
The word "Vrilissia" is a plural form of a neuter noun (τα Βριλήσσια) referring to the land of the Great Rock Mountain (Penteli). The word is pronounced as "Vri-lί-ssi-a". The Greek form for Municipality of Vrilissia is "Δήμος Βριλησσίων". The region's male resident is called "Vrilissiotis" (ο Βριλησσιώτης) and female resident "Vrilissiotissa" (η Βριλησσιώτισσα), whereas in plural they are called "Vrilissiotes" and "Vrilissiotisses" (οι Βριλησσιώτες και οι Βριλησσιώτισσες).
The city's logo depicts a well known ancient Greek trove, whereas a boulder representing the municipality's megalith-shaped form is placed at the main park of the city (Eleftherias Square, meaning Square of Freedom).
Vrilissia is an affluent suburb with several schools spanning all grades, sporting grounds and parks; it is also home to a large commercial district with a number of banks and several malls within its territory. Two popular centres of activity are the two main squares, "Plateia Iroon" or Iroon Square and "Plateia Analipseos" opr Analipseos Square, recently renovated and hosting several small coffee shops. Vrilissia has exceptionally wide, straight roads, in stark contrast to those typically found in Athens, and is also relatively green, with most houses/apartment blocks extending to gardens.
Ano Vrilissia Maisonette Block
In the early years of the 21st century the suburb has become very conveniently connected to the city's mass transit system as well as its road network: both the Athens Metro and the Suburban Railway (Proastiakos) are within walking distance for a considerable part of the suburb's population (Doukissis Plakentias Station). Several (and relatively frequent) buses serve destinations to neighbouring suburbs as well as the centre of Athens, and the new Attiki Odos ringroad is also in close proximity (access from exits 12 and 13). Finally, in 2006, Penteli Avenue, one of the main roads serving the suburb, was also widened to accommodate increased traffic, shortening traffic to Halandri by several minutes. Vrilissia has a popular men's handball team, competing in the A1 league.
The administrative limits of the city at around 1950–1970 reach up to the first hills of the Pentelikon Mountain. In particular, the residential part at the urbun design of the suburb in the old days reached to the peripheral road of Penteli, Anapafseos's Avenue. Over that avenue the woodland of Patima Hill (Footing Hill) spread, on which the Metamorphoseos tou Sotiros (Jesus Christ Savior's Metamorphosis) church was set, as well as a small space with pits placed for the neighbouring marble workshops. This space was progressively shaped for the settlement of the Vrilissia Municipal Damari (Pit) Theatre of Aliki Vougiouklaki.
At that time, Penteli constituted a popular destination for day excursions for Athenians, as well as picnics, walks in the forest, a stop for a coffee, or dinner at the local taverns. Despite the natural wealth of the mountain, it was never characterised as a "National Forest", as was the case with the neighbouring Parnitha Mountain, largely due to the landholding muniments of the Penteli Abbey since the 16th century, often sold or adopted by local mountaineer graziers working at the Abbey's farm-lands, before the constitution of the modern Greek state.[CN]. When urban housing projects began reaching Halandri, Vrilissia and Melissia, Penteli started to transform into a residential landscape. Features that had long started to creep in, since the time of the monks, the Sarakatsaneoi graziers and the Doukissa of Plakentia who lived there since the 18th century. The gradual rise in value of the region, caused by the build-up of the area triggered individual or association claims, while the available pieces of land at the main Vrilissia area were rapidly taken up.[CN]
When the Penteli urban design began to take form, the claims increased, both in volume and intensity. Courts began to vindicate individual and association claims with a legal base of "good fidelity", and "usucaption". Vrilissia kept expanding into the hill, while it saw losses from each of its sides from the neighbouring suburbs of Melissia, New and Old Penteli. Around this time and in stark contrast to the lower density provisions afforded for the Ano Vrilissia settlement below the Anapafseos Avenue, the hill was allowed multi-floor apartment blocks (up to 5 levels) in the process compromising the aesthetics of the Penteliko scenery.
The hill was residented during a period when the cadastre and the distinction of the urban and forestal areas were at a primal stage (and unfortunately still are in 2007 for Greece). The south area of the hill looking at the Athens basin was included in the urbun design of Vrilissia and the street layout approved was implemented. However, at the east of the Patima of Vrilissia residential settlement, beyond the abrupt Kalavriton (Kalavrita) Street still lies a forestal area that has not been recognized nor by the plan of Vrilissia, neither by Penteli. This area is known as "Krassas Settlement", which has been a point of scepticism for the various municipal authorities that governed the suburb. The need for applying the law often stumbled at social dilemmas, with resulted to the fiew residents of the settlement being cut away from any form of transportation or other urbun convenience applied, but with the municipality also being unable to utilize part of its forestal heritage. This area amounts roughly at 0,045klm2, from which the 0,010 are inhabited. The last proposals of the municipal council suggested concession of 500 m 2 per household to those who abide by the criteria of the law (that allocate titles of purchase of the land inhabited). The municipality, according to the same proposal, claims the remaining indisposed land at the region of 0,030 klm 2 plus those that in collaboration with the forestal service of Penteli will be declared as forestal. As a result of the above, a fiew months before the Summer of 2007 it had been forecast that 0,040 klm 2 of forestal land would be inherited and utilized by the Municipality. Still, some local papers forecast negative events, as this would stimulate the apettite of many.
Finally, a pine-clad area of 0,088 klm 2 was preserved around the northern borders of the Municipality, up to the neighbouring suburbs and reaching the Halandri gullies to the south, a natural protection of the city from the traffic and exhaust. The climate of Vrilissia has always been distinguished in a "cement city" as some parts of Athens are often characterized. Even today, with the important transportation projects applied and the trading development, Vrilissia's climate is still considered to be clean, offering ideal conditions of living to its residents. Nevertheless, during the last years many unfortunate incidents have threatened this particular feature of the region.
In the means of the first decade of the 21st century, members of the Building Association "Agios Theoklitos" (Saint Theoklitos) are introduced as owners of large pieces of the Patima forested land to the west of the Vrilissia built area (near the Penteli Avenue), claiming that their association bought this piece of land in 1965 from the Penteli Abbey. However, the Many-Membered Court of First Instance of Athens Πολυμελές Πρωτοδικείο Αθηνών) on the 3537/2001 decision indicated that the Greek State was owner of the sub judice piece of land, for the Penteli Abbey had not yet been the owner of the 88.542 m 2 sold to the Association. Unfortunately, for another individual claim of 9.713 m 2 at the same geographic region, the Court on the 7319/2005 decision indicated that at the same the individual had bought the sub judice piece of land at an auction sale (12/20/1971) by the Penteli Abbey for 2.980.000 drachmas (δραχμές). The thought prevailed in the court was that the wide region of "Gerotsakouli" (Γεροτσακούλι) had been owned by the Abbey since its foundation in 1578 by Saint Timotheos Mentelis, Bishop of Evripos partially by donations from devout Christians and by purchase in 1600 by the Ottoman from Karystos of Evia named Kagadis with muniments that were destroyed during the Greek liberation by the army of Omer Vryonis.
Burnt area near the land claimed by the Agios Theoklitos association, a few weeks after the adjudication.
The recorded suggestions of the Greek State that the sub judice piece of land was characterized as forested since 1836 and that it constituted part of a wider region that came under its ownership by the Treaty of Konstantinoupoli on account of the "final distinction of the Greek borders" and by the 1830 protocols of London, as successor of the Turkish State, were not accepted by the court. On the contrary, the court decided that the Abbey from 1600 until 1955 owned on good fidelity these parts (among the rest) and became owner of this piece of public property on usucaption, since also public property may come under private ownership as long as this piece of property is used for 30 sequent years on good fidelity, which was completed on 9/11/1915. However, it only until the July 2007 that the Appellate reached a verdict on the same case which vindicated the individual claims on the same argument and which did not even accept the procedural intervention of the Municipality at the Court. This particular verdict constitutes a critical decision for the irrevocable examination of the substance of the case because even attempting to exercise recantation would only affect jurisprudential matters of the case and not the substance of the verdict. In each case, however, the Greek State and the Municipality are expected to examine any possible legal mean left.
Inside the forested area
On June 29, 2007, only a few weeks after the announcement of the verdict and the refusal of the Municipality to accept it, a great fire bursts at that specific region, while the fire service is scattered around other great fires all over Greece. Fires consume several residential buildings and forests, with the blaze lasting during the evening hours and drawing to an end following that. Another fire spread later in the summer, on Thursday August 16, 2007 and consumed tens more houses as flames spread on dry grass; if this had been removed, fire would not spread to buildings. The conflagration entered the settlement in the evening hours. Firefighters arrived in its roads to battle the flames along with firetrucks, helicopters and airplanes. The fire burnt for several hours and ended at night. It is only some weeks after the blackletter day, the Great Parnitha Mountain is partially destroyed that this incident comes to light. The government fights against the fire and manages to control it with the help of the residents only a few hours before the light comes down. However, that's not the end of the dark summer of 2007 that such incidents happen. The Vrilissia gully is also struck while evidence of arson is found. Even the great Naval Base, a junction of interests, is struck, although the greater part of its reformation project to turn it into a park is completed. Some days afterwards, Nea Penteli and the northern district of Melissia are also struck, while the Marousi Municipality rushes to characterize the great Syggros Park as "Syggros Forest" as smaller incidents of fire take place there. Adjacent Municipalities with forest heritage begin volunteer projects of surveillance by residents (such as Pefki and Vrilissia) while the Chalandri gully is also struck, only a few metres away from the local fire brigade department. The incidents around Attica are numerous (Kalivia Thorikou, Keratea, Imittos and Panio forests etc.) at the same time other Greek peripheries are in danger.
source: ESYE, Vrilissia Municipality
The Analipseos Cultural Hall at Vrilissia
Doukissis Plakentias Belt
List of municipalities of Attica
^ Vrilissia i Poli mas (Vrilissia, our City), article on the Krassas Settlement solution, Spring of 2007, Peloponnisou 52 Street, Vrilissia, Athens.
^ Vrilissiotika Nea (Vrilissia News), article on the Suburban Forest of Vrilissia, leaf 6, November 2007, p. 5, Aiantos 2 Vrilissia, Athens
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire
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