Tatoi Palace, nestled on the scenic Mount Parnitha near Athens, holds a rich historical significance as the former summer retreat of the Greek royal family before the monarchy’s abolition in 1973. This grand estate, long neglected, is poised for a remarkable transformation with a £12.3 million renovation project that aims to return it to its former splendor and repurpose it as a museum.
The story of Tatoi Palace begins in 1872 when King George I, funded privately from Denmark, acquired the sprawling 10,000-acre property for his family’s summertime enjoyment. The estate was a haven of lush woods, meandering rivers, and abundant wildlife. Comprising not only the main palace building but also personnel quarters, stables, beehives, farms, and more, it held a unique charm. Additionally, the estate is the final resting place of Prince Philip’s father and King Charles’s grandfather, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark.
Prince Philip, born in Greece, spent his early years there before his family was exiled when he was just 18 months old. The Greek royal family came to prefer the privacy of Tatoi Palace over the official royal residence, which is now the presidential palace, and eventually, they made it their permanent home. When circumstances forced them to flee the country during a period of intense political upheaval, the palace was relinquished to the state, still housing their personal effects. It has remained frozen in time ever since.
Recent developments, including a meeting between King Charles, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and his wife Mareva Grabowski-Mitsotakis last year, have set the stage for change. King Charles, during his visit as part of the 200th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence, demonstrated renewed interest in the palace’s fate.
The ambitious £12.3 million investment aims to revitalize Tatoi Palace and open it as a museum by 2025, through a collaborative effort between Britain and Greece. King Charles’s Prince’s Foundation is set to provide guidance to the Greek government for the restoration project. Plans include converting King George I’s stables into a museum and rejuvenating the estate’s gardens, which house several royal tombs. The resolution of a prolonged legal dispute over the palace’s ownership in 2002 paved the way for this initiative.
The palace, while retaining its majestic main residence, has witnessed other areas falling into disrepair. As visitors explore the grounds, they may come across enigmatic relics obscured by vegetation, such as gates leading to nowhere, deteriorating structures, and rusting vehicles. Over 20 royals and five heads of state have found their final resting place within the estate’s hallowed grounds, preserving a unique historical legacy.