Chaidari, known as the Hermos deme in antiquity, was not simply an important passage between Athens and Eleusina, but also the west gate of Athens, the point from where
all travellers from Thessaly, the Southern Mainland and the Peloponnese first viewed the splendid city. The road connecting the Eleusinian sanctuary of Demeter to the city was the famous Sacred Way, which passed through the area of the modern municipality of Chaidari,
and followed about the same course as the modern road. The banks of the Sacred Way were adorned with impressive burial monuments. Important sanctuaries within the limits of modern Chaidari were the temple of Apollon at the modern location of the Daphni Monastery and the sanctuary of Aphrodite at Skaramangas.
The area of Chaidari was relatively deserted during Byzantine and post-Byzantine times, covered with dense forrests. A unique and rather prominent exception is the famous Daphni Monastery, built on the location of
the temple of Apollon Daphnaios. Daphni was one of the best known Helladic monasteries and an important attraction for monks and pilgrims from the 11th to the 16th century. The impressive architecture and the brilliant mosaic decoration of the church of the Daphni Monastery cast it one of the most exceptional monuments of Byzantine art.
The area of Chaidari played a rather important role during the Greek Revolution, since it was the theatre of two significant battles that took place on the 6th and 8th of August 1826 respectively. The revolted Greeks fought
to save their last stronghold, the Akropolis of Athens, which was being besieged by strong Turkish forces. The exact location of the battles of Chaidari is around the Palataki tower. This was within a large fenced estate, known as Acherdari (Chaidari). Karaiskakis’ fighters fortified behind the fence and on the surrounding hills in
order to confront Kutahiye’s troops. The exceptionally interesting for its architecture Palataki was built just before the middle of the 19th century. In its guest quarters the great Greek artist Nikolaos Gyzis painted the
impressive murals of the Four Seasons. Equally impressive are the mural paintings by Nikephoros Lytras in the church of Agios Georgios, which then belonged to the Chaidari estate.
The period of the German Occupation is directly related to Chaidari, since this was the location of the largest
Nazi conentration camp in Greece. The Chaidari camp was not simply a place for imprisonment, torturing
and executions. The crimes that happened in there became ameans of terrorizing the people, a method for discouraging resistance activity. 21000 prisoners passed from the camp in total. Among them were many Jews,
the great majority of which was transferred to concentration camps in Central Europe. The Chaidari camp, the
place where so many people suffered martyrdom, is today a symbol of hope for the prevalence of human values over barbarism.
These are presented within the book in hand: Four meetings with history, four historical periods, four places that define the historical trajectory of Chaidari.
The idea of refraining from a conventional town history and, instead, illuminating probably its most significant aspects, belongs to mayor Kyriakos Nteniakos; an idea that we tried to materialize in the best possible way.
The scientifically accurate and at the same time easily understandable texts by Dr. Anastasia Leriou and the editing and artistic design by Dimitris Lucas brought an exceptionally pleasing result.
At the end of each chapter there are added texts by George Vergopoulos, econoist and special associate
of the Municipality. These texts connect yesterday with today. The reader may see there the attempts by
the Municipality of Chaidari to rescue and promote its history; to attend, restore and enhance places and monuments that belong to its residents, as well as to all Greeks.
The book, frugal, accurate and to the point, reveals its aim from the beginning: to illuminate the important, the special, the great; to present the past of Chaidari, thus contributing to the formation of a rational view on the management of this past.