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Location DB > Greece > Attica > Pendeli > La Tourelle
La Tourelle
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 Database Info
created by SoupMeister on 11/13/2004 8:15 PM
last modified by SoupMeister on 12/6/2006 11:49 PM
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This is a 19th century stately home in a mixture of neoclassical and modern European styles and a local flair.

Sorry, I don't have GPS co-ordinates for the building. I'll get those when next I'm in the area and update accordingly.

By day, La Tourelle is an inviting building. It felt quite inviting even by night, certainly more so than the abandoned fifty year-old house I visited the same night, which scared me beyond belief for no apparent reason. La Tourelle carries herself with an air of dignity that is very becoming. She is, after all, an 150 year old French aristocrat. But she also has humility -- no-one really notices this building as they drive up the mountain to one of the many restaurants and tavernas a few minutes uphill. And, although La Tourelle is made of the local stone that was the main ingredient of all houses on the mountain, she also incorporates marble of exceptional quality -- from the same ancient quarries that built the Parthenon, no less.

The building has three wings. Each is separated from the others by a strange, out-of-style narrow groove. The masonry alludes to three completely separate buildings erected close to each other, diminishing the building's volume. This was intended to be one of the two biggest single abodes on the mountain at the time (the other one belonged to the Duchess too).

The grooves hide narrow windows like arrow slits. A romantic addition, no doubt; La Tourelle was built in the late 19th Century, and was never intended to withstand an assault.

The entrance would have been very impressive, with huge, bright windows letting in light filtered through a deep plane, oak and pine forest. Inside, it's a veritable labyrinth -- if you look up. There are four floors, two of which are accessible from the front entrance. Actually, there are no floors at all. The oak beams that would have supported the floorboards have all rotted away, leaving square holes on the walls. The intended design is further obscured by the sheer amount of garbage people have dumped in this (otherwise historic) monument. I can only guess at the floorplan, and it seems to involve a huge common, reception area with rooms about it, many of which had internal windows looking down into it. Something like an indoors courtyard. This would have no doubt been influenced by similar designs in France and Italy, designs perhaps already a hundred years old by the time La Tourelle's foundations were set.

The rear of the building has four levels, as it's built on a steep mountainside. There were two stairwells in the two wings. One is narrow, the other is wider. Presumably the narrower one would have been for staff access. I think both went down to the cellar, which is the ground floor on this side of the building. Here were also stables with beautifully vaulted ceilings -- now black and dripping water, and inaccessible because some idiot has dumped insane amounts of rubble right in front of the doorway.

The 'third' floor is on the same level as the main entrance to the building. The fourth floor is adorned with a beautiful marble balcony, carved in the style of the day. It is thoroughly inaccessible now, and has remained untouched, except by nature. The balcony overlooks literally half of Attica, and commands a magnificent view of the Aegean sea. You can see that even from the third floor, although modern day construction has reduced the field of view and replaced it with yuppies and their swimming pools.
 Basic Information
Type: Building
Status: Abandoned
Accessibility: Easy
Recommendation: check it out if you're nearby
 Physical Information

Pendeli, Attica
Owner: Unknown, probably state property now
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  •  Hazards
  • A few sheer drops (make your first visit in the daytime)
  •  Interesting Features
    Historical importance.

    Beautiful marble balcony (inaccessible).

    This is more for the archaeologically/historically inclined urban explorer. There are no tunnels (despite various, mutually contradicting claims to the contrary) and no decaying machinery.

    Occasionally, someone claims the site is haunted, but that's no surprise. The entire mountain is teeming with similar stories and legends. There are more awe-inspiring places up there. Go and see for yourself.
     Security Measures
  • fences
  • barbed wire
  •  Historical Dates
    Built: 0
    Closed: 1854
     Required Equipment
     Recommended Equipment
    gloves, flashlight if you go by night.
    Had this lovely stately house been completed in time, it would have belonged to the Duchess of Plaisance, born in Pennsylvania at the end of the 18th century, who married one of Napoleon's generals in France, and obtained his title after her husband's death.

    A strange character with reportedly unsavoury religious beliefs (for the time anyway), the Duchess moved to the newly formed country of Greece soon after the 1821 uprising against the Ottoman Empire. She brought huge funds and built several pretty, stately homes in Attica. Her charitable donations and general down-to-earth outlook on things (she was a US-born 'commoner', after all) made her very popular in the area.

    When her daughter died, she had her embalmed and built a shrine for her in her house near the sea. The shrine and house burned to the ground years later, and the duchess moved to her secluded summer residence on the mountain of Pendeli, living the rest of her days in seclusion. She died in 1854 and was buried near there.

    There's an uncanny collection of legends about her, her daughter, her houses and their contents, and her connection to an infamous highwayman of the time. That's to be expected. The mountain of Pendele seems to collect legends. Anyone who's connected to it is somehow entangled, and the Duchess of Plaisance adored this place.

    This building is largely an unknown. I must have passed it for twenty years before actually realising it belonged to the Duchess. It sits by the roadside, and is completely ignored by everyone.

    It was never completed, because the owner died while it was being built. From the extravagant marble balcony of its top floor, you'd have been able to see all of what is now Athens, the Aegean sea and even the nearest islands.

    Predictably, there's a good set of legends about it too. Some say it's haunted which I find amusing, given it was never completed. There are legends of tunnels somewhere under it, again unsubstantiated.
     Media Coverage

     Future Plans
    I'd love to see this eventually restored, completed and turned into a museum. Wishful thinking, naturally.

    Update, 2006-06-18: driving past today, I noticed two things: the rubble has been cleared from the back yard of La Tourelle, and a metal wire fence has been erected around it. This is news, as it's the first time anything is changed around the building, as far as I can remember. With any luck, it'll stop people from dumping garbage there. Let's hope nothing bad happens to the building itself! I'll keep you posted.

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     Photo Galleries
    Click to view gallery
    Digital Photos (January 2004)
    Mon, Jan 12th, 2004
    posted by SoupMeister
    28 pictures
    Click to view gallery
    More (film) photography (January 2004)
    Tue, Jan 13th, 2004
    posted by SoupMeister
    21 pictures

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     Moderator Rating
    The moderator rating is a neutral rating of the content quality, photography, and coolness of this location.

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    This location's validation is current. It was last validated by Emperor Wang on 12/7/2006 7:33 PM.

     Latest Changes
  • on Dec 7 06 at 19:33, Emperor Wang validated this location
  • on Dec 6 06 at 23:49, SoupMeister changed the following: City
  • on Jun 25 06 at 15:00, Emperor Wang validated this location
  • on Jun 18 06 at 21:22, SoupMeister changed the following: Security Measures
  • on Jun 18 06 at 21:20, SoupMeister changed the following: Future Plans
  • on Jun 18 06 at 21:18, SoupMeister changed the following: Future Plans
  • on Jun 15 06 at 14:53, SoupMeister changed the following: Latitude, Longitude, Co-ordinate Accuracy
  • on Mar 30 06 at 0:52, Emperor Wang validated this location
  • on Apr 22 05 at 0:39, SoupMeister updated basic gallery info
  • on Apr 22 05 at 0:39, SoupMeister updated basic gallery info
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