Mountain profiles

The city of Athens sprawls throughout a basin defined on all sides by mountains and sea. Within this basin, smaller hills create a rolling terrain that ensures the city’s fabric is rarely level, rising and falling to match the changes in topography. Growing up in Athens, I was always fascinated by these mountains that formed a backdrop from almost every vantage point in the city, containing its expanse like a vast inland sea. According to the light and the time of day, the mountains can appear to form a flat curtain preventing you from seeing what lies beyond. Of course these mountains are not flat at all, but contain within them a richly-articulated terrain filled with life and history.

These monumental geographical features that embrace the city affect it in two ways: they contain the spread of the city and they provide – at its doorstep – an exceptional natural habitat. I set out by car, mountain bike and on foot to climb and discover what was contained within these natural “city walls.” Using a combination of a large format field camera and digital techniques to maximize depth of field, my goal was to bring into sharp focus the natural environment along with the city it contains, showing these parallel worlds in their wealth of detail.

Through my numerous trips I came to feel that these mountains are as much a treasure for the city of Athens as are its most famous monuments and ancient past; and they are in as much need of protection, if not more so. Fires have destroyed large areas of Mount Parnitha and Mount Penteli in the north and parts of Mount Hymettus in the east; and of course the city below is always encroaching. Despite these threats and the ongoing devastation, these resilient environments continue to show the strength of nature’s ability to rejuvenate, and to lift the human spirit from the pressures of urban life.