Around the Acropolis Hill
Athens is undoubtedly one of the most emblematic cities worldwide, where it’s history unfolds around the sacred rock of the Acropolis, reflected upon monuments and artifacts dating back to antiquity, and expressed throughout architectural heritage of the 19th and 20th century. The best way to enjoy an Ancient Athenian panorama is to take a walk around the historic centre’s old neighbourhoods and its narrow alleys steeped in 6000 years of history. Follow our paths down memory lane in the surrounding area of the Acropolis Hill.
The neighbourhood of Plaka, the oldest one in Athens, always was and still is inhabited from antiquity up to today. Monuments dating back to the Classical Period, Ottoman period structures, the Roman Agora, Byzantine Churches, as well as amazing museums are just a few samples of the unmeasurable cultural heritage of this area. Plaka’s unsurpassed charm, also known as the “neighbourhood of the Gods”, is where you’ll wander around a labyrinth of alleys, admiring neat houses with manicured gardens and some restored neoclassical buildings. Make a point in stopping by its numerous picturesque tavernas and cafes to rest while sipping on your favourite cafe or savouring a Greek specialty! Purchase all your gifts at the shops located in the neighbourhood’s main streets, Adrianou and Kydathinaion, that sell wonderful traditional artifacts and souvenirs.
You’ll encounter Anafiotika at the northeast side of the Acropolis Hill; a unique island-type of neighbourhood with its whitewashed houses, colourful windows and doors, cute gardens, which create the impression of being in a village of one of the Cycladic Islands.
The area was inhabited and constructed in the middle of the 19th century, when builders from the Aegean island of Anafi came to Athens to build the Palace of the first King of Greece, Othonas. Knowing that they would have to spend few years away from home and feeling nostalgic, they decided to reconstruct their village on the highest area of Plaka. Therefore, they built small white houses, with the same architectural style as the ones found in their village. Anafiotika, which means the neighborhood of Anafiotes (people from Anafi), is a unique and beautiful must see area.
Monastiraki is the quintessential sight of Athens; full of narrow alleys, small buildings from the Ottoman and Byzantine Period, souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants; this is precisely the beating heart of the city centre.
Start your stroll from Monastiraki square, a typical meeting point for visitors as well as for Athenians. Make a point in seeing Tzistaraki Mosque, Andrianos Library, Pantanassas Byzantine Church, as well as the reconstructed neoclassic metro station, one of the network’s oldest (1895), where next to it is a specially constructed area (300 sq. m) that houses Ancient Iridanos River bed.
Monastiraki's central square is called Avyssinia Square (also known as Giousouroum) and is the place to be if you want to see the best Athenian open-air market. You can find literally anything here: rare antique furniture or antique models as well as any kind of second-hand items, old closets, bookshelves, frames, mirrors, secretaires, tables, gramophone records, and musical instruments. If you want to buy something it is highly recommended that you visit these markets early in the morning. On the other hand, if you simply want to walk around, noon is a perfect time of the day as you can combine a stop to have a glass of Greek wine or Ouzo, accompanied with Greek mezes (Greek tidbits), in one of the numerous small restaurants located around the square.
Moving ahead you’ll find yourselves in Psiri, located right next to Monastiraki, where you’ll enjoy its neoclassical flair and upbeat nightlife. This picturesque neighbourhood has in recent years evolved in a beloved city hangout for all ages.
Other nice neighbourhoods at the outskirts of the historic centre are: Makrygianni (found next to the Acropolis Museum); Ano Petralona where you can admire samples of popular urban architecture and Thiseio with its beautiful neoclassical buildings. Take a break and stop for a beverage, drink in the view of the Acropolis Rock and the Ancient Agora, in the numerous cafes in Thiseio square located on Apostolou Pavlou street.
Interesting neighbourhoods to visit are also: Metaxourgeio; Kerameikos with its impressive archaeological site; and Gazi area with the former Gasworks, which now have been turned into a cultural centre of the Athens municipality “Technopolis”. Nowadays, Gazi neighborhood is a hotspot as nightlife in Athens is concerned.