Plaka – The Heart of Athens

  Plaka is the old historical neighborhood of Athens, clustered around the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis, and incorporating labyrinthine streets and neoclassical architecture. The origin of the name is uncertain: it has been theorized to come from Arvanite “Pliak Athena”, meaning “Old Athens”, or from the presence of a “plaque” which once marked its central intersection.

              

PLAKA AND SURROUNDINGS – TIPS AND SITES

plaka

plaka

  • The Acropolis and the Parthenon.
  • The New Acropolis Museum, with a permanent exhibition of over 4,000 artifacts retrieved from the Acropolis hill and the surrounding area. It offers also special exhibition programs and events, as well as a wonderful cafe – restaurant with a 700 square meters public terrace offering panoramic views of the Acropolis. Do not miss the “Acropolis LEGO model” at the 2nd floor just outside the cafe.
  • The Dionysus Theater: The first stone theater ever built and the birthplace of Tragedy.
  • The Odeon of Herodus Atticus, the main venue of the Athens Festival, which runs from May through October each year.
  • The South slope of the Acropolis: The Asclepion, the Sanctuary of Dionysus, the Stoa of Eumenes.

 

  • Dionysiou Areopagitou street: The lovely and wide pedestrian street connecting Makrigianni with Acropolis area, Philopappos hill and Thission.
  • The Lysicrates Monument, erected by the namesake wealthy patron of musical performances at Dionysos Theatre (the oldest Theater in Europe, located at the South slope of the Acropolis in Makrigianni area). Later, in 1669,  was purchased by the adjacent French Capuchin monastery where many travellers, including Byron and Chateaubriand, stayed during visiting Athens in the early 1800s. In the gardens of that monastery, in 1818, the tomato was first cultivated in Greece. After the monastery was destroyed in mid 1820s, Lord Elgin unsuccessfully tried to negotiate the Lysicrates monument purchase.
  • The Anafiotika, a scenic tiny neighbourhood built by construction workers with origin from the Cycladic island of Anafi. The skilled construction workers arrived at the King Otto’s years and in a further building reconstruction period in Athens. The neighborhood was built according to typical Cycladic architecture, and even nowadays gives to visitors the feel of Greek islands in the heart of the city with small white houses, mostly cubic, and small streets that often end up to ladders or even deadends at terraces with views over the city.
  • Many beautiful, well-preserved churches and chapels built between the 11th and 15thCentury A.D. spread along your way. Some of them are: St. Catherine’s church, Metamorphosis tou Sotiros church – Kotaki (Transfiguration of the Saviour), Saint Nikolaos church – Rangava, St. John the Theologian Chapel.
  • The Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens (Annunciation of the Mother of God Church) with the chapel of St. Eleftherios on it’s right.
  • The Roman Agora, where you can see the remains of a series of Roman buildings and structures, such as the Odeon of Agrippa, the Gate of Athena Archegetis and the Tower of the Winds, the amazing octagonal, Pentelic marble clocktower .
  • The Ancient Agora: The best example of an ancient Greek agora and at the same time, the birthplace of Democracy, with numerous buildings, structures and monuments, including the well preserved Temple of Hephaestus and the Stoa of Attalos which houses the Ancient Agora Museum
  • Pnyka or Pnyx, a small, rocky hill surrounded by parkland with a best view to the Acropolis and the Parthenon. It was the meeting place of one of the world’s earliest known democratic legislatures, the Athenian ekklesia (assembly). As such, the Pnyx is the material embodiment of the principle of isēgoría, “equal speech”, i.e. the equal right of every citizen to debate matters of policy. The other two principles of democracy were isonomía, equality under the law, and isopoliteía, equality of vote and equal opportunity to assume political office. 
  • The Museum of Greek Folk Art which owns a rich collection of objects representing all branches of Greek Folk art.
  • The Athens University Museum Housed at a lovely building of the pre-ottoman occupation era, which served also as the first Athenian University 1837 – 1841. A collection of scientific instruments related to physics, chemistry, medicine and pharmacology, as well as rare editions of books and scientific studies, portaits and other objects related to university life.
  • The Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments is a museum and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology in the Lassanis Mansion where displayed about 600 Greek musical instruments from the past 300 years.
  • The Center of Folk Art and Tradition “Angeliki Hatzimichali” housed in the Old Mansion of the former residence of the Greek Folklorist Angeliki Hatzimichali. On display, a collection of works of wood carvings, Traditional Costumes a.o.
  • Frissiras Museum: a contemporary painting museum which houses temporary exhibitions.
  • The Greek Children’s Art Museum, which features collections of toys from all over Greece.
  • The Hellenic Children’s Museum, exhibits drawings and 3d art works by children 4 – 14 years old.
  • The Alexiou Museum of lost professions: Exhibits depicting lost, traditional occupations, such as the “lacquier” or the “laternatzis” and many others.
  • The Jewish Museum, with a collection of more than 10,000 artefacts (some of which are unique) pertaining to the domestic and religious life, as well as the history of the Greek Jews.
  • The Open-air cinemas “Pari”, located in the heart of Plaka, and the “Thision”, the oldest open air cinema in Athens with a magnificent view to the Acropolis. A unique experience!
  • All Plaka’s squares: Lycicrates Square, Filomousou Etaireias Square, Agora’s Square, as well as the beautiful alleys Tripodon, Ragava, Tholou and Dioskouron, where you can find the most beautiful cafes or even traditional “Kafeneion” and taverns.
  • The flea market at Monastiraki and the many shops around Plaka.
  • And not to miss the opportunity to experience the Hammam Baths, a simple yet sophisticated place with respect to the tradition of oriental baths, that conveys the authentic hammam experience in Athens. The hammam has its roots in ancient Greek and Roman times. One habit that charmed and spread in many cultures of the Mediterranean basin over time. Hammam focuses on the elements of water, beauty, wellness, balance, the physical and mental health. 
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