If I wasn’t living near the beach in the southern suburbs of Athens, I would definitely be a resident of Plaka, the oldest historical neighbourhood of the Greek capital, located between Syntagma and Monastiraki Square.
When I wander the labyrinthine streets of Plaka, I feel like I have travelled through time. I suddenly find myself in an era where the true meaning of a neighbourhood is vivid and you can sense local Athenians filled it with tavernas, singing, dancing and drinking Retsina. I walk a little bit further and I can almost hear the melody lantern, while I’m surrounded by neoclassical architecture.
Plaka is known as the neighbourhood of the Gods and due to its proximity to the Acropolis I could say this place is like a gift from the Gods, for all of us who can walk its picturesque pedestrian streets. The largest street in Plaka is Adrianou Street that divides Plaka into two areas, Ano Plaka and Kato Plaka.
There are a lot of museums to visit, including the new Acropolis Museum, the new Jewish Museum of Greece, the Museum of Greek Folk Art, an annex of which is the Old Public Baths building, the Frissiras Museum with its contemporary paintings, the Museum of Popular Music Instruments, the Museum of Pavlos and Alexandra Kanellopoulou with a private collection, which was donated to the Greek state and housed in the neoclassical mansion of the Michalea family and the Athens University Museum.
And I still remember the Children Museum in Kydathineon Street.
I was about 7 when my mother took me there with my little brother. In the attic there is the “Pappou and Yiayia’s room” (grandfather’s and grandmother’s room) full of old furniture, a radio and an old Athenian house stove. Children visiting can also try on some old traditional costumes and there is also a gallery of kids paintings, old toys, a playground and a library.
Amongst souvenirs, old musical instruments, ceramics and miniatures of the Acropolis, you can find real treasures like the trendy jewellery of Apriati in Mitropoleos, the leather handmade designer handbags Ippolito, the Athens Protasis Jewellery Shop with handmade pieces inspired by the Greek islands, the Kedima Greek Art with home linens, the Loom with its colourful carpets, Koutelieris studio on Kekropos Street with wooden furniture made from elements retrieved from old houses and Elia handmade products from olive trees, amongst others. Walking down Adrianou Street you will also find The Seamstress, a shop featuring vintage clothes.
Plaka offers a wide choice of tavernas and coffee shops. You should absolutely visit the vividly coloured Kimolia art café on Yperidou Street, the romantic Yiasemi with its fireplace during winter and the pillows over the paved streets when the weather is friendly. Taste the homemade pies and desserts.
Visit also the traditional distillery Brettos on Kydathineon Street with its retro atmosphere, Melina Café, dedicated to Melina Merkouri, Anafiotika Café on Mnisikleous Street, the traditional Scholarchio with Greek meze and Kafeneion Dioskouroi for ouzo.
If you want to get a real sense of old Greek cinema and the old Greek neighbourhood, you HAVE to get lost in Plaka! You won’t regret it.
*All images by Polina Paraskevopoulou (Copyright)