Share it!

Oh! Rejoice, people of Plaka,

 primeval Knights

 and righteous Greeks;

 Oh! Rejoice ye sole

descendants of Kydathenians

 and scions of gentlemen.

Plaka was theerstwhile

 hearth of the graces

andof the eupatrids;

Plaka is the only place,

where the true Athens

of the Peisistratidsis.

Here there is floridness,

 here there is classicism

 of theglorious years;

Here the mind is raised,

 and on her top,

the giant Parthenon stands.

In these verses of 1885, G. Souris, summarizes the picture of Plaka, the oldest quarter of Athens. Built in the shadow of the Acropolis, Plaka was the neighbourhood of the genuine Athenians,(or as they were called “gkagkaroi”),born and raised there. Today, that the image of the capital has changed, the quarter of Plaka remains the most “authentic” neighborhood of the city, like a window to the Athens of the past. A walk is enough for the history of the city to unfold before us, from the ancient times to our days.

The Ancient Agora is located within the limits of Plaka. Indeed, until the early 20th century, the image of the region was completely different, because where the archaeological site lays, was the Vlasaros neighbourhood, with houses, narrow streets and shops. The expropriations enabled the archaeologists to excavate and highlight the centreof the classical Athens.

One of the landmarks of Plaka, the Monument of Lysicrates, is of the same era andwas built the on 4th century BC. It survives to this day. During the Turkish Occupation, the monument was part of the Capuchin Monastery which was demolished during the revolution.

Μνημείο του Λυσικράτη / Monument of Lysikrates

In the Roman times, the heart of the city continued to beat in this place. The Roman Forum and theneighbouringLibrary of Hadrian,bear testament to the heyday of Athens. One of the most famous monuments is the tower of “Winds”, because of the images of the winds on the building’s aspects.

From the Classical and the Roman times, we pass on to the years of the Byzantium. The scattered churches demonstrate the continuous habitation of the area, although the city lostits ancient splendour. The most important of these temples areAgioiApostoloi(St. Apostles)in the Ancient Agora,AgiaAikaterini(St. Catherine)andAgios Nikolaos (St. Nickolas)Ragavas.  In Plaka, it is difficult not to notice important Ottoman monuments such as theMedrese Mosque, the Muslim Seminary and the FatimaMosque, which was built in 1458, two years after the fall of Constantinople, in honor of Mehmed the Conqueror, when he visited Athens. A restored monument of the Ottoman era is the Hamamm of Ampit Efendi or ” Bath House of the Winds”, which belongs to the Museum of Greek Folk Art.

Λουτρό των Αέρηδων (Μουσείο Νεότερου Ελληνικού Πολιτισμού) / Bath House of the winds (Museum of Modern Greek Culture)

The numerous neoclassical and preserved buildings of the area, house other important museums as well. In Kydathinaion street, the Main Building of the Museum of Greek Folk Art is located. Among the collections, the one withthe paintings of Theophilos, stands out. In the same street, we can see the Greek Children’s Museum, with activities for the litlle guests.

The Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments of Phoebus Anoyianakis-Centre of Ethnomusicology,is the meeting point for all music lovers. The core of the museum is the collection of musical instruments of the musicologist Phoebus Anoyianakis, a collection exposed to all three floors of the museum, while educational programs and learning seminars of musical instruments, aim at the preservation and the promotion of the Greek musical tradition.

The house of the folklorist Angeliki Hatzimichali, functions as a Museum of Folk Art and Tradition. In a space decorated with traditional elements, educational seminars are organized, focusing on the acquaintance with folk art. The museum has also a rich library, with a collection of volumes and magazines of ethnography, art and folkloristics. 

Μουσείο Λαικής Τέχνης και Παράδοσης Αγγελική Χατζημιχάλη
/ Museum of Popular Art and Tradition Angeliki Hatzimihali

In a building of the 19th century, the Museum of Pavlos and Alexandra Kanellopoulos, is housed. In the halls of the museum the private collection of the Kanellopoulos couple is presented, with articles covering the history of Greek Art from prehistoric to contemporary times.

The building that the first Greek University functioned, houses the Athens University History Museum. The collections consist of rare books, scientific instruments, portraits of professors, etc. Perhaps the most famous exhibit of the museum, is the banner of Athens University, work of Gyzis and Iakovidis.

In a Turkish occupation building, in Thoukididou Street we can see the headquarters of the National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation,that was restored radically by the bank in 1966. Today, it houses the administrative offices of the Foundation and its educational seminars. In a neoclassical building in Plaka, the Hellenic Literary and Historical Archive (E.L.I.A.), has developed its activities. On its premises, the researchers can look up very rich collections, files, photos, documents and objects, covering the history of our country over the past centuries.

Another building in the region, equally known to the museums but less visible, is the house of Mr. Kokovikos, the famous “Antonakis”, from the movie “The woman should revere her husband.” The house with the yard of the early 19th century, awaits its utilization at Tripodon 32 street, restored but hidden behind the scaffolding.

Anafiotika, the island- like neighbourhood of Athens, deserves a special mention. In the 19th century, workers from Anafi came to the capital, to work in the rebuilding of the city. They built the neighborhood on the northeastern of Acropolis, giving it a Cycladic color, reminiscent of their home.

Αναφιώτικα / Anafiotika

Apart from the museums and the archaeological sites, Plaka is famous for its restaurants and taverns, whichbring together Greek and foreign regulars. But this is not something new. Again, in his poem “Plaka”, G. Souris, rather satirically, states:


But now who knows

 if the wise men’s places

are not the taverns,

and if the Vlamides

empty the casks with laughter,

 and play the violins?

Breath of gold centuries

and of Parthenon

 blow all around;

but along with them

 comes the smellof retsina*

 wineand mustalevria**.


*strong Greek wine

**traditional Greek kind of pudding, made of grape must

So, this reputation of Plaka as a region full of “taverns” where “Vlamides empty casks and play the violin”, has made Plaka, the traditional meeting point on the days of the Carnival. This year, therefore, Plaka “shall wear its best oufit” and will be the focus of the festive programs prepared by the City of Athens. So it will be an opportunity for a walk around Plaka, for a walk through culture, history and civilization.

The photo that accompanies the text is a painting of C. Savvakis “Students in Epicharmou Street” is taken from the website:

Giannis Loukas