Athens - 'Greece's vibrant Capital'

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Vibrant, lively, exciting, diverse, exhilarating, colourful and inviting are just some of the adjectives I would use to describe this delightful capital city. It is with little wonder that Athens has been awarded the title of being one of the best cities in the world to visit.

 

 

Although huge in size it is extremely user friendly and safe, its residents friendly, helpful and welcoming. The numerous tourist attractions are easily accessible by municipal transport, the Metro, taxi or the open top city tour buses. Whether the visitor is interested in architecture, photography, history, museums, beaches, food or nightlife, Athens is sure deliver.

 

 

Plaka

The Plaka is an absolutely fascinating area of Athens with the Acropolis towering majestically over it. Renown for being the oldest neighborhood in Athens it was founded when the city had a total population of 7,000.  Amazingly, the first house to have been built is preserved and stands on Adrianou Street.

 

                   

                                             Photograph courtesy of Greek Getaway

 

The cobbled streets and uneven pavements add character to this antiquated suburb and fabulous hidden gems are tucked away around every corner, like the beautiful little 11th Century Church of Panagia Kapnikarea. 

 

 

There are restored nineteenth-century neoclassical buildings, pedestrian streets, shops and tavernas, as well as interesting ruins from the city’s Roman era located near the quaint Hagia Ekaterini Church which nestles amongst the green shrubbery. 

 

 

 

The roof gardens at the tavernas have magnificent views of Athens city and are ideal to sit at while drinking espressos, frappes, freddos (iced Greek coffees) or a glass of beer, Ouzo or wine served with delicious Greek mezes. A main tourist hangout, it remains very popular with Athenians as well.

 

                                                                                                                                                                   

                                        Photograph courtesy of Pixabay

 

 Another popular attraction in Plaka is the Anafiotika, located on the northernmost slope of the Acropolis hill. This neighborhood’s diminutive white-washed houses were built by the workers who restored the Acropolis after the liberation from the Ottomans.

 

                   

                                    Photograph courtesy of Pixabay

 

There you will also find the first university of Athens before it was relocated. It’s an oasis of calm and peace within the city, and there are many green areas in which to relax.

 

 

Although it is full of packed tavernas and coffee shops, the area has a unique calm, as if visitors are unconsciously in awe of stepping on the very ground where Western Civilization itself was born.

 

 

Ermou Street

Ermou Street is the biggest and busiest shopping street in Athens, and a hive of activity on weekdays. The street starts at Syntagma Square, it is the pedestrian section of the street, with its designer stores, which are however responsible for its fame.  Famous brand names in fashion and accessories, two large department stores with cosmetics and many smaller boutiques scattered around the side streets make it a shopper’s paradise.  It is one of the most expensive streets in the world with the highest shop rentals and the most international fashion outlets.

 

 

Monastriaki Square

Literally meaning “Little monastery”, and named for Church of the Pantanassa that is located within the square this is a flea market area in the old town of Athens notorious for bargain shopping. It is bustling there every day, seven days a week.

 

 

Vibrant Monastriaki is known for iconic landmarks including the ruins of Hadrian’s Library, the Ancient Agora and the rebuilt Stoa of Attalos, with a museum exhibiting Athenian artifacts.

 

 

Monastriaki Flea Market is a jumble of tourist shops selling souvenirs and Greek delicacies and one of the principal shopping districts in Athens. There are shops selling artisanal soaps, handmade sandals, Greek 1st pressed Virgin Olive oil, wines and Greek liqueurs, souvenir T-shirts, handcrafts, antiquities and much more.

 

 

With its abundance of clothing boutiques and specialty stores it is a major tourist attraction.  

 

 

The surrounding streets are crammed with traditional tavernas (souvlaki and kebab eateries), many with Acropolis views and all with enticing aromas permeating the air.

 

 

Athens at Christmas is simply sensational with street upon street decorated with innumerable lights and decorations to immerse the beholder in the joy and spirit of the Festive Season. 

 

Photo courtesy of Magical Greece

 

Athens is a pulsating city with an exceptional heartbeat...it is always abuzz with movement. Like New York it is a city that doesn't sleep. 

 

Main Photo courtesy of 'Greek Gateway'

Text and photography by Adelia Cook for MyKerkyra.com

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