I love the center of Athens and I never say no to a walk under the Acropolis in the historic neighborhood of Plaka. And every time I wander through the alleys, I feel so much excitement that it’s like I’m discovering it for the first time. Plaka, with its many different faces, the ancient, the Roman, the Byzantine, the postwar, is the longest-running neighborhood in Athens with a route that starts from the depths of the centuries. Tie your laces and let’s go to unravel the thread of history through a wandering in its most beautiful narrow alleys and its most well-hidden corners.
Walk down to the oldest street of Athens on Tripodon Street. It’s a road that has written history. The Way of Glory and Theatre. Initially, the path was used to connect Dionysus Theater with Athens’s agora. Athenians got there to watch the theatrical performances of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes. It was the street of Art, the Philosophers, the Theater, the Architecture, the Greek Thought. It counts over 25 centuries of life! The monument of Lysicratous retains the spirit and aura of the era.
Today, the Tripodon road continues to be the backbone of Plaka, to be the lively street in the neighborhood with the traditional houses of old Athens succeeding one another.
In the picturesque Lysiou Street, which is the continuation of the Tripodon, you are officially welcomed by the natural flower arch outside the famous Café MELINA. The most photographed bougainvillea of Plaka that adds an extra romantic touch.
The most cinematic steps of Athens are in Erechtheos and Mnisleous Street that lead you to the upper neighborhood.
In a nostalgic mood you will walk in the most beautiful aristocratic neoclassical buildings. The earthy tones dominate with plaster details and impressive facades. Like the building at number 15, this once housed the legendary Apollon.
In the upper neighborhood spreads a palette of colors, the intense touches mingle with the world of pastels. There are narrow paths twisting together and other run in smaller paths like a maze. Let your feet lead you on an exciting journey to the religious Prytaneio Str., the flowered Erotokritos Str., the scenic Tholos Str., the colorful Klepsydras Str..
Neoclassical manors and humble houses with simple but awesome facades are small diamonds representative remnants of another era. Doors dipped in deep red or in classic green, shutters adorned with geraniums and pots with jasmine and night flowers. And as it begins to dusk, their overwhelming scent is an assault on the senses. Like a framework of happiness.
Wander through the labyrinthine Straits of Aretousas Street and Thrasivoulou Street. Then climb the stairs to Panos Str. and Theory Str. corner to enjoy the best view and suck all the energy of this divine neighborhood. And with luck, you’ll stumble across talented street performers who spread out their melody.
Descending on Dioscouroi Street, tucked in an alley you will meet one of the most vintage buildings of Plaka. The combination of colors is dreamy. And it certainly steals your heart with the brightness it emits. A marble inscription testifies that the Greek club of the craftsmen is housed here.
A little further down, another masterpiece of the 19th century adorns the fiery façade of Polignomou Street. The neoclassical building of the Melina Mercouri Foundation, at number 11.
Following in the footsteps of the ancients you will be at the Gate of Athena Archegetis of the Roman Agora. Admire the life that develops around the ancient and Roman Agora. It’s impressive how the times live in this neighborhood. And don’t forget to lift your gaze and enjoy the view of the Sacred rock.
Diogenous Street is a paved alley, a true revelation, with many hidden treasures. Architectural gems. Where the museum of Musical Instruments is located today, was once the Lassani house. It is one of the oldest surviving houses in Athens, built in the 1830. Snatch a quick glance from the wide-open door inside that seems to maintain the Ottoman architecture: an internal courtyard with the buildings around it to frame it. But Diogenous is also a color multidaedalus that invites you to cross it.
But my highlight of Plaka is low in Erechtheos Str. And they are these successive postwar two-storey buildings, still kept alive. They travel me to an Athens old, authentic and every time I am there I am flooded with a sweet melancholy and an unknown nostalgia.
In contrast to the silent reality of Hatzimichali Street in Kato Plaka
If you are at Scholeion and Flessa Street there is no way your eye will not fall into the charming corner house that definitely stands out on this road. The mixing of the materials, with the stone starring and the discreet details on the façade of the complain that a nobility. Hard to get a picture without any interference.
The neighborhood of Plaka is the calm power of the center of Athens. And a wandering in the alleys would be no less than a wandering in oases of color and history.