Plaka: Athens' Most Picturesque Neighborhood Features Many Historic Attractions



Plaka is considered the most romantic neighborhood of Athens and you can see the Acropolis from various angles just strolling through the streets. The shadow of this magnificent monuments falls over old and new buildings, over the temples and the ruins, the cafes and restaurants, the shops and stalls. Lysicrates monument on a central street is one of the best preserved monuments in Athens and is a landmark in the area. The impressive Tower of the Winds, or Aerides as it is called in Greek, stands out for its beautiful frieze depicting the different winds. The temple of Olympian Zeus, dedicated to the father of all the ancient Greek gods, is an impressive structure which still exudes power and magnificence. Hadrians Arch, on the western side of the temple of Zeus, was built in 131 A.D. by the Athenians  as a triumphal arch in honor of the great Roman Emperor Hadrian, benefactor of the city. The Theatre of Dionysus, right below the Acropolis, played an important role in the entertainment of ancient Athens. The Ancient Agora, with the renowned Attalus Stoa, includes a complex structure of buildings, which in ancient times were used to deposit the state archives.  The temple of Hephaestus in Thission, built in Doric style, is  dedicated to the ancient Greek god of fire and Athena, goddess of wisdom. The churches of Saint Nicholas Ragavas and Metochion of the Holy Sepulcher are of great historical interest



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Saint Nicholas Ragavas
Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou

 

The Byzantine Imperial church of Saint Nicholas Ragavas is situated right at the foot of the Acropolis, in the Anafiotika district, close to the Lysicrates monument and is one of the most well known historical churches in Plaka. This church, built in the 11th century, played an important role in medieval Athens and is considered one of the most significant Byzantine monuments in Athens. The chapel of Agia Paraskevi was added in 1838. The bell of Saint Nicholas Ragavas was the first to toll after many years of Ottoman occupation, when in 1833 the Acropolis was surrendered to the Greeks.


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Metochion of the Holy Sepulcher
Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou

 

The Metochion of the Holy Sepulcher in the picturesque district of Anafiotika in Plaka originally opened as a convent in the 17th century and is known also as Agioi Anargyroi Kolokinthi. This single aisle basilica has functioned as an embassy church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem since the 18th century and is a focal point for the Orthodox Easter celebration. On the night of the Holy Resurrection the Holy Light from the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem is received here, attracting many visitors, who wait patiently to light their Easter tapers and follow the ritual of Anastasi, the Holy Resurrection .


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Ancient Agora
Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou


 

The Ancient Agora, with the renowned Attalus Stoa, includes a complex structure of buildings, which in ancient times were used to deposit the state archives amongst other things. Buildings include temples, the Vouleftirion, the Tholos, where the heads of the city met to discuss matters of state, and where weights and measures for commercial use were kept. In Roman times, the temple of Mars was added. The reconstructed Attalus Stoa, built by king Pergamus in the 2nd century B.C. operates as a museum, with the entrance from Adrianou street.


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Lysicrates Monument
Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou


 

The choragic monument of Lysicrates is on central Tripodon street in Plaka and was built by Lysikrates in 335-334 B.C. as is mentioned on the epigraph. Choragic monuments in ancient Greece were built by the choregos, the sponsor who paid for and supervised the training of the dramatic dance and chorus in theatrical performances. The monument is circular, mounted on a square pedestal with six Corinthian marble columns and a frieze with scenes from the life of Dionysos. The monument, known also as �the lantern of Diogenes� is the focal point of the small square, around which are situated restaurants and cafes.


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Tower of the Winds
Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou


 

The Tower of the Winds is an octagonal marble tower, situated right next to the Roman Forum in Plaka and was built by the astronomer Andronikos Kyrrestos in the 1st century B.C. A frieze on the upper part depicts the winds, their symbols and their names in relief. Sundials used to exist on the outer part and a water clock inside and served as a kind of meteorological station The monument was used as a church in the first Christian years and is mentioned in the 15th century as a temple of Eolos-god of the winds and also as a church.


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Theater of Dionysos
Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou


 

The Theatre of Dionysus, right below the Acropolis, played an important role in the entertainment of ancient Athens. The celebrations for the great god Dionysus, protector of vines and scenic art, which were held here, were the forerunners of ancient drama. The plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Eurypides and other famous writers were first played in this sacred space. The ruins of an ancient temple of Dionysus are situated in front of the theatre, which obtained its final form at the end of the 4th century B.C.


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Hadrian's Arch
Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou


 

Hadrians Arch, on the western side of the temple of Zeus, was built in 131 A.D. by the Athenians as a triumphal arch in honor of the great Roman Emperor Hadrian, benefactor of the city. The famous marble from mount Penteli still maintains some of its ancient glory. The significance of the location in ancient times was the borderline between the ancient town of Athens and the new district , named Adrianopolis or new Athens. Situated on one of the busiest avenus in Athens, the ancient arch is a landmark impossible to miss, and imposes its presence on the environment.


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Temple of Hephaestus
Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou


 

The temple of Hephaestus in Thission, built in Doric style, dedicated to the ancient Greek god of fire and Athena, goddess of wisdom, was built in 449 B.C. by the same architect who built the temple of Poseidon in Sounio. The sculptured metopes on the eastern side, depict the famous Labors of the demigod Hercules, from ancient Greek mythology. The surrounding area was the daily meeting point for ancient Athenians, where politics, business and philosophy were discussed at length.Built on a slight incline, amongst pine trees, the temple commands a panoramic view of the surroundings, the Ancient Agora and the Acropolis.


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Temple of Olympian Zeus
Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou


 

The temple of Olympius Zeus, dedicated to the father of all the ancient Greek gods, is an impressive structure which still exudes power and magnificence. The construction of the temple was concluded by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century A.D. The ruins of the temple of Apollo Delphinius and the gates of the Themistoclean walls can be visited on the same site. An otherworldly feeling of peace always reigns in this area, creating the impression of a time lapse between centuries. Flanked by two avenues with heavy traffic, the temple resists the passage of time and remains a sacred oasis.


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Acropolis
Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou


 

The Acropolis, considered the emblem of the city of Athens is a complex of temples built on a high rock structure, symbol of the Golden Age of Pericles. The Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess of wisdom Athena is still considered sacred ground and a magnificent example of ancient Greek architecture and geometry. Over the ages, the Acropolis and the temples of the ancient gods had a turbulent history, some were transformed into Christian churches, the rock was used as a fortress by the Turks and in the 19th century a large part of the Parthenon sculptures were taken to Great Britain where they still remain. Bearing a great cultural heritage, the sacred rock remains the most outstanding historic site in Athens and visitors always exclaim on the timeless beauty of this monument.


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Meet Nelly Paraskevopoulou

Born and bred in Athens, Nelly went on the move after finishing high school and spending some years working in textiles.  For her, Italy was the next chapter. But, after 12 years, it was back...  More About Nelly

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