Monastiraki: a modern square, that had not always been a square. At the centre of the today square and in front of the mosque, there was military infrastructure. Moreover, Hadrian’s Library was not just the wall that you can see today, but a building that was burned during the Great Fire of 1884. It was the time when Elgin’s clock was burned near Old Agora Square (you can see it in the photo).
Monastiraki metro and square
The square is one of the main Athens points, and actually is the limit of Plaka to the south, connecting the Acropolis with Keramikos, and next to Psirri area. Hundreds of people meet there, so it is a full crowded place, where you have to be careful.
There is a metro station, quite central, two amazing historical buildings, plenty options for street food but also the start of two markets:
The Athens Flea Market where you can exercise your bargaining skills, but also Pandrossou street market that leads to Plaka main area, either to Tripodon and Lysicratous, or to Adrianou and Kydathineon.
The two historical buildings are the Pantanassa church, a historic landmark of Athens, a previous monastery that gave its name to the area name coming from <monastery. Also, the mosque that survived Ottoman period, is one of the most important places to visit in Athens.
There are also some street food spots just outside the metro, where you can enjoy fresh fruits. Also some top night bars that offer magnificent view to Acropolis hill are located around the square.
From Monastiraki you can walk south the pedestrian street of Adrianou street and get to Thisseio- where there is a metro station as well-, where is a bus station for western Athens suburbs. If you decide to go north, you will follow Ermou pedestrian and you will reach Syntagma, bypassing Plaka.
History of Monastiraki and Pantanassa
When you arrive at Monastiraki square that is is the metro station you will notice an amazing building. It is the church that also named the square, since some centuries ago it was a monastery, Pantanassa, meaning “Queen of Everyone”. It is either a 7th or 11th century building, mentioned as “big Monastery” in historic documents. Initially, it was a private church (as many other churches like Gorgoepikoos, Ragavas) of Nikolaos Mponefatzis and later it became a male and later a female monastery. After its decline it belonged to Kaisariani Monastery, in Hymmetus.
It definitely belongs to the oldest Athenian orthodox temples. During its acme, the whole area was belonging to it and operated as a school of crafts, providing woolen products to nearby shops.
At 2002 the monastery was excavated for the Athens metro construction, and some of its parts were dated even back to 5th century. The Historical significance of this temple is more than unique and definitely unexplored.
Psirri, Thisseio and Gazi
From Monastiraki you can follow the Adrianou street and walk to Thissio, finding the entrance of the Ancient Agora (you can have lunch or dinner at Diodos restaurant there, that we recommend). From Monastiraki Psirri is on your left as you look Pantanassa church. A really interesting area to explore and why not have lunch- dinner as well. Sometimes there is live music at some tavernas. Either you follow Adrianou, or Ermou you will find Gazi and Athens Technopolis area, where you can meet Athens industrial background, a century ago. Athens is about learning, never forget about that!
Metaxourgeio area is also close to Gazi and after Psirri, there are some museums and galleries there as well (as Plaka). You can have a drink at that area with local Athenians and young cosmopolitan students! enjoy!