From Ottoman to Modern Athens

In Plaka there are some neoclassical buildings that worth visiting. Some are private houses, some are abandonded and other public and function as museums or galleries, so you can visit them. The truth is you can nowhere else experience the feeling of walking around ancient ruins with modern establishments.

1.Kolettis house – Polygnotou 13 

Ioannis Kolettis with Alexandros Mavrokordatos were the people who reproduced Ottoman mentality and cliental culture between power and people in modern Greece. The house of Kolettis is at Polygnotou 13 at Rizokastro, next to Melina museum. 

Makrygiannis had mentioned for Kolettis that he was the doctor of Ali- Pasa and knew everyone. The name of the street (Polygnotou) comes from a famous sculptor from Thassos who came to Athens to work for free. The most famous part is the statue of a lady and the blue colour. The road next to the house from the west, was Panathineon street. He was twice a prime minister of Greece.

The house was bought from the Minister of Culture Melina Merkouri in order to be protected and restored. The house was supposed to host a new Cavafis Museum, but until today no action was taken.


2. Archontiko Mpenizelou – Andrianou 96 

Mpenizeloi was a historical Athenial family and the building in Andrianou 96 maybe is the oldest and well preserved house of Athens, and one of the few in South Greece, built in 17th century and reconstructed recently. A two floor building, that it would belong to a larger estate during medieval times. Athens had more houses like this, according to an oil panting of Jacques Carrey (1674).


3. Athens first University – Tholou 5 str. 

The neoclassical Cleanthis- Schaubert house hosted Athens’ first University of King Otto in 1837. This house was rebuilt from its Ottoman ruins by Schaubert and Cleanthis, architects who were given by Capodistrias Athens architectural plan it was used for several occasions, among them the first Greek university from 1837-1841. The building is still open today during cultural events.


4. Kampanis’ school – Andrianou & Flessa str. 

The 74th Athens public primary school building or Kampanis School, named after the famous teacher and principal, (1904-1938), was built during 1874-1876 in a public land. It was designed by Panagis Kalkos. A lean neoclassical building with a special tone in the entrance, that someone should definitely see. It was built over a destroyed mosque, during the Greek War of Independence. Archaelogical remains are still inside the school.


5. Orea Ellas- Pandrossou 36 & Mitropoleos str.

One of the historical cafes in Athens, maybe the oldest, located in Ermou and Aiolou Street, opened by an Italian in 1839. Greeks who always loved political discussions, were gathering there, since no social media existed back then. It was also a place where Athenian poets were sharing inspirations there, but the place was also attracting Athens rebels of that time, antimonarchists. It stayed opened until 1870’s.  Its current location lies in Mitropoleos or Pandrousou street entrances, from 1879.

6. Frissira Museum- Monis Asteriou str.

One of the top European museums for contemporary art, is located near Kydathineon, in two buildings.

7. Orlik’s Gallery – Kydathineon 12 

Apart from remarkable paintings, the internal space of the Gallery (a neoclassical building of 1850) is unique.

In the gallery you can find interesting paintings, sculptures and discuss with the owners about culture and contemporary art at a unique environment.

Another great Kleanthis building is Byzantine museum.


Here is some info for Neoclassical Athens and Athens museums.