Plaka TOP POI’s
Plaka is unique and has unbelievable spots and places you can visit. Who are the top?
2 Tower of Winds and Roman Agora
The Tower of Winds construction was built by the famous engineer Andronicus of Cyrrhus around 50 BC, but according to other sources, might have been constructed in the 2nd century BC before the rest of the Roman forum. You can enter the Roman agora from the Monastiraki square, next to the famous mosque, few meters from the metro station.
Initially built from Syrian engineer Andronikos (from Kyros in north Syria>Kyrristou) as a meteo station (<tower of winds) in the 1st century AD. During Athens’ Ottoman occupation it worked as a spiritual center , something that saved the building from Elgin’s madness.
Tower of the Winds is an octangular building made from pentelic marble. An important public building, in the center of busy downtown Roman square with sun clocks externally. In the early Christian years, the Clock became a church or Baptism place, until the Ottoman period. After 1838 till 1841 the area has been excavated and cleaned from the soil that had covered it.
The area was named Aerides (<aeras is wind) and was considered the center of Athens during the reign of Bavarian King Otto (1832-62). A market was located here and the so-called ‘Plane Tree Square’ (Platanos square) which was a barracks in which the Bavarian Army camped. Today the name Platanos is used in Plaka to name restaurants, shops, even parking spaces.
At the same square, there was the Madrasa of Athens, where today the door is there, actually the only thing left.
3 Lysicrates Monument at Tripodon street
Lysicrates monument is located on Tripodon street, at the famous square and was the prize monument for the best theatrical play, raised during the 111th Olympiad (335-334 BC). The upper part shows the myth of Dionysus, the marble is from Hymmetus. In the middle ages and occupation of Athens the area was bought from Capuccini Order and was built on it in 1685. In the Cappuccini monastery that had included the monument from 1669, Lord Byron was hosted while in Athens (1810-1811). Lord Elgin wanted to take the monument home to London as well, but the monks rejected his request. Moreover, the first tomato plants were planted here in Athens. The monastery was burnt in 1890 but the monument was saved. It was reconstructed after French architects François Boulanger and E. Leviot. Many buildings around the world have imitated its style, from USA to Australia.
4 Athens first University- from Plato’s Academy to Capodistrias & Kolokotronis dream- Tholou 5
In Tholos street, the Cleanthis- Schaubert house hosted the 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. The building is still open today in several occasions. it was used for several occasions, among them the first Greek university from 1837-1841. While walking there, you will admire the secret beauty of Plaka.
3 Makrygiannika – metro Acropolis
Today because the New Acropolis Museum is located in the area, it is full of cafes, restaurants and bars. Areopagitou starts from there, and metro Acropolis is also here. The place was a main battle area during the Greek Civil War in 1944.
General Makrygiannis from whom the area is named, shares the fame the most prestigious 1821 heroes (with Theodoros Kolokotronis), who survived many years after the Greek War of Independence. After the liberation, he had bought several acres of land around Zappeion and a part of them were donated for building National Garden. Makrygiannis was also one of the main leaders of Syntagma rebellion to the palace that renamed the modern square into Syntagma. The house of the General was in the crossroad of Makrygianni Streets and Athanasiou Diakou. It was a big two floor building, built in 1834, which had many auxiliary spaces, like a cottage and storehouse, that were preserved up to the 1950’s.
4. Kolettis’ neoclassical residence, an authentic part of Athens Neoclassical Heritage
One exceptional building, even if it is forgotten in time, is the residence of one of the most prominent Greece’s Prime Ministers after its Independence War, two hundrend years ago. You can visit the building only from outside, it is located at Polygnotou 13, next to the ancient agora. Read more about the house here.
5. 11th century Orthodox churches: Ragavas, Metochion of the Holy Sepulchre and more.
Saint Nikolaos Ragavas (Prytaneiou 1 Street), was one of the Byzantine era churches that were rebuilt, during the last period of its magnitude. Acropolis was an Orthodox temple, and most of the churches were well respected and definitely wealthy.
Metochion was actually an Orthodox medieval station for those who wanted to be baptized in Jerusalem and before going there they decided to leave their belongings to church. So this church was the office of Jerusalem Orthodox Patriarchate. Here is a full churches list of Plaka.
6. Pandrosou, Andrianou & Kydathineon Street markets
7. Hadrian’s Arch & Olympian Zeus Temple
At the end of Adrianou Street, from the spot of Lysicratous monument you can view Hadrian’s Arch, or Gate. Built in 131AD to honor emperor Hadrian for helping Athens, is next to Olympeion. The Arch was placed strategically so that people coming from the Agora went through the arch and could read the text on the west and the text on the east when returning from the Zeus’ Temple. The inscription on the eastern side of the arch (facing the Temple) states: “This is the city of Hadrian and not of Theseus”. The inscription on the western side of the arch (facing the Acropolis) states: This is Athens, the ancient [or former?] city of Theseus.”
8. Fethiye Mosque
Fetihie or Fethiye Mosque, is a building of the ottoman period, 17th century, 1668–1670, located in the northern part of the Roman Agora, near Tower of Winds, built over a byzantine church. After 1834 it was a military bakery. And later it was a archeological storage for the excavations in Agora and Acropolis. It is built from classic and Christian parts and until recently the monument had never received a full restoration.
During the brief occupation of the city by the Venetian forces in the Morean War (October 1687 – May 1688), the mosque was converted by the Venetians into a Catholic church, dedicated to Dionysius Areopagite, the first Christian believer in Athens.