Places to visit in Athens: Monastiraki and Plaka
After our visit to the famous Acropolis, the third day in the Greek Capital was for exploring even more outdoor places to visit in Athens on foot.
We ate some bougatsa for breakfast near our apartment, then went to the subway. We got out at Monastiraki Square, a very lively and crowded area in the city of Athens. Therefore it took a bit of time to get our bearings and get on our way. You can see here how confused we looked that morning:
Church of St. Mary Pantanassa, in Monastiraki Square
The church which is in the background of the image above is the Church of St. Mary Pantanassa. Believe it or not, it was once known as the Great Monastery. Over time, probably with the construction of greater religious establishments, it started being called the Little Monastery. Or Monastiraki, in Greek. So this small church is actually the source of the name of the entire area.
Places to visit in Athens left by the Romans
Monastiraki Square is the best place to start your walk if you wish to visit the remains of the buildings left by the Romans. You simply walk from the square in the direction of the Museum of Ceramics. Right next to it you will encounter the first Roman vestiges.
Situated in the northern side of the Roman Forum, Hadrian’s Library in the city of Athens was named after the Roman Emperor who founded it. The Library was quite luxurious in its time, having not only an interior courtyard and a garden but also a swimming pool.
Today you can enter the archaeological complex to check out the ruins of Hadrian’s Library. The best-kept part is on the Western side, where you’ll also find the entrance. Here, you can admire the beautiful Corinthian columns, made out of Poros stone and marble.
The tickets are inexpensive, so you could check out Hadrian’s Library up close. You can also just take a stroll on Areos Street to admire the ruins from behind a fence.
After the area surrounding Hadrian’s Library, you reach another fenced location with ruins: the Roman Agora. It’s actually a Roman Forum, smaller and less well-preserved than that the Roman Forum in Rome, Italy. But you’ll notice some resemblance.
In the first century BC, Athens was part of the Roman Empire. And Emperors Julius Caesar and Augustus funded the building of this Forum in the heart of Greece. After the Romans, though, the Venetians and the Ottomans raised their own buildings in the area of the Roman Agora, destroying most of it.
The Horologion of Andronikos of Kirrhos
Also known as The Tower of the Winds, the building is thought to be the first meteorological station in history. Besides various sundials and a wind vane, the Horologion of Andronikos of Kirrhos also houses a water clock. It’s an interesting visit, especially for engineers like Mathieu.
Places to visit in Athens for those who love the islands
Having seen everything my dad planned for the day, we found ourselves with nothing to do before lunchtime. And though we had already been to Anafiotika the day before, we thought it was a good occasion to go back and explore it some more.
As I said before, Anafiotika is like an island in the middle of the Greek capital. It’s one of my favorite places to visit in Athens!
Wandering through the maze of Anafiotika
While my parents mostly stayed on the main streets, visiting nice little Orthodox Churches, we chose a different path. (Might also be because Mathieu kept asking me why the Orthodox Christians feel the need to make their churches so cramped.)
The two of us took a left or a right on all the stairs we found. Some of them took us to wonderful narrow streets between houses. Others, however, turned out to be dead ends leading to somebody’s doorstep.
Anafiotika is a true maze of streets that are worth getting lost on. At one point, we entered an area covered in graffiti, and some can be seen in the images below:
At another point, we ended up climbing and climbing, until finally reaching the highest streets of the neighborhood. After some nice glimpses of the city over the rooftops in Anafiotika, we tried to find my parents to continue together with our family trip to Athens.
Beer O’clock at the Old Tavern of Psaras
Once we found them, we all looked for a place to have a drink, as it was Beer O’Clock. Well, that’s the name my mom gave to the break we had around noon, to have a refreshing drink in the shade, before lunch.
It wasn’t always drinking beer, however. This time, only Mathieu and my dad went for beers. I chose a lemonade and my mom took a fancy frappé.
The setting was really nice. The street is actually a terraced stairway, with taverns and cafés on the steps and on the streets leading to the stairs. The Old Tavern of Psaras, where we had our drinks, also offers a nice view of Athens.
Friendship and inclusion in Athens
After our drinks, we wandered a bit in the rest of the Plaka. And, at one point, Mathieu pointed out to me that we were in an area where all the bushes had bells in them. We went to check them out and saw the following message attached:
Congratulations! You’ve just found out “Best Buddies Bell” & it’s yours!
Help us spread friendship and inclusion for all. Post a picture of the bell to social media with the hashtags #LetsBeFriends #BestBuddiesBells #Filarakia.
I really liked the campaign of Best Buddies Greece, and finding the bell made me smile. (The bell is currently happily handing on my balcony now.)
Church Agia Ekaterini
Also in Plaka, you’ll find the Church of Agia Ekaterini (Church of St. Catherine). The religious building replaced an old Greek temple dedicated to the mother goddess Artemis.
Although the gates to the Church were locked, it’s still lovely to admire the construction and the garden surrounding it from a distance.
Afternoon coffee close to the apartment
Well, after all those places to visit in Athens, we felt tired and we went to take a nap at the apartment. Mathieu and I were the first to wake up, so we went to the nearby Victoria Square to have a coffee.
After some looking around, we chose one terrace without any football screens: Soureti Café. The service was really good and my coffee was nicely flavored. We waited there for my parents to wake up and leave together to have dinner.
Dinner in Monastiraki
In Monastiraki, there is Adrianou Street, which has lots of taverns one next to the other. If you’re lucky, you can even find a table with a view of the Ancient Agora.
We chose to eat at the Attalos Restaurant. I believe the proximity to the Ancient Agora is also what led them to take this name. The Ancient Agora Museum is housed by the Stoa of Attalos.
The food here was delicious and the service was amazing. Besides English, the owner also spoke a bit of Romanian, and he was very friendly. For the remaining days in Athens, my dad would prefer taking the subway for a few stations just to eat here!