Within walking distance of the Acropolis Area and the Koukaki District, Monastiraki is a place you should add to your list when you visit Athens. Taking a stroll through this animated neighborhood will prove to you that there are so many things to do in Monastiraki, Athens. And this can range from visiting historical and commercial sites to indulging in local cuisine and getting lost in thrift markets.
Join me on a tour in Monastiraki to taste the cultural cocktail of the Greek Capital!
Discover the Church of St. Mary Pantanassa
Rising in Monastiraki Square from the heart of the city, you’ll find the Church of St. Mary Pantanassa (or Virgin Mary’s Assumption). It’s hard to miss when you come out of the metro station.
This is what remains from what was once called the Great Monastery. As time passed and larger constructions started appearing, it became the Little Monastery (Monastiraki) for the Athenians. And, in the end, it gave the name to the entire surrounding district.
Admire the Tzitarakis Mosque
Once another place of worship in the Monastiraki neighborhood, the Tzitarakis Mosque was built in the 18th century. It was also known as the Mosque of the Lower Market, due to its proximity to the Ancient Agora of Athens.
After Greece won their independence from the Ottomans, the building had various purposes, serving as a ballroom, a military barracks, a storehouse, and even as a prison. Not simultaneously, of course!
In 1973, the Tzitarakis Mosque became an annex to the Museum of Greek Folk Art, hosting an important pottery collection.
See Hadrian’s Library
Right next to the Tzitarakis Mosque, there is Hadrian’s Library, on the northern side of the Roman Forum. Finalized in the 1st century, Hadrian’s Library used to be a luxurious building, boasting an interior courtyard, a garden, and… a swimming pool!
You can either admire the archaeological complex from outside, or you can buy a ticket to visit from up-close. If you’re visiting on 6 March, 16 April, 18 May, the last week of September, 28 October, or in any Sunday between 1 November and 31 March, you’re lucky: admission is free!
Visit the Ancient Agora of Athens
Once the heart of Athens, the Ancient Agora is located in the northwest of the Acropolis, between the Areopagus Hill and the Market Hill (or Agoraios Kolonos).
The most notable monuments to see here are the Stoa of Attalos and the Temple of Hephaestus. The Stoa of Attalos house the Museum of the Ancient Agora, with exhibits related to the Athenian democracy. There are many other interesting monuments to see here, and I assure you: you’re in for a treat if you decide to get a ticket!
Not to be confused on your tours with the Roman Agora, which is in the direction of the more modern Plaka neighborhood.
Indulge in Greek cuisine on Adrianou Street
If you’d rather admire the Ancient Agora from a distance, head to Adrianou Street. The entire street has inviting taverns serving mouthwatering traditional Greek food, with a view over the Ancient Agora.
If you didn’t get to visit the Stoa of Attalos, why not stop at Attalos Restaurant for lunch or dinner? It’s one of the best places to eat in Athens, in my opinion. Not only do they have perfectly cooked food, but the staff is very nice and friendly, too!
Haggle in the Monastiraki Flea Market
Every weekend, the Monastiraki Flea Market spreads over several streets in this lively district. It’s not only old vinyl records, books, and CDs. The Monastiraki Flea Market is also full of small shops selling clothes, shoes, accessories made of beads or girly golden laurel wreaths, traditional Greek sweets, and olive wood souvenirs. Looking for Monastiraki Market treasures is one of the things to do in Athens that you really shouldn’t skip!
Things to do in Monastiraki’s vicinity
The Monastiraki square and neighborhood are just a 5-minute walk from Syntagma Square. Before you head home, you should check out the buildings of the Hellenic Parliament, the Presidential Palace, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And depending on the time, you may catch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Minastiraki Greek writing: Μοναστηράκι