It’s hard to imagine how many different experiences can fit in two neighbourhoods of a city centre! Archaeological sites, little arrays, old beautiful houses, antique shops and pittoresque cafes live together in the neighbourhoods of old Athens.
Plaka is full of people, colours and music! With the “tavernas” (typical Greek restaurants), the little shops, the cosy cafés, you will feel you play in a movie of ’60s.
Monastiraki is very pittoresque, somewhat old with all the antique shops and very historical.
Below is a map that presents a recommended route for your walk, as well as short descriptions of the main sights that you will come across:
Note: The two neighbourhoods are so beautiful and inspiring, that you will enjoy the recommended walk even after 15:00 that the Ancient Agora and the Ancient Agora Museum suggested below are closed.
- Start your walk from Hadrian’s Library: This rectangular building measuring 122mx82m was built by Roman emperor Hadrian in 132 A.D. It was used for the storage of papyruses and books, lecture halls etc.
- Pass by Monastiraki square: A fully renovated square that significant monuments from many different historic eras coexist. One example is the Tzistarakis mosque, that you will see at your right hand just before entering the square. It was constructed in 1759 by the Turkish voivod Moustafa Agas (or Tzistarakis). Looking for limestone for the construction of the Mosque, Tzistarakis removed the 17th column of the Temple of Zeus. Since 1981 it has housed the Museum of Traditional Ceramics.
- Monastiraki market: Enjoy the festive atmosphere in Monastiraki market at Ifaistou street. Don’t miss to walk into Normanou little array that is full of antique shops and bookstores!
- Avissinias square: Continue walking at Ifaistou street until you reach Avissinias square at your right hand. If it’s Sunday morning, you’ll see get the experience of the antiques market. But it’s also the atmosphere on this square that has something so old and so fresh…
- Adrianou street (Monastiraki part): Back to Ifaistou street, turn left onto Kynettou and then left onto Adrianou. There you will find shops, restaurants and cafes just in front of the Ancient Agora. Its entrance is just a few meters away, on Adrianou street.
- Ancient Agora: The commercial, political and religious centre of ancient Athens. Enter the archaeological area of the Ancient Agora from 24, Andrianou St.
Ticket price: 8€
Reduced ticket: 4€ for non-EU students, Europeans over 65, accompanying parents on educational visits of elementary schools.
Free entrance: under 18, EU students, students at schools of tourist guides, journalists, members of Societies of Friends of Museums and Archaeological Sites of Greece, members of the ICOM-ICOMOS, escorts of blind people or of people with mobility difficulties, free admission card holders, official guests of the Greek government, tourist guides.
Combined ticket: 30€ (reduced: 15€) for Acropolis of Athens, Ancient Agora of Athens, Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, Hadrian’s Library, Kerameikos, Museum of the Ancient Agora, North slope of Acropolis, Olympieio, Roman Agora of Athens, South Slope of Acropolis.
Free admission days:
– 6th March (in memory of Melina Mercouri)
– 18th April (International Monuments Day)
– 18 May (International Museums Day)
– 5th June (International Enviroment Day)
– The last weekend of September annually (European Heritage Days)
– Every first Sunday from November 1st to March 31st
– 28 October
Monday: 11:00-15:00 (last admission: 14:30)
Tuesday – Sunday: 08:00-15:00 (last admission: 14:30)
– 1 January
– 25 March
– Good Friday: closed until 12:00
– Easter Sunday
– 1 May
– 25 December
– 26 December
In antiquity, in the area of the agora were located administrative buildings, temples, public services and courts. The Athenians gathered here on daily basis to buy and sell their goods, engage in discussions, exchange ideas and criticise the government. Socrates liked to frequent the Agora. The Agora Museum (see below) hosts important artifacts found during the excavation and it is truly interesting, as it focuses on the daily life of Athenians. An example of what you’ll see there: the Kleroteria, a device used by ancient Greeks to randomly select judges for trials.
Main sights in Ancient Agora of Athens:
The Temple of Hephaistos (old name: Theseion): The most well-preserved temple of Greek antiquity.
It was built in in 460-415 BC. In the temple stood the statues of Hephaistos and Athena. Earlier the temple was called Theseion mainly for two reasons: 1) to honour the Athenian hero Theseus, based on the assumption that it housed his remains, 2) because the frieze of the southwest side of the temple – which has a view on the area called Theseion since the ancient times – depicted the labours of Theseus.
The monument of the Eponymous Heroes: A marble podium where the statues of the ten heroes of Attica representing the ten tribes of Athens stood.
The base of the podium was used also to post public announcements.
The Stoa of Attalus (Museum of Agora): It is thought to have been a kind of ancient commercial centre with 21 shops on each floor.
The two-floor building was donated by the King of Pergamum Attalus II (159-138 BC) to the city of Athens. The Stoa of Attalus has been reconstructed and currently houses the Museum of Agora. The collection of the museum displays everyday objects found in the Ancient Agora. The museum is really interesting, as visitors get a good idea of everyday life in ancient Athens.
Odeion of Agrippa: Initially a venue for musical events, was then destroyed to became a Gymnasium.
The Odeion was built by by Agrippa in 15 B.C. and had a capacity of 1,000 spectators. It was destroyed in 267 AD by the Herulians. A Gymnasium was built in its place in 400 AD. The north side of the Gymnasium was decorated with four large statues of Giants and Tritons, salvaged from the Odeion. Three of these statues still exist.
Panathenaic Way: The main street of the Agora and principal street of the city, named after the Great Panathenaia festival, which took place every four years.
On the last day of the Great Panathenaia Festival, a procession began from Kerameikos and went through the Panathenaic Way, which cut accross the Ancient Agora and the Acropolis. The Procession ended at the statue of the Goddess Athena in the temple of Erechtheion in Acropolis.
Roman Agora: Continue on the suggested path to pass by the Romans’ civic centre. The Roman Agora was an architectural complex, built between 19 and 11 BC and financed by Julius Caesar. It consisted of a large rectangular court surrounded by stoas, behind of which were various shops.
Don’t miss to see the Tower of the Winds, an octagonal Pentelic marble structure that was used to measure time. Each of the eight sides was decorated with a frieze depicting the wind coming from that side. The tower also features a sundial, a water clock and a wind vane.
Plaka: Get carried away in the lively atmosphere of Plaka, one of the oldest inhabited areas of the city. Walk on Adrianou Street (starts in Monastiraki and continues in Plaka). With all the galleries, antique shops and restaurants gives the feeling of walking in the streets of a Greek island.
Metropolitan Cathedral: At the end of Plaka you will find the Metropolitan Cathedral. It is located at a picturesque square, where you can find a flower market and many cafés. Mitropoleos Street connects Syntagma Square and Monastiraki Square.
Pandrossou street: Turn left in Mnisikleous St., which intersects Mitropoleos street and then turn right into Pandrossou Street Market. This street, full of little shops, is a real community of traditions and for many people a whole exploration itself.