when we think of Athenswe think of the roots of today’s Europe, in great monuments and philosophers of eternal name. But, far from the echoes of this powerful cultural heritage making it inaccessible, this identity is completed in Athens by the spirit of its streets, which it’s vital, welcoming and colorful; here, white is reserved for the Acropolis and other monuments, a few statues, and salsa tzatzikisure.
With such a panorama, how dare we capture its essence in a single day? If we know where to get lost, we will feel it and, inevitably, we will want to come back later. So that mark the isosceles triangle that we indicated at the beginning on the map (or on Google Maps, if our telephone operator is European) to start: at one end we will have plaka, the oldest district of Athens, in the area of which the Acropolis is located; in the otherMonastiraki, the Athenian Camden; and finally the Mount Lycabettusbecause not only Rome is famous for its promontories.
At the Manfredi
Everywhere we can read that the Acropolis dates from the time of the democrat Pericles, in the 5th century BC. C., or that in 1687 the Parthenon suffered severe damage from a bombardment by the Venetians in their fight against the Ottoman Empire, which occupied Greece between the 15th and 19th centuries.
But if you want to give more life to the data, you can read Akropolis, by Valerio Massimo Manfredi, before landing in the Greek capital. You will soak up even more of the tender spirit of someone who has just graduated and who makes reality the illusion of walking on Greece for the first timean illusion that deserves to be preserved and which, moreover, is revived in itself when one sees the Acropolis for the first time.
On the other hand, although many relics from the Acropolis area are currently housed in the British Museum in London, this does not mean that a visit to the Acropolis Museum is less important: the setting here is incomparableand the museum terrace with views of the Acropolis, too–.
cheeses and cocktails
Before wander around Monastirakiwe recommend that you stop to try the greek gastronomy. In particular the meat casserole simmered with feta from the Diogène restaurant (on the menu, Veal cooked in a ceramic pot).
The restaurant is located in the small square where the Lantern of Lisícrates (Plaza Lisikratous) stands, a monument erected in the 4th century BC. C. in honor of the corega Lysícrates (a “patron of choirs”). The music, by the way, is still kept in many taverns of the Plaka region, and even in some the traditional ‘sirtaki’ is danced
Halfway between Plaka and Monastiraki, stop at an internationally renowned cocktail bar: Baba Au Rum (Klitiou, 6). Among other accolades, it is included in the list of the best bars of 2016.
Get lost in Monastiraki
This district attracts like a magnet all those who love the alleys, the street food stands, the markets and the shops with curiosities of all kinds. Between them bundles of olives of different flavors stand outall vacuum packed.
Olives have a history linked to the legend that surrounds Athens, since it is said that the goddess Athena, in the fight against Poseidon to rule the city, gave an olive tree to the people, which earned her many points. Finding olives today in such an informal format is very special if we refer to its origin, which does not fail to reflect the lively Athenian character.
Near this area, moreover, Hephaestion is preserved a temple similar in plan to that of the Parthenon but better preserved, as well as the remains of Hadrian’s Libraryin less good condition, but no less worthy of contemplation.
In its surroundings it is worth having a beer or a coffee (for practical reasons, they are just as expensive). If Mythos is the most exported brand of beer, the Flix or Alpha brands are diamonds in the rough. But don’t expect a small bottle: as a rule, they are all half a litre. And when it comes to coffee, it’s quite an institution for the Greeks.
Whether you leave from Plaka or Monastirakiclimbing Mount Lycabettus, the summit of our isosceles triangle, can be done on foot (the funicular is expensive and does not save much travel time). Although in winter it is best to start climbing the base of the mountain before 5:00 p.m., in spring the ascent can be postponed for half an hour, so that once you have finished the summit you can watch a spectacular sunset overlooking all of Athens.
In addition to observing a living impressionist painting before our eyes, on the way to the top you can also find all kinds of amateurs and image professionals immortalizing the landscape with the most varied techniques, including a crystal ball in front of the lens of smartphone. A memory the most original!