When I made plans to meet a friend (Lambi Lentakis – read her guest post about off season in Ios here ) in Athens last year in March, I didn’t know what to expect but I did ask her to ‘take me somewhere I wouldn’t go on my own’ , so pretty much off the well known tourist trail.
We met in Monastiraki square and started walking towards the Acropolis. I was there a day earlier but because I had to meet up with my walking tour guide I didn’t explore too much. So, I was pleasantly surprised when Lambi continued walking towards an interesting area…which started to look like the Cyclades . Wait, what? White-washed houses, narrow cobble-stone streets, blue window shutters, many cats and colorful bougainvillea…we are in Athens, yet it feels that we are on an island.
A short history of Anafiotika
Prepare to explore Anafiotika, a small neighborhood of Athens, part of Upper Plaka. It is located on the northeastern side of the Acropolis Hill. The south eastern edge is marked by Ayios Georgios tou Vrachou (St. George of the Rock), while the western boundary is marked by Ayios Simeon.
The first houses built here date from the 1800s (during the era of Otto the Great) , when workers from the Cycladic island of Anafi came to Athens to work as construction workers to refurbish the king’s palace. Soon, workers from other Cycladic islands started to come.
Since 1834 the era has been an archeological site but the houses were built in such a short timespan that the authorities couldn’t stop the construction. By early 1900s, immigrants from Minor East established here, too. Unfortunately, in 1950 part of the neighborhood was destroyed due to archeological research and by 1970 the state started to buy the houses.
Today there are 45 houses left and the tiny streets which stretch from Stratonos to the Acropolis rock are still un-named. Don’t worry though, you won’t manage to get lost even if you wanted to, but the opportunities for amazing photos are endless.
A photo tour of Anafiotika
I’ve visited the area in March (2012), when it was coldish and windy. I am pretty sure summers aren’t forgiving, so plan your walk in the morning or evening. And wear very comfortable shoes which don’t slip on the rocks (I’m thinking sturdy walking shoes). Bring a bottle of water with you and don’t forget the camera.
On our walk we met a woman who wrote a book about Anafiotika. The book was in Greek so I didn’t buy it. And we also had an interesting talk about writing (two artists and a writer met on those slopes), Anafiotika and Athens.
We were lucky to have Anafiotika just for ourselves thanks to traveling during the winter, but during summer it’s a popular area among tourists (but not as crowded as Plaka). Thankfully, you aren’t bombarded by souvenir shops or tavernas; you have to walk towards lower Plaka to find a place to eat.
All photos by Cristina Puscas and may not be used without permission.