Our tour at the area of the Acropolis of Athens continues with this post about our walk at Anafiotika. Do not leave from this area without strolling around it. You will get enchanted by its narrow pathways, the small attached houses and the area’s tranquillity as well. This is what we did, and, after leaving from our guided visit at the New Acropolis Museum of Athens, still charmed and enriched with knowledge and pictures that will forever be in our mind, we headed to Anafiotika. It was the best experience we could get from Athens after visiting the Parthenon.
We took the narrow pathway opposite the Museum and our walk at Anafiotika had just begun. It felt like we were walking at the alleys of an island, since all of them, gave us such an impression. The small whitewashed houses, the blue shutters, the flowered gardens, the bougainvilleas, the flower pots in the yards, the basil.
But how did those houses “got” and still are in the centre of Athens and why are they called Anafiotika?
This small iconic neighbourhood beneath the Acropolis was created in the 19th century by two homeless labourers from Anafi, an island in Cyclades, who came to work in Athens, in order to build the Palaces of King Otto. In a small period of time, their families got also there, because they had many construction jobs, and they needed to build small houses, in order to have a place to stay.
They found that area, where they furtively built their homes, according to the Cycladic style. They named the area Anafiotika, in order to remind them of their island. The houses succeeded one another, because of the increasing number of the workers and as a result this beautiful neighbourhood with the attached houses and the small labyrinthine alleys was built, since the area was small.
At 1922, after the destruction of Izmir, refugees from Anatolia also settled in the area, building their own unauthorised houses as well. Unfortunately, this beautiful and exceptional neighbourhood was demolished, most of it around 1950, due to excavations. Today only 45 still exist, which have been declared as heritage. Their residents are only 65.
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We strolled and got lost between the houses and the iconic maze-like alleys, where barely one at a time could pass through. Most of the times those alleys seemed like they where leading to a dead end. In every corner we were seeing cats lolling and enjoying the afternoon sun, between the mallows and the basil trees. My mind travelled back and it was like I was watching Mrs Katina (Kyra-Katina) and Mrs Argyro (Kyra-Argyro) leaning at their window sills with the pure white embroidered curtains, talking about today’s gossip. Or even going out at evenings at their shared yard with the jasmines, enjoying embroidery and softly singing beneath the shade of Acropolis. But now, no one appeared, no one was heard. Nothing perturbed that peaceful and beautiful Cycladic neighbourhood, despite being located in the centre of Athens.
It was a carefree stroll and enchanted and full of pretty pictures we took the way back, walking through Plaka, another beautiful Athenian neighbourhood. Walking through the beautiful alleys and between the vintage houses, we got to Lysikratous Street, where the best choragic monument is being preserved, the Monument of Lysicrates. This monument was build in memory of the victory of Choregos Lysicrates, at 334 B.C. Round the building there are columns with wonderful Corinthian capitals and on top of the monument, there was at that age a bronze tripod, which was the winner’s prize.
We said goodbye to the area passing through a pedestrian area in Plaka with hanging souvenirs from the shops’ entrances, taking our last pictures, promising, for the next time we get there, to stroll around the pretty alleys of Plaka and its preservable buildings, in order to travel back in time and see what Plaka looked like 100 years ago.
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I would like to thank you for reading my post and I would be happy to know that I pitched in enriching your knowledge. We must discover and get to know what’s left to us as cultural heritage, in order to be able to appreciate it. The tour around ancient and modern Athens is a unique experience that everyone should live, in order to be able to perceive how interesting this city is, our Athens, the capital of Greece.
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