Athens may divide opinions, but one thing’s for sure: there’s so much more to this city than meets the eye. When you venture beyond the regular tourist spots, you’ll unearth hidden treasures that guidebooks rarely mention. And one of our favorite finds is the time-honored district of Anafiotika.
We visited Athens in the summer of 2021 when we went on a cruise of the Greek islands with Running on Waves. Before the cruise, we decided to spend a couple of days in the Greek capital, and this was our first experience in the country.
And we loved everything there, especially Anafiotika, where we took way too many pictures. As we always do.
A Journey to the Time-Forgotten District of Anafiotika
Athens is full of surprises, from neighborhoods steeped in history to charming alleyways, beautiful squares, fantastic monuments, and forgotten ancient ruins. One such gem is the district of Anafiotika, located on the northeast side of the Acropolis hill, under the shadow of one of Athens’ most famous landmarks.
Anafiotika brings a breath of the Aegean to the heart of Athens.
This neighborhood brought a bit of the Aegean islands to Athens. It was created in the 19th century by artisans from the Cycladic island of Anafi. Greece had recently become an independent kingdom under the protection of the Great Powers (Russian Empire, United Kingdom, and France), and the new king was tasked with rebuilding Athens.
As a result, many islanders, including these skilled craftsmen, moved to the city in search of work, including the construction of the palace of Otto of Greece.
Nowadays, this building is known as the parliament building in Syntagma Square. The artisans built their own houses on the rocky ground under the Acropolis hill, reminiscent of the island they had left behind.
Later, in the aftermath of the Greek-Turkish war in 1922 and the population exchange between Greece and Turkey, the district served as a refuge for new neighbors. Today, descendants of these refugees still live among the remaining houses on the unnamed streets of Anafiotika.
In recent years, the district has become increasingly popular with locals, travelers, and artists, drawn to its picturesque streets that follow the hill where they are built.
If you’re in Athens and looking for a journey back in time, start your journey at Plaka and then follow the narrow, winding alleys up the hill. But come for this walk with comfortable shoes! Walk on steps carved from stone, wander between the small white and blue houses, and enjoy the panoramic view from Athens that you’ll get as you pass between the houses.
It won’t be difficult to lose yourself in the charm of this timeless district, nestled in the heart of the bustling capital of Greece.
Anafiotika is a unique and enchanting neighborhood that offers a glimpse into the past and gorgeous views from Athens. From the winding, narrow alleys to the tiny white and blue houses, this district is a must-visit for anyone looking for a bit of time-forgotten charm in the heart of Athens.
Anafiotika Unveiled: Discovering the Hidden Charms of Athens Beyond the Tourist Trail
Αναφιώτικα — Athens, Greece