Monastiraki. The Athenian district of Monastiraki (literally “small monastery”) is located north of the Acropolis and northeast of the old neighborhood of Plaka. The bustling, busy district is a place of constant trade. Every day and especially on Sundays (if there is flea market) life revolves around the street trade. The center of the flea market is located west of the Monastiraki square, the Avyssinias square. It's a very lively, busy district, where both tourists and Greeks find themselves. The streets are packed with items for sale, from souvenirs to antiques, from toys to furniture, jewelery and knickknacks and used clothing to ceramics. One thing is certain; here you can often haggle and make a bargain purchase. Interesting monuments in Monastiraki are the pillars of Hadrian's Library, the Tzistaraki mosque, which has turned into a library and the lovely church of Pantanassa (this church was first called "big monastery" and then "small monastery;" hence, the name of the district). In Monastiraki there are also many taverns and restaurants.
The Church of Saint Mary Pantanassa
The Church of Saint Mary Pantanassa is at Monastiraki square opposite the Monastiraki metro station. Formerly a convent (monastery), this church was originally built between the 9th and 11th century, it was restored in the second half of the 19th century and again in 1911.
The historic square, fully renovated, paved with colorful stones and paving blocks forming a multi-colored mosaic. In the background, one can see the Acropolis Rock (see page 9) and the Plaka (see page 28). In this magnificent square, significant monuments from many different historic eras coexist. Such monumental sites are the Tzistarakis mosque, Hadrian’s library, the Byzantine church of Pantanassa. Of particular interest also is the renovated neoclassical metro station - one of the oldest of the metro network (1895). Next to the platforms, in a specially formed space of 300sq.m. (3,229 sq.ft.) encased in stones one can see the bed and banks of Iridanos river, dating from antiquity. It is visible even from the square, through the archaeological excavation pit.
Avissinias Square (Giousouroum)
Avissinias Square is the central square of Monastiraki. Here you will find a wide range of rare furniture, antiques and the copies of antiques, and a variety of used items. Moreover, you will find old wardrobes, bookcases, frames, mirrors, antique office tables, tables, gramophone records and musical instruments. Come early if you want to shop. Noon is the best time to come if you want to take a look around. You can have a glass of Greek wine or ouzo with Greek snacks - called mezedes - in one of the small shops of the square, and observe the bustle of the bazaar.
A distinctive Athens street connects Hadrian’s library with the Thissio metro station. In the neoclassical one-floor or two-floor buildings lining the street are shops with traditional items, and antiques. Street-sellers sell their wares here on Sundays. Here you will find cafes and small fashionable restaurants with a unique view of the archaeological area of the Ancient Agora.
Text: Jorgos and Wendy Nikolidakis - Text edited by Katrina Butzer