Monastiraki is a flea market neighborhood in the old town of Athens near Plaka. The area is a major tourist attraction and one of the principal shopping districts of the city. Monastiraki’s main square, which shares its name, has a large metro station as well as several fast-food joints. Many Byzantine churches and ancient ruins, including the Roman Agora and Hadrian’s Library, crowd the area. Visit Monastiraki on your Athens sightseeing tour and enjoy the most beautiful walks, the most interesting sights, the best hangouts and the unknown stories of the most beloved Athenian neighborhood.
What to See in Monastiraki
Since the mid-19th century, Monastiraki has hosted impromptu performances of wonders, acrobats, and wrestlers. This informal tradition continues to this day, so keep an eye out on your Athens sightseeing tour for youth groups who often showcase their talent in the Byzantine-patterned pavement and in the wood-paneled subway ventilation system.
Monastiraki’s present name is owed to a monastery; specifically, to the church of Panagia Pantanassa, one of the oldest and most unknown temples of the city, in Monastiraki square. It was built in the 10th century. In the post-Byzantine era, it was called the Great Monastery and functioned as a women’s convent, and after the Revolution, according to the National Research Foundation, the name was changed to Monastiraki as we now call the whole area.
The old Ottoman mosque is called the Tzistarakis Mosque. In 1759, Tzistarakis is said to have used columns from the Hadrian’s Library, which was considered a sacred place, to found the mosque and that this act was responsible for the plague curse that arrived in Athens the following year.
What to See in Monastiraki
Just next to Tzistarakis Mosque you will find Hadrian's Library, a large library in ancient Athens. It was named after and founded by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The library was also called the University of Athens. Part of the library was a large inner courtyard surrounded by an impressive peristyle. The main building of the library had two rooms, where visitors would read or attend lectures. Today, you can still witness the western view of the propylon with Corinthian columns when on your Athens sightseeing tour.
The Roman Agora was the central market in ancient Athens in Roman times. Trade and meetings were held in this area. The Roman market was created as a continuation of an ancient market in order to satisfy the needs of daily life of the city. The Roman market was linked to an ancient market by a road which was decorated with an Ionic arcade. The market was a large square patio surrounded by Ionian columns. On one side of the Market, on the east, there were various shops. Walk through the gate called the Propylon as in ancient times on your Athens sightseeing tour. This portal is known as the Athena's Head Gate which was dedicated to the goddess Athena from the municipality of Athens.
Shopping in Monastiraki
The Monastiraki Flea Market is located in Monastiraki Square near the subway station. It is open every day, but Sunday is the day it gets especially crowded with bargain hunters and the bric-a-brac explodes out onto the pavements. It's an open-air market that sells valuable antiques, unique souvenirs, and all manner of goods at all price levels. You can actually haggle over the price here without seeming rude, and the sheer size of the flea market means you can explore it for hours on end when on your Athens sightseeing tour.
Monastiraki is ideal for bargain shopping and is also home to souvenir shops, clothing boutiques and specialty stores. Pedestrians wade through stalls heaping with fresh fruit, handcrafted rugs, and stacks of jewelry of varying authenticity and price.
What to Eat in Monastiraki
The pungent aromas of souvlaki vendors permeate the vibrant Monastiraki square from dawn to dusk, while crowded tavernas and the nearby cluster of trendy bars keep pedestrian traffic-flowing late into the night.
There’s a strong tradition of eating out in Athens, Greece. Monastiraki has a lively café and taverna scene and you’ll find that long, leisurely lunches are quite common amongst the locals. Fast-food joints with souvlaki and gyros and traditional tavernas surround the square and can be found hidden in the back alleys. Sit at one of its many cafés for a Greek coffee or ouzo and a meze as you take a break from your Athens sightseeing tour to mingle with the locals or simply watch the people as they go by.
Rooftop cafés have sprung up all over the city in recent years, with amazing views of Lycabettus Hill and the Acropolis. A restaurant-bar with views of 360 degrees with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options can also be found in Monastiraki square.
Contact us today to book one of our Athens Sightseeing Tours and discover its treasures in the square and backstreets of Monastiraki:
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