If you are in Athens for a couple of days you are probably going to opt for the default route of visiting the Acropolis and spending hours upon hours of walking through the winding streets of the historic center of Athens exploring charming neighborhoods such as Plaka, Thiseio and Psyrri, just to name a few. While walking through Plaka you will come upon a tiny, scenic little neighborhood that looks a little out of place tucked away in the foothills of the Acropolis. It will remind you more of a Greek island, particularly one in the Cyclades, than of an Athenian neighborhood.
This little hidden gem in the center of Athens is the neighborhood of Anafiotika and it is part of Plaka. The first houses were built in the early 19th century when master builders from the island of Anafi (hence the name) came to Athens to refurbish King Othon’s Palace. Word got out that there was construction work in Athens and soon other workers from other Cycladic islands flocked to Athens to work as carpenters, stone and marble masons, which was their specialty, and they all settled in the little neighborhood on the northern slope of the Acropolis and out of nostalgia for their homeland they built their homes in the Cycladic style. To this day, the small white washed Cycladic styled homes, the narrow winding streets and terraces with billowing bougainvillea flowers offer a small oasis of tranquility and make you feel that you are miles away from the bustling metropolis of Athens, which is only a heartbeat away. Today this lilliputian settlement is a strictly protected architectural and cultural heritage zoning area.
When the sun begins its descent in the western horizon the colors of stone and marble turn from deep gold to warm rose and the whole area glistens and glows, you realize that this is as close to the magic hour as you are going to get. So stop, take it all in, don’t let a second go unnoticed. Life doesn’t get too much better than this.