Who hasn’t read about the battle of Salamis between the Greeks and the Persians, that gave Greece its independence and global glory? This ship that General Themistocles based his strategy was trireme. Athenians built their global trade routes but also their defence on these ships. Do we know how they were? The answer is yes.
Olympias is a trireme constructed during 1985-1987, according to the research of historian J.S. Morrison and naval architect J.F. Coates, funded by Greek Navy. It will be open to the public during the “Sea Days” festival, organised by the municipality of Piraeus.
The ship was transported to Great Britain in 1993, to be a part of celebrations for the 2.500 years of democracy. In 2004 Athens Olympics she was used to transport the Olympic Flame, during the Athens Olympic Torch Relay. Today it is an exhibit in a dry dock at Faliron.
For five days this May Olympias will be accessible to people at Marina Zeas. Visitors are kindly asked not to wear heels, in order not to destroy the deck. Also no pets are allowed, so as food and drinks (during the visit).
Dates: May 3rd 2019- May 7th 2019
Hours: 10.00 -13.30 & 17.00-20.00
Place: Marina Zeas, Piraeus
Link in Greek from Sea Days festival here. Also here is the official page of the trireme, but if you want more info regarding the Trireme Trust, click here
All those who visit Plaka, make a pass from Anafiotika, that are considered a must visit while in Athens.
Why there are so astonishing? it is a combination actually from characteristics
They are built ON the rock. Seriously. Just like that. It is quite obvious and interesting observing such buildings today.
They look like Aegean’s island houses, white and blue. Small & White houses in the Aegean, were made for two reasons: They are whitewashed actually and this is a disinfectant material for rural areas, that islands are, or at least were before tourism prevails. They are small and built on rocks, because their inhabitants were trying to hide themselves from pirates.
They were built illegally actually, so quite rapidly.
They were mostly but around 1830-1850. Around them there are neoclassical buildings, a really interesting comparison for the eye..
There are many churches, which are a miracle of architecture and respect to the natural environment.
There are also many trees and plants around the area, that gives a very unique essence of nature. Nature is wise.
People still live there. Really.
When you walk around Anafiotika, you have a feeling of losing in time, or feeling like a kid playing in the streets, for anyone that has still the luxury to live that… You just forget who you are, where are you…
You know that above your head is Acropolis and Parthenon, the top monument that human ever made, a natural combination of mathematics and aesthetics.
These streets make you feel ancient Athenian, take you to Athens Agora, or the Olympian Zeus temple… you live real history in the oldest city of Europe and western civilisation.
Are you still home? Before booking your flight, maybe you have to contact us!
Modern Greek history starts with the War of Independence at 1821. Even if the Greek war of Independence started on March 17th at Areopoli, Mani area at Peloponnesus, it is officially celebrated on March 25th. So March the 25th is a unique day to be in Athens and Greece. Military parades and Orthodox celebration, with a special bakaliaros-skordalia dish served everywhere. Spring has sprung everywhere in Greece, including Athens and Plaka!
But as for Plaka, there is something more. Every March the 25t at the 11th century dated church of Agios Nikolaos #Ragkavas, (Prytaneiou 1), people ring the same bell that its sound marked Athens’ freedom from Ottoman occupation, back in 1833!!!!
Made in Italy, this bell was secretly kept in Athens for centuries. When the Ottoman occupation of Athens was over, the bell was uncovered and its sound was heard everywhere around Athens!!!! Nowadays, there is a special liturgy on March the 25th, and when it is over, around 10.30-11 o clock at the morning, people start to ring the bell and feel the same feeling of freedom and liberation!!!!
So before Easter, visiting Plaka includes one more event for you be there.
Christian Orthodox faith is more similar to Catholic and less to Protestant. This is why Balkan countries have so many differences from western Europe areas. But there is one more difference between Christian european countries and those which were occupied by Islam, especially Ottoman Turks.
The social oppression to non-muslim groups during Ottoman occupation was a fact. Christians were actually hiding their faith, unless they chose conversion to Islam. Greece generally kept their Orthodox faith during both the Latin and Ottoman occupation. Nowadays you can discover many Orthodox churches in Plaka and Athens, which you should visit them on their celebration date. Feeling Orthodox in Athens is definitely a must!!!
Athens is famous about its ancient history, Acropolis, theater and democracy.
But its byzantine and latin period are not well known. Inside the modern city of Athens, remains of its medieval past are the churches, like Monastiraki, Ragavas, Little Metropolis, who were built between 10-11th century and we renovated.
What is really worth discovering though, is the medieval remains of the Latin past of Athens. Two spots are of magnificent beauty, historic importance and architecture: The tower at Vravrona and the two Monasteries at Penteli.
Athens after Latin period had a period of Ottoman occupation, as the rest of Balkans. This is why Athens and Greece as well are a mixture of cultures, tastes and aromas.
Hadrian was a Roman emperor who respected Greek culture and focused on Athens in many ways. During his reign, the vast project of the Olympian Zeus temple was completed, a project that had initially started from Peisistratus times, and which last columns you can see today standing. Moreover, Hadrian funded the expansion of Athens’ Agora, which Library’s wall can also be seen outside Monastiraki metro.
But there is another project that is quite larger and maybe one of the biggest made in Athens- before Athens metro perhaps. That is Hadrian’s aqueduct. Construction began in 125 AD and was completed in 140 AD. The aqueduct provided water to Athens more more than 18 centuries, making use of Athens surrounding mountains’ resources, Penteli and Parnitha. It was a typical roman project of hydrogeological culture, showing exactly why the Romans ruled for so many centuries.
Recently, during the modern Athens history, the US company ULEN was responsible for the water supply of Athens (1924). The company started with the mapping and cleaning of the Hadrianic aqueduct, so 299 wells were numbered. Today there are about 130 exposed wells in public areas or private properties.
The tunnel’s route started from Parnitha, passed from Menidi, Kifissos river and Herakleion and Metamorfosis municipalities. Today in Nea Ionia you can clearly see a part of the infrastructure, to Halandri. Following Kifissias, the tunnel went to Ampelokipoi and Lycabettus Hill. The complete number of well is 465, 10-42 meters deep. Hope in the future to we have the chance to visit a part of this huge project!!!!
Like everywhere, Athens has its dangers. Not many, but they exist. Here are some, thankfully not so important!
Be careful of the so-called “pilots”. These are persons who get into conversation with you asking something neutral, like time or lighter and become your friend, offering to guide you around the city. Avoid them gently.
Taxi drivers. Many drivers wait at certain points and charge for huge amount of money, especially routes to the sea, or airport. When you enter a taxi just ask them to turn on the counter. Be careful the tariff to be simple -during the day or inside city limits- or double- at night. Also please check your stuff before leaving the taxi.
Food and coffee. They are obliged to offer you water for free. If they offer you a bottle, they have to ask you before that, because you have to pay for it. Offering free water is obligatory in Greece. Also if you don’t like anything, you can change it ONCE. You can ask the waiter and complain gently that this is not what you asked for, and they have to replace it, without further charges.
Metro and buses. Some people steal wallets and mobiles. Please be careful when you enter public means generally, especially if you are a tourist. Be more cautious while walking in crowded streets such as Ermou and near Monastiraki area. Plaka is far more safe (generally).
Tourist traps. Generally ask for the menu and the pricelist before ordering anything. Also consider trip advisor, or google review before your visit at a place. Also when you shop anything, the shop owner is obliged to give you a receipt! Athens today is a really mature destination, loves to serve travellers, but just in case just let’s all be more careful!
Everybody knows that Greeks are Orthodox. Especially in Plaka you may explore a fantastic scenery of sacred monuments, built in 11th century, during Athens’ last period of glory. After that period, Athens was occupied by Latins and Ottomans, till the final liberation of the city in 1828 and its new architectural plan.
No matter where you are at Athens and Plaka, you can easily find a shop offering products and souvenirs, that could be magnificent gifts. Things to wear, to eat, drink, to use. Greeks generally do not invest a lot in their brands internationally- due to the fact that Greek businesses are quite smaller if they are compared to global competition- but there are some brands that you need to find!
Some Plaka Brandnames
Melissions Sandals at Psirri is one of the top selections someone can make while in Athens, is you want something related to leather. Melissinos name can be found in another shop in Athens, that of Olgianna, at Monastiraki.
Ceramic art, the business that created Athenian Hegemony, an art of thousand of centuries lives still in Athens. Tsolias gallery, Doathart and more can guarantee an extraordinary proposal for a gift.
Jewellery? Geoart and Alexis are some of the numerous proposals about that. Who knows? after visiting them you may get any custom idea or design! And of course Pigi and his shop near that of George’s!
There are also clothes, even not handmade, but of Greek design, these offered in Plaka, like Ancient Greek Clothing Store at Kydathineon.
Plaka as a neighbourhood was built onto the ancient paths that existed in Athens, even amo
ng ruins. Moreover, the new Athens plan that was made from foreign architects, young people, just finished their studies at that time, who wanted to builf their fame together with the new capital of Greece, on the ancient “highways”.
These streets are Sacred Way or Iera Odos, that led from Elefsis to Acropolis, Panathineon street, today inside Athens Agora, and of course Plaka streets as Tripodon, Kydathineon, Adrianou. If you notice carefully having your head looking up, you will see Acropolis rock from Patision, Pireos, Kifissias, since all roads were leading to that hill. How about Plaka?
Streets of Plaka were next to ancient ruins, that were built either just after war with neoclassical buildings, either renovated and today they are beautiful buildings, either were abandoned and today you pass by and you ask yourself “why”.. Buildings stand among the ancient walls, next to ancient buildings, a destroyed column is in Philomousou square…. Time is everywhere around in Plaka and plays with its visitor. Time is what a traveller spends and time is what everyone cannot earn…. time is precious and while walking at Plaka’s streets you can definitely realise and move forward… Even if many monuments of Athens do not exist today, in Plaka you can realise a lot of that value.. and feel like Athens european visitors felt 200 years before..