A Walking Tour of Plaka

Begin your stroll at the ancient, jewel-like Monument of Lysikrates, one of the few remaining supports (334 BC) for tripods (vessels that served as prizes) awarded to the producer of the best play in the ancient Dionyssia festival. Take Herefondos to Plaka's central square, Filomoussou Eterias (or Kidathineon Square), a great place to people-watch.

The Greek Folk Art Museum, one of Athens's most rewarding cultural stops, is currently closed to the public, with plans for an ultramodern new museum that will hold its collection and more exhibits to open around 2019. Across from the former museum on Kidathineos Street is the 11th- to 12th-century church of Metamorfosi Sotira Tou Kottaki, in a tidy garden with a fountain that was the main source of water for the neighborhood until sometime after Turkish rule. Down the block and around the corner on Angelikis Hatzimichali is the Center of Folk Art and Tradition. Continue west to the end of that street, crossing Adrianou to Hill, then right on Epimarchou to the striking Church House (on the corner of Scholeiou), once a Turkish police post and home to Richard Church, who led Greek forces in the War of Independence.

At the top of Epimarchou is Ayios Nikolaos Rangavas, an 11th-century church built with fragments of ancient columns. The church marks the edge of the Anafiotika quarter, a village smack-dab in the middle of the metropolis. Wind your way through the narrow lanes off Stratonos, visiting the churches Ayios Georgios tou Vrachou, Ayios Simeon, and Metamorphosis Sotiros. Another interesting church is 8th-century Ayioi Anargyroi, at the top of Erechtheos. From the church, make your way to Theorias, which parallels the ancient peripatos (public roadway) that ran around the Acropolis. The collection at the Kanellopoulos Museum spans Athens's history; nearby on Panos you'll pass the Athens University Museum (Old University, otherwise known as the Kleanthis Residence), the city's first higher-learning institution. Walk down Panos to the Roman Agora, which includes the Tower of the Winds and the Fethiye Mosque. Nearby visit the engaging Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments, where recordings will take you back to the age of rembetika (Greek blues). Also next to the Agora is Athens's only remaining Turkish bathhouse, providing a glimpse into a daily social ritual of Ottoman times. On your way back to Syntagma Square, cut across to Mitropoleos Square to see the newly renovated cathedral and the beautiful 12th-century church of Little Mitropolis. From there, walk the tiny Benizelou Paleologou Street (recently opened to the public) to admire the Benizelou Mansion, among the city's oldest abodes and once the home of the city's patron saint, Aghia Filothei on Adrianou Street.

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