During his stint in Athens, Lord Byron stayed in Psirri, and this is where he supposedly met Thiresia-Tereza Makri, who inspired him to write "The Maid of Athens." His romance was not meant to be, but the romance of the Athenians with the gentrified neighborhood of Psirri is getting stronger and stronger, despite some lurking signs of the economic crisis (a few shops have closed in recent years), though an influx of artists, designers, bakers, and organic grocers seems to be taking advantage of the available rental opportunities.

Defined by Ermou, Kerameikou, Athinas, Evripidou, Epikourou, and Pireos streets, Psirri has many buildings older than those in picturesque Plaka. A plethora of tavernas, mezedopoleio (Greek tapas bars), nightspots, and cafés, as well as a small number of hotels, including the O & B Hotel, can be found in the area. Peek over the wrought-iron gates of the old houses on the narrow side streets between Ermou and Kerameikou to see the pretty courtyards bordered by long, low buildings, whose many small rooms were rented out to different families. In the Square of the Heroes, revolutionary fighters once met to plot against the Ottoman occupation. Linger on into the evening if you want to dance on tabletops to live Greek music, sing along with a soulful accordion player, hear salsa in a Cuban club, or watch hoi polloi go by as you snack on updated or traditional mezedes (small plates).

The classic old Athens eatery Diporto is well hidden in the corner basement of an olive shop (with no sign) on Platia Theatrou. The regulars know where it is and that’s good enough (you can ask). On Evripidou street you can find spice and herb shops. Tasting the olives from all over Greece, and buying spices and herbs collected on the hills of Attica are some of the must-do things around here.

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