The Plaka is the Historic Heart of Athens Greece

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MonastirakiThe Plaka District, or simply “the Plaka”, is the historic heart of Athens and one of the most popular neighborhoods to visit to experience authentic Greek culture. It’s a typical Cycladic town that features white houses and great sunset views from its western edge. Despite the large crowds of both tourists and Athenians visiting the tavernas and shops on the narrow, winding streets, it has retained its feel of a residential neighborhood. The oldest continually inhabited area of Athens, the Plaka is located at the foot of the Acropolis and spreads out to Syntagma. It was built on the site of Ancient Milos which was destroyed by the Athenians and rebuilt by the Romans.

The Plaka maintains an old-world feeling and distinctive character but is also somewhat of a tourist trap featuring many souvenir shops, tavernas and multiple small museums including:

Archaeological Museum

Located in a charming old building, the Archaeology Museum houses some exciting exhibits. The highlights of the museum are a plaster cast of Venus de Milo made by Louvre craftsmen and a herd of tiny bull figurines from the Late Cycladic period. The museum is open June-September.

Greek Folk Art Museum

The Museum of Greek Folk Art contains a collection of examples of every branch of Greek folk art spanning four centuries including embroidery, weaving, regional costumes, masquerades, shadow theatre, silverware, metalware, pottery, woodcarving, folk painting, stone carving, and more. It consists of four annexes: The Central Building, The Tzisdaraki Mosque, The Bath-house of the Winds, and The Building at 22 Panos Str.

Museum of Greek Musical Instruments

The Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments is a museum and study center that opened in 1991 and is devoted to the history of popular Greek music and folk instruments. It features more than 1,200 instruments that were donated by Musicologist Roivos Anogianakis from his impressive private collection to the Greek State in 1978. Instruments dating from the 18th century including flutes, clarinets, bagpipes, drums, fiddles, violins, mandolins, bells, and water whistles are displayed on the 3 floors of the building.

Jewish Museum of Greece

The Jewish Museum of Greece houses an impressive collection of more than 8,000 Jewish artifacts displayed on four floors. It traces the history of Greek Jews since the second century BC. There are exhibits on Jewish holidays, history, Zionism, the Nazi occupation and Holocaust, traditional dress, everyday life, and more. Visitors can visit a replica synagogue during their visit.

In addition to visiting these charming museums, another reason to visit the Plaka is to enjoy a unique dining experience. Greeks and tourists alike enjoy dining in the Plaka because of its ambience. Head to Mnisikleous street at the top of the Plaka stretching up towards the Acropolis to enjoy the “Restaurant Steps”, eateries known for outdoor seating with great views. Most have rooftop gardens and live traditional music that spills out onto the streets. The most “touristy” spots can be found on the main drag but if you are looking for something more authentic you can find them on the hillside above the main streets.

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