Uphill and downhill in Kolonaki

By: | Post date: July 1, 2023 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, Greece

Athens CBD involves two hills (pictured: zoom in and you might see a bit of the Parthenon). One is the Acropolis. My accommodation is near the other one, Lycabettus. (Specifically, I am next to the original Roman water tank that fed the city. The water company still uses it as backup. It’s a couple of streets before the hillside runs out of streets.)
The roller coaster view of the Acropolis looks like that because I am on a hill. That’s Bucharest St.
And that photo is looking back up at Lycabettus.
Kolonaki is renowned as the fancy rich district of Central Athens. It’s where the worthy and the good of Athens society gather. Its cafes are full of politicians; I shared a dry cleaner with the Prime Minister (“30 shirts a week”). And its denizens, I keep being told, are pretty smug about living there.
I don’t see why. It’s still Central Athens. It’s right next door to the anarchist squatter communes of Exarchia, and the only difference I could make out between the two was, less graffiti and more housemaids. It’s still dusty and loud and grey.
It does at least feature Tsakalof St, a little mall of bars which I came to embrace as a workplace.
Tsakalof St is named for a Greek revolutionary society. As often happened in the 19th century, Greeks who migrated to Russia from Greece had their surnames Russianised: Athanasios Tsakalof was born with the surname Tsakalos in Ioannina (Αθανάσιος Τσακάλωφ). Similarly, the 20th century journalist Kostas Faltaits (Κωνσταντίνος Φαλτάιτς) was descended from a Greek who had migrated to Russia, and changed his surname to Faltayich, from the original surname Faltagis.
Kolonaki itself, “little column”, is named for a small votive column that featured in Kolonaki Square. I’m assuming the column of Kolonaki is in storage somewhere, because the square itself has currently been dug up for the Athens subway. It was still there in 2018.

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