Subscribe to Blog via Email
Across the road from Hadrian’s Gate, Plaka starts, the old town of Athens. When not overflowing with tourists and tourist tat, it is still charming—especially in contrast to the 20th century buildings of the centre.
Walk up a bit, following the instructions of Lonely Planet’s Walking Tour, and you come across the 11th century church of St Catherine’s, restored around 1840 (one of the first restoration works in Modern Greece).
Tourists are rather more interested in capturing pictures of the two random Roman columns scenically positioned in front of the church. But there are a lot of 11th century churches in Plaka, and they are a useful reminder that Athens in Byzantine and Ottoman times was not an abandoned village, as some popular fancy has it. It remained a major city of Greece, and it accordingly kept on building things.
By no means the biggest city of Greece—that had long since ended up being Salonica; but a respectable middle-range town. It declined somewhat in Ottoman times, but was still 9th largest city in Greece in 1815 (Nick Nicholas’ Answer to Is it true that the city of Athens didn’t exist 200 years ago?). So where Agrinio is ranked in contemporary Greece.
Popped up in the middle of a street in Plaka, the monument of Lysicrates, built in 334 BC to commemorate the poetry contest sponsored by its builder. (“Choragic” means “sponsorship-related”.)
By 1810, the monument was library for a monastery built here; Byron wrote some of Childe Harold while staying here. I see someone is still using the monument as a shelter…