Anafiotika, an insular neighbourhood below the Acropolis


What if I tell you there is an island breeze that blows at the foot of the Acropolis?


White-washed cubic houses built of stone with flat roofs and brightly painted doors. Narrow alleyways, little gardens, potted plants and bougainvillea over their walls. It looks like a piece of the Cyclades got detached and put down roots in the center of Athens- in that high point- so as to overlook as far as possible in the horizon, constantly seeking the Aegean Sea.


From the first time I visited “Anafiotika”, this tiny isolated neighbourhood situated next to the very well-known Plaka and the ancient Agora, it went straight to my heart!

Every time, I follow the signs up the hillside from Dionyssiou Areopagitou Street next to the Theatre of Dionysos, I pass by Aghios Georgios church and continue through the narrow laneways and the white-washed steps.


I like getting lost there, in the tiny paved streets, to clear my head and feel sheltered from the cacophony of the city.

In this place, time seems to have stopped. It’s an escape into a different era.

I feel like I have all the time in the world to sniff the little pots with basil, admire the path with the colourful graffiti or play with the innumerable lazy cats lying in the tiny windows of houses with white embroidered curtains.


As indicated by its name, this picturesque neighbourhood was created in the 19th century by workers from the Greek island Anafi in the Anafi. They arrived in Athens to work as builders, rebuilding the city and constructing Otto’s palaces. When the King told them to choose where they would like to live, they decided on the foot of the Acropolis because it reminded them of the Castle, the heart of their island. They built their houses as they knew, according to Cycladic architecture. The building there was certainly illegal, but they had the authorities' tolerance on their side.

Anafiotika” houses
Anafiotika” houses

Unfortunately, in 1970, the Greek authorities demolished twenty “Anafiotika” houses and expropriated the rest. Today, sixty houses are left over. Fifteen of them were scrutinised by the Archaeological Service, and sixty residents and four children inhabit forty-five. Most are descendants of the original immigrants from Anafi. Luckily, something of this beauty of the past is left!


If you want to make a trip back in time, let your footsteps lead you to Anafiotika. The lack of tourist facilities provides an authentic neighbourhood feel… If you meet a resident, he will tell you “Kalimera” like you are a fellow villager.

Anafiotika Athens
Anafiotika Athens

Get carried away by the jasmine essence in the air and the relaxing island breeze. You won’t find it difficult to forget that you are in the centre of a crowded city.

Anafiotika is the island dose we need when holidays are far away…

*All images by Polina Paraskevopoulou 

Polina Paraskevopoulou


Polina Paraskevopoulou is a Greek journalist who shares her time between her two beloved cities of Paris and Athens. With a love of writing, blogging, fashion and travel, she has now joined the GCT team as one of our main European contributors.

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