Typical houses of Plaka
Typical houses of Plaka
Location within Athens
Location within Athens
Coordinates: 37°58′20″N 23°43′50″E / 37.97222°N 23.73056°E / 37.97222; 23.73056

Pláka (Greek: Πλάκα) is the old historical neighborhood of Athens, clustered around the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis, and incorporating labyrinthine streets and neoclassical architecture. Plaka is built on top of the residential areas of the ancient town of Athens. It is known as the "Neighborhood of the Gods" due to its proximity to the Acropolis and its many archaeological sites.[1][2]


Typical street
Rooftops of traditional style houses in Plaka.

The toponym Plaka is first attested in the second half of the 17th century. Up until the era of Otto, it pertained only to the area around the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates (locals knew it as "Kandili 'lantern' of Demosthenes"[3] at least since 1460, or just as kandili); it was only after 1834 that the toponym's application gradually expanded to eventually include the entire area between today's Makrygianni Street and the Ancient Agora.[4] Prior of that, the local Athenians referred to the area by various other names, such as Alikokkou, Kontito, Kandili, or by the names of the local churches.[5] In particular, Alikokkou was the name of the broader area of what is now Plaka, until the early 20th century, and was one of the divisions into which Athens was divided during the Ottoman era;[6] the toponym Alikokkou derived from the surname of a family who was likely of Frankish origin, but had been Hellenized.[7]

Some have suggested that the toponym Plaka derives from the Arvanitika Pliak Athena, meaning 'Old Athens'; from Albanian plak 'old'.[8][9][10] Others have suggested that it derives from the presence of a plaque (Greek: πλάκα; romanized: plaka) which once marked its central intersection.[6] The latter view is also supported by linguist Charalampos Symeonides (2010), who stated that Plaka is a common Medieval and Modern Greek toponym that can be found throughout Greece, and is attested as early as 1089; in the case of Athens, it denoted a place with ancient plaques or marbles.[11]


Plaka is on the northeast slope of Acropolis, between Syntagma and Monastiraki square. Adrianou Street (running north and south) is the largest and most central street in Plaka and divides it into two areas: the upper level, - Ano Plaka - located right under the Acropolis and the lower level - Kato Plaka - situated between Syntagma and Monastiraki.


Plaka was developed mostly around the ruins of Ancient Agora of Athens.[12] It is the oldest district of Athens and has been continuously inhabited from the neolithic to the present day.[13] As a result, Plaka contains monuments form all periods of the city's history. Some of the streets, such as Adrianou and Tripodon, can be traced back to the ancient era.[13] The population of Athens grew during the early 16th century, and the town experienced another urban development after the one which occurred in 1456, this time towards the north-east, again mainly by the settlement of Albanians who had moved in the region several years before the Ottoman arrival. After the Ottoman conquest, these settlements occurred in Attica in one wave after the Venetian loss of its Morean strongholds in 1540, and in another wave after a revolt in the Morea in 1570, when the Ottoman administration decreed the mandatory settlement of Albanians in Attica, in order to offer them improving living conditions. The such created north-eastern district of Athens later became known as Plaka.[8] During that period, Plaka was also the home of the Greek aristocratic Benizelos family, the family that Saint Philothei came from.[14][15] In the mid-17th century, out of the eight main administrative units (platomata) in Athens, it appears Plaka was the least densely inhabited.[16]

During the Greek War of Independence, Plaka like the rest of Athens, was temporarily abandoned by its inhabitants because of the severe battles that took place in 1826. The area was repopulated during the first years of the reign of Otto of Greece. Plaka had a sizable Albanian community till the late 19th century, and as a result it was the Albanian quarter of Athens.[17][18][19][20][9] They had their own courts where they used the Albanian language. Their descendants nowadays have been assimiliated into the Greek nation in considerable numbers. This happened through Greek control over the education system.[17] At the same period the neighborhood of Anafiotika, featuring traditional Cycladic architecture, was built by settlers from the Aegean island of Anafi.[21]

Plaka assumed its present form in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Following Greek independence, the area grew rapidly. Plaka became inhabited by a mixed population, that included old Athenian families as well as an influx of newcomers, such as artisans, professionals, military personnel, and others. In 1884 a fire burned down a large part of the neighborhood which gave the opportunity for the archaeologists to conduct excavations in the Roman Market and Hadrian’s library. Excavations have been taking place continuously since the 19th century. Growth continued until World War 2. From the 1950s until the 1970s, Plaka experienced some degradation, as a result of the post-war construction boom, the increase in motor cars, and the tourist boom.[13] In the 1980s, a comprehensive preservation plan was implemented, and the area improved rapidly. Nowadays Plaka is a major tourist destination.

Modern neighbourhood

Plaka is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists around the year,[22] and is under strict zoning and conservation regulations, as the only neighborhood in Athens where all utilities (water, power, cable television, telephone, internet, and sewage) lie underground in fully accessible, custom-made tunneling.

Museums in Plaka include:


Many movies of the Greek cinema were filmed in the area. Some of them include:



  1. ^ City spaces - tourist places: urban tourism precincts By Bruce Hayllar, Tony Griffin, Deborah Edwards page 31 :” Plaka the neighborhood of the Gods...Located at the base of the hill of Acropolis Plaka is the oldest district in Athens.”
  2. ^ «Στης Πλάκας τις ανηφοριές...Tα ιδιαίτερα έθιμα, οι γραφικοί τύποι, οι παραδοσιακές ταβέρνες στη γειτονιά του κεφιού και της διασκέδασης» Tου Kώστα Xατζιώτη Ιστορικού, Κυριακή 23 Ιουνίου 1996 Καθημερινή :” Πλάκα η συνοικία των Θεών, όπως την αποκαλούσαν παλαιότερα την γειτονιά που απλώνεται γύρω από τον Ιερό βράχο της Ακρόπολις..”“Plaka, the “neighborhoud of the Gods” as it was called few years ago, the neighborhood that lies around the sacred rock of Acropolis”
  3. ^ Karani 2007, p. 148.
  4. ^ Μιχελή 1994, pp. 45, 47.
  5. ^ Kostas Mpiri, Place names of Athens, 1946: "Local Athenians, as we can see from the written evidence, didn't call the area as Plaka. All the source of Athenian historiography, which mention neighborhoods of the city, refer to this area with the names of Alikokou, Kontito, Kandili and with the Churches it included (Kωστα Μπιρη, Τοπωνυμικα των Αθηνων, 1946: "Οι γηγενείς Αθηναίοι δεν εσυνηθιζαν, όπως φαίνεται από τα γραπτά μνημεία, να την ονομάζουν έτσι. Οσες πηγές της Αθηναιογραφιας, εως την εποχή του Όθωνος, αναφέρουν συνοικίες της πόλεως, ονομάζουν αυτήν την περιοχήν με τα ονόματα Αλικόκου, Κοντιτό, Κανδήλι, και με τις ενορίες που περιλάμβανε.")
  6. ^ a b Smith 2004, p. 137.
  7. ^ Μιχελή 1994, pp. 19, 110.
  8. ^ a b Karidis 2014, p. 61.
  9. ^ a b Cornis-Pope, M.; Neubauer, J. (2004). History of the Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe: Junctures and Disjunctures in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Comparative history of literatures in European languages. J. Benjamins Pub. p. 290.
  10. ^ Elsie, Robert (2004). "The Hybrid Soil of the Balkans: A Topography of Albanian Literature". History of the Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe: Junctures and Disjunctures in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Vol. 2. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 290. ISBN 9789027234537.
  11. ^ Symeonides 2010, p. 1152.
  12. ^ Ancient marbles to American shores: Classical archaeology in the United states. by Stephen L Dyson Chapter 5 The American school of Classical studies at Athens page 181 : “The Plaka, the picturesque Turkish quarter of Athens, had developed over the ruins of ancient Agorra”
  13. ^ a b c Zivas, Dionysis A. “Protection and Revival of Plaka, Athens: A Program at Work.” Ekistics, vol. 55, no. 333, 1988, pp. 329–36. JSTOR, Accessed 22 June 2023.
  14. ^ Miller 1922, pp. 5–115
  15. ^ Vryonis 2002, pp. 5–115
  16. ^ Karidis 2014, p. 66, Fig. II.3.
  17. ^ a b Ortakovski, Vladimir (2021). Minorities in the Balkans. Brill. p. 328.
  18. ^ Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse; Todd, Robert B. (2002). Collected Works of Richard Claverhouse Jebb. Continuum International. p. 65. ISBN 1-85506-933-4. Retrieved 2010-06-03.
  19. ^ Poulton, Hugh; Taji-Farouki, Suha (1997). Muslim identity and the Balkan State. C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd. p. 142. ISBN 1-85065-276-7. Retrieved 2010-06-03.
  20. ^ Davies, Prebendary (July–December 1880). "Contemporary Books (Classical Literature)". The Contemporary Review. 38: 853. Retrieved 2010-06-03.
  21. ^ City spaces - tourist places: urban tourism precincts By Bruce Hayllar, Tony Griffin, Deborah Edwards page 32:” At its highest point, just under the Acropolis, Plaka contains a 19th century recreated island village settlement. The steep, charming, whitewashed structured of the Anafiotika (migrants from the island of Anafi built the small enclave). and intimate tavernas reflect the architecture of the Aegean.”
  22. ^ "Plaka Photo Guide".
  23. ^ "Plaka". 12 June 2016.


Media related to Plaka at Wikimedia Commons