Plaka, the “Neighborhood of the Gods” situated beneath the northeastern slope of the Acropolis, is perhaps the place most representative of Athens, where not only old meets new, but where antiquity remains as vibrant as the present.
Athens’ oldest historical neighborhood, developed mostly around the ruins of the Ancient Agora in an area that has been continuously inhabited since antiquity, Plaka is built atop the residential areas of the ancient town of Athens, and its narrow labyrinthine streets are lined with neoclassical buildings.
It is known as the “Neighborhood of the Gods” due to its proximity to the Acropolis and a plethora of archaeological sites, but the area is also dotted with little churches, most of them built in the 11th century, with impressive hagiographies, where services continue to be held, and a number of museums.
During the Ottoman rule of Greece, Plaka was the seat of the Turkish ‘voevode’ (governor). In the 1821 Greek War of Independence, Plaka, like the rest of Athens, was temporarily abandoned by its inhabitants due to heavy battles that took place, mostly in 1826, but was later repopulated. A massive fire in 1884 burned down a large section of the neighborhood, and archaeologists conducted excavations in the Roman Market and Hadrian’s Library, with excavations continuing since the 19th century.
Indeed, excavations have proven that Plaka’s main Adrianou Street is the oldest street in Athens that is still in continuous use with precisely the same layout since antiquity.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists swarm to Plaka all-year-round. The aura of the old neighborhood remains unchanged, as Plaka is under strict zoning and conservation regulations. It is the only neighborhood in Athens where utilities (water, electricity, cable TV, telephone, internet and sewage) lie underground in fully accessible, custom-made tunneling, while motor vehicles are totally banned.