Greece Travel Guide

Athensguide

 Greek Island Guide

Lesvos

Hotels of Greece

Turkey

Paris

Around Kypseli

Surrounding Kypseli is the Pedion Areos Park, the student area of Exarchia, Victoria Square, Patission and Galatsi, areas which few tourists visit and what they have heard about them might make them places to avoid. But with the exception of a couple trouble spots which are easily avoided you are probably not risking your life by visiting these areas

King Konstantine statue Pedion AreosKypseli is bordered by Pedion Areos, the largest park in Athens and formerly the military parade grounds when the Greek army did stuff like that. Up until recently it was a haven for drug addicts but they have been replaced by refugees. The park went through an extreme makeover and if it ended up looking anything like the architects drawings, it would have been one of the best in Athens with ponds and streams and walking trails. Unfortunately they ran out of money and just about the same time the refugee crisis it and many people who had nowhere else to go ended up camping here.  The park has two enormous statues, one of Athina and the other of King Constantine, a dubious character whose inept leadership cost Greece the city of Smyrna and brought about what is known as the Asia Minor Disaster. It was followed by the exchange of populations that turned Athens into the refugee-filled city it still is to this day and was the end of the Christian presence in Asia Minor. After the catastrophe the king was forced to abdicate and forced into exile while many of the officers and politicians who supported him were found guilty of treason and executed. Why there is a statue of him is beyond me but I suppose someone wanted to appease the anti-Venizelists royalists who still exist in some parallel universe.

Panellinios pool, KypselliThe northeast corner of Pedion Areos contain the law courts in a wooded hilly area that has been mercifully spared the scourge of concrete. The northwest corner is the home of the Panellinios Sports Club, the oldest in Greece and one of the oldest in Europe. Their basketball team was a European power from 1929 and into the fifties and is again challenging the big money teams like Olympiakos and Panathiniakos with talented import players like Anthony Grundy from North Carolina State, Shakir Mustapha from Arizona, Australian Brad Newly and several excellent Greek, Serbian, Croatian and Montenegrin players. They play some of their home games in the intimate gym which holds only 1200 spectators. The grounds also have a track and field, two mini-soccer courts, an Olympic swimming pool and an ice-skating rink with a cafe-bar that overlooks it all of which are open to the public.

KTEL Attikis busAt the bottom of Pedion Areos in the area known as Green Park for the popular old cafe that was in the process of being restored until for some reason they gave up, is the important transportation hub of the orange KTEL Attika buses which leave every half hour or so to places like Rafina, Marathon, Sounion, Lavrion and other towns on the Attiki pennisula. Most trolleys going down Panepistimiou Street pass within a block of here and the 2, 4 and 9 to Platia Kypseli stop here as well. The west side of Mavromation Street where most of the buses are, also has a number of beautiful old buildings, some restored and some falling down. Among these buildings is the rear of the University of Economics. At the southwest corner of the park is tiny Egypt Square (Platia Egypto) a pretty non-descript place though it hides one of Athens' largest underground parking garages, usually about 80% empty. It used to be a nice little tree-shaded square not so long ago but like other squares, some Athens mayor's love of cement won over common sense and now it looks like a bus stop with a few little bushes. Nearby is Andrea's favorite roast chestnut and corn seller where we usually stop to get something to eat if we are waiting for the bus. Across Alexandras Avenue is the bus station for Thessaloniki, and a block or so up Alexandras are two notable places, the elegant Park Hotel, and Ennea Ogdoa at #40 where the ageless bouzouki great Christos Nikolopoulos plays every Friday and Saturday during the winter. This is considered the borderline of Exarchia, center of youth unrest.

Platia VictoriaIf you walk down Heydin Street from Mavromataion Street which is the western border of the park you will come right to Platia Victoria and the ISAP Electric Railway station, part of the Athens Metro System. The square is one of the more popular locations for African and Eastern venders who set up shop on the pavement, selling handbags, CDs, DVDs, and many other items until the police patrols pass by and they all run to the side street with their goods wrapped in a big sheet, looking like Santa's helpers after affirmative action. When the police leave they return and set up shop again. Recently it has been a gathering place for Syrian Refugees. One of my favorite statues is in the square. I am not sure what it is exactly but we named it 'The Fight at the Bowling Alley' when we were kids and have called it that ever since. It had a plaque but someone stole it, probably to melt down and sell for scrap.

Platia Victoria, AthensPlatia Victoria has several nice cafes and restaurants, the best probably being To Ouzeri Tou Laki, a tiny fish restaurant at the end of Elpidos, a small pedestrian street that is off the square. Also in the neighborhood are a couple of the best live rock clubs in Athens, Kitaro on Archanon and Iperiou streets, and Rodeo at 34 Heydon. You will know you are near Victoria by the yellow balls on the side of the streets leading to the square which actually work well in keeping cars from parking there. Why they don't put them on every street in Athens I don't know. You probably don't want to walk up Archanon too far. Though there is a spectacular church called Agios Pendelimon a few blocks up, the area is considered one of the few dangerous places in Athens. Not that you will be murdered or robbed while walking up the street or anything. Its just an area where immigrant gangs fight each other over turf, girlfriends, ethnic differences and whatever, and like Exarchia, it is one of the places that foreigners are told to avoid. But unlike Exarchia which has some great restaurants, ouzeries, cafes and the best CD and used record shops in Athens, there is no good reason for any tourist to go to Agios Pandelimon.

Athens PolytechnionThe western border of Kypseli is Patission Street which is also known as 28th of October Street, which was the day the Greeks refused to let the Italians occupy the country, also known as Ochi Day. This important road which begins on Panapistimiou street and is actually an extension of Aeolou Street is notable for a few things. First you have a view of the Acropolis pretty much as far as you go. It also passes the Athens Polytechnic University the location of the 1973 student rebellions which ended on Nov 17th with a Greek army tank crashing through the gates, which have been locked ever since. It was the home-base in December of 2008 for the 'anarchists' who took advantage of a law passed after November 17th that made it illegal for police to enter the campus. They used it to launch attacks against small shops, banks, police, McDonalds, Starbucks, firetrucks, traffic lights, Christmas trees, and any poor guy who happened to be driving through the area at the wrong time whose car was needed in the barricades. They would then retreat back to the campus, secure in the knowledge that they were protected by law. Meanwhile they trashed the campus, wrote graffiti all over the buildings, held the work of art students hostage, ransacked files and threatened to burn the whole thing down if anyone dared mess with them.

National Archaeology Museum of Athens This was not the most glorious period of Greek democracy and one not even worth mentioning except the Polytechnic is right next to the National Archaeological Museum (photo), perhaps the best archaeological museum in Europe if not the world. In the back of the Museum is the world's largest collection of ancient autographs and inscriptions in the Epigraphical Museum. Though demonstrations often originate in this area for the most part they are peaceful and are easily avoided since with any demonstration there will be a noticeable absence of buses and traffic going down Patission street. Check out the Rockwood Bar and restaurant right next to the museum which is as close as you will find to an American Saloon in Athens. They have live music every weekend and other events and different nights. They also serve food and a variety of draft beers, bottled beers, fine spirits and cocktails and are open every night except Sunday.

Hellenic Motor MuseumAcross the street and up about two blocks from the Archaeological museum is the Hellenic Motor Museum. These cars are the collection of Theodore N. Charagionis and they are on display in a beautiful modern building just a couple blocks from the National Archaeological Museum. I may be criticized for saying this but if I had to choose one museum to visit this would be it. The Museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 9pm and on Sunday from 11 to 6pm. The building that houses the museum, the “Athenian Capitol” complex, is a multi-activity center for the Athenian “future”, that combines retail, culture and leisure. The address is 3rd September, 33-35 Iouliannou & Patission Streets. If you are coming from the Archaeological Museum turn to your right and walk down Patission Ave for 2 blocks and turn left on Iouliannou. If you are coming from the Victoria metro station, with the square behind you go right on 3rd of September Street and walk 4 short blocks.

Platia Amerikis, AthensIf you continue past the National Museum, and the very nice cafe there in the park, Patission continues as a commercial street with a large variety of shops of all kinds, fast food restaurants, a few small department stores like Zara, Kotsobolos Electronics, Marks and Spencer, the Hondos Center and even a bowling alley. Its just past the Marks and Spencer that you turn diagonally right to get to Fokionos Negri. If you continue down Patission you will come to Platia Amerikis on the left, a small square with some shade trees, benches and a giant chess board that you have to bring your own pieces if you want to play. On the right side of the street is another park which the Athens Municipality ripped out all the trees so they could build a parking garage, sparking more demonstrations and battles with the police. Once again, just as with the Demotiki Agora, members of the community occupied the park, planted trees where they had been ripped up, and began a series of concerts, demonstrations and petitions while hanging posters all over the city to make all of Kypseli aware of the mayor's attempt to destroy what little green space remained in the neighborhood.

Acropolis from Patission StreetBeyond the park you eventually come to Galatsi, an area similar to Kypseli, though from here you start getting into areas like Nea Philadelphia and Ano Patissia which are further from the center and less congested, almost like suburbs. A a restaurant worth the journey to Galatsi is Spiros and Andonis, a small taverna on Gavrilidou Street off Patission Street that is a favorite among my friends in the area. It is hard to find and only open at night but you can take a taxi there and they will call one for you when you want to go home. If you have walked down Patission Street and are turning around to return to downtown Athens you will notice that even though it is miles away you can still see the Acropolis. It is a straight shot from Kypseli and Patission Street is really an extension of Aeolou Street which takes you right into Monastiraki and The Plaka.


Return to Kypseli Index

If you are staying in Kypseli at an Air BnB and you find this page useful please consider donating to this website. You can send a donation through Paypal to matt@greecetravel.com or send a check to Matt Barrett's Greece Travel Guides/102 Old Pittsboro Rd/Carrboro NC. 27510 USA

Join Matt Barrett's Greece Travel Guides Group on Facebook for comments, photos and other fun stuff. If you enjoy this website please share it with your friends on Facebook and Google+

  

Return to Athens Survival Guide