The 12 Favorite Athens Neighborhoods of the Greek Olympian Gods
Mount Olympus, the tallest mountain in Greece, is the place once believed that the gods used to reside, where they ruled the world and perfectly oversaw the lives of the mortals underneath them. Greece is filled with temples and architectural masterpieces where people used to worship the ancient Greek gods, and Athens, as the capital of Ancient Greece, is the hotspot of places dedicated to Greek Olympian gods. The question started forming in our heads: what if Athens’s neighborhoods were to portray the gods, how would that look like? Continue reading and find out what we came up with!
1. Zeus, Father of Gods and Men - Pangrati and Panathenaic Stadium
Zeus was the king of the gods and the most powerful among them. The son of Cronus and Rhea, he was the Olympian god of the sky and the thunder, and with his esteemed position and stern figure, he was the ruler of heavens, the governor of the weather and the protector of hospitality, whereas he was also known as the "infernal" (hthonios) or the "farmer" (georgos). During ancient times, it was widely believed that when a lightning struck earth, this was a sign that Zeus was present (and probably outraged).
As the Ancient Olympic Games were a celebration dedicated to Zeus, Pangrati is the place that best portrays him. Located in Pangrati, the Panathenaic Stadium -also known as Kalimarmaro- is the venue that the first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896, which in a sense brought back the Zeusian ideals of power, excellence and hospitality altogether, and this time in an effort to overcome physical borders and barriers.
2. Hera, Queen of the Gods – Plaka
Right beneath the Acropolis, Plaka is known among locals and tourists as the “neighborhood of the gods” and is considered a place of natural beauty, creating a family-like feeling, when visiting and walking around its narrow streets and marble pathways. This feeling is exactly what reminds us of Hera, the goddess of family, women, marriage, and childbirth. Portrayed as majestic and solemn, Hera perfectly represents the majestic and magnificent atmosphere you experience when you wander around the area of Plaka.
3. Poseidon, Master of the Seas – Piraeus
As the protector and master of the seas, known among the mortals as the fierce sea god, who can be as tranquil as the silent sea, but may get easily as irritated and angry just in an instant, Poseidon may be directly related to Piraeus, as it is the area where you can find the most famous and largest port of Greece. Piraeus is your way out the mainland and towards the beautiful islands of the Aegean Sea, offering you the opportunity to make the most out of your trip, experience the traditional way of living, which may differ from island to island, and try the flavorful tastes of the local cuisine. If you are the person that wants to wake up every morning and take a look at the sea, then Piraeus is the perfect place to do that. And all that just some thirty minutes from Athens’s city center.
4. Dionysus, God of Wine – Monastiraki
Dionysus is generally known to be the god of wine, but also the god of fun, relaxation and endless wandering around and about. In this sense, Monastiraki is the area that perfectly portrays him. Restless and always full of people, Monastiraki is the place where you can find lively little streets full of both locals and tourists, small shops all over the area’s flea market and a plethora of attractions for every taste (from the era of Ancient Greece to that of the Roman Empire, spreading until the Ottoman era). So, if you are a fan of fun, then you are a genuine Dionysian and Monastiraki is your kind of place.
5. Demeter, Goddess of Harvest and Fertility – Thissio
Although famous as the goddess of harvest and fertility, Demeter was also known as a loving and caring mother, who waited for her daughter, Persephone, to come back to her every spring from the underworld. As such, Demeter can be best depicted by Thissio, the area considered ideal when it comes to family walks and day-outs. Walking down Dionysiou Areopagitou Street from Acropolis and just before you get to Monastiraki, you reach Thissio. Here you can find yourself among nature, modern and more traditional tourist shops, cafes and taverns and somewhere to hangout beneath the shadow of some tree, before you get off to some new place to explore.
6. Hermes, the Messenger of the Gods – Syntagma
As the god of commerce, patron of road travelers, and most commonly known as the messenger of the gods, Hermes used to be quite social and eager to come in contact with people that he met, while running errands. And these are exactly the things that you see and witness while wandering around Syntagma square and walking down Ermou street; the road is named after Hermes, after all. Syntagma is the convergence point of travelers, passers-by and wanderers, right at the heart of the city.
Interested in experiencing something new?
7. Aphrodite, Goddess of Love – Kolonaki
Just like the goddess of love and beauty, Kolonaki has so much to show that can easily make you fall in love with it. The perfectly combined old and new, traditional and modern, the luxurious style of the locals and the multicultural ambience you come across while taking your walk down the busy streets, Kolonaki is the place that you can definitely experience real love; just as if Cupid (Eros) hit you with one of his arrows. Find the most artisan coffee houses and cafés, creative restaurants with sophisticated menus and all kinds of bars and clubs scattered all over.
8. Hades, God of the Underworld – Keramikos
The area was used as a burial site from the Hellenistic period to the early Christian one, therefore it makes perfect sense to match it with Hades, the god of the underworld and the dead. Brother of Zeus and Poseidon, he was the most feared one, well, mainly because of his position. Nevertheless, Keramikos, and especially Gazi, is today one of the most vivid areas of Athens, full of people hitting the local bars and taverns or restaurants found there. It is the highlight for those seeking a thrilling night out in the streets of Athens, or, simply put, looking to have some fun.
9. Hephaestus, God of Fire and the Craftsman – Psyrri
Hephaestus is the god of fire, metalworking, stone masonry, forges and the art of sculpture, or the craftsman of Olympus. His works were characterized by exceptional patterns and uncanny craftsmanship. The same happens all around you in the area of Psyrri. This is where everything takes form and reach greatness: from the old, yet beautiful, architecture (probably covered here and there with graffiti) to the small shops offering handmade creations, from sandals and bags to jewels of all types and shapes. And, of course, the area is also well-known for its little taverns and pastry shops that give you the complete experience.
10. Athena, Goddess of Wisdom – Acropolis
You were expecting this, and we are sure about that! Acropolis is the jewel of Athens, where you can find the Parthenon, the temple dedicated to goddess Athena, the patron of the city. The whole structure is grandiose, a worthy representation of Athena’s wisdom and a symbol of art, freedom and democracy, just like Athena was one. Walk up the pathway to the Acropolis and the Parthenon to witness their magnificence that remains almost unchanged after all these centuries. And make sure to visit the surrounding neighborhoods, such as Koukaki or Monastiraki, to enjoy a walk through picturesque streets or a coffee and something to eat at one of the local cafés, restaurants and taverns.
11. Ares, God of War – Exarcheia
Exarcheia couldn’t be missing from this list and we didn’t have much trouble who to pair it with. The area is infamous among the locals and known for its violent and rebellious element active there. Therefore, we found the perfect match: Ares, the god of war. Nevertheless, Exarcheia still has much more to show: neoclassical buildings, bohemian architecture, unexpected encounters. The neighborhood is characterized by its people and the communal spirit they share, a rich history and an ever-growing prestige among locals and visitors the last few years. And all just some 15 minutes’ walk from Syntagma or Omonoia.
12. Artemis, Goddess of Hunting – Kifissia
Artemis is the goddess of hunting and wildlife and one of the most respected deities in ancient Greece. She was the goddess of childbirth and virginity, the protector of young children and known for bringing and healing diseases in women. This very image reminds us directly of Kifissia, the area in the northern suburbs of Athens, where it is full of green and nature is at its best. However, Kifissia is one of the most famous neighborhoods and the ideal place to experience two sides: the nature in abundance and the human intervention that are found in unison here.