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Makrianni, Athens, Greece

Makrianni, Koukaki from the Acropolis

Acropolis Museum, Makranni

Makrianni Street, Athens

The neighborhoods of Makrianni and Koukaki are south of the Acropolis and Mount Filopapou. They are bordered by Syngrou Avenue to the south and the beautiful pedestrian avenue of Dionissiou Areopagitou to the north and are therefore within easy walking distance of just about anywhere in Athens that you would want to be.

Makrianni from AcropolisMakrianni was really put on the map when the Acropolis Museum opened, along with the Acropolis metro station. Before that it was like any other area of Athens with its apartment buildings and lack of green space. But the parkification plans of Athens were good to the neighborhood and it is now one of the most popular walking areas in the city. It is hard to remember the days when both Makrianni Street and D Areopagitou were choked with buses, cars and carbon-monoxide and the Plaka stopped abruptly at the end of Byronas street. But now it is a continuation of walkable Athens, not to mention rideable Athens on Segeways and skateboards and bicycles.

The neighborhood has three major sites, the first being of course the Acropolis which rises out of the trees and ruins of the ancient temples below it. The second is the new Acropolis Museum, waiting patiently for the return of the Elgin Marbles and attracting thousands of visitors a day. The third is the Temple of Olympian Zeus which is right across the street from the Royal Olympic Hotel which some people might call the fourth.

Rick Steves and Kosta at To Kati AloMakrianni Street which runs next to the museum and leads to S Areopagitou has traded in the small shops that sold tiropitas and jewelry for restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating. Yes they are mostly tourist places but by the intersection of Makrianni and Hatzichristou street is one of my favorite restaurants, To Kati Alo (photo)which serves the kind of home cooked dishes and grilled meats and fish that you will find in some agricultural city like Trikala or Sparta. Kosta, the young guy who runs the place, is an articulate guy who speaks fluent English. The salads are made to order, not kept in the fridge and served with icicles like some of the touristy places. One of the specialities is grilled fresh farm-raised tsipura, a meaty fish that does not taste farm raised and for which he charges about 8 euros. Try getting a whole grilled fresh fish anywhere else around the Acropolis. He also grills steaks, lambchops, porkchops, local sausages, chicken and usually has a couple whole chickens and kontosouvli (pork loin) turning on the rotisserie if you get there early. Excellent wine from the Peloponessos and tsipiro-raki from who knows where? The menu is written in chalk on the wall. It looks pretty funky but the food is good. Check it out.

God's restaurant, AthensAlso worth visiting is God's Restaurant which is a family owned place that has excellent food for a tourist restaurant. Plus the owner actually looks like God, or at least how many of us picture him, sort of like Santa but not fat. Next door is another good restaurant called Arkadia which features food from that part of the Peloponessos. Both restaurants are a few notches above the normal tourist restaurant and each have a friendly young staff. Nearby though not on Makrianni Street is Palia Geitonia Estiatorio (Old Neighborhood Restaurant) which serves delicious traditional foods in a modern bistro setting. Run by two women, Zoi who is the chef and Yiotta who runs the well-stocked and fun-to-be-at bar, the restaurant has some interesting mezedes including something called Pixti, which is a sort of mixed peppered meat combo held together by some kind of gelatin substance. You won't find many tourists here but its actually close to the hotels in Makryianni. Just walk down Syngrou Ave and turn right on Zinni street and its by the intersection with Dimitracopoulou at #21. For the more adventerous travelers continue on Dimitrakopoulou street to the small pedestrian street called Olimbiou and turn tight where there is a small traditional cafeneon that serves some of the best mezedes in town. The Strofi Taverna at 25 Roberto Galli has a rooftop garden with a spectacular view of the Acropolis. You won't find a more romantic restaurant and the food is good too. (Call because you may need reservations: 210-921-4130) For reviews and others places to eat see Athens Restaurants (You can easily walk to any of the restaurants in the Plaka)

Mount Filopapou, AthensBesides the Acropolis museum there is not much to see in the neighborhood itself  but its proximity to the important places you'll want to visit make it an excellent place to stay. Go up Makrianni Street and cross D Areopagitou and you enter the Plaka on Byronas Street. If you go right on D Areopagitou you come to Hadrian's Arch, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the National Gardens and the Panathinaiko Stadium. Go left on D. Areopagitou (I am going to know how to spell this name by the time I finish this section) and you pass the ancient Theater of Dionysious, the Theater of Herod Atticus, the entrance to the Acropolis, and if you continue you will go through the neghborhood of Thission and wind up in Monastiraki, and chances are good you won't have seen a car along the way. If you like the countryside you can walk for hours on the wooded paths of Mount Filopapou and there are few better views of the city than from the monument at the top where you can even see the ferries leaving the port of Pireaus. If you are a runner, walker, or bicycle rider this is the best area in Athens for you. If you are here on Katheri Deftera (Clean Monday) this is where Athenians come to fly their kites in celebration of lent and the streets and pathways are filled with food vendors, musicians and families.

Acropolis MuseumBy the way, one of the beautiful old buildings that stand in front of the Acropolis Museum whose owners went through years of legal wrangling when the city wanted to tear them town because they 'spoiled the view' is owned by Vangelis Papathanasiou, otherwise known as Vangelis, who wrote (or recorded at least) the theme song to Chariots of Fire and more importantly was the brilliant mind behind Aphrodite's Child, the most important rock group to come out of Greece. The owners of these properties fought the city and publicized their plight with this flyer which was taped to one of the buildings which gives you an idea of how frustrating it can be dealing with the Greek bureaucracy. But thankfully the buildings are still standing so at least in this situation their ineptitude has actually been beneficial to the city. By the way the beautiful vines hanging from the rooftop are fake. But you gotta give them credit for trying. (The photos on this page can all be seen full size by clicking on them.)

Practical Information

Dionysiou AreopagitouThe Acropolis metro station, which should be called the Acropolis Museum metro station because it is nowhere near the entrance to the Acropolis and is right next to the museum, is on the corner of Makrianni and Ath Diakou Streets and from there is it a 2 minute journey to Syntagma where you can take the metro or the X96 bus to the airport, and a 4 minute journey to Omonia Square where you can catch the metro to the port of Pireaus. If you walk to Vassillisas Olgas Street, by the entrance to the Temple of Zeus you can take the coastal tram to Faliron, Glyfada and Voula. The E22 bus that goes along the coast all the way to Saronida, half way to Sounion stops near the intersection of D Aeropagitou and Amalias Avenue. The #15 and the #5 Trolley will take you all the way to the National Museum and back and you can catch it on Dimitrakopoulou street or on Amalias Avenue in front of the National Gardens.

Hotels in Makrianni

Royal Olympic Hotel, Makrianni, Athens, GreeceThere are lots of hotels in Makrianni, the majority being three and four star though there are a few economical hotels scattered around. The best hotel would have to be the 5-star Royal Olympic Hotel with its views of  the Acropolis, Lykavettos and the Temple of Olympian Zeus, its swimming pool and rooftop restaurant and bar. I have stayed here and it is very nice. Then again I didn't have to pay for it. The area's other popular 5-star hotel is the Divani Palace Acropolis which also boasts amazing views of the Acropolis, a rooftop restaurant and a swimming pool. Leading the 4-star hotels is the newly rebuilt Athens Gate which has great views, a rooftop restaurant and bar, but alas, no pool. This hotel and the 4-star Airotel Parthenon are the closest to the Plaka and Syntagma Square for those arriving late on the X95 bus and dragging their luggage through the streets of Athens. The 4-star Herodion Hotel sits at the foot of the Acropolis and offers elegantly decorated air-conditioned rooms. It has beautiful roof garden with sun loungers and 2 jacuzzis with spectacular views over Athens and is one of the most popular hotels in Athens, especially with travel agents who book most of the rooms for their clients since they rarely get complaints about it. The 4-star Hera Hotel offers stylish, cosy and comfortable accommodation with beautiful views of the Acropolis, as well as free internet access, meeting facilities and a restaurant and bar in the roof garden with an amazing panoramic vista. It is also where the Rick Steves tours stay.  The Philippos Hotel, Acropolis Museum Boutique Hotel and the newly built Acropolis Hill Hotel are all 3-star well regarded and within easy walking distance of the sites and restaurants. Though the page mistakenly says the 2-star Acropolis View Hotel is in the Plaka, it isn't. In fact of all the hotels listed here it is the furthest from the Plaka. But it is an economical hotel within easy walking distance of the Acropolis, Thission, the Acropolis Museum and the Plaka so who cares if they want you to think it is in the Plaka. At least it is not in Metaxourgio.

Acropolis Museum

Acropolis from Makrianni

Filopapou Hill, Athens, Greece

Temple of Olympian Zeus from Hotel Royal Olympic

You can click on all the photos on this page to see them full size

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