Downtown Athens from a Different Perspective

The joys and surprises of architecture spotting between Syntagma and Plaka


Skoufou Street, between Nikis and Voulis Streets, drew me in with its calm appearance. I wanted to head to Plaka and afterwards return to Mitropolis (the area surrounding Mitropoleos Square), following one of the zigzag routes this city specializes in.

Looking at a map of Athens it becomes clear that Nikis is an example of urban planning. The layout of the old town, with streets, alleyways, dead ends and curves, lies just below this street. Above Nikis, things fall into a more orderly pattern, but it’s these meandering old streets which make the city so charming.

 

A variety of buildings are hidden around every corner. When I began to slow my pace down and notice what was around me, I realised that Skoufou Street had the same character as Nikis. Here, I saw exceptional apartment buildings from the ‘60s.

“Above Nikis, things fall into a more orderly pattern, but it’s these meandering old streets which make the city so charming.”

Stop at number 8 and number 9 to see two fine examples of such architecture. At number 8, you can admire the beautiful wooden door in the style of the 1960s, and right across, you’ll see the outstanding esthetics of number 9. But that’s not all.

On the corner of Navarchou Nikodimou Street stands the most famous landmark of the area, a house that has haunted the imagination of thousands of passersby. From this point, look at the street in the direction of Plaka. The symmetry of the facades on the left side down towards Voulis Street is excellent, and in this direction you will see a tall apartment building from the interwar period. It seems to stand on its own, stylish and independent.

 

At the corner of Navarchou Nikodimou and Skoufou streets, I had the choice to turn right towards Iperidou Street, which is always charming, or to follow Nikis towards Plaka.

“The symmetry of the facades on the left side down towards Voulis Street is excellent.”

  I chose Nikis because I wanted to enjoy its atmosphere again. This street has a special aura which is deepened by the evergreen trees and its strong, typically Athenian identity. I went once more in search of the tall apartment buildings of the 1920s, which, one next to the other, are a triumph of urban extravaganza.

Next to them, towards Kydathinaion Street is another beautiful building from the 1930s. The bourgeois building by Spyros Staikos is at number 37. It expresses the urban taste of the ‘50s – conservative, solid, confident. Just next door, is the beautiful Athenian house of the Jewish Museum.

“This street has a special aura which is deepened by the evergreen trees and its strong, typically Athenian identity.”

But I turned back, because I wanted to head down Navarchou Nikodimou. I passed Lamachos Street which leads to Filellinon Street (on the right is a delightful neoclassical house) and got back on Navarchou Nikodimou, passed by Voulis and let my eyes wander to a line of modernist facades from the 1930s, standing exactly opposite the Electra Palace Athens hotel. On the corner with Thoukididou Street lies the neo-baroque mansion of Alexandros Nikoloudis, opposite the Hill School.

I passed by the building of the Crete University Press on Thoukididou, then head down Ipatias Street, where I was confronted by the deep brown color of the building at number 11 before emerging onto Mitropoleos street.

“On the corner with Thoukididou Street lies the neo-baroque mansion of Alexandros Nikoloudis, opposite the Hill School.”



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