I still remember a somewhat exaggerated statement by a foreign friend from years ago: “I could imagine Athens without the Acropolis, but without Lycabettus? Never!” I had burst out laughing when he said it, but he clearly meant it. He was trying to convey the intensity of the first time he set eyes on the hill. He was riding a taxi from the old Athens airport at Hellinikon, when suddenly out of nowhere he was confronted by an imposing green cone, with a little white church perched on its peak. “You laugh because you are so used to it. I haven’t seen anything like this in any city of the world”.
I have thought about my friend and his provocative statement on my many excursions up Lycabettus, particularly during the first lockdown. It was then, with time frozen and tourists absent, that I was able to appreciate what the hill means for Athens.
It was also on these walks that I noticed that the spot that once hosted the famous “Prasini Tenta” (the name means “Green Awning” in Greek), Lycabettus’s famed ouzo joint, was being prepared for something. That “something” is the revival of Prasini Tenta, which managed to establish itself as a destination even before dining had a chance to reopen from the lockdown.
The theoretically incompatible worlds of bourgeois Kolonaki and bohemian Exarchia meet up here for a drink and a view over the city. The unbeatable advantage of Prasini Tenta remains, as it always was, a panorama of Athens with the Sacred Rock of the Acropolis and the dazzling sunsets behind the islands of the Saronic Gulf and the mountains of the Eastern Peloponnese. For those who remember Prasini Tenta from their student years, as the legendary post-war drinking spot, we must warn that the new incarnation is more in keeping with the times and the postcode (Kolonaki-Exarchia 1-0).
This is an all-day destination serving coffee, drinks and food (overseen by chef Xenia Bouzouramidou). Thankfully, though, the look has been kept low-key – because why would you need décor with such spectacular beauty around you?