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Often brought to the limelight of both international and local media as a symbol of the Greek urban modernity and a place that sparks controversy, the Exarchia neighborhood in Athens has quickly risen to fame during the past years.
Squabbles aside, everyone can agree on one thing – the Exarchia neighborhood is one of the best places to visit in Athens.
Its multicultural ambiance, picturesque streets, unique food, and bustling nightlife showcase the more alternative side of Athens that is bound to fascinate you.
Where Is The Exarchia Neighborhood Located
Exarchia neighborhood in Athens is nestled between the foot of the beautiful Lycabettus Hill and Pedion tou Areos, one of the largest parks in Athens.
It borders with the classy neighborhood of Kolonaki and Omonia square on the south and it’s only a few minutes away from Syntagma and the Academy of Athens.
Within the confines of Exarchia, you’ll also find a small hill called Strefi where locals head for a glimpse of nature amidst the densely built quarters.
The History of Exarchia in Athens
The neighborhood of Exarchia submerged at some point during the late 19th century with the first buildings surfacing around the area where the main square stands today.
Similar to the district of Plaka, Exarchia (or Exarcheia) was initially gradually inhabited by migrants from the Cycladic islands. Still, the area only started developing its distinct identity a few years later when the University of Athens decided to relocate a few of its departments to the new district.
Consequently, Exarcheia started attracting a very specific crowd – students, academics, and intellectuals that frequented its small cafes and quaint taverns to engage in lively discussions and delve into long social debates.
In the mid-1970s, the students of Exarchia were on the frontline of the city’s uprising against the regime which resulted in overthrowing the junta and further cemented the area’s character as being restless and rowdy.
Exarchia neighborhood in Athens has retained this unconventional identity for decades now.
It’s still a place of social, political, and artistic fermentation that bustles with people of all ages and all walks of life that flock to its streets to visit that small corner of the city that never sleeps.
Indeed, today Exarcheia is an art heaven in the center of Athens where you’ll find a myriad of concerts, theatrical plays, festivals, events, and various performances taking place throughout the year.
Lately, the neighborhood has been rapidly gaining in popularity with international travelers whose visits to Exarchia can arguably serve as an indicator that misconceptions and perceptions of the past are being constantly challenged to uncover the district for what it truly is – one of the most fascinating places to visit in Athens.
What to See And Do in Exarchia Neighborhood
With so much activity and so many events, happenings and celebrations going on in the area, the possibilities are endless.
Start off your visit to Exarcheia by walking around the square and getting acquainted with its unique vibe. Grab a bite at one of the numerous food spots that serve almost everything – from the traditional souvlaki and spanakopita to ethnic cuisine and high-end fusion culinary treats.
Go treasure hunting at the vintage shops and record stores and then head off to explore the city’s art scene at one of the many contemporary galleries based in Exarchia.
Kourd Gallery, Ileana Tounta’s Contemporary Art Centre and Gallery Can Christina Androulidaki would all be a great place to start.
Of course, the National Archaeological Museum of Athens is a place not to miss.
Also, the biggest number of street art in Athens can be found in Exarchia.
After you’re done marveling at the impressive exhibitions, climb Strefi Hill for a relaxing afternoon under the cool shade of pine trees with a refreshing drink.
Come sundown, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the majestic nightlife of Athens at one of the countless hip watering holes.
How to Get Around Exarchia Neighborhood
Exarcheia neighborhood is located in the center of Athens and it’s easy to reach both by walking and commuting from almost any place in the city.
It’s very close to three different stations – Victoria Station (green line), Panepistimio Station (red line), and Omonia Station (red and green line), with the last one being the closest.
With so many things being said and written about Exarchia, there can be no better way to discover the truth about this intriguing small neighborhood of Athens than to witness its charms with your own eyes.
The alluring ambiance and sprightly attitude will undoubtedly enchant you.
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