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Filopappou Hill or Lofos Filopappou was in ancient times, the site was dedicated to the Muses, and it’s also called the Mousion.
The present name honour Antiochos Philopappos, a Syrian prince who served as Roman consul and Athen’s benefactor in the 2nd century AD. The marble monument on the crest was erected in his memory.
Once sacred, always strategic, this hill is an obligatory stop for camera enthusiasts: there’s a superb view both of the Acropolis and Athens, sloping down to the Bay of Phaleron and Piraeus harbor. It also offers a peaceful respite from the noise of the city; there’s a café halfway up the hill.
This terraced hillside is the location of the Acropolis Sound and Light performances. The Pnyx – meaning ‘tightly packed space’ – is where the free citizens of 5th-century BC Athens met in democratic assembly.
At that time, the rocky platform here was the site of the Stone of Vima, an ancient Speaker’s Corner, where people gathered to hear the likes of Pericles, Themistocles and Demosthenes hold forth.
Lying to the west of the Agora, along Ermou Street, is the ancient cemetery Keramikos. Off the beaten tourist track, you can explore the extensive ruins and sculpted tombs in relative peace.
This was the burial site of important Athenians, and the collection of rich jewellery, gold, glass and ceramics found in their graves, dating back to the 7th century BC, indicates their statues.
These items are on display in the cemetery’s small museum, which with its strikingly beautiful painted vessels and unusual offering channels and figurines is a real gem for pottery lovers.
Following Epicharmou street off to the left from Tripodon, you come to a remarkable white-washed village within the city: Anafiotika.
To come with the severe housing shortage experienced in Athens after Greek independence, a law was passed which permitted anyone who built a house – or at least managed to get its roof up – between sunset and sunrise to occupy it.
The first people to quality were two stone masons from the tiny Aegean island of Anafi. They were followed by other Anafiots, also masons, who built and restored houses and churches in their native style.
As a result, this part of Athens resembles a Greek island, and today, the Anafiots living on the heights of Plaka outnumberthe 350 residents on their native Anafi.
Wander around the sprawling ruins of the ancient marketplace, where democracy and philosophy had their beginnings.
The museum within holds a large collection of pots, coins, household objects and pottery fragments (ostraka), on which the Athenians wrote names of prominent men they wanted to vote into exile. Also here are a huge bronze shield taken from the Spartans during the Peloponnesian War and a klirotirion, and unusual device for relegating public duties by lot – and important feature of ancient Athenian democracy.
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