Situated at the center of the city, south of Ermou street Monastiraki attracts visitors. Monastriraki square surrounds the area of Monastiraki. The square was recently paved with mosaic “ flows” of marble, stone and wrought iron. The area took its name from the little Byzantine chapel ( 10 th c AD) located on Monastiraki square which was used as a monastery until Greek Independence ( 1821 ) . During the Frankish rule ( 13 th- 14 th Cad) the chapel was operated from Catholics under the ownership of Nikolaos Mponefatsi. Nowdays the chapel is a parish church dedicated to Virgin Maria.
The Tzistaraki Mosque ( 1759 ) is located also on Monastiraki square. The mosque was builted from the Ottoman commander of Athens Voevod Tzistaraki. After the establishment of the Greek state ( 1834) the building was used as a barrack and as a prison. In 1924, the building served as a museum of handicrafts which was later renamed as museum of Folk Art. In 1973 the permanent collection and the offices were moved to 17 Kydathinaion street. The Tzistaraki Mosque continues to host since today a collection of pottery, donated by Vasilis Kyriazopoulos. The pottery mainly came from Asia Minor.
About the rail network
In 1895 the first metro station in Athens was constructed in the area of Monastiraki . The ground line connected Monastiraki to Piraeus harbor. The new underground metro line connects Monastiraki with the Athens International Airport “ Eleutherios Venizelos”. During the construction of the metro there were problems due the proximity with the riverbed of the ancient river Eridanos*. The river was lost due the expansion of the ancient city of Athens below of earth- moving and constructions. The only spots that the river comes to the surface is in the area of Monastiraki station and Kerameikos.
You should taste souvlaki kebab made of beef or doner- kebab ( “ gyros”) made of pork or chicken served in the taverns on Monastiraki square with direction to Mitropoleos street. “ Souvlaki” is delicious, popular and cheap food.
Don’t admiss to go for shopping to Athens Flea Market. The entrance is on Hephaestou street which is next to Monastiraki metro station. The visitor has the opportunity to buy handmade leather shoes and bags, jewellery, musical instruments, woodmade products, byzantine icons. You should taste traditional products and buy souvenirs such as T- shirts, postcards, statues copied from ancient ones. All of the products are sold to a low price. Crossing Hephaestou street at the end of the road if you turn right you will find shops that sell hand- books while if you turn left you will meet St Phillip’s church ( 9 th c A.D).
Just off Hephaestou street, Avysinias Square consists another interesting flea market. Collectors have the opportunity to buy original antique items, paintings and old books of special editions. Every Sunday, outdoor small vendors sell second- hand items in low price.
Take a walk to the pedestrian of Pandrosou street that connects the Cathedral of Athens with Tzistaraki Mosque in Monastiraki. Many shops that sell touristic items are on Pandrosou street that are mainly family enterprises. The visitor has the opportunity to buy traditional products, antiques, jewelers, leather items and gallery.
The river Eridanos
It is about an ancient stream that emanates from Lycabettus hill. The stream flowed through Kolonaki, the modern square of Syntagma and next the Mitropoleos street, the Monastiraki, heading outside the city of Kerameikos to the point that meets Sacred Gate and emptied to the river Ilissos to the point that meets Piraeus street. During the archaic period owing to the urban expansion of Athens the waste of the city outflowed to the stream that was transformed to a mire soon. During the emperor Adrianos ( 117 – 138 A.D) the stream was covered with a bricklayer misty, banked and transformed into a sewer.