Anafiotika: The Hidden Island Of Athens

  • by XpatAthens
  • Monday, 07 February 2022
Anafiotika: The Hidden Island Of Athens
The tiny, scenic neighborhood of Anafiotika tucked above the Plaka, just below the Acropolis, is often overlooked by visitors to Athens – and even some Athenians.

With patches of cool and quiet, Anafiotika is a hideaway for about 60 residents who want a slow life.

It was built in the 19th-Century by workers from the tiny island of Anafi in the Cyclades, hence the name. In 1841, King Otto I encouraged workers to come and help transform the new capital of independent Greece into a modern metropolis and refurbish his palace.

Carpenters and masons from the Cycladic island of Anafi came, along with other workers from the Cyclades. They took over the rocky terrain located just below the north slope of the Acropolis, hastily erecting houses, taking advantage of an Ottoman law that decreed that if you could put up a structure between sunset and sunrise, the property became yours.

The first two inhabitants were G. Damigos, carpenter, and M. Sigalas, construction workers. Soon, workers from other Cycladic islands also started to arrive there, to work as carpenters or even stone and marble workers, in a further buildings reconstruction period in Athens, but also in the following era after the end of the reign of King Otto.

In 1922, immigrants from Minor East were also established here, altering the population that was up to that time only from Cycladic islands.

In 1950, part of this neighborhood was destroyed for archeologic research and in 1970 the state started to buy the houses.

Anafiotika: Whitewashed buildings in Athens

Today, Anafiotika retains the charm of simple, whitewashed buildings of the island of Anafi with an irresistible lure of Bougainvillea flowers, clay pots, and roaming cats sitting in the sun.

There are only about 45 houses remaining, while the little streets from Stratonos to the Acropolis rock are still unnamed and the houses are referred to as “Anafiotika 1”, “Anafiotika 2” etc.

The neighborhood has small, cubic houses and narrow streets that often end up to ladders or even dead-ends at terraces, places to sit and enjoy the night view of the city.

As one travel site put it: "In this oasis of tranquility, nestled beneath the walls of the Acropolis, the intensity of Athens seems miles away."

Originally published on: