We stroll around the most popular narrow streets in the heart of Athens and we discover the Ottoman influence to the city. We meet at the historical center at Monastiraki Square, where we can see the three landmarks of the long Greek history: the Roman Handrian’s Library, the Ottoman Mosque and the Byzantine Church standing next to each other, while the quintessence of the Athenian classical past, the Acropolis, is overlooking at them. Admire the evolution of the architecture of the city throughout centuries and observe hidden evidence of the reuse and the damage of the monuments. We learn about the story behind the name of Monastiraki Square; the big local market and landmark of the historical center located there since the long Ottoman period. We also hear the story behind the Tzisdarakis’ Mosque that lead to the fall of its founder. The tour continues under the dominant presence of the Acropolis, talking about its transformation under the Ottoman rule and about the social structure of Athens during the early modern period.
Our next stop is at the oldest house of Athens (16th-18th centuries), the Benizelos’ mansion, admiring a characteristic example of the Ottoman of mansion which can be found all over the Balkans and Anatolia.
We walk by the ‘’Kadi’s House’’, the Muslim Judge and we hear about the co-existence of Christians and Muslims under the Islamic law. The oldest Hammam Baths of Athens is our next visit where we learn about with the construction of the baths, its long tradition that dates back to the Ancient times while we get prepared for our own hammam experience! Don’t forget your swimwear!
Enjoy a coffee-break at the lovely vintage café, in order to taste the debated Greek-Turkish coffee. Instead of this we can either move to the ‘’Al Hammam Traditional Baths’’, in order to have a relaxing experience, enjoying a cup of tea at the balconies of the bath against the great view of the Acropolis.
Later on, we reach the point where the most imposing Ottoman complex of buildings was located, where we can still admire most of them. We observe the first mosque of Athens and hear stories about the sultans and the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed II. Imagine the incredible stages of reuse of the monument of the Tower of Winds and the dervishes dancing inside it! We talk about Education in the Ottoman period, as we observe the remaining of the Muslim school, the “Medrese". Finally, we talk about the evolution and the destruction of the monuments during the period of the Greek Revolution, the famous plane tree of this square and its connection to the Ottoman tortures.
At the end, we enjoy our meal at a traditional restaurant with the special delicacies of the local cuisine of the Christian community in Turkey, and discuss about our multicultural experience!
Don’t miss the chance to spend a long morning as a local Athenian in the early modern Greece!