Psirri Athens is a beautiful, picturesque neighborhood, in the shadow of the Acropolis. Stylish cafes and bars dot its labyrinthine paved streets, that bear the names of lesser known ancient Athenians or heroes of the Greek War of Independence.
Well known hotpots of Athens nightlife stand next to small, virtually unknown and sometimes unnamed enterprises that await to be the next great breakthrough in entertainment. Handmade gift shops, tattoo parlors, escape rooms lie side by side in a swirling maze of colors, sights, sounds, smells and tastes. That is Psirri, the vibrant, hip, bohemian, beating heart of the historic center of Athens and the location of Ederlezi Boutique Hotel.
Location of Psirri
The center of Psirri is the Iroon Square (“Heroes’ Square”), in which the 5 main roads of the neighborhood converge. Miaouli Str., named for a famed admiral of the Greek Independence. Karaiskaki str, named for a great general and hero of the same war. Aristophanes str, for the ancient satirist. Aeschylus str, for the timeless tragic playwright. Ag. Anargyron str, for the Christian orthodox saints of the same collective name. It represents all of Greek history, from ancient times to Christianity and finally the birth of modern Greece. The square is the geographic heart of Psirri, bustling with people at all times of day and especially the night.
Nobody is really certain where Psirri ends and Monastiraki, Thission & Kerameikos, the adjacent neighborhoods begin. The historic districts of Athens have merged in a way, due to their proximity and shared history & cultural significance. However, Psirri keeps the honor of being the center stage of Athenian culture and nightlife. Perhaps it has something to do with it being geographically the literal heart of the Athens Historic Center.
History of Psirri
Psirri is one of the oldest parts of Athens. It lies near the Agora of Athens, the gathering place of the ancient Athenians. Used to be the spot on which the philosophers taught and everyday Athenians congregated. The name Psirri is mentioned by travelers to Greece and the Orient since 1678. An opinion about the meaning of “Psirri” is “neighborhood of the Psarians”, referring to the Greeks from the Aegean island of Psara that made their homes there.
By all accounts, during the last years of the Ottoman Era, Psirri was significantly bigger, encompassing all of the area that now goes by the names of Monastiraki and Thission. Since then it has become smaller, while former parts of it became districts of their own. In the first years of the independent Greek state, important people took up residence in Psirri. They graced it with beautiful neoclassical mansions. Even famed British poet Lord Byron stayed in one during a visit, the house of the British Consul in Athens. The newly-created Athenian bourgeoisie tended to outperform one another. This made the buildings of the historic center of Athens even more elaborate, while following strict neoclassical approaches.
By the latter part of the 19th century, Psirri was a crime-ridden area. Outlaws and shady characters, people known as “koutsavakia” (“the lame ones”, by the way they walked), reigned. Drugs, illegal gambling and prostitution were the norm in the area and law-abiding citizens and even police officers didn’t go there for fear of mugging or assault. Psirri and the surrounding area were the epicenter of the “Parker riots” of 1847-50. During this incident, an angry mob beat a British citizen living in Athens and burned down his house. The British fleet under Admiral Parker intervened by blockading all Greek ports until Greece met the compensation demands
With the decision of the legendary police commander Bairaktaris, a well-organized police operation of zero tolerance pacified Psirri within a month in 1893. Targeting all known outlaws and their places of gathering, much of the neighborhood became safe for the coming years.
Today Psirri is a center of creativity & nightlife, a place synonymous with a night-out for most of the Athenians. The sound of music, the lights, the smells of various cuisines and the joyful atmosphere characterize the area. In Psirri Athens, you will find what you are looking for in terms of people, entertainment and food. Especially in the summer months, Psirri is like a beehive of activity: People casually drinking and chatting on the street outside their favorite watering holes. Like a big group of friends, people mingle under the starlit Athenian sky, meeting each other and forging new relationships. If Athens has a beating heart, then Psirri and the surrounding area must be it! It’s like a continuous festival actually, if you think about it!
But Psirri is not just an open street party. Far from it, the neighborhood is a place of learning, of exchanging ideas and perspectives. Innovative dance schools and drama classes, yoga, meditation and alternative philosophy courses, all have a place in this vibrant part of Athens. Cultural centers of the immigrant communities of Athens, LGBT advocacy groups, open spaces for discussions and events, herb shops, handmade fashion boutiques, antiques shops stand side-by-side in the spacious buildings of the area.
You can come to Psirri through the Monastiraki Metro Station (Blue Line) or by foot, taking strolls around the city center. In a clear spring or summer day, or even in autumn and winter, walking in Psirri is a delight on its own!
Sights of Psirri
Every corner of Psirri has a sight to see, something to discover and create a potential memory out of. Walking its streets should be the in every traveler’s “top 10 things to do in Athens” list. No Athens sightseeing tour would be complete, not even possible without a visit to Psirri.
Indeed, Psirri and the adjacent districts host some of the most important tourist attractions of Athens. Whether they are the ruins of the Agora of Athens, the political, social and cultural heart of the ancient Athenian city-state; the neoclassical mansions that now house modern cafes, patisseries, theaters and bars; even the artistically brilliant and thought-provoking street art. You will find it difficult not to encounter something in Psirri that will grab your attention and stay deep in your memory.
You know you’re in Psirri when you:
- Eat a unique sweet on a backdrop inspired by fairy-tales.
- Walk in open air while seeing the majestic Acropolis in the background.
- Drink ouzo and tsipouro and eat “meze” while watching colorful people pass by in a hot day.
- Try to decipher the meaning of the stunning street art piece on the wall.
- Take and upload selfies in the most Instagrammable places of Athens.
- Want to explore what’s in the narrow, paved street you passed by.
- Discover by luck a small café that is not mentioned in any tourist guide, or even in TripAdvisor, yet it is in one word “perfect”.
Accommodation in Psirri
Besides all that, Psirri is the best place to stay in Athens. The area has cheap hotels to stay and recently renovated apartments booked through online platforms for all incomes and purposes. Of course, this is the location of Ederlezi Athens Boutique apartments & Hotel, the new, hip, bohemian spot of Athens. Couples, families or groups of friends that want to experience Athens find here a perfect launching pad for their exploration and adventures. All major attractions and things to see are in close walking distance and the transportation options are many. There is always a place to eat or drink right around the corner (most of the times many more) and there are wonderful options for cheap but stylish shopping in the area. Of course, you’re in the historic center of the city, where you can wander off and never be too far from the place you stay. Ultimately, in Pisrri you can find some of the best hotels in Athens city center.
Eating and drinking in Psirri
Psirri has a wide array of eating and drinking choices, conveniently located in and around the square and the adjacent streets. Certainly, being the center of Athens nightlife helps a lot and being in proximity to Monastiraki even more! From the traditional Greek souvlaki but with modern twists to exotic, ethnic and theme restaurants, to anything you mind can think and you taste buds want to enjoy.
In Psirri you can taste it! Your choices include internationally acclaimed bars like “The Clumsies” and the “Seven Jokers”; authentic-feel Irish pubs like the “James Joyce”; unique pastry shops like the fairy-tailish “Little Kook” and the authentic Constantinopolitan tastes of the Zoubourlou; hip trance and electro music venues like “Six d.o.g.s.”. And that’s only some of the known and famed ones. Imagine the small, intimate places that only locals know and will be the well-kept secret of Athens that you take with you!
Shopping in Psirri
Psirri and the surrounding area are famous for their various antique shops. There you can find anything old from furniture, china and decorations of every kind to second-hand books, old vinyl records and posters. Really everything a vintage lover holds dear. The retro craze that engulfed Athens during the last years brought out lots of things that Greeks kept in their basements, storage rooms or even in semi-abandoned apartments.
Flea markets like the one in Monastiraki square brim with valuable collectors’ items that await you to discover them. Street vendors aplenty dot Psirri and the surrounding area and sell whatever you can imagine, from small statues to teapots and even posters of old politicians, all of them collector’s items!
Moreover, you can find special handcrafted items of clothing or decoration in various small shops, particularly around Iroon square. The artists themselves own some of them. There, you have the opportunity to chat with the artists and vendors, learn about their inspirations and perhaps order your own personalized design. It will be a unique piece of art that will become your eternal link to Psirri and its bohemian vibes.
Make Psirri your own
The best sight of Psirri is that special something you will discover yourself. Something that no one else has seen or noticed, something that will catch your eye. Perhaps it will be something truly compatible with your personal aesthetic, perhaps something that reminds you of a thing you love, or you haven’t seen before. Maybe it’s a person you meet, or a song you hear for the first time. Or Maybe a drink you haven’t tasted before, a kind of food you’ve never eaten or just a look up the sky. Whatever it is, it will be your own personal memory of Psirri and Athens, that will forever bind you to this place. Psirri will be here, as it was for centuries, still colorful and vibrant, awaiting you back. And when you do come back, you will find it the same, but different.
Ederlezi Boutique Hotel soon will be a major landmark of Psirri, chief among the other landmarks of this remarkable neighborhood. For our hotel, as for Psirri in whole as a neighborhood and a destination, we can say the same thing. “This is not just a place to stay, but a place to LIVE”.
Where is Psirri located?
Psirri is located in the heart of Athens, very close to Monastiraki, Plaka, Thissio and the Acropolis.
How can I come to Psirri?
You can come to Psirri on foot from Syntagma sq., through lively central streets, full of people and colors. You can also use the Athens Metro, getting off in Monastiraki station of the Blue Line. Last, but not least, you can use the Athens Railway, getting off in Thissio station.
Why is Psirri considered an up-and-coming neighborhood of Athens?
Psirri is fast becoming one of the hippest neighborhoods of Athens. A center of nightlife and artistic pursuits, it is a place of meeting for all kinds of creative individuals. Artists, writers, chefs, mixologists, students and a large assortment of others make Psirri their daily space, living and working here.
Where can I stay in Psirri?
Psirri and the surrounding area is a hub of new hotel activity, with many new, stylish and one-of-a-kind boutique hotels opening constantly. Many of the old mansions of the historic area, with their unique design and architecture, undergo extensive renovations. The result is a steady flow of new concept boutique hotels with a unique feel and character.
Is there a type of shop that is characteristic of Psirri?
Psirri was and remains famous, along with Monastiraki, for its antique shops. Their owners are legitimate, legal professionals with decades of experience and knowledge. They are experts in researching, appraising and evaluating objects from past decades and the shops are filled with unique objects, waiting to be discovered.
Does Psirri have food and drink options?
Psirri is the heart of Athens nightlife, with many internationally acclaimed bars, restaurants and cafes, operating during all hours of the day. Serving all kinds of food, from traditional Greek to ethic and “fusion” cuisine and a wide variety of drinks and cocktails. Ice cream shops, street food parlors and pastry shops with a unique, “magical” feel attract Athenians and tourists alike. To be a visitor in Psirri is to have unlimited options!
Does Psirri have entertainment options?
Psirri is filled with art and entertainment options. Some of the best theaters of Athens are located in old, renovated buildings of the area, staging classic and experimental plays. Galleries, multipurpose artistic spaces and workshops of artists and artisans coexist and give the neighborhood a hip, bohemian feeling. Also, the area is known for the collection of Escape Rooms and other alternative entertainment options.
Is Psirri Instagrammable?
Psirri, the surrounding neighborhoods of Monastiraki, Thissio, Plaka, Gazi, Metaxourghio, along with the ancient Acropolis, Syntagma Sq and the entirety of historic center of Athens is highly Instagrammable. There are literally thousands of things to photograph and post, from the timeless ancient Greek and Byzantine monuments to high quality contemporary street art; from the intricate decorations of pastry shops to peculiar unique objects in antique shops; from the architectural details of old mansions to the exquisite view from one of the roof garden bars.
Will Psirri awe me as visitor?
Well, there’s only one way to find out. Come to Psirri!