Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Psirri, Athens, Greece

Walking through the area known as Psiri in the daytime is deceiving. Streets are filled with working class people and this former leather craftsman district contains a variety of shops and businesses that might be described as practical or business oriented. But starting at around 6 p.m. Psiri undergoes the transformation from working class light industrial, to a mecca of cafes, bars, restaurants and ouzeries. The mix of uses in this area of Athens is very successful. The streets are filled with tables and chairs, and what were parking lots during the day become dramatically lighted dining areas for restaurants at night.

People live, work and entertain themselves within this area. It seems like a perfect place for a quick getaway from the bustle of the city. The easiest way to enter Psiri is from one of the small roads between the Attalos Hotel and Monistiraki Square on Athinas street. Besides these places there are numerous cafes and restaurants, and very few cars to bother you. There are also plans for the opening of many galleries and theaters in this district and the bordering former gasworks area, many of which have already opened their doors. There is a chain of streets that are pedestrian-only, so it is very easy to walk from place to place.

Be aware that when you enter Psiri, your first instinct will be to think "This can't be the place." The area seems dangerous and dark, but it is neither. It's patrolled by rent-a-cops who keep the Omonia Square riff-raff from making inroads into the area. As you follow the small streets towards the center it gets livelier and more well lit until suddenly you realize you are here. 

People use this space at all times of the day, for different reasons. They either work there during the day, or go out for a night of entertainment. There is a wide variety of places where people of different ages can actually go to. 

This area is for the explorer. Those who are tired of endless T-shirt shops and Mousaka signs, this is the place to go. This area is for people who want to see what it is like to be young and hip and hang out in Athens. 

Or even not so young and hip.

This is a unique, significant district of Athens because of its history. It is well known that the area of Psirri has created its own atmosphere, something that renders it unique among the other traditional neighborhoods of Athens. 

A lot of people are natives to Psirri, whereas there are others that have come to Psirri at a very young age in order to work or live. If you have children, there is an entire plateia (public square) to play in with plenty of kids from the neighborhood.

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