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Thursday, January 29, 2015

THE BATH-HOUSE OF THE WINDS and Other Ottoman and Roman Places to Visit in Plaka

There's a lot more than ancient Greek ruins around Athens.  In the Plaka you'll find remains of the Romans and Ottoman Turks as well as the Classical.  The Romans took control of the city in the second century BC and added some of their own architectural splendor, though it could never match the Greek's.  During his reign from 117 - 138 AD the Emperor Hadrian left his mark in many areas.  Beyond Hadrian's Arch which marked the border of Classical Athens, was the Roman city, including the Roman baths. Although it had been begun centuries earlier, he also put the finishing touches on the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Hadrian built a library in the Plaka area and nearby is the Roman Forum with it's notable Tower of the Winds. Years later, a wealthy Roman senator built the Herodes Atticus theatre in honour of his wife. Today the "Herodian" is a popular theatre for nusic concerts and staging ancient dramas.
Roman Forum

Not just Roman ruins can be found in the Plaka.  There are reminders of the Ottoman occupation of the city from 1456 to 1821. Most of these have been left in ruin or turned into museums to house Greek artifacts.

The Tzistarakis mosque, built in 1759, dominates Monastiraki Square. It is now the Museum of Greek Folk Art: Ceramics Collection. Take time to go inside and see the collection of pottery and other artifacts

Tzistarakis Mosque

The oldest mosque in Athens,  the Fethiye Tzami built in 1458 occupies a corner of the Roman Forum. It is now used to store artifacts found around the site.

Across from the Forum entrance are the remains of the medresse, an Islamic  school. During the Ottoman rule and Greek independence it was used as a prison and notorious for it's harsh conditions. A tree inside the courtyard was used for hangings. The prison was closed in the early 1900's and most of it was torn down.
Turkish Medresse

A place that has always intrigued me, is the Turkish bath house. Finally this time in Athens I was lured inside and spent a pleasant hour wandering the halls and rooms.  It was originally built in the 1450's and has been carefully restored. Roman and Byzantine bath-houses served as models for the Turkish hammams though there were some differences to meet the prescription of the Koran. The baths were used in shifts by men and women until an expansion in the 19th century provided more space for what you see today. Restoration work was completed in 1998. It's called "The Bath-house of the Winds" and is located at Kyrrestou 8, a street that leads to the back of the Roman Forum near the Tower of the Winds. It's open Mon & Wed- Sun 9 am- 2.30 pm. Free.

Bath-house of the Winds

Also nearby, around the corner from the Roman Forum at Dhioyenous 1 - 3 is the Museum of Greek Folk Instruments. It displays every type of instrument played in Greek history all attractively displayed in this old mansion. Open Tues & Thursday-Sun 10 am - 2 pm; Wed. noon - 6 pm. Free. There's also a museum shop where you can buy CDs of traditional Greek music.
Museum of Greek Folk Instruments 

1 comment:

Swathi said...

Nice post.Thanks for sharing this in your blog