Athenians told me that the area among Omonia Square, Syntagma Square, and Monastiraki Square is considered the centre of the city. Despite the well-known economic crisis and its effect on Athens (high increase of numbers of vacant shops and houses, cuts on money to spend for the city’s maintenance, and worsening of social issues are some of those) the area is still where business are made, where shops sell every kind of goods and products, where you find a bar or restaurant for any kind of occasion or wallet, where, basically, things are and people go. Agia Irini Square is at the centre of it and it mirrors all these features perfectly.
Once the flowers market was held here but nowadays the offer is much richer: right on the square there are several bars and food joints that are full every day of the week at any time, especially during the evenings and nights when it is difficult to find a table in one of the spots. I’d advise you to check out “Kosta”, a souvlaki shop, the best in Athens many people say. I am not Greek, and I haven’t eaten enough souvlakis to say it is the best, but it certainly is damn good. The place is small and usually the line goes way beyond the door and to the square, but it is worth it, and the line moves pretty fast. Of course, there are no seats nor table inside but there are few outside under a leafy and tall tree. For a coffee or for something stronger you can try “Taylor Made”, a bistro-like bar at the ground floor of one of the most suggestive square’s building.
On the square there is the Church of Agia Irini (what else?) which has been for decades the main church of the city until the one in Metropolis was built. Because of this many Athenians still see it as the real Cathedral of Athens. It showcases a great example of Greek Orthodox style combined with byzantine traits and influences. It is very common in Greece that churches are built where there was a byzantine church, which was built where there was a temple and that these layers are still visible; Agia Irini follows this tradition thanks also to an important restoration in the 1846 , one more reason to have a look inside.
While walking through here during the day or sitting for cocktail later on the day it is easy to realize how much this square means for Athens and its people; not only a hub where you know you’ll have a good time but also a place where many stories happened and will continue to.
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