Besides its ample amount of historic sights, museums, coffee shops, traditional tavernas and eclectic eateries, Athens is full of hidden districts and unique off-the-beaten-track corners for the discerning traveller. One of the most low-key and underrated of these just waiting to be discovered is Mets, a residential area less than 10 minutes from Syntagma Square.
The unique district of Mets
Located within the boundaries of Ardettos Hill, the First Cemetery of Athens and the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Mets is, without a doubt, one of Athens’ most picturesque neighbourhoods. With its balanced mix of neoclassical mansions, a touch of Bauhaus architecture and a full serving of circa 1960s buildings, it is rarely mentioned in tourist guides. However, Mets has a lot to offer.While the origin of its name is unknown, some say it was named after the French city of Metz, in northeastern France, after a beer parlour of the same name that opened its doors in the vicinity. Mets is perfect for leisure strolls away from busy Plaka and bustling Monastiraki. Close to most of the main tourist attractions, Mets has a resolute residential feel, which makes it stand out among other preferred areas.
What to see
Here, you will see neoclassical houses covered in bougainvillea or shaded by orange trees, quaint cafes for enjoying a refreshing beverage after a stroll in the hilly streets, as well as a few underrated sights, such as the First Cemetery of Athens. No, we are not in a morbid mood or anything of the sort, it’s simply that just like the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, the First Cemetery of Athens, the oldest in the city, is filled with graves where lay important figures of Greece from the 19th and 20th centuries. Politicians, revolutionaries, benefactors, academics, artists, actors and actresses, including Melina Mercouri, are buried here. Take the time to admire some of the magnificent sculptures adorning the graves (the ‘Sleeping Girl’ by sculptor, Giannoulis Halepas is a must-see) and enjoy a peaceful walk in this quiet resting place.
If a visit to the cemetery is not your thing, you can still opt for a visit to the Panathenaic Stadium, also known as Kallimarmaro, where the first modern Olympic Games were held. For a few years now, the stadium has been open for visits and you can walk on the track (and even run), visit the locker room or sit on the marble benches. The views over the city and the Acropolis from the top benches are simply breathtaking. This will also give you the opportunity to explore the next-door park, where you can rest under the shades of trees for a quick break.
You will love walking around the neighbourhood, stumbling upon a lazy cat sleeping in a cul-de-sac, admiring architectural details and simply taking it all in. But this is also your chance to enjoy some delicious burgers at Colibri, relax with the locals at Hotel Chelsea (located in the next-door district, Pagrati) or indulge in a gourmet dinner at Spondi. End the day with a few jazz tunes at Half Note Jazz Club and we guarantee you won’t forget Mets that easily.