A chic and charming neighborhood climbing up the side of Lycabettus Hill, Kolonaki is one of the oldest – and trendiest – neighborhoods of Athens. Fashionistas, artists and socialites from all over the city come here to enjoy many high-end boutiques, art galleries, entertaining nightlife for all tastes and unique restaurants. Yet this trendy neighborhood also boasts a cultural side to it… Take a walk and discover the best things to do in Kolonaki.
Another stunning museum located in Kolonaki, the Museum of Cycladic Art is another must-see in Athens. Focusing on ancient Aegean and Cypriot cultures, the museum has more than 3,000 artefacts of Cycladic, Ancient Greek and Cypriot art. You should know that the museum is currently hosting an exhibition by China’s enfant terrible Ai Weiwei until the end of October. Make sure to visit the museum’s shop at the end of your visit to score a unique souvenir, after a quick refreshing lunch at the minimalist and bright café.
Museum of Cycladic Art, Neofitou Douka 4, Athens, Greece, +30 210 722 8321
"Standing Figure", 2016 Marble, 188 x 80 x 58 cm In a new work created specifically for the exhibition at the Museum of Cycladic Art, Ai builds a bridge between his practice and Greece's history, engaging directly with the Museum's permanent collection alongside on which his work now sits. "Standing Figure" is a marble colossus, a schematic upright male figure with the smooth, angular features which characterize much of the sculpture of the Cycladic art. The work directly references marble figurines of the Spedos variety, which were prevalent during the Syros phase of the Early Cycladic period (2800-2300 BC). Its elegant, elongated oval head, triangular nose, slender body and small, wide-set breasts quote the style of the Goulandris Master to whom the popular vernacular of third millennium BC sculpture is attributed. Ai adopts this icon of ancient culture and personalises it. The scale of the delicate figures is augmented dramatically to life-size, transforming the modest Cycladic models into a towering deity. The figure’s arms, which in the original Cycladic manner are crossed at the chest, are here outstretched, hands wide apart. This stance implies openness, but also visually references one of Ai’s most canonical works: his infamous photographic series "Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn". The three photographs show Ai, stoic-faced, letting an ancient urn from the Chinese Han dynasty (221–207 BC) slip from his outstretched hands and shatter on the ground at his feet. The work references the willful destruction of China’s antique objects, taking place during Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). In "Standing Figure", Ai is replaced by a life-sized artefact. The small Cycladic figurine is given agency and power, no longer a fragile, vulnerable trace of the past, but rather a powerful figure judging the destruction of heritage. As well as directly mimicking works from the Museum of Cycladic Art’s collection, Ai’s new work reflects on contemporary China and Greece, their identification and attachment to their pasts, and their different treatment of history. #standingfigure #aiweiwei #museumofcycladicart
Will all the sweet tooths out there please stand up! And head to Cake, a pleasant place where indulging is the motto. As the name implies it, Cake serves mouth-watering cakes and sweets, and they mean business. Fall for the scrumptious Red Velvet Cake or go for the old-time classic New York Cheesecake. Why yes, it’s someone’s birthday somewhere, right? For those who prefer savory treats, opt for a tasty savory pie or quiche. Either way, Cake has you covered for that energy kick after a day of exploring.
Cake, Irodotou 15, Athens, Greece, +30 210 721 2253
If cakes are not your thing and you prefer something somewhat lighter, head to Carpo instead. This little shop sells dried fruits, nuts, chocolates and honey in bulk, all sourced from local Greek producers. The charming place is also perfect for a quick coffee on the go and, if you like what you try, you can buy some some coffee grains to take home with you.
Carpo, Kanari 6, Athens, Greece, +30 210 360 5617
In the world of street food joints, Impasto is a force to be reckoned with. Combining top-notch thin-crust pizzas with freshly made tramezzini, salads and panini, and a well-stocked wine list, Impasto is the old-timey pizza bar Athens needed.
Impasto Pizza by the Slice, Kanari 10, Athens, Greece, +30 210 360 3648
If you are passionate about books, this is the place to be. The Gennadius Library of the American School of Classical Studies, one of the most important in the country, counts over 110,000 volumes on Greek art, literature and history from ancient times until now, including German archeologist Heinrich Schliemann’s diaries, and the first printed edition of Homer’s epics, The Iliad and The Odyssey (in Greek). The library – though it doesn’t have a lending service – organizes various seminars, conferences and lectures. For example, from September 28 to October 1, the Library and the Schwarz Foundation are organizing the second edition of its festival Nights of Classical Music at the Library. An opportunity not to be missed…
Gennadius Library, Souidias 54, Athens, Greece, + 30 213 000 2400
The Zoumboulakis Gallery is a veteran among art galleries in town. With two other locations in Petralona (multi-event space) and Syntagma (antique and art gallery), the Zoumboulakis gallery in Kolonaki – known as 20 Kolonaki Sq. – is a great place to discover and admire Greek and foreign artists. Of course, you should not skip on the museum shop, as there you will find stunning art pieces and designer furniture.
Zoumboulakis Gallery, Alopekis 20, Kolonaki square, Athens, Greece, +30 210 360 8278