Anafiotika, Athens, Greece. An “island favela” beneath the Acropolis that travels you to the Aegean Sea.
One of the most common icons to those who often visit the center of Athens and especially the wider area of Plaka is to meet foreign and Greek visitors to the area who are trying to locate the famous Anafiotika.
Anafiotika, if you finally manage to locate them (it’s not the easiest thing in the world), they will reward you generously. It is a settlement that traveles you in time and definitely to one of the beautiful islands of the Aegean sea.
As we particularly love this place and we often visit it, we very often hear, mainly from foreign tourists, that Anafiotika look like the famous Favelas of Rio de Janeiro.
Maybe the white and the blue colors dominating travel you to the Cyclades (the settlement was created by Cycladic villagers that moved to Athens), but most of the houses are so small, so old and so anarchically structured (and so beautifully simultaneously) that easily refer to an “island favela”.
Besides, the image from above reveals many abandoned and half-broken small houses with roofs of tiles and stone walls reinforcing this point of view.
Anafiotika is a picturesque, lively neighborhood of Athens that is perched on the north-eastern side of the Acropolis rock, at the edge of the Plaka district.
The district was created in the middle of the 19th century when workers from Anafi were settled in the area, who had come to Athens to work as builders in the city’s rebuilding and the construction of Othon’s palaces.
They initially lived in the area of Zoodochos Pigi on Academias road, where the state had allocated some small plots to settle with their families permanently. Soon, however, land and house prices went too high, and as these workers had no intention of moving somewhere away, they decided to settle illegally in the Holy Rock of Acropolis. As the first settlers are mentioned a carpenter (G. Damigos) and a builder (M. Sigalas) from Anafi. They carried the building materials in Acropolis Rock with the necessary secrecy required by the circumstances and within one single night with collective work they built the first two houses of the district.
A few days later, some Athenians from Rizokastro perceived the arbitrary buildings and called Urban Planning, but until the responsible person was identified and properly acted the example of the two followed by other Anaphiots, and as a result the residences multiplied, with the authorities not taking any active measure. Most of the Anafiotika were built mainly during the eviction of Othon.
The neighborhood was built following the architecture of the Cyclades. At the same time, the Anaphiots restored, together with their establishment, the two temples in the area from the 17th century, the temple of Agios Simeon and St. George of the Rocks.
After the 1928 Asia Minor Catastrophe, a refugee settlement with shelters was built in the east of Anafiotika, enriching the composition of the population. In the 1950s part of the neighborhood was demolished during excavations. In the 1980s, about one-third of the district close to the city’s walls was expropriated by the Ministry of Culture to reveal the ancient Walk. In the years to come, the area along with Plaka was significantly upgraded and only 45 buildings have been preserved. The buildings have an area of 8 to 36 m².
The inhabitants of Anafiotika in 2015 where counted to be 65 people and among them there were 4 children.