While Pláka and Sýndagma are resolutely geared to tourists and the Athenian well-heeled, Platía Omonías (Omónia Square) and its surroundings represent a much more gritty city. Here the grand avenues imagined by the nineteenth-century planners have been subverted by time and the realities of Athens’ status as a commercial capital. Heading up from Monastiráki, the bazaar area around Odhós Athinás is home to a bustling series of markets and small shops spilling into the streets and offering some of urban Athens’ most compelling sights and a cosmopolitan ethnic mix. It’s also a neighbourhood being increasingly recolonised by the drug addicts and prostitutes who were cleared out in time for the Olympics; a process accelerated by the economic crisis.
Platía Omonías itself – brutal and shadeless – has little to offer in terms of aesthetics but it is the heart of Athens for a good portion of the population: a continuous turmoil of people and cars.