The notorious district of Exarchia is considered the trendy district of Athens that always causes a stir with its unrest.
Find out what makes this alternative neighborhood special in our Guide to Exarchia.
What Can I Do in Exarchia?
The vibrant district of Exarchia, north of the city center, is not known as the hip hotspot in Athens, but is also considered the playground of the anarchist scene. Off the beaten track, visitors get a whole new perspective of Athens.
The authentic character of the district is determined by the alternative scene and the freedom-loving thinking of the residents. The street scene is characterized by street art, small shops and partly dilapidated pre-war townhouses covered in graffiti and political slogans. Strolling through the streets is a great way to admire the street art that can be found around every corner.
A number of bookstores, publishers, second-hand shops and record shops line the street and show that the colorful district is also popular with writers and artists. Above all, the old-fashioned coffee houses such as Floral cult café and the many bars, restaurants and clubs make the district so attractive.
Exarchia is also known for its nightlife and becomes a meeting place for local party-goers, especially on weekends. In addition to bars and clubs, the Rebetiko taverns and live music also attract revelers and offer an authentic insight into Greek culture and the country's gastronomic offerings. Also popular is the lively weekly market, which attracts with fresh vegetables and fruit from the region.
The main attractions of the district are the National Archaeological Museum and the Epigraphic Museum. Exarchia Square and Odos Kallidromiou Street, with its bars and street cafés, it is also popular nightlife destinations.
Due to the low rents, the place has developed into a popular area for students. This also applies to hotels, hostels and Airbnb accommodations, which are comparatively cheaper here, making Exarchia a popular area for travelers to stay. Its location close to the center of Athens and its original character also make the area attractive to young travelers.
Is Exarchia dangerous?
Described as an anarchist stronghold, Exarchia is known for its many conflicts with the police. Because of this, the neighborhood is said to be one of the more dangerous neighborhoods in Athens.
This reputation has a lot to do with the checkered history of the neighborhood, which was the scene of many protests, including the student revolt of 1973. Resistance to authoritarian systems has always been part of the neighborhood's character. Exarchia thus developed into a counterculture center and a meeting place for young people who are mainly left-leaning.
Since the murder of a 15-year-old student by a police officer in 2008, violent and spontaneous clashes with the police have repeatedly broken out in Exarchia. The local drug trade also causes problems, which is why you should avoid dark, deserted alleys at night.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
The Exarchia neighborhood is located north of Athens city center, next to the elite Kolonaki neighborhood.
Exarchia has a reputation for being a place of unrest, anarchists and rebels, which is why it is said to be one of the more dangerous neighborhoods in Athens.
While it's true that the neighborhood and most of its residents are autonomous, alternative and anti-authoritarian, the current clashes with the police stem primarily from the killing of a student by a police officer. Since the 15-year-old's death in 2008, violent and spontaneous clashes with the police have repeatedly broken out in Exarchia. The local drug trade also causes problems, which is why you should avoid dark, deserted alleys at night.
The heart of the Exarchia district is the National Archaeological Museum. In addition, the area is home to the Epigraphic Museum, a popular weekly market, Exarchia Square, Odos Kallidromiou Street and attractive bars, cafes and taverns.
Thanks to its central location, the Exarchia district can be easily reached. For example, from the Monastiraki district, you can take metro line 1 to Omonia. From there it is only 9 minutes to the central Exarchia Square.
History of Exarchia
One of the most significant events that took place in the Exarchia neighborhood is the student revolt of 1973. This revolt at the National Technical University of Athens led to the overthrow of the then military dictatorship. Today, on November 17th each year, thousands of locals commemorate this historic day by gathering on campus and laying flowers in front of a bronze statue with a severed head.
This event encouraged the formation of left-leaning and anti-authoritarian groups in the neighborhood, which have since made their voices heard with protests and demonstrations across Greece. There were also large demonstrations in the Exarchia district during the Greek state's debt crisis and the hosting of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
The biggest crisis in Exarchia, which caused a stir around the world, was the 2008 riot that ensued after a police officer killed a 15-year-old schoolboy. The boy's death in Exarchia led to major riots and street battles with the police. Since then, there have been repeated clashes with the police in Exarchia.
August 3, 2023
August 3, 2023
August 10, 2023