SHOPPING in ATHENS
WHAT TO BUY
Athens is a city full of pleasant surprises for the shopper who is looking for unique purchases and good bargains. Gold and silver jewellery is a major area of interest, given the world-famous unique Greek designs. The numerous jewellery shops which you will find in the areas of Syntagma and
Kolonaki, carry a wide selection of museum reproductions of ancient Greek pieces of jewellery, as well
as traditional and fashionable ones. Most of them are handmade by local craftsmen. Silver filigree and turquoise jewellery, which is produced mainly in the city of loannina in Epiros, can also be found in many Athenian shops.
It features traditional motifs of exceptional beauty.
We recommend you to visit also the Ilias Lalaounis Jewellery Museum. This Museum houses over 3.000 jewellery designs. Its 45 collections display the history of Greek jewellery.
ewellery inspired by the art and architecture of eleven different civilizations, by nature, technology and biology. The Museum is located at the foot of the Acropolis.
Also worthy of particular mention are the equally world-famous furs from Kastoria, made with a skill perfected over centuries. A great variety of furriers can be found in
the Syntagma area selling coats, jackets and fur hats in styles ranging from the classical to the most modern. Other good buys include souvenirs, handicrafts and bronze pots. Copperware, earthenware pottery and ceramics is a field in which Athens has excelled since Archaic times. The place to look for the unique
Greek ceramics and pottery is the northern suburb of Marousi. Most of the designer ceramists and potters have shops there, displaying their handmade creations. Wool and cotton hand-knitted sweaters of excellent quality and design are remarkably good value, as are leather goods and shoes, which are made by Greek
designers. Ermou Street and Kolonaki Square are the places to look for these.
Also in abundance are antiques, which are found in shops in Kolonaki, Syntagma and Monastiraki. Items sold include: various pieces of furniture, hand-painted wooden chests, very beautiful miniatures, small decorative items and so on. Let us not forget the hand-woven and hand-embroidered garments and the colourful flokati rugs. In the Kolonaki area you will find
the boutiques of many Greek fashion designers who have made international careers in Paris, Milan and New York.
ERMOU (HERMES) STREET
Being very appropriately named - Hermes was the patron god of commerce - Ermou is one of the first streets of Athens to be traced by Kleanthes and Schaubert. It had been the centre of ladies' fashion in Athens for more than 60 years; from the end of the 19th century until the early 60s. All the fashion-
conscious Athenian ladies of the time, came, almost daily, to Ermou (the part near Syntagma Square, in
particular) to do their window shopping. Today Ermou Street, is still one of the best places for shopping in the capital. In the shops in Lekka Street, between Perikleous and Kolokotroni Streets, as well as in the nearby arcades, you will find a wide variety of silverware: candlesticks, bowls, vases and jewellery. Many of them
are handmade in Greece.
As you near the point where Adrianou and Ayiou Philippou Streets meet, you will have the impression that you are entering a melting pot of sound; all kinds of music can be heard simultaneously
from the loud-speakers of record shops and street-vendors selling second-hand records. In Hephaistou Street the audible confusion gets even more interesting, as the sounds of real bouzoukia and toumberlekia, traditional Greek percussion instruments) being tested by prospective buyers, are added.
In Avysinias Square and Ermou Street the sound effects are provided by the vendors' loud voices advertising their merchandise. In other streets of the Monastiraki area, it is your sense of smell rather than hearing, that will be aroused. The scent of old wood and wood varnish, coming from the shops of antique furniture, predominant in Avysinias Square, gives its place to that of new leather, in that part of Adrianou Street lined with shoe shops. In Astigos and Theseiou Streets you will see tens of second-hand bookshops where you can find beautiful leatherbound old books. While in Pandrosou and Hephaistou Streets, you will find just about everything: from shoes, clothes, old and new furniture, old books and magazines to souvenirs, jewels, hats, tools, bronze items, new or second-hand
records and everything you can think of. Shopping or simply walking around in Monastiraki is an experience not to be missed. You will be amazed by the variety and the quality of the things sold in this busy market. And you will surely be tempted to buy something.
When Athenians say they will go "shopping in Kolonaki" they can be referring to an area extending from Syntagma Square to the foot of Lycavittos Hill, but usually they mean the streets around Philikis Etairias Square (better known as Kolonaki Square) as well as the square itself. Some of the trendiest
boutiques in the city are found in this area, selling clothes by top Greek fashion designers, shoes
and leather goods, toys, antique furniture, jewellery, home furnishings and so on. On Voukourestiou Street and the streets around it, near Syntagma Square, you will find all the world-famous Greek jewellers, bookshops specialising in foreign books and all the major art galleries exhibiting works of art by Greek painters and sculptors.
Here is a street that changes constantly as you walk along the length of it. Towards the Monastiraki end of it you will see shops specialising in tools and machinery, where one can find everything pertaining to these categories. Further along, you will find shops specialising in household items and kitchenware. Then there is the central meat and fish market of Athens and right opposite it, the vegetable and fruit market. The part of Athenas Street, from the central market to Omonia Square, and the side streets around it, are a cook's paradise. Here you will find everything edible or cookable.