ΠΛΑΤΕΙΑ ΦΙΛΟΜΟΥΣΟΥ ΕΤΑΙΡΕΙΑΣ A Square in Celebration of The Muses
Framed by Kydathineon, Farmaki, Philomoussou Etaireias and Angelou Geronta streets, it is the main and most lively square in the heart of Plaka, the ancient quarter of Athens, known as the neighborhood of the Gods. Today, Philomoussou Etaireias Square is a main tourist attraction, crowded with restaurants and coffee shops and one could find Cine Paris, one of the oldest and best open-air rooftop cinemas of Athens, a victim of the two-year period of the pandemic.
The square is dedicated to the Philomoussos Etaireia (the Society for the Arts), founded in 1813 by several men of the letters and the arts, with cultural, archaeological and educational purposes. It was the first to establish a self-teaching school for boys and the first girls’ school in Athens. But at the same time it used to financially support teachers, it funded scholarships for studies abroad, assisted with the finances of poor students, undertook the translation and publishing of classical writers, considered the founding of a Museum, funded and oversee archaeological excavations, while members of the society guided foreign visitors to Athens, closely monitoring their whereabouts in order to prevent the smuggling of antiquities.
In order to fulfill its purposes, the Society was funded by prominent members of the Greek society, but also foreign –mostly British–dignitaries and royalties such as the King of Bavaria, the Prince of Prussia, the Duchess Maria of Weimar the imperial couple of Russia, the Duchess Catherine of Oldenbourg, and others. The society was suspended when the Turks briefly recaptured Athens in 1827, during the War of Independence.
As a young child I used to play with my brother and friends in this little square, since our home used to be on Agia Ekaterini square, a few yards away, and my father's small publishing house used to be on Angelou Geronta Street, on one of the square's defining streets, above what is now known as Oionos Cafe, a restaurant also serving drinks or coffee. Next door, at 9, Angelou Geronta, visit Pantheon brunch and bistro. On Philomoussou Etaireias 1, the newcomer Roi, located in a wonderfully restored neoclassical building, is a restaurant also serving coffee or drinks. And, on the corner of Philomoussou Etaireias and Farmaki Streets, renown chef Leonidas Koutsopoulos opened his excellent Samano Radio Restaurant, a true jewel in the gastronomic map of Athens!
Several stores, mostly street food and tourist memorabilia line the streets of the area. Make sure the souvenir you decided to buy for your loved ones back home as a reminder of your trip to Athens is not made in China. There are quality products, of high taste hand-crafted or manufactured in Greece, but one needs to look for them.
On the center of the square one can see, among motorcycles, garbage bins and restaurant paraphernalia that have illegally taken over the public space, the bust of Demetrios Kampouroglou (above) by Nikolaos Georgantis and that of Nikos Hatziapostolou by Nikolaos Pavlopoulos.