Monastiraki is a famous district of Athens that extends from the Monastiraki square at the end of Athinas street until Thission, Monastiraki is a large part of the district of Plaka. The old name of the area was Monastirion because of the small church right on the Monastiraki square the today’s church of Koimisis Theotokou. At the square you will find the Monastiraki Athens Metro station and the main entrance to the flea market.
In the old days the flea market it was called Yousourum from the name of a rug and bones man that he first made his business there, Stavros Xarhakos made a wonderful Greek popular song the famous “Yousouroum” during the 60’s. The main flea market of Athens is at Avyssinias square at the end of Hephaestou street. Along Hephaestus street you will find mainly various shoe shops, clothing shops and music stores. In the same street within the arcades there are some good second hand book stores.
There will be shops with icons painted by monks from Mount Athos and monasteries around Greece and other shops with icons painted by armies of artists in workshops, or just prints pasted on wood or particle board. Let’s be honest: to most people an icon is an icon. There are more people in the world who buy crap than there are people who buy something because it is authentic art, and the shops of Monastiraki cater to the masses. You will find everything you want here from jewelry to trinkets, from original designs to mass produced T-shirts advertising not only Greece.
The Monastiraki flea market is the place to be on Sunday when it seems every Athenian is here either buying or selling. You have to get here early because after about 11am the crowd becomes impossible and if you want to take a break there are few tables available at the many cafes and restaurants in the area. You can wander around aimlessly or you can find someone who knows the flea market who can show you around if you are intent on buying something in particular. Much of the flea market is not really a flea market. It is a collection of small shops of which most of them are tourist shops with the same stuff you will find on Adrianou street in the Plaka. These are open normal shop hours and you can come here anytime. But weekends and Sunday in particular is when it is like a third-world flea market with people selling anything from antiques to what you might call useless junk and it goes on forever, beyond Monastiraki and into Thission and Psiri.