Bustling Kolokotronis street is filled with small vintage shops, textile stores, signature bars, original fast food joints, old neoclassical houses, abandoned buildings and archways that have all contributed to transform it from a typical commercial street to one of the core nightlife locations of Athens – and much more. This lively street has many facets and embraces parts of our modern history; it is a mix of old and modern Athens.
The street was formerly called Anaktoron Street (Palace Street), because it passed before the temporary residence of King Otto (right about where the building of the Old Parliament is now located). However, at the intersection of Kolokotroni and Lekka street was the house where the “Old Man of Morea“, the legendary general Theodoros Kolokotronis who was a leading figure in Greece’s War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire (1821-1832). This is where Kolokotronis lived for some time after 1835, hence the statue on the square and the name of the street.
The vibrant, intimate, modern, traditional, alternative Kolokotroni steet begins at Stadiou, at the building of the Old Parliament, founded in 1858 by the Queen. Today, the building of the Old Parliament belongs to the Historical and Ethnological Society of Greece and currently houses the National Historical Museum.
On the opposite side is the jewellery store “Zolotas”, which leads to the Bolanis Arcade. There, you can find the well-known urban restaurant “Kentrikon”, an old hangout for artists and politicians in the center of Athens, which operates since 1971. In the arcade you can also find the “Young Women’s Training Association – SEN”, founded in 1872. The first cinema screening in Athens took place there in November 1896, using an Edison machine.
At number 3 and 5 of the same street, you can see two identical buildings. According to the National Hellenic Research Foundation, “the three-storey building on 3 Kolokotroni Str., (along with the adjacent building on 5 Kolokotroni Str.) was built in the 1880s and consists of an early combination of a large urban house with commercial stores on the ground floor.” The Army Pension Fund can also be found on the same street (No. 13). It was founded in 1852 to “secure and relieve the widows and orphans of the war of independence militants and militant survivors.”
The shop of Mr. Iosiph Sakalak is at number 30. The sign reads “Sakalak Hair since 1935”. Originally from Cappadocia, Mr. Iosiph reminisces Kolokotroni Street as a shopping street with small stores, tailor’s shops, goldsmiths and one oven.
There is much more to see on this street. Number 55 houses Hotel Carolina, founded in 1936 by a Greek-American company from South Carolina. It is one of the oldest hotels in Athens under a neoclassical roof, home to the first elevator of the city.
57 Kolokotroni street is home to one of the most iconic bars of the city center: Booze Cooperativa. This avant garde bar with the monastery tables and handmade decorative hens hanging from the ceiling is housed in an 1860 building. Nikos Louvros who opened the bar back in 1989, remembers a time when there was nothing but wholesale shops and small craft shops on the floors of the buildings around the area.
Setting aside the historical memories, Kolokotroni Street is one of the few streets of the capital where the old and the new coexist. Its history is a work in progress.