Old and new Athens converge in Monastiraki. The metro disgorges passengers on Adrianou, a street that is the flea market's main artery but was also part of the ancient city. The city’s historical layers and the area’s traditionally diverse communities align here: look up from the square towards the Acropolis and your line of sight crosses both a mosque and a Byzantine church. Monastiraki, or ‘little Monastery’, is named after a monastic compound that once occupied the site. Today, all that’s left is the small 10th-century Pantanassa basilica on the square.
A wave of gentrification swept most of the old artisan workshops from Psirri and replaced them with bars and eateries in the early 21st century. Now modern craftspeople are moving back in, producing leather sandals and quirky souvenirs rather than wicker chairs and tinware. And derelict buildings have been revitalised with extraordinary displays of street art. But Psirri is still at its most enchanting, and liveliest, at night, when the second-hand shops close and the trendy night-spots set their stools out on the narrow streets.