Movies, books, and songs to capture the essence of Athens and get you in the mood for travel

Movies

A Dog’s Dream (To Oneiro tou Skylou) (2005)
Theo Angelopoulos’ former assistant Angelos Frantzis’ magical realist film noir unfolds over one night in Athens. Starring Constantinos Markoulakis and Peggy Trikalioti, two of Greece’s hippest young actors.

From the Edge of the City (Apo tin Akri tis Polis) (1998)
Constantinos Giannaris’ breakthrough film exposes the seedy underbelly of Athens, with this gritty drama about underage immigrant rent boys.

Never on Sunday (Pote Tin Kyriaki) (1960)
“Mythic tale of life in Piraeus with enduring appeal; represents the essence of the Greek spirit.”—Diane Shugart, author, Athens by Neighborhood. Jules Dassin made Melina Mercouri famous by casting her as a feisty prostitute who outwits Homer Thrace, an American classicist who tries to tame her.

The Opposites (Oi Apenandoi) (1981)
A reclusive oddball falls in love with his neighbor. “A brilliant director of photography and now director, Yorgos Panousopoulos focuses his keen eye on Athens.”—Konstantinos Tzoumas, actor and radio show host.

Quiet Days in August (Hsyxes Meres tou Avgoustou) (1991)
Veteran director Pandelis Voulgaris paints a sensitive portrait of the lonely people left behind in mid-August Athens and the tentative friendships they forge in the deserted city.

Day Off (To Repo) (1982)
“Brilliant dissection of petit bourgeois life, as a guy tries to squeeze all his errands into a single day off. Very funny and very real.”—Angelos Frantzis, film director.

Books

The Colossus of Maroussi, by Henry Miller (1941)
“A passionate explosion of love for Athens and Greece in the late 1930s.”—Sofka Zinovieff, author, Eurydice Street: A Place in Athens. Henry Miller’s ouzo swilling idyll, along with Lawrence Durrell cut short by the outbreak of World War II.

Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens, by James Davidson (1997) Drawing on a remarkable range of sources, James Davidson paints a scintillating portrait of the private lives of ancient Athenians, the inventors of hedonism, eroticism, and aphrodisiacs.

Dinner With Persephone, by Patricia Storace (1996)
“I lived in Athens, at the intersection of a prostitute and a saint.” Part travelogue, part cultural history, American poet Patricia Storace’s wry, illuminating account of the year she lived in Athens details the sublime and surreal aspects of the city.

Eurydice Street: A Place in Athens, by Sofia Zinovieff (2004)
Anthropologist Sofka Zinovieff’s account of moving to Athens with her Greek husband and two daughters captures the joyous exuberance and maddening contradictions of the city from an insider-outsider perspective.

Les Liaisons Culinaires, by Andreas Staikos (2000)
“Convincingly captures the Greek male psyche as two men duel over a woman through their cooking.”—Diane Shugart, author, Athens by Neighborhood. A contemporary Athenian love story, told through the recipes Dimitris and Damocles devise to win the affections of the capricious Nana.

Music

Compilations:

Eimai enas Ftohos kai Monos Cowboy (I’m a Poor and Lonely Cowboy)
By turns satirical and tender, this 1978 album by Loukianos Kilaidonis inspired by the everyday life of Athenians is still much loved by locals.

En Athinais (In Athens)
Covering a range of musical styles, Argyris Kounadis captures the spirit of Athens in the 1970s.

Pote tin Kyriaki (Never on Sunday)
Manos Hadjidakis’ soundtrack to Dassin’s classic movie, includes Oscar-winning hit “Never on Sunday.”

Rembetika: Greek Music From the Underground
Four-CD box set of classic, re-mastered rembetiko tracks featuring heavy hitters Markos Vamvakaris, Andonis Dalgas, and Yiorgos Batis.

Ta Barakia (The Small Bars)
Armed with his guitar, troubadour Vangelis Germanos sings poignant songs about Athens’ neighborhoods and their residents.

Classic songs:

From folk songs extolling the beauty of a bygone Athens to modern rap about life in the suburbs, there’s more to Greek music than the plucky bouzouki.

  1. “Odos Oneiron” (“Street of Dreams”) by Manos Hadjidakis
  2. “Odysseia” (“Odyssey”) by Mikis Theodorakis and Maria Farantouri
  3. “Londra-Parisi” (“London-Paris”) by Sophia Vembo
  4. “Tou Votanikou o Magas” (“The Rogue of Votanikos”) by Grigoris Bithikotsis
  5. “Sinefiasmeni Kyriaki” (“Cloudy Sunday”) by Vassilis Tsitsanis.
  6. “H Athina ti Nichta” (“Athens by Night”) by Rena Vlachopoulou
  7. “Proastia” (“Suburbia”) by Stereo Nova
  8. “Sti Vouliagmeni” (“At Vouliagmeni”) by Loukianos Kilaidonis
  9. “Ta Therina Cinema” (“Outdoor Cinemas”) by Vicky Moscholiou
  10. “Athina” (“Athens”) by Going Through

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