Monastiraki is a neighborhood that cannot–and should not–decide between employment as a tourist destination or the private life of a local habitat. The Emperor Hadrian has presumptively cast his lot with the tourists by erecting a vast library far larger than those at Ephesus or even Pergamon where his Temple Unto Himself is larger and more prominently placed that those to the lesser gods, Athena and Zeus. (And Hadrian lives on in my heart ever since–and I’ve told this story before–my father was hospitalized during Easter week in 1965. He tolerated his roommate’s indulgence in one Easter season television epic after another until this deathless line, intoned by a Roman centurion to his commanding officer: “Hey, Hadrian,” he oozed, “hey, Hadrian, c’mere.” “Nurse,” quoth my angina-ed father, “get me a private room.”
Anyway, here are a few shots of the Library, including a wonderful statue of Nike (who is not a shoe but a goddess of Victory) who is just now alighting upon the earth to confer victory on some poor sod who could not have done it without her.
The local haven part of Monastiraki is its flea market. Some few of the tiny but chockablock-crammed shops try to maintain a thematic orderliness: dishware perhaps; vinyl 78 rpm records with the occasional ancient Victrola; Cabbage Patch dolls; expended artillery shells (though that shop also hawked a well-polished sewing machine); 19th century photographic family portraits. I could go on; the neighborhood certainly does.
The shopkeepers were an affable lot. They expected that no more than one in five hundred would ask for a price, and of those only one in a hundred would begin to haggle, and of those maybe one of yet another hundred would settle on a price. No use getting your expectations and blood pressure up. Better to have a spare chair for your old village comrade, a sagging backgammon board, a water bottle of suspiciously thick looking liquid.
All in all: a good change of pace from all our diving into the past of relics and monuments.