The famous author Hans Christian Andersen visited Athens in the spring of 1841, as part of his tour of Germany, Italy, and Turkey. It was a period of rapid change for the capital of the young kingdom. Andersen stayed in Athens for a few weeks and kept notes on his impressions from this “oriental” city, with its palm trees, coffee shops, classical antiquities, and the ruins left behind by the recent Greek War of Independence.
Andersen arrived from Piraeus covered in dust (“classical dust” according to him) and took up rooms in a hotel from where he could enjoy the view of the Acropolis. During a two-hour walk we will follow in the footsteps of the Danish storyteller, from the hotel where he stayed, to the royal residence, where he was able to meet King Otto and Queen Amalia (after many delays and a long wait).
The famous author felt that Athens resembled a provincial Danish town, albeit one put together in great haste. He was impressed by the liveliness of the marketplace and the learning abilities of the Greeks. He visited the Acropolis on a daily basis, whether to read his correspondence or to celebrate his birthday. He attended the theater as well as the Independence celebrations on 25 March. He enjoyed the comforts of European-style hotels and coffee-shops but also dealt with dirty and ill-lit streets.
The tour begins in Thiseio, the traditional entry point to the city and covers all the main areas described by Andersen in his notebooks. We will visit the old downtown core of Athens (Monastiraki, the Roman Agora, the church of Hagia Irene, Aiolou Street) and experience daily life in a city that was rapidly shedding its provincial Ottoman past to become a small but exhilarating “Paris of the East”.