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My Athens: Orsalia Parthenis

Orsalia Parthenis, head designer of Parthenis, a label founded in Athens by her father, is known for her feminine and relaxed designs. She shares some of her favourite places in the Greek capital

Hannah Lewis / © Katie Wilson-Ells
City Guide
Hannah Lewis,

Orsalia Parthenis heads up the womenswear label founded by her father Dimitris. The first store from the innovative designer opened in Athens in 1970 with a focus on timeless and simple pieces. The Parthenis brand grew quickly, and its refined, bohemian designs have remained popular for over four decades. Orsalia is known for using beautiful, natural fabrics and for her relaxed Greek aesthetic. Here she guides us around some of her favourite places in the city, from local fashion boutiques to a venue that mixes gourmet cuisine with punk rock music

‘I was born in Athens and today I live in the Philopappou district, near the Dora Stratou dance theatre. I love this area because it is surrounded by trees, you can see the sea and it has the energy of the ancient city, but you are also near the cool bars and restaurants.

‘If asked to select my favourite stores, there is Minas on Emmanouil Benaki street with one-off jewellery and design objects, and Two Is Company which is great for luxury custom-made furniture and unique objects. For the best natural beauty products I head to Apivita.

‘When eating out, I like to visit Kouvelos in Koukaki which is a great taverna. Papadakis specialises in Greek gourmet dishes and fresh fish. Ta Souvlakia Tou Kyr Kosta at Plateia Agias Irinis does the best spicy souvlaki in Athens and Takis Bakery on Misaraliotou Street is by far the leading bakery in Athens. Nice ’n’ Easy, next to my shop in Kolonaki, does really good organic dishes and great breakfasts and coffee. To celebrate, I visit Vezene 11 for a high-end trattoria menu and a great atmosphere.

Pantopolio tis Mesogeiakis Diatrofis (the Grocery Store of Mediterranean Taste), is one of the most popular delicatessen in Athens. It specialises in traditional Greek products from all over the country, many of which are organic, with special attention to small producers and homemade delicacies. I also visit the farmers’ market every Friday morning for the freshest produce and fish.

‘If friends visit, we take them around the bars and restaurants in Petralona and Gazi, combined with a walk to see the ancient sites in Philopappou, Thision and Kerameikos.

‘My favourite views are from Mount Lycabettus and from Philopappou Hill, which has great views of the sea – one of the best-kept local secrets is the joy of flying a kite here. Exarcheia has long been the most marginal part of the city and it still carries genuine artistic forces. My latest local discovery is the Holy Goat Punk Bistro, for great gourmet cuisine and punk rock music.

‘The Acropolis is by far the most important landmark in Athens.  Not only does it have the greatest historical significance but it also gives the visitor the best view of the city. The Acropolis Museum was long overdue and is the best museum in Athens.

‘I recommend that visitors use a bicycle to explore the city.  The traffic may be daunting in Athens, but you will soon get the hang of it.

‘All travel is inspirational because it removes one from one’s routines.  I love travelling to the Greek islands, my favourites being Mykonos and Crete. The best time to visit is in the winter when they are less crowded.’



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