Lets go Athens

Abyssinias Square

One of the most popular squares of the historical triangle of Athens is the Abyssinias Square, also known as Yusurum or Magganaria or Gyftika. It is located in the center of Monastiraki, between Ermou, Hefaistos and AgiosFilippou streets. During the Ottoman occupation, the area was called Gyftika due to the nearby smithies and the dusky skin of the Egyptian blacksmiths who worked in these smithies. In 1860 the square was laid out and according to one version, the square’s name is attributed to the Ethiopians of Abyssinia who lived in the surrounding streets. Until 1875, the area was also known as “Manganaria”, named after the silk workers, i.e. the “Manganarides”, who gathered there.

In 1912, the Yusurum opened, i.e. the Sunday second-hand flea market, which exists to this day. The name Yusurum refers to a Jewish merchant; according to the story, one Sunday, Yusurum was walking soaked from the rain and as soon as the sun came out he hanged his clothes to dry in his house in front of the square. Some passers-by asked him if the clothes were for sale. When he realized the interest of the people, he started collecting used clothes and selling them on Sundays, therefore the market was called Yusurum, which the Hebrew term for “man of God”.

After that there were many street vendors promoting their wares including not only clothes but also furniture, books, old household items, records and anything else the human mind can think of. Visiting Abyssinia Square on Sundays has become a habit for some, even without having to purchase anything.

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