I was curious about the meaning/origins/etymology of the names of some of the well-known historic neighborhoods of central Athens.

I can assume that due to their age, there's a connection to classical Greek, as well as old Greece history.

I could hardly find any more information about it on Google.

I'd like to know what the following names mean (literal interpretation, and beyond that if there's any deeper explanation related to the language as well):

  • Koukaki / Koykaki
  • Glyfada
  • Vouliagmenis
  • Plaka (I haven't searched it yet)

1 Answer 1


A few minutes browsing Wikipedia suggests none of these names are old:

  • Κουκάκι is named after Κουκάκη, a manufacturer of beds that operated in the neighbourhood before WWII. That's just some guy's name.

  • Γλυφάδα is from Modern Greek γλυφός 'brackish', after the brackish water nearby. In the 1920s it was renamed (allegedly) from Αιξωνή, which was the name of the Classical deme in its location.

  • Βουλιαγμένη means 'sunken' in Modern Greek (from the modern verb βουλιάζω), and is named after the nearby lake with the same name, which was created by a subsidence of the soil.

  • The origin of Πλάκα isn't known; it may be from Albanian plak 'old' (it's the oldest part of the city; actually, it's the only old part of the city), or from the presence of a plaque (i.e. πλάκα) that marked its central intersection. Either way, the name wasn't in use before the Greek War of Independence.

Ancient Athens was absolutely tiny compared to modern Athens, and it got much smaller still before it got big—in the 1830s only about 4000 people lived there. The neighbourhoods that exist today are all very recent creations, and so will their names be.

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