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I knew Athens was a city with a lot of street art – but I wasn’t prepared for quite how much until Alternative Tours of Athens took Travel Bloggers Greece under their wing and hosted us on Sunday, 8th February 2015. Representing Travel Bloggers Greece; myself, Table Salt and Passion for Greece were take on a comprehensive three hour tour of the neighbourhoods of Metaxourgeio and Gazi.
Street art is a contentious form of ‘art.’ Many see it as graffiti and indeed, it cannot be denied that there is a lot of pointless defacing of already run down neoclassical buildings in Athens (no money for the upkeep of these beautiful houses).
Graffiti originated in America, but was actually pioneered by a Greek living in Washington Heights – Takis Demetrakis. In 1968, a lot of presidential campaigns were being stuck around the city, so Demetrakis thought ‘Why not me too?’ Any grafitti he drew was always ‘tagged’ with his signature. More on the origins of tagging and grafitti can be read here.
So I guess it is hardly surprising that street art is prevalent in Athens, and the old saying that ‘everything originates from Greece (or the Greeks)’ can be true sometimes!
We met our guide, Maria, outside the – unfortuantely now closed – Fashion House Hotel in Omonia Square. Our street art tour started in the neighbourhood of Metaxourgeio.
First off, the Praying Hands located near Omonia Square on Pireos Street.
A project overseen by Manolis Anastasakos in 2011, this 600 square metre work of art has been deliberately painted to represent a message that the city, due to the crisis, is in the prayers of God, praying down to them. He is praying at the inadequacies of a government to dispel the crisis.
As we wandered the side streets of Metaxourgeio, more and more street art popped up, along with the houses with a red light outside. “Oh these houses look nice, can we take a peek?” I innocently said. Er no, Maria our guide led me gently away. They were brothels apparently.
Works of art in this neighbourhood include Alexandros Vasmoulakis – who uses expressionistic and pop elements, De who uses stensils and makes art out of the letters D and E and Vangelis Hoursoglou – or Woozy – who started a support network for grafitti artists in Athens called Carpe Diem, whose aim was to provide a legal network for artists as well as a canvass.
Next we had a look around the neighbourhood of Gazi. Here you’ll find a whole host of art, and not just from Greek artists either. International artists – i.e.: WD, or Wild Drawing from Bali have made their claim.
Take a look through the art in this neighbourhood:
There’re so many more pictures I could share with you. This is a great taster. Why not take a street art tour when you’re next in Athens? I’d highly recommend Alternative Tours of Athens – their knowledge is fantastic. The also have other great tours on offer too.
- Wear comfortable trainers or walking shoes. The tour takes three hours.
- Bring a bottle of water
- You will have a lot of names of artists given to you – so be sure to bring a notepad and pen
Travel Bloggers Greece were guests of Alternative Tours of Athens. A three hour walking tour costs €10 Euro per person, with a €30 Euro minimum before the tour will take place (i.e.: 3 people minimum). To learn more, visit their website.
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**This post was originally written in FEB15. It has been revised and re-posted in Sep17**