Street art in Athens by Alternative Tours of Athens

Come on a street art tour of Athens, Greece
Come on a street art tour of Athens, Greece

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Street Art in Athens, Greece

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 me under their wing and hosted me on a comprehensive three hour tour of the neighbourhoods of Metaxourgeio and Gazi to see all the street art that these Athenian neighbourhoods had to offer – and a bit about their history too.

**This post was originally written in FEB15.  It has been revised and re-posted in Sep17**

**All thoughts and opinions remain my own**

Street art [in athens] 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).

Street Art in Athens – Tagging

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 graffiti he drew was always ‘tagged’ with his signature.    More on the origins of tagging and graffiti can be read here.

So I guess it is hardly surprising that street art is prevalent in Athens as the old saying that ‘everything originates from Greece (or the Greeks)’ can be true sometimes

Street Art in Athens: Metaxourgeio district

We met our guide, Maria, outside the – unfortunately 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.

Praying Hands streetart in Pireos St, Athens, Greece. Life Beyond Borders
Praying Hands street art in Pireos St, Athens

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.  The hands, therefore, are God’s hands praying for the people on earth.

It’s a huge piece of street art on the side of a building that can hardly be missed.

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 asked.  Er no, Maria our guide led me gently away.  They were brothels apparently.

It may look like a nice doorway - it is, in fact, an entry to a brothel. Street art tour - Athens, Greece. Life Beyond Borders
It may look like a nice doorway – it is, in fact, an entry to a brothel! Street art tour – Athens

Works of art in this neighbourhood include Alexandros Vasmoulakis – who uses expressionistic and pop elements, De who uses stencils and makes art out of the letters D and E and Vangelis Hoursoglou – or Woozy – who started a support network for graffiti artists in Athens called Carpe Diem, whose aim was to provide a legal network for artists as well as a canvass.

You’ll notice that due to a sign of the times, most street art in Athens has a political element / underlying message.

Metaxourgeio street art in Athens, Greece. All have a political element. Life Beyond Borders
Metaxourgeio street art in Athens, Greece
Metaxourgeio neighbourhood street art in Athens. Maria, our guide, in action. By Dreyk the Pirate and Lints. Life Beyond Borders
Metaxourgeio Street art – Athens. Maria, our guide, in action. Art by Dreyk and Lints
Metaxourgeio neighbourhood street art in Athens, Greece. Life Beyond Borders
Metaxourgeio Street art in Athens, Greece

Street Art in Athens: Gazi neighbourhood

The Gazi district of Athens, Greece. Life Beyond Borders
Gazi district – Athens

Next we had a look around the neighbourhood of Gazi – the old gas work district of the Greek capital.   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 here.

Take a look through the art in this neighbourhood:

Street art in the Gazi district in Athens, Greece. Life Beyond Borders
Gazi street art in Athens, Greece
Gazi neighbourhood street art in Athens - depicting a famous Greek mathematician combined with Einstein. Life Beyond Borders
Gazi street art – depicting a famous Greek mathematician combined with Einstein.
Street art by Achilles, a regular artist around Athens Gazi District, Greece. Life Beyond Borders
Street art by Achilles, a regular artist around Athens – Gazi

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.  They have a whole host of tours on offer – from gastronomy to ancient monuments, and fun tours for kids too.

Tips for your Street art tour of Athens:

  • 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
  • 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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Street Art Athens
Street Art Athens
Street Art in Athens
Street Art Athens

11 COMMENTS

    • Thanks Ryan.

      If you ever get to visit this amazing city, I hope you’ll take one of these tours. You can’t help but notice the street art!
      In fact, I am wondering if I can ask someone to come and do a discrete design on my whitewashed back yard wall in my apartment – make it more interesting…

  1. I love street art! A lot of people don’t like it, but to me it’s simply an evolution of the cave paintings early humans created. We’ve always been painting on walls in some way or another 😉 Added to my Athens bucket list! Thanks for sharing Bex xoxo

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