Globe and Mail: Athens isn’t pretty, but it’s exciting
The two-page article includes several photos of special areas around Athens, while the Canadian journalist talks about the city’s cultural renaissance with extensive references to proposed activities in neighborhoods like Gazi or places such as Technopolis, Greek National Opera and The National Museum of Contemporary Art.
Read below parts of the article:
Crowds surge through the pedestrian shopping zone of Athens’s Ermou Street, past designer boutiques and a tiny Byzantine church that stands at a kink in the road like an island of sanctity. Kapnikarea church is at least 1,000 years old, though its domed roof rests on four ancient columns from Roman times, each of them stripped from a different ruin.
Those mismatched columns, so pragmatically reused, offer an object lesson about the problems and promise of Athens today. Six years of economic crisis, and several decades of thoughtless urban development, have focused many minds here on the task of building a better future from the usable past.
Apart from its classical monuments, Athens is not a picture-postcard capital. It is gritty, restless and spontaneous, as you can see from rampant graffiti that sometimes blows up into epic street art.
Athens is still living the hangover from the boom years of the 1960s, when Athenians were proud of the city they thought they were creating, but also strangely oblivious to the consequences of that process. Unco-ordinated development, fuelled by aid from the U.S. government, erased much of the city’s neoclassical heritage, and damaged the city’s ecology and infrastructure.
Now, ambitious plans are afoot to remodel the downtown in more sustainable ways, and to add cultural capital to civic life. Innovative restorations, led by artists and arts organizations, are reclaiming rundown industrial districts. There is a feeling here that creativity is the last and best resource when other resources fail.