Athens, the capital of Greece, is a fascinating destination unveiling in front of your eyes the city’s long and noble history and architecture. The Acropolis is the main landmark, but there are also many archaeological sites, museums and lots of history. As much history as its holds, Athens does not stay stuck in the old times.
In the old city of Athens, street art is very developed, creating a street canvas and a colorful picture. Areas of Athens old town are covered in graffiti. Walk around and explore the street art of infamous Greek and international street artists. In areas like Metaxourgeio, Monastiraki and Syntagma, you will find walls that are transformed into canvases and murals with colorful pieces of art.
Street art is encouraged in Athens, and transforms the city into a colorful anarchy that mixes amazingly with old architecture and urban art. No wonder the New York Times called Athens “a contemporary mecca for street art in Europe” in one of its articles. Let’s discover the city’s most iconic pieces of street art!
Metaxourgeio street art
Metaxourgeio used to be an abandoned and ugly area some years ago. Today, it is one of the most artistic and inspiring neighborhoods where you will meet locals, eat cheap food, listen to street music and see a lot of street art.
Metaxourgeio has an amazing creative energy that is obvious by the time you walk along the main street, Megalou Alexandrou. Colorful graffiti all around the place, artists working with hand-mixed paint, stencils, collages and various kinds of techniques creating art sometimes with a purpose.
After the Greek economic crisis, independent creativity became a way for young people to express themselves and pass political, economic and social messages to the public. Some of the most important street artists have left their work here like Sonke, Cacao Rocks, INO and Borondo. If you are into street art, you should definitely not miss it.
Take the chance to stroll along the small streets and have a coffee at Avdi Square, the neighborhood’s main outdoor space, and eat delicious Asian food at Saladin, a souvlaki at Elvis and drink tsipouro (a strong spirit produced by pomace) at Kerameio bar, located at Plateon 26.
Monastiraki street art
One of the most touristic areas of historic Athens, Monastiraki, surely does not need any more color. From the lively Monastiraki square and the flea market where treasures can be found, to beautiful cafes and chic restaurants, here beats the heart of the city.
Exploring the area will give you the opportunity to see some street art as well. Walk down Efestou Street through the flea market where interesting shops are found for souvenir shopping, clothes, shoes and bags.
The further you go down the street, the better it becomes as you will find many taverns, the famous souvlaki shop “Bairaktaris” and a big vintage market. During this walk that only lasts 10 minutes from the metro station, do not forget to look around at the beauty of the street art.
The small streets around the area hide artistic treasures. Famous local and international artists have left their mark here. For a full perspective of the area, go to the terrace of the bar-restaurant called 360 located right on Monastiraki Square.
Syntagma street art
The most central metro station, where the Parliament House is located, is not exempt from street artists. With Syntagma Square behind you, stroll along Kolokotroni Street till you reach Agias Irinis Square.
Art is not as frequent here, but is obvious mainly in the small streets of the area. In Agias Irinis Square, you will find giant murals with messages or song lyrics on them. In the small alleys around the neighborhood, you will find smaller pieces of art and the characteristic purple unicorn. You’ll also see this amazing mural, seen in the photo above, that is located at Karagiorgi Servias Street right outside of a cafeteria and it was commissioned by the owner so it is protected.
Unfortunately, as most street art is not protected, it is changing fast and one piece of art is painted right on top of the other. It is fun to walk down the same street and see the changing colors. It is so interesting and unexpected!
Kerameikos street art
Kerameikos is the neighborhood that is developed around an old Gas Factory, which has recently been transformed by Athens Municipality into an urban cultural centre, Technopolis.
The area is very trendy and was developed during the last 7 years, so now is a hipster hotspot and nightlife centre. Street art played an important role in this transformation as the previously grey and abandoned area became a colorful, youthful place due to large murals along Pireos Street and smaller pieces of art around the small roads of the area.
Greek street artists like Sonke, Raiden, STMTS and many others worked in the area and now some of the most famous works of street art are found here. Walk along Konstantinoupoleos Street as soon as you get off the metro station Kerameikos and see the colorful mix of restaurants, taverns and colorful graffiti.
In various spots of the city you’ll see the characteristic line drawing of a melancholic girl with her eyes closed by street artist Sonke, one of my favorite Greek artists.
Plaka street art
Plaka is the old historical neighborhood of Athens with pedestrianised narrow streets, flowers and cute souvenir shops that remind you of a Greek island. It is maybe the most touristic part of the city because of its beauty but also because many hotels and restaurants are located here.
As quiet and charming as it might be, street artists break this monotony with their paint. In the old narrow streets of Plaka, one can find many amazing pieces of street art. The art here is colorful and funky but also basic, as it consists mainly of lines and letters written on the walls. Walk around this magnificent place, till you reach Anafiotika where you will be able to see the Acropolis. After finishing your urban adventure, relax for a homemade lemonade at Yiasemi Cafe Bistrot (Mnisikleous 23).
Exarheia street art
Exarheia is definitely one of the most interesting neighborhoods of Athens. Located very close to old historic center is the area that many intellectuals, artists and students are living. Navarinou Park, located at the intersection of Navarinou and Zoodohou Pigis Street, is a hub of young people, mainly students and artists, who gather to relax, exchange ideas and express themselves.
This small park was planned to become a parking lot by the Municipality of Athens, but it was taken by activists and turned into a beautiful green garden. Activism, art and color are obvious all around this neighborhood. House facades, abandoned buildings, even shops have graffiti on them and almost every single wall of this area is covered with art. Street art in this area is more political, rebellious and judgemental. International and local artists like Borondo and INO have created some of them.
Apart from wonderful street art at every single corner, here you will find fair trade shops, vinyl shops, vegan products, independent bookshops, boho cafes and many more interesting small shops. Stroll around and admire the art of this neighborhood as well as the alternativism, the communal spirit and the beautiful anarchy of the buildings.
Psyrri street art
The Psyrri area is located on the other side of Ermou Street, which divides it from Monastiraki. By the time you get off the metro station, Monastiraki, you see the giant colorful mural on the building next to the metro.
And then you dive into the colorful expression of the artists in the area. Quirky murals without explanation, abstract paintings but also political messages, colorful figures or just letters, in Psyrri there is a great mixture of urban art.
The district became a lively and an urban center after the 2004 Olympics and today offers a variety of restaurants, especially with live Greek folk music. It also has authentic handicraft stores that sell leather sandals and bags.
In case you want a more condensed dose of art, then definitely pay a visit to A.Antonopoulou.Art, a gallery located at Sarri Street number 12 that hosts an interesting exhibition of contemporary art.
The beautiful anarchy of Athens street art
In recent years, street art in Athens has developed so much that we can talk about an outdoor art mecca. Interesting graffiti artworks have appeared in all the main neighborhoods of the historic center and as years go by, it develops more, becoming an artistic means of expression.
Citizens and business people of the area accept this new form of loud expression. There are some small businesses that encourage the artists by commissioning a street art piece for their business’ walls and there are also galleries who host the street artists’ masterpieces.
Whether you are an art lover or not, you will definitely enjoy this amazing outdoor exposition in the streets of Athens, making them more colorful and definitely much more interesting.
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