“The crisis has spawned a new burst of creative energy that has turned Athens into a contemporary mecca for street art in Europe.”
- Source: The New York Times
Did you know that Athens has a very active street art scene? London, Berlin, New York or Paris…Athens can be added to this list! Over the past 10 years, the streets of Athens have gone from dull, busy, and gray passages in the city center to attention-grabbing canvasses. The city and its surrounding neighbourhoods have changed and are immensely rich in street art, which emerged in the ’90s but took off and developed its own distinctive style over the past years. The recent economic crisis created a new burst of energy and over 2,000 or so graffiti and street artists paintings can be found around the city.
Discovering Street Art in Alternative neighbourhoods
Together with my friends from Travel Bloggers Greece I recently joined the Street Art Tour organized by Alternative Athens. This alternative tour is the result of a unique collaboration between Alternative Athens and a number of Athens’ rising street artists. Our guide and street artist Nikos welcomed us in Thiseio train station one sunny morning and took us on a 3 hour walkingtour past the train rails through the alternative neighborhoods of Gazi, Keramikos, Metaxourgeio, Psirri, and Thiseio. Together with Exharhia, these are the most painted areas in Athens.
Here we are on a fantastic street art tour with Nikos of @altathens! ( Niko was taking the photo. ?) Is Athens the “New Berlin” when it comes to street art? Stay tuned! We learned so much and we’re each excited to blog about it for our followers. #streetart #athens #athina #travelbloggersgreece #tbgrocks #blog #travelblog #visitathens
Discovering Artists and Techniques
Nikos our guide started with an interesting introduction to the history of Street Art. I had no idea that graffiti started in New York by a Greek artist there. Nikos also told us that the word graffiti actually comes from the Greek word ‘ grapho’ = writing or ‘scribbles on the wall’! We saw graffiti on trains and continued to some of Athens most alternative neighborhoods. We saw edgy outdoor murals, stencils, raw graffitis, black and whites, geometrical shapes, clowns and images of kids and dogs and even a complete home covered in street art. We got to know more about the most famous Athens street artists (Dimitris, Jason, Billy and Stamatis) and their personal themes, techniques and concepts. We felt the current vibe and mood of the city and country through the street art. Much of the art work has a political or social meaning or message. Besides looking at the art, Nikos also told us lots about the history of the areas that we were visiting and their role in the past and present. For instance, the Keramikos area was the ancient industrial area where ceramics and olive oil was produced.
The tour lasted 3 hours. It is too long for children under 6 to walk. But a child in a stroller could join. The walking pace is easy. The tours are available in French and English language and besides group tours (the maximum for a group is 12 participants), a private tour can be booked as well. The tour costs 40 Euro per person, for children there are reduced prices. Children under 6 do not pay.
I found the Alternative Athens Street Art Tour an exciting and interesting way to discover the new mecca for street art in Europe and to visit other parts of Athens instead of the tourist area. Teens will love to find graffiti and other forms of street art at unexpected places in the alternative parts of the city.
*I was a guest at this Alternative Athens tour. As always, all thoughts and opinions remain my own*
Celeste Tat is an expat living in Greece for 20+ years of which 16 years in Athens. She is the mother of 2 young children and the expert for family friendly activities and vacation destinations in Greece. She is the creator of Family Experiences Blog and the exclusive family travel blogger for Family Goes Out.