Athens, seen from above, is a white ocean of roofs meeting the Mediterranean sea somewhere at the horizon.
Athens, street view, is a very colourful town: posters, installations, kiosks and a lot of street art (a lot, really a lot!), including several large outdoor murals.
Some of them were made possible though various creative projects set up by the Athens Municipality (especially before the Olympic Games of 2004), which involved some well-known local street artists, many of whom are from the Athens School of Fine Arts (which runs a programme of street art studies, by the way).
If this effort to beautify the city is the sparkle that transformed Athens’ street art from a niche subculture into something the whole town can relate to, the economic crisis is the fuel that made Athens’ street art grow and evolve.
Nowadays the scenario is that of a town full of colour-washed energy: graffiti hunting around Athens can reveal both large, colourful and majestically painted murals and also rebellious, more spontaneous and protest-driven street art, sort of “social comments” on walls; and the most amazing thing is that often the same talented street artist is making both.
Unlike other towns, street art in Athens is particularly common to be found downtown, especially in the neighbourhoods of Exarchia, Psyrri, Anafiotika and Gazi, which is very close to another area full of street art: Metaxourgeio district.
Right from my first afternoon in town, Metaxourgeio became my favourite district of Athens: it started out as an industrial district at the beginning of the 19th century and, after a long period of abandonment, Metaxourgeio is now becoming the artsy neighbourhood of Athens. But although Metaxourgeio is currently reinventing itself, a somewhat grungy heart still beats beneath its art galleries and brand-new hip restaurants.