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“Isn’t there just a graffiti everywhere?”, asked a friend after I told her how much I had loved my time in Athens.
Well, yes…and no. Athens is certainly graffitied from head to toe – most first floors of buildings in the city center are covered – but it’s not just a bunch of hastily sprayed slurs or tags. As one of the world’s first civilizations, Greece has a long, long history and relationship with just about everything, including graffiti and street art. In fact, there’s even been ancient penis carvings found on islands in the Aegean Sea – true story.
In recent years however, there’s been a burst of creative activity throughout the country, and especially on the streets of Athens where everyday graffiti meets elaborate street murals with strong messages.
Greece is struggling economically and politically while also having a bit of an identity crisis. With high unemployment, youth unemployment is hovering around 50%, and lower wages, people have taken to the streets, not just for riots and protests, but for political art and expression as well.
There are also plenty of pieces that are simply adding character and beauty to the city. In fact, many shop owners have had artists paint murals on their entrance doors and the New York Times has called Athens a “contemporary mecca for street art in Europe”. It’s everywhere.
Traveling to Greece soon? You’ll find street art in Athens throughout the city, but if you’re staying close to the city center be sure to wander through the little streets of the popular Psirri neighborhood particularly around Sarri Street.
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