If you’re looking for a neighborhood with a wild side, look no further than Metaxourgeio in Athens. Located west of the city center, this district is known for its rough, untamed atmosphere and crumbling, half-burned buildings. At night, the Acropolis looms over the neighborhood, casting its shadow over the flashing OPEN signs of the many brothels that can be found here. In Metaxourgeio, activities like sex work and drug use are openly practiced, and the neighborhood’s low-cost brothels are notorious for their high rates of STDs. But don’t let that scare you away! Despite its rough reputation, Metaxourgeio is undergoing a transformation.
Renovated neoclassical houses and cutting-edge apartment complexes are popping up, attracting wealthy residents and giving the neighborhood a more fashionable, artistic feel. The area is also home to a growing number of art galleries, museums, and hip restaurants and cafes. And if you’re a fan of guerilla gardening, you’ll love Metaxourgeio. Taking advantage of Greece’s abundant sunshine, residents and community groups have been planting vegetables, flowers, and other plants in public spaces throughout the neighborhood. This has not only contributed to the area’s aesthetic appeal, but has also helped to create a sense of community and pride among residents.
The history of Metaxourgeio
Metaxourgeio was once a vibrant, working-class neighborhood, thanks largely to the silk factory that is now the Athens municipal gallery. However, starting in the 1970s, the district came extremely close to being completely abandoned. It wasn’t until the 2004 Olympics and the subsequent renovation initiatives that gentrification became a possibility. The neighborhood’s rough reputation is not without historical precedent. In the early 19th century, Prince Georgios Kantakouzinos, a wealthy Greek from abroad, purchased a tract of land in the area with the intention of constructing his own home and a corner complex with commercial buildings and housing for merchants.
The project was designed and administered by the Danish architect Christian Hansen, who would go on to design the University of Athens. However, a disagreement with Kantakouzinos over the design led to Hansen’s dismissal and the abandonment of the project. As a result, the land remained undeveloped for many years, allowing it to become overgrown and wild. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the area began to attract squatters and marginalized communities, leading to its rough reputation and the proliferation of illegal activities. Despite its troubled past, the neighborhood is now undergoing a transformation, with renovated buildings and an influx of wealthy residents.
Lo más destacado de Metaxourgeio
One of the most interesting aspects of Metaxourgeio is its guerilla gardening movement. Taking advantage of Greece’s abundant sunshine, residents and community groups have been planting vegetables, flowers, and other plants in public spaces throughout the neighborhood. This has not only contributed to the area’s aesthetic appeal, but has also helped to create a sense of community and pride among residents. Avdi Square, the hub of the neighborhood’s hipster scene, is a prime example of this, attracting locals and tourists alike with its open space, vegetation, recurring events, and proximity to dining, entertainment, and cultural attractions.
Overall, Metaxourgeio is a neighborhood of extremes, with its rough edges and wild green spaces juxtaposed against its growing artistic and fashionable reputation. Despite its tumultuous history and ongoing challenges, the area is undergoing a transformation and is worth exploring for its unique blend of grit and beauty. So if you’re looking for a bit of excitement and adventure on your trip to Athens, make sure to check out Metaxourgeio!
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(Photo: Dimitris Kamaras)