The history of Victoria square

Victoria Square, formerly known as Kyriakou Square, is a historic landmark situated in the heart of Athens, Greece. This picturesque square has witnessed significant changes over the years, from its renaming to its role in the refugee crisis.

The Victoria Square district is a vibrant part of Athens, located between several other districts, including Exarchia, Omonia, and Attiki. Over the years, it has seen the rise of iconic buildings like the OTE Building, known for its modern and elegant aesthetics.

Victoria Square’s name has a fascinating history tied to Greek monarchy and international relations. Originally named in honor of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom in 1872, the square celebrated the concession of the Ionian Islands to Greece and the ascent of Queen Victoria’s nephew, Prince William George of Denmark, to the Greek throne. However, it was later renamed Kyriakou Square in honor of Panagis Kyriakos, the then-mayor of Athens who resided in the area. In 1943, following the death of Queen Victoria, the square reverted to its original name, Victoria Square.

This iconic square is not just a historical landmark but also a hub of activity in Athens. It is intersected by streets like Heyden, 3rd September, and Aristotelous. The Athens Electric Railway passes underground, and since 1938, it has been adorned with the sculptural complex of Johannes Pfuhl, depicting Theseus saving Hippodamian. 

The imprint of refugees to Victoria square

Between 2015 and 2016, Greece witnessed an influx of almost two million people, mainly from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, seeking refuge in mainland Europe. Victoria Square became a visible symbol of Europe’s refugee crisis during this period. However, as migration continued to be a contentious issue in Greek politics, the government implemented policies to address the situation.

In early 2020, the Greek government ruled that camps and reception facilities would be reserved exclusively for those with pending asylum claims. This led to the eviction of thousands of individuals with official refugee status, who were suddenly required to find homes and support on their own. Victoria Square became a focal point for many affected by this policy change, making it a homeless camp.

In recent years, the Greek government has taken steps to close refugee camps in the center of Athens, including Eleonas. This has led to concerns among non-governmental organizations about the well-being of asylum seekers and refugees, many of whom are left without stable housing or support.

Want to know more about Victoria square’s background?

Victoria Square’s history reflects Greece’s enduring connection to the wider world and its role as a haven for those in need. As the country grapples with refugee issues and political changes, the future of this historic square and the surrounding neighborhood remains uncertain. Victoria Square continues to be a symbol of the evolving landscape of Athens and Greece as a whole.
Acquire a profound and immersive understanding of Victoria Square and the refugee crisis with our Understanding the Refugee Crisis experience. This unique experience will enable you to actively engage in firsthand research.