One of the oldest cities in the world, full of history and the cradle of democracy and culture.
This is Athens. The ancient’s ‘glorious city’. And at the same time, a contemporary city that assimilates cultural trends and adapts them to its own character. It goes without saying that the modern urban religion of graffiti and street art is part of this: tags, throw-ups, wild style graffiti, political activist stencils, stickers, paste-ups and public art murals created for festivals and other projects. So if you love art and street culture, you’ll love discovering this lesser-known side of Athens.
Every neighbourhood has a different story to tell.
|⌂ Keramikos & Gazi
|⌂ The School of Fine Arts
|⌂ The Polytechnic campus
Keramikos & Gazi
Ancient culture meets urban sub-culture
Keramikos owes its name to the cemetery and pottery workshops of ancient Athens located here. And today, it’s an area where the city’s past melds with the present. As you wander around, you can admire some of the city’s most impressive large murals and lose yourself in alleyways in search of hidden gems by talented Greek and international urban artists.
Just next door is Gazi, where in the mid-19th century residents could smell the characteristic trace of natural gas from the gasworks that powered most of the city. Today, the area is best-known for its cultural centre, Technopolis, but other standout features are leather goods from tanneries and the Pavlidis Chocolate Factory, still operating on Pireos Street.
In the old tram depot (OSY), you can admire the wonderful ‘Last supper in Athens’, full of social messages and one of the works of notable Athens street artist Ino. Nearby, you’ll encounter the striking ‘Freedom’ and an older collaboration between Ino and Aiva called ‘Access Control’, influenced by science fiction dystopias. Add to all this the best kalamaki (souvlaki) in town at Elvis and the fantastic meze at Loui, Sabir, Kabethon and historic Kanaria and you’ll understand why Keramikos is so dope.
A journey into Athens’ past and future
Close to Keramikos is Metaxourgio, one of the first neighbourhoods to be redeveloped outside Athens’ historic centre at the end of the 19th century. Many will tell you that this downtown area of Athens is run down. But just remember, there’s great architectural interest here and the amazing Avdi Square, where there are awesome places to eat and drink: the talk-of-the-town Seychelles, Avgo tou Kokkora (the Rooster’s Egg), the Thai restaurant Tamarind, the Blue Parrot and Saorsa for coffee and fantastic cocktails.
The Little Paris Art Festival of Athens takes place here, which accounts for some of the area’s fantastic public art murals. Must-see works include the iconic ‘Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens’ by Balinese graffiti artist Wild Drawing and the wonderful ‘So Many books, so little time’ by Simpleg. Around 300m away is the value-for-money Typografos taverna, which has works by Simpleg on the facade and inside. It’s worth walking as far as Larissis Train Station, where there’s a huge mural, ‘Eternal Traveler’, by Leonidas Giannakopoulos, a work that sweeps you away on its own special journey.
A melting pot of social classes and cultures
The oldest square of Athens dates back to 1862, when the leaders of rival political groups whose divisions had led to bloody riots across the country, gathered here and took an oath of ‘unity’ (as Omonia translates). You have to take a stroll here, especially now that it’s undergone a kind of facelift, to witness one of the most multicultural areas of Athens and admire two landmark murals.
The huge hands of the God, praying for the Athenians since 2011 were inspired by the engraving of the Renaissance painter and engraver Albrecht Dürer, dominatges, and there’s Ino’s masterpiece ‘Snowblind’, a portrait of a mighty man unknowingly approaching his end but blinded by his addiction to money and power. There are also well-hidden secrets in the surrounding streets, such as the mythical creatures of Krah who, after a decade of artwork in London, continues to blend mythology, pop references and futurism.
Street art in the district of villains and heroes
Where do you start with this historic neighbourhood in downtown Athens? Psirri was an entertainment hub as long ago as the 19th century when it was a magnet for all Athenians – from the poorest to King Otto himself. It was also one of Athens’ high-crime areas before it was cleansed of the outlaws that gathered here in the 1870s. Since then, Psirri has gone through many cycles of prosperity and decline and is now firmly on the up again with its trademark relaxed atmosphere and multiple food and nightlife options. Personally, we love starting with coffee at Upside Down and moving on to an authentic bougatsa at Thessaloniki.
Street art is everywhere in Psirri, with large and small works by Greek and international graffiti artists, such as Dimitris Taxis, Austrian surrealist Ruin and Brazilian Rimon. You’ll find the dreamy portrait of Simoni (one of the oldest in Athens), the historical frescoes of Vasmou around Iroon (Heroes) Square, the Apocalypse Now of Inο and the brand new multicoloured murals of Soteur and Gera in the creative multi-space Luv n Roll. Special mention goes to ‘All dogs go to heaven’, a portrait of wonderful Loukaniko, the dog who became a symbol of rebellion and freedom from the days of demonstration during Greece’s debt crisis.
The area that has everything (street art included)
Monastiraki is one of the most-visited squares of the centre, very close to the most important ancient sites. It’s also an important link between all the stages of Athens’ history, right up to modern times. The little church of Panagia Pantanassa, dating to the 10th century, gave its name to the square and (together with the Tzistarakis Mosque) gives the area its distinctive photogenic appeal, with the Acropolis as a backdrop.
From here begins the area defined as the Commercial Triangle of Athens, with amazing hangouts such as Clumsies (one of the finest cocktail bars in town), the Lebanese restaurant Feyrouz and Six Dogs (one of the city’s most emblematic underground spaces for entertainment and art). Right in the corner, is one of our favourite works of street art in Athens, the superb panda of urban artist Neidness. Within the area, there are many more works by artists such as One Bran, Gospel and Bassment Rats, as well as large murals such as ‘Ikarus’, a collaboration of artist by Nikos Tsounakas with the visual lighting group Beforelight.
Philosophy and rebellion written on the walls
The most lively, diverse, bohemian and rebellious neighbourhood of Athens. From the beginning of the 20th century, Exarhia was a favourite hangout of students and home to many important creative personalities. The walls of buildings here are ‘bombed’ with political slogans and exceptional graffiti wall art, full of powerful symbolism and messages.
In Navarino Park, there’s a huge (in both size and meaning) work of Italian artist Blu, known for his political commentary. The mural tells a story about the value of social solidarity, self-organisation and collective action. Around the square are many murals of Wild Drawing, culminating in ‘No land for the poor’, inspired by the impact of the economic crisis on the lives of ordinary people. The wonderful female figures of Sonke, which are literally everywhere, are the icing on the cake.
After your hunt for street art, you can relax for coffee or a drink in the classic hangout Podilato (Bicycle) and taste Cretan delicacies in Oxo nou. And one more thing. If you haven’t eaten a souvlaki at O Prinkipas (The Prince), you haven’t eaten a souvlaki!
Street art in the city by the sea
One of the most important ports in Europe, Piraeus offers a fascinating coastal urban landscape with famous districts such as Kastella, Zea and Mikrolimano. It might not be the first place you think of when you hear street art, but if you know where to look you’ll find very interesting artwork on buildings. In the once infamous Troumbas district, there’s one of Ino's greatest and most impressive works, ‘Lost’, starring a girl lost in the vortex of her thoughts. Also in the port, on Akti Poseidonos St, there’s another, older work by Ino, ‘We have the power’, portraying a little boy looking at the bust of the philosopher Democritus.
There’s also a stunning mural dating from 2014 from the Urban Act team (specifically the street artists Same84 and Apset) on the iconic SILO building. Their inspiration? Greece’s naval tradition and maritime myths, of course. It goes without saying that the food and drink choices in Piraeus are endless, but we can suggest Yperokeaneio in the Hatzikyriakeio district, a traditional little fish taverna that never disappoints!
Between the vegetables and the factories
The district of Agios Ioannis of Renti isn’t what you’d call an expected recommendation for visitors to Athens. Since the 1940s, it’s been known mostly for its famous vegetable patches (producing seasonal veg all year round) and its huge vegetable market and as a suburb of Piraeus with factories, industrial buildings, markets rather than a place of residence. In this sense, it’s considered one of the most sparsely populated suburbs of Attica.
You would think there isn’t much to see here. However, sometime in 2019 a group of street artists and graffiti writers found a means of expression here. And so, on the walls of the area, you will find colourful imaginary in the form of figures by street artist Yiakou inspired by love, dreams and memories; the very interesting combo lettering and characters of MamboAthens; the striking graffiti letters of artist Born; the large portraits of the architect and artist Think; the magical realism of Chrysolie and some works of Greek master of anamorphosis, Achilles. Nod bad, right?
The School of Fine Arts
The next generation of Athens street artists
Many street artists have passed through the School of Finer Arts on Pireos Avenue, so it goes without saying that you can admire works from Greek and international artists here. The artwork gets replaced very quickly, so you have to be quick if you’re a graffiti artist. The last time we were here, we saw two impressive works of the French artist Goin, full of comments relating to money and society (he identifies himself as an Artivist & Troublemaker!) and a wonderful portrait of French-Congolese artist Kouka Ntadi, known for his big-scale murals inspired by African tribes.
There’s plenty of art in the courtyard, such as the characteristic little deer that is Yiakou’s trademark, the extra-terrestrial insects of Soul Thief and an impressive, hard-hitting collaboration of Wild Drawing and tattoo artist Billy82cmk.
And because all art needs to be digested to be appreciated, it’s good to know that in the Moshato district is one of the best fish tavernas of the city, I Medousa (Medusa). Unbelievable food and exceptional prices.
The Polytechnic campus
Student vibes and a park in the heart of the city
The last stop on your street art tour of Athens involves the buildings and the underground parking space of the city’s Polytechnic. The entire site is 920,000m2, so you need to have a plan, patience and time to explore it but believe us, you’ll be rewarded some with some exceptional works.
On the campus, there are two amazing murals of Wild Drawing, among them our much-loved ‘House of venom’. Also amongst our most-loved works are the black-and-white ‘Tenderness’ of Nozo1 and the experimental graffiti art compositions and characters of Taish and Nique.
And if you’ve got this far, it would be a shame not to pop down to Goudi Park, only 5mins away by car. The park is an ideal place to relax practically in the heart of the city and where you can admire another emblematic piece of work of Wild Drawing, the anamorphic ‘Four Elements’, inspired by the four elements of nature. Just next door is the National Sculpture & Art Gallery, displaying 150 representative works of Greek creative sculpture from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Where to find the best street art in Athens
Of course, this isn’t the only street art in Athens. In some districts, such as Psirri or Exarhia the works are countless. What we tried to give you in this neighbourhood guide to Athens Street Art is a taste and a trigger for you to get searching. See you on the streets of Athens!
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