As street art photographers I and Thomas love to wander in Athens to discover awesome street art on every corner. On our walk, you will have the opportunity to see some small urban gems but also huge murals with an amazing history. Here you will find our Neighbourhood Guide about Athens Street Art.
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.
Kerameikos and Gazi
Where the ancient culture meets urban subculture
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, wherein 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.
Street art in the district of villains and heroes
Where do you start with this historic neighbourhood in downtown Athens? Psyrri 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, Psyrri has gone through many cycles of prosperity and decline and is now firmly on the up again with its trademark relaxed atmosphere and multiple foods 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 Psyrri, 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 Ino 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.
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, dominates, 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.
What more? We’ve got you covered!
You can discover more neighbourhoods in our recent article on Discover Greece.
Of course, this isn’t the only street art in Athens. In some districts, such as Psyrri 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.
Together in our tours, we will discover 5 cool neighbourhoods that support and showcase street art and we will see a lesser-known part of Athens.
See you on the streets of Athens!