No other neighbourhood in Athens has seen such sweeping changes in recent years. But this grungy district of edgy galleries, hip bars, and ancient wonders is still on the cusp of gentrification.

Post-Industrial Urban Culture

Twilight is the best time for exploring Gazi and Keramikos, for the area’s subtle charms fade under the glare of the noonday sun. The half-light of the late afternoon awakens a wanderlust deepened by the sight of the rusted railway lines on the industrial side of Ermou Street and for an instant, your thumb twitches to hitch a ride from one of the trucks trundling towards the city’s exit. In this dusky light, the ancient cemetery of Keramikos is one of the most beautiful spots in Athens.

Like Gazi, the Keramikos and its neighbouring Metaxourgio district come to life as darkness descends. Chinese discount shops and clothing wholesalers give way to more hedonistic pursuits—from cocktails and dancing to traces of the area’s legacy as the red light district. Alekos Fassianos’ The Myth of Neighbourhood installed in Metaxourgio metro station is a subtle nod to the area’s rebirth. Old warehouses have been transformed into cavernous clubs, cosy bars, experimental stages, and Michelin-starred restaurants that set the trends the rest of the city follows.

Technopolis

Technopolis in Gazi.

Photo: Georgios Makkas

People strolling by the National Theatre of Greece.

Photo: Georgios Makkas

National Theatre of Greece

Avdi Square

Avdi Square just might be the heart of Keramikos and Metaxourgio.

Photo: Georgios Makkas

Technopolis dominates the Gazi skyline.

Photo: Georgios Makkas

Dimosio Sima

Greek civilisation’s obsession with death is reflected in mythology, but also in the lavish burials and tombs of kings and other prominent citizens. Ancient funerary traditions are well-documented in the Keramikos cemetery but chance excavations also uncovered the Dimosio Sima, a fifth-century BC necropolis that’s considered the most important burial site of Ancient Athens. This is where the city’s most eminent citizens and the ashes of war fallen heroes were buried. It’s also where Pericles delivered his famed Funeral Oration. The Dimosio Sima extended from the ancient city’s main gate, the Dipylon, to Plato’s Academy. You can see a small section along Salaminos Street, where at least six burials have been found.

Greek Film Archive

The Greek Film Archive could be considered Athens' film institute.

Photo: Georgios Makkas