The Commercial Triangle Comes to Life
Imagine central city blocks with poorly lit streets, abandoned buildings, graffiti and traffic. Now forget all of that. That’s the Athens Commercial Triangle of the past. These days, this pivotal pocket of the capital is all about pedestrianised streets, new LED street lamps, clean building facades, and wooden benches. New squares that are alive with art exhibits, dance and street art festivals, flowers, ethnic eateries and trendy bars.
Located in the city’s Historic Centre, the area’s strategic revamp began in 2016. Formerly the city’s commercial heart, it was where you went to buy flowers and lamps, fabrics and printing paper. Then, as the city modernised and spread its borders, the area slowly fell into urban decline.
If you look at a map and connect the dots drawing a line down Athinas street from Agias Irinis to Evripidou, then right up Praxitelous until you run into Perikleous, you’ve formed the triangle. The Triangle’s inner streets are almost all vehicle-free and boast some of the city’s architecture icons, many of which are under renovation.
Some shops have survived the trials of history, so you’ll notice fabric, yarn, jewellery and beads stores or a traditional taverna next to a new hip bar or a boutique hotel. This medley is what gives the area its magic.
Check out the brand new Shedia Art on the corner of Kolokotroni and Nikiou streets, an upcycled art objects workshop, store and café-restaurant in a neoclassical building that used to be the home of a musical instrument studio. Or the old paper warehouse on Chrysospiliotissas street where a photography exhibition was recently staged. The photos were all of local shopkeepers, and after the exhibit closed, they each proudly hung their portraits up in their shop window.
Green space is a top priority in this clearly urban part of the city and while it’s impossible to grow a forest in concrete, locals have been planting flowers outside their stores. The municipality has got in on the act too by debuting new green pockets throughout. Public artworks have been installed, illegal parking ousted, and an ongoing series of events staged to re-shape this district into a visitor-friendly triangle. The revitalisation works are not complete, so you may run into a bulldozer or two, but don’t let the dust drive you away. There’s plenty to explore around every corner in this re-invented slice of the capital.