While cars and people were absent from our streets, the City of Athens has been hard at work restoring some of our beloved neighbourhoods and most snappable sights.
In historic Thissio and must-see Anafiotika, dozens of ancient walls, buildings, and benches have been freed from graffiti tags so that visitors will encounter a revitalized and welcoming capital when they return this summer.
In fact, Athens has been rolling up its sleeves non-stop to put on a fresh face and make the city more accessible for both visitors and residents. We’re improving sidewalks and cleaning streets, planting bright new flora (8,500 extra blooms to be exact), and ridding walls of old graffiti across the city, transforming the metropolis into a walker’s paradise of vibrant urban neighbourhoods for you to discover and explore.
Over recent months, Athens has also refined its social distancing protocols to ensure that citizens and visitors experience a buoyant, re-charged and well-prepared city.
These initiatives mark an expansive pledge by the City of Athens to provide assistance, safety, and accessible services for residents and visitors. The community-based strategy balances careful observation of health and safety measures with the safeguarding of our dynamic public life for years to come. We’re supporting the city’s innovators and creatives, our cherished café culture, and the fresh food markets that are the beating heart of Athenian cuisine. At street-level, we’re getting Athenians back to their daily routines, so that we can put out the welcome mat for visitors once more.
6 ways that Athens is making a fresh start
• We’ve cleaned and disinfected public spaces, benches, bus stops, and waste containers in all parts of the city, including the replacement of more than 7,000 waste bins.
• We’ve invested in new technologies that speed up the deep cleaning of sidewalks and squares and make it easier to maintain those surfaces as more feet and tyres return to the streets.
• Graffiti removal is a key tactic for reviving community parks and public spaces. City workers are busy cleaning layers of paint and eliminating built-up dirt and grime from monuments and walls, helping to shine a light on the bold creations of Athens’ fêted street artists.
• More than 82 streets have been repaved and under the Athens City Council's 166% budget boost for sidewalk upgrades, foot paths have been clad with cooling materials that reduce ambient temperatures, while passage and accessibility has been improved by removing obstacles and adding signage.
• The once-thriving city landmark, Omonia Square, has been restored and reactivated for Athenians, with artist George Zongolopoulos’ iconic hydrokinetic sculpture as its centrepiece.
• And in one of the biggest urban interventions in the history of Athens, sidewalks will be extended, traffic limited, bicycle lanes formed, and new trees and flowers planted to create one of Europe’s most beautiful urban promenades. Dubbed the “Great Athens Walk”, the project will improve the speed of buses and trolleys and make it easier to walk between the neighbourhoods of Athens’ historic centre without going head-to-head with car traffic. In line with best practice in other major cities, the pilot phase will see temporary installation of the new urban flows from June so residents can road test changes before they’re made permanent.