5 small surprises in the heart of Athens

When you actually see them and don't just pass by them, they are there to make you smile.

Is this city beautiful or ugly? Does not make a lot of difference. The thing is that when you actually see and don't just pass by, there are surprises that make you smile. We took a walk and made a record of five of them.

1. Walking through the little, picturesque Plaka streets, looking up you can see several power lines crossing the narrow sky paths. They are everywhere but on Scholiou str. things are different. There is an old pair of shoes hanging from the power line making the sight funny and interesting. It makes you wonder who could have thought to hang them there and why, but also works as a reminder: don't look only ahead or down when walking, look up. You never know what you might find.

2. Ermou is a very busy shopping street full of old, abandoned neoclassical buildings. People have long forgot about them and don't even look at  them when passing by. They are more like shadows. At one of them, on the balcony there is a lonely mannequin doll standing at the edge, gazing into the distance, condescending, observing passers by, which seem to be starring in a film noir which tries to explore the mystery behind this remarkable presence on the balcony.

3. The first sight your eyes meet when emerging from the Panepistimiou metro station, is a small neoclassical building (the house of the National Students Union in 1963-64), standing fearles next to a modern building made of glass. If you take a minute to look around you turning your head slowly from left to right you will realize that the city center is a mixture of very different elements, past and present making it all very beautiful and attractive. It is a beauty not created by uniformity but diversity.

4. The square at Kolonaki is one of the prettiest spots with loads of trees filling its every inch. In an alley at the edge there is a plain column standing all alone which does not seem to blend in. It seems unkempt and neglected and does not possess anything to make one turn their head and look at it. Nevertheless, this small column is a piece of live history since it gave this whole area its name (Kolonaki: small column). There is no inscription to indicate its importance and thus remains unseen although there is a glorious past attached to it.

5. Plaka is a symbolic area of Athens, filled with monuments and neoclassical buildings. Walking through it's narrow streets hanging from one of many neoclassical houses, you will see ribbons flying away. While the wind blows, they move right and left, red and green, innocent and playful filling the whole street with joy.

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©Thanassis Karatzas

©Thanassis Karatzas