Walking On The Edge
PANGRATI: A FINE BLEND OF OLD AND NEW ATHENS
Our walk commences at Athens Hilton, the first building to transmute the skyline of the city as its highest one, when it was built in 1963. On the façade, passersby have the chance to see magnificent carvings by Giannis Moralis, probably the best-known Modern Greek artist. Hilton’s Greek breakfast is highly recommended.
Just opposite, the renowned sculpture known as Dromeas (greek word for “runner”) by sculptor Costas Varotsos cannot be missed. Originally situated at Omonia Square, then moved to its current position due to the city’s subway system construction.
A stone’s throw away is the National Gallery. The 1976 building is currently under refurbishment to maximize the available space, adding an air of modernity to its present structure. The façade will be covered in metal and glass, and the functionality will be adapted to the requirements of a modern museum.
We go on along Vasileos Konstantinou Street and encounter two significant landmarks from the Athenian 1960s, Athens Conservatoire and the National Hellenic Research Foundation.
A few metres onwards, we enter the suburb of Pangrati. Back in the day, Pangrati used to be a typical upscale neighbourhood, home to renowned artists, most notably the beloved composer Manos Hadjidakis. After his death, the area lost its charm, though there has been a revival over the past four years.
We take a stroll along nostalgia lane as crossing Proskopon Square. We can still feel the echo of Melina Merkouri’s distinctive voice meeting Hatzidakis’ tunes and Nikos Gatsos’ poems. After all, Pangrati remains a fine blend of old and new Athens, which still clings to its authenticity, buzzing with vibe and energy, day or night.
As far as new entries go, cozy restaurants, bistros and bars offering unique gastronomic experiences at surprisingly affordable prices spring up like mushrooms after the rain. We tried them all and believe us the majority met our high expectations.
However, Pangrati is not just a residential area that has developed a hip side through the years. It’s a common secret among Athenian art lovers, that the neighborhood will be the centre of attention as soon as Goulandris Museum, the city’s new contemporary art museum opens its doors in the near future.
We continue our walk towards the Panathenaic Stadium, known as the Kallimarmaro, birthplace of modern Olympics back in 1896. We continue walking until we find Irodou Attikou Str.; we can see the Presidential residence, the Maximos Mansion (official residence of the Greek Prime Minister), and some of the most luxurious apartments in downtown Athens with a stunning view to the National Garden. Well it is, after all, the most expensive street in Athens.
We stroll through the park and enjoy an oasis at the urban core, before we finish our walk at the Zappeion. Dining at the restaurant under the attic sky, with views to the Acropolis; summer nights offer the once-in-a-lifetime experience of a movie at the open-air cinema.
Words | IN THE KNOW Team
Images | © Ellie Tsatsou Studio for IN THE KNOW