Agias Dinamis church (Holy Power in English) is a peculiar church in the center of Athens. It was built during the 16th century maybe upon the ruin of an Ancient Greek temple dedicated to Hercules. The name Agia Dimamis derives from the power of the Virgin Mary.
Below the altar of the church there is a secret cave 15 meters deep. It has Ancient Greek ruines. During the greek revolution against ottomans it was a secret depot for holy relics, documents and ammunitions. It is said that from there begins a tunnel that leads to the Kesariani district of Athens.
The true is that Athens has many underground secret passages.
The small bell structure was built in 1963. The neighborhood of the church was named Rodakio. The church is believed to help pregnant women. The little church had also some nearby small structures which were demolished during the creation of Mitropoleos street.
The building above the church used to be the ministry of education and religions. Maybe it has the tallest first floor in Athens.
Many of the roads in Athens used to be river, streams or torrents. After the liberation from Ottomans and the expansion of the city this rivers were conveniently converted into wide streets. The benefits were huge. Less exposed waters prevented citizens from using foul water. Also mosquitoes couldn’t find proper ground to multiple. So mosquito and water related diseases were diminished. However the cityscape was becoming less attractive. And the use of cars demanded the covering of every picturesque river or stream.
Until 1945 there were 1280 km of small rivers in Athens. The landfill of rivers have led to great disasters during thunderstorms. The waters don’t have any exit except the major roads in Athens.
Stadiou street was a river and was named with the rude name Chezopotamos because it was used as a sewer. From the Lycabetus the Voidopniktis river was following the Voukourestiou street and split into two parts. The first followed the Akadimias street and the second the Stadiou street until the Omonoia square. The photos proves that under Stadiou street a river still flows. The Stadiou street was one of the major urban works in the mid 19th century. If you watch carefully the tarmac of Stadiou street isn’t flat. It creates a slight arc. Underneath is a tunnel for the covered river.
Omonoia metro station have water leakage problems and many deep basements of the buildings in Stadiou use water pumps during winter.
What I like most in the photos is that nature persist to the human manipulation of earth. The collapse is not more than two years and small trees has appeared in the pavement from nowhere.
The central building of the University of Athens was occupied for several days by anti authoritarian and students of the university.
It was the first major activity in the university sector since the election of the the left wing Syriza party. As it is usual the area was covered with banner. Except the typical graffitis the interior of this old neoclassical building was respected.
The building is a part of an architectural trilogy. It was designed by the Danish architect Hansen. It courtyard has some important statues. Rigas Feraios statue was places in 1871, the statue of Patriarch Grigorios in 1872, the statue of Korai in 1875, the statue of british prime minister Gladstone and last but not least the statue of the first governor of Greece Kapodistria in 1928.
The trilogy of the Academy, Univercity, Library was a part of an effort to convert the village of Athens into a respected capital city in Europe. It was built the same period with the Royal Palace (parliament) the metropolitan cathedral church, the Arsakeio and Zappeion. Even today this buildings are the most impressive in Athens.
The area around the academy and the university is considered asylum. So police can’t intervene without special permit and order. During Sundays and late Staturdays drug trafficking and usage is occurred. During working hours everything is safe except some used syringes on the cobblestones.
Today the amateur cycling tour of Athens took place. It was a small tour of around 8 kilometers in the center of Athens. There was one small and a big route. The big route was from Amalias avenue to Vasilisis Olga’s avenue, Vasileos Konstantinou avenue, Kifisias street, Alexandra’s avenue, 28is Octomvriou street, Stadiou street, Philelinon street and back to Amalias avenue.
The start was at Zappeion gardens and nearly 8.000 cyclists of all ages participated. The weather was perfect sunny and cool.
Greece is not a cycling country and neither Athens. The last years a movement for cycling in Athens made that activity friendly. It was fueled by the Facebook and Friday nights cycling gatherings. Many biking shops have opened and it is usual to see bikers at the streets of Athens.
The cycling in Athens is a little dangerous for many reasons. The obvious one is the very bad tarmac, full of patches and holes. Another one is the traditional rudeness of car driver and especially taxi drivers against cyclists. Also during night the roads in Athens are very badly lighted.
On the other hand many cyclist are rude to the pedestrians. They prefer the more secure pavements and pedestrianized streets and anoy pedestrians if they block their path.
Unfortunately all plans for bicycling lanes have failed. The illegal car parking has bigger priority than a healthy activity. The recent crisis and the sudden rise of the public transportation cost has led many to the more economic use of a bicycle.
What I really dislike from some bikers is the total disrespect of road rules. The don’t obey traffic lights, one way streets and I doubt if most of them have a driving license. The road education in school in Greece is no existent.
Athens and Greece in general is a mountainous country. Athens is a pit surounded by four mountains. Egaleo at the north-west, Parnitha at the north, Penteli at the north-east, Hymettus at east. Is not a flat city and that is very tiresome for the ordinary biker. Also only a few months ago the municipality of Athens decided to create proper bicycle parkings. The pety crime is high in the city, so an expensive bicycle is prime target for desperate thieves.
Corbels or Φουρούσια in Greek are beams mostly from marble that support the balconies of a very old building. Usually the stone balconies were narrow for structural and social reasons. The wide balconies in Athens appeared very lately after the 1970’s.
In general the length of a corbel is three times more than what is viewable outsite. Until 1930’s most of them are from marble, afterwards there are many fake from concrete or decorative plaster.
The corbels of the Grand Bretagne hotel are maybe the most beautifull in Athens. A building opposite to Grand Bretagne hotel has similar artistic corbels. Again the balcony is narrow and very hight from the street.
During the period of the building’s construction Athens didn’t have tarmac neither streets with cobblestones. The dust from the horse carriages didn’t permitted lower balconies. The balconies weren’t used for social gathering. They were considered a wasted of space. Their sole purpose was to check what was going on outside.
However nearly all the big old buildings in Athens has internal garden. That clear space is letting light and fresh air to the inside rooms. Also the internal gardens were a discrete place for gatherings under the sun. The only way to view them easily is from the google maps. Some of them has been illegally covered with new rooms during the last decades and the authorities has used aerial photography and google maps.
770 thousands euro for the removal of graffitis in Athens. How vain it is, is proved by the graffiti on the sign of the work. Next month after the completion of the graffiti removal. The street graffiti artist or street vandals will find virgin space to express their ideas.
In a city full of homeless citizens, people searching for food in trash bins, desperate economic immigrants begging for a little money such an actions is at least futile.
Kolokotronis statue suffered a lot from graffiti vandalism. He is a symbol of liberty and struggle against opression. So antiauthoritarians don’t miss the chance to leave their message.
The time of the graffiti of course isn’t accidental. Athens with its archaeological areas is a tourist magnet. The works will end at the start of summer during the the tourist period. A clean face of Athens is more important. Tourism is the most important industry in Greece. The graffiti removal takes place in the center of Athens and not in its unpopular districts. Is certain that at the end of the tourist season the graffiti will reapear. The law and the actions agains the graffiti pollution are inadequate.
Maybe the reason is that during the uprising of students against the dictatorship 1973 many wall in Athens were full of anti dictatorship and anti american messages. So graffiti is tolerate especially by the left wing political parties.
I have to admit that the 20% of graffitis are nice and many times I laughed or admire them. Some shops hire graffiti artist to drawn what they like in front of their shops in order to avoid the future appearance of bad graffitis. Most graffiti artists respect each other’s work.
After the cleaning of Syntagma square just before the municipal elections last year, now its time to be cleaned from graffiti just before summer touristic period.
Of course what is graffiti, or a message or vandalism sometimes is subjective. The reality is that monuments made of marble suffer most. Marble absorbs deeply the paint chemicals. The damage is not superficial. Time, money, special chemicals and expertise is needed to restore a marble monument from graffiti. It is impossible to paint a marble statue with anti graffiti paint like in most other situations.
Athens is not a clean city not because the municipality doesn’t clean it but because it isn’t respected by its visitors and habitants. Nobody is fined by police for dropping a cigarette, a paper, a package or everything else.
The ugly statues of the Ermou street don’t need cleaning, they need removal.
Also there aren’t enough trash bins. No shop owner wants a trash bin outsite his shops. He moves it away. In an alley that nobody pass by. It is common during summer the view of a few trush bins so full with rubbish around them.
Sign of the graffiti removal arount the cultural center of the municipality of Athens. Naturaly it didn’t escape graffiti.
Every autumn and spring florists are gathered in Kotzia square at the center of Athens and bring flowers and plants at their kiosks. Alongside they decorate a part of the square with flowers. One of the ugliest squares in Athens is transformed into a garden.
Usually the fair last two weeks but it is common to be extended into three weeks. The fair will officially end in 3rd May.
The Kotzia flower fair is one of the four flowers fairs of the metropolitan Athens. The oldest and most prestigious is that of Kifisia Northern suburb during the May. The second is at the Pedion Areos park inside Athens and the fourth is that of Vari southern suburb which is held at the beach of Barkiza.
Panagia Chrysospiliotissa church ( Ιερός Ναός της Παναγίας της Χρυσοσπηλιώτισσας) is one of the few big churches in the center of Athens that was built after the Greek revolution of 1821.
It was built in 1892 upon the foundation of a much smaller old church with the same name. The old church was built in 1705 but it was destroyed during the The siege of Athens by the ottoman Kioutachi Pasha (1826-1827). The plans for the new church started in 1846 but as it is usual in Greece the lack of money prolonged its construction. Spiros Pavlidis of the famous chocolate brand had a nearby chocolate factory. He bought the necessary building plot for the new church.
Initially the church was designed by Dimitrios Zezos from 1863 until his death in 1878. Afterwards the mayor of Athens and civil engineer Dimitrios Soutzos changed a little the plans. Also the church was designed partly by Ernst Ziller.
Its distinctive octagonal tower bells are from marble. They have a still working clock which bells the hours. A distinctive feature of a rich church during its era of construction. Bell clocks were very useful for those lacking watches.
The Aiolou street and its vertical Ermou street were very important high streets at the end of 19th century. Panagia Chrisospiliotisa and the nearby Agias Irinis church were constructed during the same period and were by far larger from the plethora of byzantine churches around. During the renovation of the metropolitan cathedral church both churches were proposed as a temporal replacement.
In 2005 its renovation and structural support was approved and works started in 2003. The estimate cost is 2,5 millions euros. Sources: