Pedion Areos Park-Athens Book Fair 2013.


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42th Athens book fair.

The 42th Athens book fair opened in 6th September 2013 . The annual Athens Book fair takes place traditionally  in Pedion tou Areos park or lately in Zapeion or less often Donisiou Aeropagitou pedestrian street. After many many years it is hosted in the Pedion tou Areos park.  This year due to the greek economic crisis the fair was quite smaller. It hosted nearly 150 publishers and thousands books. This of course is a very small percentage of the total greek publishers and books. Nearly all books are written in the greek language and the most of them are literary and historical ones. The association of greek publishers with the support of the Athens municipality and the  greek ministry of culture organize annually this fair. The book fair duration is usually two weeks and starts at early September. It’s open daily the afternoon hours except the sundays when it opens from noon to the night.

Some greek writers present, sign their new books and they come in touch with their readers. However the majority of the greek writers, especially the most prominent, are aloof.

Pedion Areos Park

This park is the largest of the central Athens. Since 1927 its was an open space with many trees and gardens. Old Athenians enjoyed their walk there. At its northern part the greek benefactor Evangelos Averoff donated money for the construction of  the greek military school “Scholi Evelipidon” from 1894 - 1982 which was organized in the french standards.

Its current form was designed in 1934 in order to commemorate the heroes of the greek war for independence. On its main road it has the statues of twenty one heroes of the greek revolution against the ottomans. It occupies an area of 227,000 square meters. It’s design is based on the french style. It resembles the parisian Champ de Mars public green space which had an military school too. (“Champ de Mars” in greek is Pedion tou Areos) in english is the field of the greek god of war mars. Constructions started in 1935.  46,000 trees and bushes were planted. A fountain was build in the middle. Southwest of the park are the Panellinios sports club complex, and small army camp. A little northern there is an open theater which operated the summer months. At the left side of the main entrance there was the famous “Green Park”  coffee-shop. Now is closed for years and survived from demolition the last moment. At the park’s entrance is the statue of greek king Constantine.  Northern a little further of the entrance’s right side is huge statue of greek goddess Athena. It is situated just above the memorial of english and new Zealanders who died in second world war. The old military school has transformed into the a complex of courthouses.

In 2008 just before the greek economic crisis started the renovation works of the park. New guardrails were put. Many trees and plants were replaced. The inside roads were paved again. The new look of the park is more modern an much safer. There are fewer corners for drug users or indecent behaviors. Personally I prefer the old park. It was greener and more cool during summers. Visitors of the park won’t have any problem during daylight especially the weekends. I strongly suggest to avoid it the night hours. The lighting is still inadequate for safe walks during the night.The area around the park is downgraded the last decade. The park today has became a shelter for many immigrants without the proper documents.

The Pedion tou Areos park is one of the many green spaces in central Athens. Athens seems a city surrounded by thousands of ugly apartment buildings. If you see carefully the maps you will realized that central Athens is full of green spaces. Licavetus hill, Filopappou Hill, National Gardens, Zapeion, Alsos Pagratiou, Alsos Ilision,  The city plan of  the mid 19th century provided many open and green spaces for 500.000 citizens. What makes it ugly is the uncontrolled  development of the nearby suburbs after second world war. The population explosion and the traditional corruption of the greek political system bent the rules. Five million new citizens wanted homes and they wanted them as fast as possible. So today is impossible to separate visually the central Athens from its suburbs. Everything seems a unified piece of cement.