I spend alot of my time in Athens walking. I find the city center to be a very “walkable” area, (ok, I concede, some streets are lacking when it comes to nicely paved sidewalks, but as far as distances are concerned, and the generous smattering of “pezodromos” (pedestrian only streets), squares or plateias and parks, downtown Athens is, in my opinion, a city calling to be explored on foot.
And while the city gets a bad wrap for not being as ornately beautiful as many other European capital cities, I think my Athena has her own charms, there for the admiring, tucked between many of the post-war concrete apartment blocks and scattered around the city waiting to be cataloged, protected and preserved. (My Athenian friends can attest to my frequent tardiness when I’m en route to meet them someplace for coffee or a meal, only to be excused by the fact that I was pulled in by some beautiful Neo-Classical on the way – and of course, lunch or dinner includes yet another discussion about the architecture of Athens, and someone inevitably pulls out a smart phone as we all search for more details on the particular building that has distracted me on that particular afternoon.
(As aside, at random times through the years Basil and I have collected our own photos of buildings around the city of Athens, always with the intention of cataloging them and starting some sort of online archive, only to be distracted by the real world).
Fortunately for us there are people who start projects and stick to them, and actually follow through. While looking for some information on a particular downtown Athens building, I stumbled upon a fabulous catalog of architecture of Athens, Greece, listed by building name or description, with a photo and a bit of information on the date(s) constructed. Of course you do need to know the name of the building, but you can also just browse the catalog or search for buildings by the year they were constructed.
The Contemporary Monuments Database is a project of the National Hellenic Research Foundation. Their website includes a short documentary which I wish were subtitled, so it’s really only useful if you are a Greek speaker (although I hope the footage sparks your interest and opens your eyes to the remaining beautiful architecture of the city of Athens).
No time to check out the catalog and prefer a private, guided architectural tour with a knowledgable lifelong Athenian architect with a passion for sharing the city’s history by way of it’s buildings? Inquire about private 4 hour architectural walking tours – this is a great thing to do when the sites are closed!