A Sunday morning walk, in Athens city center

Here are a few images from our "morning" Sunday walk, in Athens city center. It was a bright, sunny day and with Christmas just around the corner there was a festive mood around, besides the problems (always present) that the city center is facing these days.
No Signal mural - Kriezotou St., Athens
The first image comes in the form of one more mural, painted on the side of an apartment building at Kriezotou St., between the main thoroughfares of Akademias St. and Eleftheriou Venizelou (aka Panepistimiou) St., close to Syntagma Sq.  The concept belongs to Greek artist Panos Sklavenitis and was executed by Kretsis & co. and M. Anastasakos. Murals like these have been commissioned by the Greek Ministry of Environment, specifically for Athens city center, and although many more exist already at the artists' own initiative, these particular ones tend to stand out and have attracted a lot of attention. Now, don't ask me if that's the best use of state coffers in times like these... I'm just giving you some pictures from our walk here.
The National Garden was the next logical option for our walk, as it is very near and was much busier than on a week day. The pond with the turtles is always a major attraction here...
Turtle Pond - National Garden, Athens, Greece
The same goes with the lawn with the giant Washingtonia palm trees, near the exit at Amalias Avenue.
Sketch artist at work, in the shade of the Washingtonias - National Garden, Athens, Greece

Lawn with solar clock and Washingtonia palm trees, near the exit at Amalias Avenue - National Garden, Athens, Greece
Outside the Garden, at Amalias Avenue and at Syntagma Square, there were throngs of people, many with their kids who were happy with all the street food, road artists, balloon sellers, etc...

Selling koulouria (a sesame-topped, crunchy bread type of snack) and some Greek style, sugar-topped doughnuts

Roasting and selling chestnuts. These are really yummy and perfect for a winter day.

Syntagma Square, Athens, Greece - Dec.11, 2011
This year, the City has a much smaller budget for Christmas and New Year's festivities and decorations, so local authorities decided to enlist the help of school-children and of the students of the Athens School of Fine Arts. There is no typical Xmas tree at the main square, but students transformed used soda cans into little decorations and hang them from the branches of the tangerine trees.
Reused soda cans, transformed into Xmas decorations - Syntagma Sq., Athens, Greece

Our walk ended somewhere further down Stadiou St., at the Korai Arcade (Stoa Korai), which has an opening at both Stadiou St. and on the square outside the Panepistimio Metro Station. This has been a popular spot at the city centre for the last few years and one of the few places at city center still going strong and seemingly attracting more and more people. It's small but it has a few cafeterias, pizza restaurants and a very slick, state of the art cinema theatre, that also hosted some of the screening for the Athens Intl. Film Festival. Make sure you mark this one, as it could serve as a perfect stop during a hot, sunny, summer day in Athens.
Stoa Korai - A popular arcade at Athens city center
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The last major exhibit of the old National Gallery

The National Gallery in Athens is about to shut its doors in a few months, so that works can start for the expansion of the current building and the construction of a larger, modern one that will give the Gallery new impetus and allow it to better showcase the thousands of paintings kept in its storehouses.

As a temporary good-bye to art lovers in Greece, before the Gallery re-opens in three years, a last great exhibit was prepared and is currently being presented in the old building. The exhibit showcases "Unknown Treasures from the National Gallery Collections". Each of the 8 curators of the National Gallery has prepared, independently from others, one section of the exhibit with characteristic examples from the corresponding section (usually time period) of the Gallery's collections: "Exhibits from the European collection" (with paintings from Dutch, French and British painters), "Drawings and prints" by great masters such as Rembrandt and Albrecht Dürer, and works by Greek artists from the 19th to the late 20th century, with samples of modern Greek sculpture also interspersed in the exhibition halls.
National Gallery of Greece - Many of the works were displayed for the first time ever, like this late 19th century portrait of an industrialist's wife. 
The Director of the National Gallery, Ms. Marina Lambraki-Plaka, offered a most informative tour of the exhibition a couple of weeks ago and I didn't miss the chance of attending it. A second part of the exhibit, the one with the most recent works, is also on display at the National Sculpture Gallery, at the district of Goudi. Both exhibits run till January 8, 2012.
National Gallery of Greece - Lots of people attended the guided tour

P.S. 2012-01-11 As you might have read in the news, the last day of the exhibition was marked by the theft of three art works... Nice way to  bid farewell to the old Gallery!

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