Walking along Patission Street (part 1)

Odos Patission (Patission St.) is one of the main streets of Athens, reaching from the town center to the northern edge of the city, at the neighborhood of Patissia, hence its name. It is actually the continuation of Odos Aiolou (now partly pedestrianized) which starts from the foothills of the Acropolis, in the Plaka neighborhood, and progresses outwards.

Police towing off illegaly parked motorbikes at the pedestrian part of Odos Aiolou.
Greek local authorities have had a bad habit of renaming streets, purportedly “to honor” someone or something but most of the time for self-serving political reasons. Sometimes the “new”, official names stick, while in other cases the people continue to refer to the old, traditional names that everybody is used to. Patission St. is one such case. In the 1980s, the Athens city council took a decision to rename the first part of “Patission” (from Omonia Square and outwards, up to no. 200) to “Eikostis Ogdois Oktovriou” (“28th October”, the day Greece entered WWII, resisting an Italian invasion, which is a national holiday). However, nobody uses this name except for maps and hapless tourists :) If you ask an Athenian for directions to “28th October” Street you will probably get a blank stare!
So, for Athenians, Patission is considered to start near Omonia Square (officially as "28th October" St.), at the intersection with Odos Panepistimiou (aka "Odos Eleftheriou Venizelou" – another case of unfortunate renaming!).

Harley-Davidson bike riders, at the intersection of Panepistimiou St. and Patission St. – The “Harley-Davidson Super Rally (not sure exactly what that is) took place in Patra, Greece from 20-24 May 2010 and 2500 Harleys gathered there. These bikers probably had something to do with it.

Odos Patission is not in anyway an attraction in itself but it has a few things going for it: 1) Fairly large pavements, of variable width but still better than in most of Athens, which make it easily walkable and wheel-chair accessible, 2) The National Archeological Museum with its garden and 3) the chance to see a cultural cross-section of modern Athens, with its multitude of ethnicities, various architectural styles (or lack thereof…), and varied urban neighborhoods. Most of all, it is a live street, with mixed-uses that always has people walking along it, day or night.
The pictures in this post were shot on Monday, 2010-05-24, which, except for retail stores, was an official holiday (called Whit Monday or 'Monday of the Holy Spirit'), thus the low traffic.

National Bank of Greece building, at the intersection of Panepistimiou St. and 1 Patission St.

City-tour bus, in front of the historic “Mignon” ('MINION') department store at the corner with Satovriandou St. – “Mignon” was being renovated and was scheduled to re-open in spring 2011, after many years of abandonment... (Update 2012-11: Nothing so far... An idea was recently floated to relocate the offices of a Governmnent Ministry in this building... some time soon)

Hotel Melia – Residence Georgio, one of the hotels that opened during the pre-Olympic bustle

Much wider than the typical Athens pavement

A private school entrance, at Patission 29

The old, historic building of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). This was the site of a historic episode in modern Greek history, when, in 17 November 1973, armored tanks of the military junta that was then in control tore down the gate and crushed a student uprising. Most NTUA classrooms and offices have now been relocated to the Athens suburb of Zografou and the building is only sparsely used (by the School of Architecture), terminally covered with nonsensical graffiti and posters by so-called “leftists” and self-styled “anarchists”. Drug addicts occasionally hangout outside the building at Stournara St., only to be sent off, and then come back, and then...

A look back and you will see the Acropolis with the Parthenon on top

The National Archeological Museum, right after the NTUA building. The pedestrian street between them (Tositsa St.) has been a long-standing spot of illegal drug trade and use, due to the awkward legal status of the NTUA building.  Update: In the past year (2011-2012) Tositsa St. seems to be safe for ordinary citizens

At the corner of Ipeirou & Patission you will notice the recently renovated Livieratos Mansion, a 1909 building which was one of the first to break from the neoclassic architectural trend of modern Athens. More pics here
Almost across the National Archeological Museum, at Patission 61, lies an almost derelict apartment building -supposedly under renovation but probably currently occupied by squatters- constructed in 1925. The young Maria Callas lived in this apartment building with her mother and sister, from 1940 till 1945, when she left for the United States. This was the time when she got her first formal music education.

The pedestrian odos Ainianos, at the corner with Patission. The neoclassical corner building houses the offices of the “Greek Workers Union” (a.k.a. Greek Union bosses...)

Up to this point Patission looks a bit shady. It has all the signs of an once great avenue that has gone downhill, even though it is bustling with people, esp. when shops are open. After the corner with Alexandras Ave. things get a little better and it's a long strip of retail stores - clothes and shoes mostly - with the recent addition of illegal, street-vendors. Police and local authorities turn a blind eye to their presence and local shopkeepers complain.

Corner of Odos Patission & Odos Heyden. Street vendors and people who have just come out of the Victoria Metro Station

One of the many kiosks found in the sidewalks of Greek towns, with a bus load of newspapers and magazines laid out in the steps of the adjacent building.

Illegal street vendors

Buses and trolley buses going back and forth till late in the evening

Starbucks fans will recognize a familiar sign, at the neoclassical building, at Patission 123, which also has a backyard with a nice shade. Starbucks coffee shops are among the few smoke-free places in Greece. Highly appreciated for that!
(...continue here for part 2)

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1 comment:

  1. Update 2012-11: Drug addicts seem to be present less often in this area (along Patission and Tositsa streets) but the main part of Patission (up to No.150) has really gone downhill as almost half of the old shops (mostly retail clothing) have shut down. However, there are a few bold newcomers, like a couple of bakeries, drug-stores and food joints that see an opportunity in the area's depressed prices.


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