06 December, 2014

Walking around Omonia Square

I walked around Omonia Square on 28 November 2014 and these are photos that I took then.

The reason to uploading these pictures is to remember the current situation of the area.

Omonia is not one of the nicest areas of Athens. Or I'd rather say that it is almost a symbol of urban degeneration. Tourists are often warned: Do not go around Omonia and never book your hotel in the area even the rate is very attractive.

The fame of Omonia was such that a couple of years ago, two large hotels on the square, Acropol and 2 Fashion were closed down and they remain inactive since.

There were talks and attempts of revamping the square from time to time, but has never really accomplished. The government's latest project of renovation "Rethink Athens" (pedestrianization of Panepisthimiou Street, which runs between Syntagma Square and Omonia Square) has suffered a setback as the European Commission has decided against the funding recently. Athens is still trying to convince the EC to change its mind.

How is the situation now?

Here is the square.

It was 9 o'clock in the morning and there was nothing menacing. There was quite a lot of cars and commuters (I took pains to take the above shot without cars so that the view was unhindered).

As in the other areas of Athens, new bakeries have been popping up. I found a new outlet of Attika Artopoieia (this chain was used to be named Attiki Fourni, but has changed its name recently; I have no idea why).

Hondos Centre is still there. This is one of the flag shop of the retailer and has been here as long as I remember (the years I remember are not long, but at least 10 years). If you are interested, there is a cafeteria at the top floor and you can have a nice view.

There are many stalls selling koulouria. It is a bit similar to pretzel. In Turkey, these dry, circular and sesame-coated bread is called Simit and in both countries people eat it typically as breakfast or snack. It tastes unexpectedly better than it looks, especially when it is fresh. If you have never tried it, you should. One koulouri costs 50 to 60 cents.

A tyropita shop selling "Divine Cheese Pie". It is a shop called Gianniotiko, which has another outlet on Panepisthimiou Street. I don't remember that it had an outlet on Omonia Square. There is also a souvlaki shop of the same name just next to it.

The single most conspicuous change in the square, I believe, is the new outlet of Veneti bakery. It has also many tables and chairs in front of it.

The building was once occupied by a self-service restaurant-cafe called Neon, which had another outlet in Syntagma. Both were closed down. Although the premises in Syntagma were taken up by another restaurant, this one in Omonia had been unoccupied since 2010 till December 2013.

And to my surprise, I found a reminder of Neon on one of the tents of Veneti.

This is very nostalgic for people who know Athens for decades.


My walk did not end in Omonia. I walked into the area between Athinas Street and Tsandari (Pireos) Street, where is now an Indian-Pakistani-Chinese quarter. My impression, though, is that Indian-Pakistani-Bangradeshi are more eminent here and the Chinese on the other side of Pireos Street (so-called Keramikos area, which should not be confused with the area immediately by the Keramikos metro station, which is called 'Gazi').

At some points, you feel as if you are somewhere in India or Bangladesh. I guess this is a barber shop, judging from the sign of scissors.

And now there are many Indian/Pakistani fast food outlets. (This one was closed just because it was too early in the morning; many opens only after the lunch time).

An Indian/bangladeshi/Pakistani restaurant I have never heard of. Attractive.

It is situated on Geraniou Street, which once was too shady that even I would try to avoid. It is still not a nice and shiny, but it felt much better than before.

Another restaurant of which name you can read only if you know Arabic. As it says "Grill House", it should be a kebab place.

I remembered my days in Birmingham, UK.

Then I walked into Evripidou Street, behind the Vegetable section of  the Varvakio Central Market.

Here also, the feel was much less seedy than before.

This newly restored building is occupied by a new grocery shop with eat-in section, called Karamanridika tou Fani . It sells cured meat products of Sary and meze dishes to eat-in.

Just across is the street is another famous pastourmas shop, Miran.

And next to Miran is another of the genre, Arapian.

This part of Evripidou Street is now frequented by foodies, from Athens and abroad and it is almost a tourist attraction.

Overall, my impression from the area was positive. Although it is still a seedier part of Athens, but it did not look like a slam anymore.

Hope it gets even better!


Anonymous said...

Please talk about Easter in Athens, some photos too from previous years if possible, what to expect weather wise, what to visit, what to eat, where to eat…etc.., Thanks,


mesogeia said...

Hello Redd,

Are you visiting Athens during the Easter?
Unfortunately, I was not in Athens during the Easter in the past 2 or 3 years and I do not have recent photos.
The weather is normally sunny, but it is still chilly. You'd better check weather website and bring suitable clothes.
For about a week before the Easter (it is called Great Week - Megali Evdomada), many Greeks do some sort of religious fasting; they fast from meat, fish and dairy. Many restaurants offer 'nistissima' (fasting) dishes, which you'd want to try. And the eve of Easter, you should go to a church in the midnight together with the Greeks. They collect 'sacred fire' after a procession.
And on the Easter day, go to any meat restaurants where the Greeks enjoy grilled meat after a period (some days to 50 days, depending on how practicing they are) of fasting. You'd want to book a table beforehand.

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