We visited Athens in August for a week over my birthday. We stayed in an apartment outside, but each day we tripped in. Athens was a bit of a culture shock to me. The first European city I’ve ever visited that could have looked like it was the capital of a middle eastern country. The white flat-blocks fill the valley floor of the hill ranges like a sea of concrete. Written retrospectively:
ATHENS // TRAVEL // STREET
This is a collection of individual photos that each have some interesting aspect to them, but aren’t particularly cohesive, other than the fact they each capture a little bit of the street-scene of Athens.
ATHENS // TRAVEL // LANDSCAPES
Some wider scale shots of the valleys and ranges of East-Attica, the region Athens sits in. The arid landscape lets the dusty buildings seemlessly integrate into the hills.
ATHENS // TRAVEL // ROOFSCAPES
Roofscape shots of Athens taken at sunset, from the Acropolis plateau. It’s best to observe the photos as a textural mosaic, rather than individually.
Post-processing is inspired by the work of French artist Philip Cognée, who paints in a similar fashion to the blotchy white forms that buildings take, and the bleeding blacks of the shadows. I felt it best reflected the intense blurring heat of the city, and the déjà vu-inducing repetition of the almost derelict white tenements.
The spread of these concrete tenements and their condition is an interesting one. The legislation in the city meant that for most families or businesses, it was cheaper/profitable to sell their low-level property to a building company, who would build a flat-block on the lot, and then offer a flat to the family for free as part of the deal. This was very enticing to a lot of residents, evident by the images above. But it meant that many buildings considered part of the heritage of the city were raised, and the new character became these soulless, white towers.
On a taxation front, if a flat-block hadn’t finished being constructed, then the building was exempt from certain forms of tax. This was originally because it is very common in Greece for all generations of a family to live together, and so it made sense to leave a roof ready to build another floor as to fit the upcoming family members in. Unsurprisingly, everybody left their rebars sticking out of their roofs, simply because they’d pay less tax. The overall result is that in many places in Athens and the rest of Greece, everywhere looks to be in disrepair, derelict.