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Bighearted Athens

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I see Athens like a gorgeous girl that have a huge heart. No one will ever talk about that fact because her physical beauty is what everyone will focus on. I want to explain why I find Athens as one of the most warmhearted city I have visited. Technically, streets are infrastructure that supposed to make our life easier. In the case of Athens is very easy to see that the streets are like stages where people are willing to expose themselves, to share, to communicate in a very unique way. A general characteristic for housing-buildings in Athens is that they are one core structure-living spaces, wrapped in continuous balconies- often filled with ‘’personal forests’’.

These balconies are supposed to be isolating zones, for practical reasons- to amortize hot summers mostly! People living in Athens use their balcons in most humane way possible- they are sharing their “every day” there. It is very common to see TVs out on the balconies, balconies equipped and designed like private rooms. And everything is happening exposed on the street- families fighting, families celebrating, laughing, book reading, being alone, and being together. Athens created its places “in between” in a very skillful way and it is impossible not to fall in love with that fact.

Athens is a city where a homeless person is not the rear case. People tend to think of that as a negative indicator, but me, as a city lover, would say that a city that is capable to host that many homeless people have comfortable streets! Last year during a surprisingly snowy winter in Athens, the municipality equipped many metro stations with carpets, offering warm thoughts alongside practical help with that gesture. This solidarity is evident and offered not only on an institutional level but also on a personal level. It is not a rare case to see one regular waste container to look more like a second-hand store! People share everything that is no longer needed to them and they are doing that in a very decent way! The people in Athens have a soft spot for animals too. It is often to see boxes filled with blankets to be left in front of someone’s homes, as an option for the street animals not to freeze during cold months!

One of the best places in Athens that will show you solidarity and sharing put in practice, is the hotel City Plaza where now more than 400 refugees live in good conditions! Everyone with good thoughts is more than welcomed to visit this place and to support them by buying coffee there or some of the promotional materials that they are producing. It is one perfect example of pieces of the puzzle coming together and people renewing architectural function with their actions.

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The author

Zlata Golaboska

Zlata Golaboska

I am Zlata and I am an architect living in the Balkans. I am passionate about cities, how people influence architecture and vice versa, and how places change our lives.

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