Petralona is a neighborhood in Athens, Greece. It is near the Acropolis area, and easily accessible.
I have not been there for years. Two of my father’s sisters used to live in Petralona many many years ago. I remember going there by train (overground). The train divides the neighborhood in two parts: Ano (Upper) and Kato (Lower) Petralona.
The houses were small, one or two floors only, there were no multistories like in the centre of Athens.
An obligation brought me recently back to Petralona early in the morning of a nice day. Before starting with my meeting I had a chance to take some photos and walk around.
What you will see in this post is the result of this early morning stroll.
The houses of the well-to-do middle class in old Athens used to follow the neoclassical style. There are still some ruins in the area. But not many, for two reasons. The neighborhood was never rich. Therefore, the neoclassical style houses were rather few to begin with. Even so, in the 60s and 70s most of them were demolished, and multistory monstrosities took their place.
But even today, there are single story houses in Petralona, The building craze did not cover the whole area with multistory apartment complexes. There were – and still are – some shops in the single or double story buildings, serving the neighborhood. The shop in the photo above is today closed. It used to be a dry cleaning shop with the catchy name “Happiness”. It has been closed for many years, as I can tell from the telephone number which is in the very old 6-digit format.
As is always the case, between the multistory buildings and the single or double story ones, there are some hybrids. Hybrids are forms that simply take up any empty space that has been left out of the “normal” urban development.
Petralona is a neighborhood in Athens, and as such it supports the Athens football team, Panathinaikos, or PAO for short.
PAO is my team, and it has not been doing well in the last 15 years. Watching the graffiti on the walls in Petralona, somehow helped me recover some of my wounded PAO pride.
Inevitably, cursing on the opponents, the supporters of the arch rival Olympiakos is a necessity like oxygen.
The nickname of the hated opponents is “anchovies” and they are rumoured to also be anorgasmic whores, or so says the writing on the wall.
There is another team in the greater metropolitan area, AEK, which is today playing in a lower league. Remnants of the days of glory can be seen in Petralona, which somehow belong to the old times.
What I have shown of the graffiti so far is the rather regular hate graffiti, with the football team’s insignia and a lot of hate words. But in Petralona there is a lot more!
The huge walls supporting the elevated train lines provided the ample needed space. The master artist creates the big picture, and the minor artists or not add and embellish. It is truly the work of a community.
Equally, the walls around the high school of the neighborhood are canvases for the young artists.
In a sense we have the peaceful co-existence of the “traditionalists” and the “modernists”.
This is my favourite work, especially the rose.
It is a dark, Gothic rose that even the traditionalists have left untouched.
I enjoyed my stroll, because I discovered the anonymous modernist graffitti artists of Petralona.