A stroll in Petralona, Athens, Greece

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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 train that divides Petralona in two parts
Petralona: The train that divides Petralona in two parts

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.

Neoclassical style in ruins
Petralona: Neoclassical style in ruins

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.

Dry Cleaning "Happiness"
Dry Cleaning “Happiness”

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.

Hybrid urban space in Petralona
Hybrid urban space in Petralona

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 PAO Gate 13
Petralona PAO Gate 13

Petralona is a neighborhood in Athens, and as such it supports the Athens football team, Panathinaikos, or PAO for short.

PAO graffiti in Petralona
PAO graffiti in Petralona

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.

gavroi3

Inevitably, cursing on the opponents, the supporters of the arch rival Olympiakos is a necessity like oxygen.

wall

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.

Football graffiti in Petralona
Football graffiti in Petralona

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.

I am being tortured
“I am being tortured”

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!

Football hate graffitti
Football hate graffitti

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.

Petralona Club graffitti
Petralona graffitti

Equally, the walls around the high school of the neighborhood are canvases for the young artists.

Petralona graffitti
Petralona graffitti

In a sense we have the peaceful co-existence of the “traditionalists” and the “modernists”.

This is my favourite work, especially the rose.

Petralona Dark Rose
Petralona Dark 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.