Skip to Content

Athens Street Art

Athens Street Art

Before arriving in Athens, we heard a lot of about the graffiti that covers the walls of buildings throughout the city center. Athens street art can be an overwhelming sight.

It’s so dense in some areas that it’s hard to find a small scrap of area on a wall that isn’t completely covered by cacophony of brightly colored graphics with seemingly no relationship to one another.

Athens graffiti

Athens street covered with graffiti

Athens Street Art – A Closer Look

But scratch below the painted surface and you will find that there is more to the story.

One of the things I have come to love about visiting larger cities is discovering the street art.

While exploring the city you round a corner and suddenly an enormous mural appears — of such quality that you could easily imagine it hanging in a gallery.

Athens Street Art

Recent addition of more realistic portraits in  the Athens street art scene

 

Athens Street Art Painted Smile on Sad Face

This street artist added a painted smile to a portrait indicating that there are fewer smiles seen on the street during hard times

Or a small image peeks out from a corner of a building that screams out with emotion.

Athens Street Art -Woman Expressing Disgust for Capitalism

The black and white image circled in angry red lines – no hidden message here.

 

Athens Street Art Out Stretched Arms Offering Gifts to Above

Outstretched arms offering gifts to above?

Athens has more than its share of such quality works of art throughout the city.

Some appear overnight as a gift to the neighborhood, like finding a bouquet of flowers on the doorstep when heading off to work in the morning.

Street Art Athens

Portrait of Famous Street Dog in Athens

We found police taking pictures of themselves in front of this mural of a famous street dog that appeared on the wall a week before our visit.

Street Art in Unexpected Places

These examples of Athens Greece street art appeared unexpectedly as we walked up a small neighborhood just below the Acropolis.

Athens Street Art

Unexpected street art on the way up to the Acropolis makes the journey all the more interesting

 

Athens Street Art Below Acropolis

Athens Greece Street Art

We probably took as many pictures of them as we did of the iconic white washed tiny houses along the way.

White Washed Homes Under Acropolis

Ok, the houses were pretty cool too

Athens Graffiti vs. Street Art

We also learned while in Athens that some of the street art murals are now commissioned and/or encouraged by building owners.

This is in an effort to create more interest in their businesses and to improve the appearance of their neighborhoods.

The city of Athens has even begun issuing a limited number of permits to artists to paint large murals in areas such as parking structures.

This not only beautifies the area, it also covers up angry graffiti depicting anti-government sentiments that sprang up over the city during the economic crisis.

Athens Street Art

Sanctioned street art decorating the exterior of an art gallery

 

Athens Street Art

Some street art is now encouraged by the city

We also learned that there is a division between the artists who create pictorial images that “communicate something very clearly to anyone.”

Artists whose work is a play on letters that will communicate a message only decipherable to those within the close-knit graffiti community.

1UP graffiti artist logo in Athens Greece

A message to other graffiti artists that the famous 1UP crew from Berlin has come through and put their mark on Athens

Conversation with an Athens Graffiti Artist

During a walking tour, conducted by an artist linked to the graffiti community, we were lucky enough to run into one well-known graffiti artists from Athens.

The artist, “Senor”, agreed to speak with us, although seemed reluctant at first, acknowledging that the graffiti that he does is illegal by design and definition.

He has been a graffiti writer for over 20 years, although within that time he has earned a degree in art and currently earns a living as a sculptor.

Senor very quickly observed that clearly those of us on a walking tour would have no real understanding what graffiti really was.

He waved his hand dismissively at a huge mural on the opposite wall, saying “That is not graffiti, it is what you call street art, a name that has nothing to do with graffiti.”

Athens Street Art

Image dismissed by Athens Graffiti Artist as too mainstream

“Anyone can look at that and know what it is.” This in his mind seemed to be a sad development in the graffiti community, that some had “sold out.”

Getting paid to decorate the neighborhood rather than expressing their defiance and separateness from the mainstream had less value, in his eyes.

Athens Graffiti Art

Massive Mural Completed By Senor in 4 hours

Getting to the Heart of Graffiti

When asked why he continued to create graffiti Senor admitted that he had thought a lot about this.

He said he realized that he did it in order to retain a connection to his youth.

Growing up and needing to pay the bills doesn’t hold a great deal of appeal for any of us – so we have that in common too.

The more time we spent in Athens, talking to the people who live here, the more we found that Athenians embrace everything about their culture, present and past.

Embracing the Art and Culture in Athens

Everything here is presented unapologetically.

Evzone

Evzone – Greek National Guard Embracing Tradition

When the Greeks dance, they do so with gusto, when they march, they kick higher and wear their pom-pomed shoes with pride. 

While not all of the art on its streets are appreciated by all, it is still there to be seen and, in my opinion not to be missed.

You can get a local expert to create a similar tour, or join a small group tour and allow someone else to do the planning for your! Related articles about travel in Greece you might enjoy! 

 

Kati from Ms B Travels

Tuesday 31st of May 2016

Wow! I had no idea there was so much street art in Athens. I think I am going to have to add this to my bucket list (seeing the street art). Athens is already on my list, but for historical reasons. Now, I may need to change it up a bit. How neat! Some of the pieces you've displayed are absolutely stunning.

Francesca @onegrloneworld

Monday 23rd of March 2015

I think street art reveals a lot more about a people and the country than going to a museum sometimes. These are all great captures! Thanks for sharing :)

Paula Through the Looking Glass

Monday 23rd of March 2015

ah these are just amazing, must get my bum to Athens! Thanks for sharing hun

Vicky and Buddy

Sunday 22nd of March 2015

When I think of Athens, street art doesn't necessarily come to mind. I didn't realize it was such a big thing there. That's why I love reading fellow bloggers' posts. I learn so much about this wonderful world we live in! Thanks for the info, and if you're ever in Miami, stop by Wynwood. They have some pretty cool street art too that I think you'd enjoy.

Alli

Sunday 22nd of March 2015

Love the photos with the lanterns above the colourful alleyway! Brings me back to my time in Athens :)