The vibrancy of Athens remains undiminished

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Since 2011, growing dissatisfaction with the political climate has sparked a colourful explosion in graffiti and street art across the city which would rival Berlin, London or New York.

Every picture really does tell a story on the Street Art Tour in the Greek capital with artist Achilles, who collaborates with Alternative Athens, a company specialising in showing visitors the lesser-known sights of the city. Wandering around the Psiri and Kerameikos districts, you can’t fail to notice the art, but the stories behind their creation are equally fascinating. Loukanikos the dog was regularly seen during the Eurozone riots and became known worldwide until his retirement two years ago; the recurring beautiful woman we see is one artist’s former girlfriend. He painted images of her along her route to work in a bid to win back her love (it didn’t work).

Walls, houses and even schools and churches are adorned with vivid faces, man-sized skulls, swooping birds, animals and fantasy scenes. Many of the large-scale murals have been commissioned by local businesses to cover existing spraying, interestingly bringing those who practise what is still an illegal, underground art into the public eye.

It’s a vivid introduction to a side of Athens I had no idea existed. One of the world’s oldest cities, it’s renowned for its classical architecture and history, but in many parts of central Athens current events are reflected on the architecture and have thrown the city into the spotlight for different reasons.

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