09.12.2018 22:22

From ancient glory to the current poverty

Autor: Denisa Marynčáková | Kurz: English section | Kategorie: Features and other

Tourists are going to Greece capital to spend money, sightseeing and eat delicious food. On the other hand, local residents feel the impact of the financial crisis which began in 2008. Athens is truly the city of contrasts. 

On the ground there are scattered red roses, protest signs written in Greek and even the national white-blue flag. This remained after the clashes which have broken out between police and anarchists in Athens on 17th of November. On the 45th anniversary of Athens Polytechnic student uprising against Greece’s then-ruling military regime, a group of anarchists and extreme leftists erected barricades and threw firebombs and rocks at police officers who responded with tear gas and stun grenades.

Anti-government protests were held because of Greece's eight-year debt crisis that led to three international bailouts in exchange for deep austerity cuts. Anarchist groups organize and participate in protests against the measures implemented by the government every year.

Now, the streets in Exarchia neighborhood, home to Athens Polytechnic, are illuminated only by a few street lamps. Still, there is enough light to see the graffiti on the walls. Often they indicate one word - Antifa - Anti-Fascist Action networks. It seems that in the Greece capital there is quite a lot of adherents of this left-wing autonomous anti-fascist militant group. Images and signs created mostly by black spray don’t destroy only old buildings but even the renovated ones. But it’s not only dirty plasters of houses that create the disturbing feeling inside you.

The day is almost over. Homeless people on the street are going to sleep. They have only paper cartons on which they can lie down and dirty blankets to warm up. It is mid-November and the temperature is about 12° Celsius. Great for tourists from the Czech Republic, where first snow has fallen down, but it’s not a good temperature if you are going to spend the whole night outside. There are homeless people in every part of the city, you can even see them sleeping in front of the old orthodox churches in the city center. There are a lot of signs of poverty. Greece has gone through nearly a decade of recession, spending cuts and tax increases which left many Greek jobless. Today, one-third of them are living in poverty.

The Greek financial crisis began with the global financial crisis of 2008. In 2009, Greece budget deficit was 12,9% of the country’s GDP, whereas the European Union-mandated limit is 3%. Greece had to borrow 289 billion euros to keep its economy running and prevent its expulsion from the eurozone. The country was beset by economics mismanagement and misreporting of economic performance by successive governments.

The closer you get to the city center, the more shops you see. You can buy everything here. From bikes to boots, jewelry and fashion. The air here smells like gyros and souvlaki. Typical tasty Greek food that offers every food stall. Near Monastiraki metro station, which is located in the historic center of Athens, there is a famous rooftop bar called Couleur Locale. The elevator that brings guests to the bar is very spacious and has a dim blue illumination. The place itself has an intimate atmosphere. The silent melody of jazz music, as well as the yellow candlelight, doesn’t disturb visitors of Couleur Locale. There is a wide range of drinks. They have even Budweiser Budvar and Pilsen, 8 euros for a 0,33 bottle or some cocktails for 10 euros.

People here seem like they don’t care about money. Stylishly dressed young ladies drink Aperol with a smile on their faces. It’s clear that they are having fun. One of them is taking a picture of her friend in a little black dress. They speak English, like most people here. The bar is especially popular among tourists. ‘I have to post this picture on Instagram,’ says the girl with a long blonde hair. No wonder. The object on the picture in undoubtedly breathtaking.

In golden light, there is a Parthenon. The most famous tourist attraction on the Athenian Acropolis, dedicated to the goddess Athena was built 5th century B.C. and reminds the rich history of this Balkan state.

Acropolis is the city’s dominant and the best thing you can see before you go to sleep. But it depends if you are lying on the street or in a hotel apartment.

The Acropolis at night

Klíčová slova: Athens, poverty,


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