Metaxourghio - The Small Village of Athens

The 16th International MitOst Festival will take place from 3rd to 7th October 2018 in Athens, Greece, mainly in the area of Metaxourghio.

Metaxourghio and its History

Metaxourghio is a “village” located northwest of the historic centre of Athens. Back in the 1830s, when Athens - the new capital of Greece - was still a small city, with 10.000 inhabitants living around the hill of Acropolis, Metaxourghio was originally destined, according to the city planning, to host the Government Headquarters of the country. Soon this plan was abandoned and the area slowly developed into an industrial zone in proximity to the city centre. The largest factory at that time was a silk factory (Greek: μετάξι pronounced metáxi) called Metaxourghio, that gave its name to the area (Greek: Μεταξουργείο pronounced [me.ta.xuɾˈʝio]). This factory building in the heart of the area, on Avdi square, currently turned into the Municipal Gallery of Athens and will host the heart of our festival as the main venue. The area developed as a labour residential area mainly for industry workers - coming to Athens from all over the country in search for a job - by the end of the 19th century and in contrary to the rest of the city, hosted a diverse population, with varied origins, religions and cultures. It also used to be one of the local centres of the Jewish community of Athens.

In close connection to the Gaz factory of the city, Metaxourgeio maintained a unique mixed industrial, commercial and residential character until the early 1980s. Right after the World War II and during the decades of 1950s and 1960s, when a vast construction boom vanished, the industrial character of the area and the complicated ownership regulations saved the area from demolition, keeping therefore a big number of small ground floor houses. These were soon largely transformed into brothels which  the Greek law required to be hosted in independent houses and not in apartment buildings.

The deindustrialisation of the area after 1980s left a large number of empty houses and spaces while the gradual disintegration of the historical buildings reduced its local population providing space for a new generation of inhabitants, migrants and refugees who came to Athens during 1990s and mainly during the last five years.

During the late 2000s, the area was designated to host the first large regeneration investment plan in the city that was soon abandoned due to the financial crisis in 2010, leaving behind a few big unfinished residential projects in the local patchwork. In the last years this unique, easy-to-approach, diverse and persistently authentic city-centre neighbourhood is going through a new metamorphosis phase. 

Providing space - in all possible concepts - it is slowly attracting new inhabitants, young people and artists, social enterprises and small cafes and restaurants. The area hosts an impressive number of different social initiatives tackling not only with local but wider challenges of the city as well. A great variety of these spaces around the neighbourhood will host our workshops during the festival!

Metaxourghio is a district of Athens where throughout its history “big city planning” attempts have been failing. Instead it is providing  space for diverse people and activities to coexist. The neighbourhood is constantly being reshaped by its inhabitants  giving the area a unique, local and human centred vibe.

What can I do in Metaxourghio? Stroll around!

Metaxourghio, a wide neighbourhood between Metaxourghio metro station to the northeast and Iera Odos street to the southwest, hosts a large number of social enterprises, spaces of formal and informal initiatives, alternative theatre scenes,, galleries and independent art spaces and a lot of unique restaurants and cafes. Workshops and events throughout the festival will be hosted in a large variety of these local spaces but if you would like to explore more, just stroll around!

The most sensitive challenge the local community is working on has to do with drug abuse in public, especially around abandoned and unclaimed buildings and plots. The area of Metaxourghio hosts one of the largest percentages of abandoned spaces throughout the city of Athens, attracting drug users. Exploring ways of understanding and how to build a support system to work on this challenge is one of the thematics the local community will introduce to our festival.

Since the confrontation with public drug abuse can be uncomfortable - especially for people who have no experience with it - we feel the need to inform all festival participants appropriately. By opening up this issue and including it in our topics, we hope to empower the local community to gain expertise on how to deal with these sensitive issues in the neighbourhood.

What can I do in Athens? Stroll around!

...but please do that before or after the festival – stay with us during the festival!

The classics: Following the 3.000 years history of the city!

A visit to Acropolis and its new Museum (designed by Michalis Fotiadis and Bernard Tschumi) will connect you directly to the most recognised symbol of ancient Athens! For more information check out the Administrative Information and the website of the Acropolis Museum.

*Note that the ticket to Acropolis archaeological site gives access to all archaeological sites of Athens and costs 20 euros while a ticket to the Museum costs 6 euros. Guided tours are available on the spot.

A walk around Plaka and Monastiraki areas, the core of the old city of Athens laying on the shores of Acropolis hill, will introduce you to the 19th century Athens vibe and its old Market area.

Several Museums will guide you through the different historical phases of Athens through varied thematic focuses, as the Benaki Museum (a network of 6 thematic museums around the city), the National Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Byzantine Museum, the Museum of the City of Athens. For further information on the museums of the city you may also visit the website of museums in Athens.

New arrivals: New spaces in the city!

    National Museum of Contemporary Art
    Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

    Alternative City Tours

    Different local initiatives provide alternative tours of the city introducing you to the locals’ point of view, as ATAthens, Big Olive or Culinary backstreets.

     

    Active Citizens Community

    Join the activities of local initiatives and our growing solidarity network! Various local organisations can provide you with a good overview of the city's initiatives. Have a look at synAthina.

    You may also get in touch with the local Athens MitOst community by joining our 16th International MitOst Festival Facebook group.

    Green Athens

    Terraces and open air cinemas

    Enjoy a drink or a movie under the open sky. Among the most beautiful open air cinemas are Cine Paris and Cine Thission.

    Around Athens

    Seafront: Athens has a long seafront approximately 10 km to the south of the city centre expanding from Piraeus port on the south west to Vouliagmeni to the south east, hosting long walking spaces, bicycle routes, beaches, restaurants and coffee places. Tramway from the city centre covers the majority of the seafront of the city.

    One day excursions: Several small islands can be reached in 1 to 3 hours from Piraeus Port. The port is the final stop of the green line  of the metro. All local agencies organise daily trips by bus to nearby destinations in the mainland.  

    Practicalities

    Metro, buses, trolleybuses and tramway

    In the city: A one way ticket that gives you access to all public transportation means of the city for 90’ costs € 1,40. A five day ticket (not including the journey from and to the airport) costs 9 euros. Athens is run by a 3 line metro system, indicated through colour codes. Line 1 under green colour, line 2 under red colour and line 3 under blue colour. The most convenient metro stop for your transportation is Metaxourghio station on the red line approximately 2’ to 3’ walk from the hotels we have booked for you and 5’ walk from Avdi sq. Find more information on the website of the metro network.

    From and to the airport: You can reach the city centre both by metro and bus.

    • Metro: Take the blue line towards Aghia Marina and then change at Syntagma station to the red line towards Anthoupoli. Get off at Metaxourghio! 
    • Bus: Take bus number X95 to Syntagma. Then at Syntagma sq take the metro red line towards Anthoupoli. Get off at Metaxourghio! 


    Accomodation

    In case you do not have your accommodation provided by the festival, here are some basic tips: 

    • You may find several hotels of varied prices in Metaxourghio as well as good Airbnb spaces.
    • In case you would like to stay a bit further but still in the centre and in good connection to Metaxourghio, the areas of Psirri and Gazi are at a walking distance of approximately 15 min.
    • A bit further some interesting and lively neighbourhoods would be Kipseli and Pagrati.
    • You may also join our MitOst Couchsurfing group on Facebook.

    Language

    Though English is widely spoken in Athens here are some basic expressions that will make you feel like a local:

    EnglishGreek
    Hello / GoodbyeΓειά[Geia]
    Good morningΚαλημέρα [Kaliméra]
    Good nightΚαληνύχτα [Kalinychta]
    Please / You are welcomeΠαρακαλώ[Parakaló]
    Thank youΕυχαριστώ [Efcharistó]
    I am sorryΣυγγνώμη [Sygnómi]
    CheersΣτην υγειά μας[Stin ygeiá mas]
    I love youΣε αγαπώ[Se agapó]