Exploring Athens’ Modern Heritage with Big Olive

NTUA Professor P. Tournikiotis presenting the Rethink Athens project to DARK Arkitekter, one of Norway’s leading architectural firms. Athens has always been a destination for aesthetically driven travelers in search of art, architecture and the roots of Western civilization. In his book “Athens: A Cultural and Literary History“, author Michael Llewellyn Smith, mentions that “the ruins of classical antiquity, and especially fifth-century Athens, was what interested travelers i

ETH Zurich fieldtrip to Athens

Gruppenbild mit Tempel. Photo © Christoph Gantenbein “Timeless architecture carries a legacy, fits perfectly into the context, and gives physical form to abstract typologies. This makes it anonymous, meaning that the architect falls by the wayside. And that’s the way it should be”, so says Swiss architect Christoph Gantenbein who along with his partner Emmanuel Christ embarked on a number of study trips to capture urban architecture from around the world [1]. Over the years,

A little bit of Paris: chocolateries in Athens

Though the likes of Paris and Brussels may be the first places that spring to mind at the mention of chocolate, Athens certainly has its share of chocolateries. These are some of our favorites… Pavlidis In 1841, next to his printing shop in Aiolou Street, Spyro Pavlidis opened a small confectionery shop, soon to become famous and a meeting place in Athens.  In 1861, Pavlidis introduced the first chocolate bar in Greece, named Hygeia’s Bitter the product proved to be a great

Old brewery becomes Contemporary Art Museum

The National Museum of Contemporary Art In 2000 The National Museum of Contemporary Art was officially given responsibility for the nation’s modern foreign and Greek works; for the next 14 years the collections were housed in various locations. Meanwhile the collection was growing acquiring works by  well-known Greek artists (such as Stefanos Tsivopoulos, Bia Davou and Theodoros Stamos) and renowned international contemporary artists (among them Nan Goldin, Sophie Calle, and

A little bit of Paris: literary cafés in Athens

Café Brazilian. © Big Olive / Katerina Nikakis Where better to sample of a slice of Athens’ bygone past than one of the beautifully preserved historic cafés? The most historic Athenian cafés congregate around Panepistimiou Boulevard. This is the neighborhood where Henry Miller discussed the ideas that made up The Colossus of Maroussi, where actress-politician Melina Mercouri would spend much of her leisure time with good friends, and that the MacFarlands frequent in Patricia

Athens: Irregular and Indigenous

The battle between what architects and planners hypothesized on their drawing boards and how the urban dwellers went on with carrying out building works without planning permission is not a recent issue for Athens. It has been present since the birth of the Modern Greek State in 1832. Greece’s first king, Otto of Bavaria, embarked on an ambitious attempt at redesigning his capital city as a showpiece for the grandeur of the nation, worthy of its ancient heritage. Under Otto’s

Naturist Beaches in Athens

With the ever-growing popularity of nude beaches ardent naturists are being joined by more casual visitors daring to dress only in sunscreen to spend a sunny day on the beach. The appeal is pretty much universal – families longing for some stress-free time together, young couples wanting to satisfy the craving for total freedom and the elderly looking for an alternative lifestyle. Whatever the reason, Big Olive brings you a list of the best nude beaches around Athens, as sele

The Queen’s Gardens

The National Garden Behind the Old Palace (Parliament Building), lies a 16-hectare (40-acre) park, cherished by all Athenians. Formerly known as the “Royal Garden”, it was renamed the National Garden by decree in 1923. The Queen’s seat, this vantage-point once offered the Queen amazing views over the Acropolis and the Phaleron Bay. Photograph by Konstantinos Despotis The park was commissioned in 1838 by Amalia of Oldenburg, Queen Consort of Greece from 1836 to 1862 as the spo

Modernism in Athens

A guided walking tour past some of Athens’ best modernist architecture devised and led by Big Olive. Modernism visited Athens in person in 1933 for the 4th Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne – CIAM (International Congresses of Modern Architecture), although modernist ideas had infiltrated the Athenian architectural intelligentsia some years earlier. Upon their arrival, the elite of European modern architects were warned that they shouldn’t be deceived by “the surrou

Discover Athens with Big Olive

Written by Alexander Clapp “If you haven’t seen Athens you’re a fool,” quipped Herakleides Kritikos. Twenty-three centuries later – following countless invasions, sweeping population exchanges and the transformation of Athens into Greece’s national capital – the ancient historian’s blunt counsel still rings true. Enter Yannis Zaras and Nicolas Nicolaides. In the summer of 2012 the pair founded Big Olive City Walks, a touring agency that offers clients the chance to explore At