Exarcheia was once the scene of riots and political gangs, but now it’s a buzzing cultural hub, says Anastasia Miari.
Bathed in spring sunlight, sipping on iced coffee and surrounded by young people playing backgammon, this hardly feels like anarchist central. Yet many Greeks still steer clear of Exarcheia, widely known for its politicised riots and Molotov cocktail-throwing far-Left gangs.
Neoclassical buildings with wrought- iron balconies are covered in a plague of graffiti. Tags from the inane to the profane mark each and every wall — a reminder of the area’s anti-Establishment ties.
Today, however, this central neighbourhood is a cultural must-visit in Athens. With a distinctly different vibe to any other part of town, Exarcheia has retained its old-world Greek charm while welcoming in a new artistic crowd. Galleries Hot Wheels and CHEAPART host a regular rotation of shows featuring local and international artists. With new openings every month and a handful of pop-up artists’ studios such as 3137, this is the place to see the city’s burgeoning underground art scene.