Publisher brings old downtown building back to life

A cultural multispace was recently inaugurated at 17 Aghias Irinis, a street whose name changes four times — from Karagiorgi Servias to Pericleous, Athinaidos and Aghias Irinis — before ending on Athinas Street near Monastiraki. The new venue hopes to become a popular spot with book lovers and other visitors as well as to contribute to the area?s general development.

Gavriilidis Editions left its small bookstore space on Mavromichali Street in Exarchia, rented a 1850s building — which rumor has it was once used as a stable by an officer of King Otto — renovated it according to the directions of architect Nikos Charalambidis and came up with a bookstore, a printing office, a bookbinder?s workshop, the company offices and an elegant cafe-bar area. It is an effort that should contribute toward the development and revitalization of a once-thriving neighborhood which in the last few years has been struggling to survive.

On the ground floor, visitors come across old cases from the Diogenis printing house — the printing house was originally founded by Costas Kouloufakos and is where noted author Dimitris Hatzis?s first novel was composed, among others. Also on the ground floor is the cafe-bar area and a bookstore, aptly named Poems and Crimes. This is because it carries poetry and detective novels exclusively, published by a variety of Greek companies.

The venue?s outdoor area at the back of the building was also inaugurated recently, a quiet den in the heart of the city, only a few meters from bustling Monastiraki Square. A nice touch awaits visitors in the cafe and bar area, where menus carry different book covers produced by Gavriilidis.

What else will it take for the city center to be revived? People with a passion and good taste, people willing to make the effort to renovate the 19th- and 20th-century buildings. It also requires continuous support from the state and the City of Athens, so that the center of the capital may once again attract more businesses that will draw Athenians and others to cultural and other creative venues in a safe atmosphere.

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