NEWS

Summer in the Olympic city: The party’s over, now how do we capitalize on the opportunity?

The summer just gone was a summer in which huge changes took place in the Greek capital in the space of just a few weeks. Delays in the construction of venues and in infrastructure works led to their almost simultaneous delivery, thus setting the stage for an eruption of urban renewal, unprecedented for the capital. The new Athens emerged with impressive speed: new arterial routes, new means of transport (tram, suburban railway), extensive urban landscaping at crucial points and a major refurbishment of the city center. Add to this the multicolored decoration of the roads, the plethora of artistic events in squares and precincts during the Games and the mass participation of Athenians, and we have the image of a city in a state of ecstasy. By the end of August, that city was – in part – consigned to history. The festival has already begun its journey elsewhere, and we, whether we want to or not, are called upon to make a reckoning with the real Athens, the Athens that is the heritage of the Games and finally, the unknown Athens – the one emerging in the post-Olympics period. Of course, this reckoning will take place on new terms. The new infrastructure and the atmosphere of the Games themselves, even as a memory, seem to have forged a new relationship between the city and its people. It is certain that younger Athenians, relieved of doomsaying and pessimism, believe more in the future of their city as compared to their more cynical parents. But is that enough? If we accept that with these Games, the city secured its place among the advanced metropolises of the West, it now has to – without the pressure, this time, of a national date with history – compete equally dynamically with the large urban centers of the Mediterranean, attracting investment, tourism, culture and development. Today, Kathimerini explores Athens’s «day after,» with the help of architects and people who play a leading role in the city’s existence.