This is a different city we’re living in

Omonia Square didn’t look bad one day last week when the cool north wind of September swept Athens bright and clean. A few scraps of paper swirled around in the breeze but they didn’t fall to earth, and the olive saplings in Omonia seemed to have gained heart. Who knows what the future holds in store for them, whether they will remain in the shallow soil or disappear as suddenly as they were planted on the eve of the Olympic Games. Athens is playing games with Athenians again. We’ve started to like, or at least to tolerate Omonia – which we used to hate – now that it has gone green. And we’re starting to get the new-style Kolonaki Square. Where television programs once hastened to slam it, we now hear praise. No, we don’t agree with everything that’s been done, but what’s impressive in this new Athens of ours – which began with the Calatrava-designed structures and the unfortunate new version of Omonia – the average citizen has started talking about architecture or, if you prefer, the city and its continuous transformations. This autumn, we’ve moved to a new home ground. Just as in summer we were totally absorbed in (if not ecstatic about) the outcome of the Games, now we have returned to the urban landscape. We’ve left behind the regional road network and the athletics venues, and have started looking at the pavements we use every day as pedestrians – or on bikes. We look again at the apartment block in which we live. Be prepared for more dismantling and rebuilding, even though we all know that half most of the squares in the capital are half-finished. Time for work again!

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