City Hall gets to grips with central Athens cleanup

Tourists in Athens rarely complain as much as the city’s residents do. They won’t comment on the city’s lack of parks or its unorthodox mishmash of architectural styles.

But what does strike them, or rather shock them, is Athens’s abundance of grime and an evident lack of organization to deal with it.

These are things you won’t normally find in other European capitals. Athens’s dirt-ridden streets remind foreign visitors of a reality more reminiscent of the Middle East than Europe.

It seems that the capital’s current municipal authorities have taken notice of how the filth is affecting residents, whose pride in their hometown has taken a battering in recent years.

And so the city has launched a rejuvenation program aimed at beautifying the capital’s public spaces. The first four streets that will be blasted with water and subsequently have their dirty facades scrubbed are Athinas, Stadiou, Panepistimiou and Ermou.

The decision to begin with Athinas is symbolic, as it is home to City Hall and is popular with tourists. It also connects two main squares, Omonia and Monastiraki, and retains a certain charm of old Athens.

The program was launched on July 20, beginning with the Varvakeios Market building. The results were impressive, as cleaning crews manages to scrape off all the graffiti and plaster the walls with a special material intended to make it easier to remove spray paint.

The city aims to have Athinas Street completely cleaned by the end of September.