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The New York Times: Athens Rises as Cultural Capital and Tourism Destination

Photo: Andrea Wyner for The New York Times

Photo: Andrea Wyner for The New York Times

Athens’ economic and artistic revival is featured in an extensive article published recently on the website of The New York Times. The article also refers to the city’s rising tourism figures.

The Stoa of Attalos in the Agora of Athens and the Lycabettus Hill.

Written by journalist Charly Wilder, who has visited the city on a number of occasions over the last years, the article describes the transformation of Athens from 2006 – the time when the author first visited the city – until 2018. “Athens [is] a city I’ve watched shift and evolve, endure crisis and chaos and economic collapse, and yet emerge from the wreckage as one of the continent’s most vibrant and significant cultural capitals, more popular than ever as a tourist destination,” Wilder says.

Last year Athens welcomed a record 5 million visitors, double the 2012 figure.

The Numismatic Museum of Athens.

More specifically, the article focuses on Athens’ neighborhoods and the way the city has evolved through the years. “Neighborhoods that were rundown and neglected have become seed beds for the arts, like Metaxougio,” the author says, also referring to the numerous art spaces and cultural centers thriving in the city; the Greek talents that have emerged from the crisis, and the numerous bars, coffee shops and next-generation restaurants operating in the heart of the capital.

“In so many ways, Athens feels more alive, more culturally prolific, than ever, and it’s hard to understand how this could have happened in the midst of the worst economic catastrophe in the history of the European Union,” Wilder says.

Monastiraki Square, Athens.

Tourism a key factor of growth

According to the article, in the past two years Greece’s economy has been growing faster than the European average.

The Hellenic Parliament in Athens.

Much of this growth comes from the tourism sector as visitor numbers have surged, increasing for the past decade at around 11 percent per year, in part due to fears about turmoil in Turkey and the Middle East, as well as increased tourism from the newly wealthy Asian middle classes,” Wilder says adding that the country expects a new all-time high of 32 million visitors in 2018, three times its population.

Photos © Maria Theofanopoulou

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