Athens Is the New Berlin, T Travel Spring 2010

There’s been some bad blood between Athens and Berlin lately, with the latter city holding the economic fate of the former in its less-than-forthcoming hands. ”Berlin-Athens, Why So Much Hate?” read a recent French headline. Could there be an element of jealousy? Despite being in the red (or perhaps because of it — cheap rents!), the Greek city is starting to steal the cultural spotlight from the increasingly gentrified Berlin, which seems more interested in spawning an outpost of London’s Soho House than in nurturing the careers of creative types.

Athens’s Kerameikos/Metaxourgeio neighborhood — which still has its share of drug dealers and prostitutes, like any good arty neighborhood should — along with the run-down Kypseli district have become the new home for influential galleries like the Breeder and Rebecca Camhi, as well as the biannual ReMap art festival, which included installations in abandoned buildings last summer. And the whole scene just got the stamp of approval from Larry Gagosian, who opened a gallery to cater to the needs of a circle of billionaire Greek collectors.

Indie bands and D.J.’s are also flourishing — especially at Six D.O.G.S., a merger of four former hipster bars that’s become a cultural hot spot — and the city’s design credentials are undergoing a substantial upgrade, too. The former editor of Greece’s Elle Decoration recently helped outfit her husband Christoforos Peskias’s chic eatery, Pi Box (above). And scheduled for December, the derelict Olympic Palace Hotel will reopen with interiors by the Brazilian superduo the Campana brothers.


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