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Omonia Square

Omonia Square (17)

Omonia Square is the oldest square in modern Athens and, although it is a landmark of the city and prominently displayed on all the maps that you will find here, it is far from being a typical tourist attraction. Still, you may consider it necessary to take a break from the chaotic and polluted Athens that many people speak of, which is, however, not perceived in its most idyllic spots. 

You may have acquaintances who talk to you about the charms of Omonia square with its big pots filled with green and a lovely fountain in the centre presiding over the square. Be suspicious and ask them how long it has been since they last visited Athens. The fact is that the image of the square is still sold at newsstands with old postcards. If you have time, we suggest this exercise to you: buy one of these cards and come to the square. 

The water no longer flows from the fountain, and you will not find it unless you come here on a rainy day. The plants have probably long since died due to heavy traffic. Omonia Square is not full of nature but, nevertheless, has an unbridled life: restaurants and fast food chains, fully-occupied hotels, department stores, the underground station and hundreds, thousands of cars and motorcycles that drive through the avenues and streets crossing the square and leading to all parts of the city. As a result, traffic jams, smoke and noise are the daily bread for office workers working at their computers in the infinity of office buildings around the Omonia. 

The square was designed in 1833 by the architects Cleanthis and Schaubert, who aimed to create the nerve centre of Athens. However, Syntagma Square, where they built the Vouli, snatched that honour. Initially it was called Plaza del Rey Otto, but after the expulsion of the monarchy, this place acquired a more revolutionary aspect, becoming a symbol of class struggle, clashes with police and other altercations. Therefore, it was baptized with the name of Omonia square, meaning unity or harmony.

For years, the square has been occupied by public works: sewers, subways, roads, etc. However, today, after its refurbishments, Omonia has won points from its detractors, critics with an aesthetic of reinforced concrete and methacrylate which, in their opinion, suffers from being unimaginative.

What cannot be denied is that this is an ever living square. But be careful, because, especially at night, the surrounding streets are filled with disreputable characters. Not that it is a dangerous area, but clearly it is not the idyllic setting to spend your holiday evenings.

Although it may seem strange, you will not regret crossing at some point this chaotic and much-altered square, as it offers you a view of the genuine Athens, although it may not be its prettiest face. You will appreciate not seeing it from inside a taxi or bus because, if so, you have every possibility of getting caught up in traffic.

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