Opera and library between apartment blocks and busy roads
ATHENS: Thanks to a €596m gift from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and a visionary design by architect Renzo Piano, the neighbourhood of Kallithea in Athens has benefitted from an enthralling cultural landmark: the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Centre. The views from it are definitely of the spectacular variety.
Investment. The centre is finally open its doors to the public and handed over to the Greek state. This was a controversial decision at a time of strained public finances. But income generated by the cafes, restaurants and performances will go towards the maintenance of the buildings, park and programme of events. Manager of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Elly Andriopoulou says: “This is a long-term investment in the regeneration of Athens that will generate around €140m a year for the Greek economy.”
The building will house Greek National Library and Opera and a park with playgrounds for water jets and vegetable gardens. Concerts and festivals are staged on the Great Lawn and a 400-meter sea-water canal is made for people learning to sail or kayak. The only thing visitors pay for are rental bikes and opera tickets.
Transport. Tram doesn’t drop off outside but near (Tzitzifies). #550 is the best way to get there. Get metro from Syntagma to Syngrou Fix and then the #550 – easy and fast for the sum of 1 euro 40 cents. Also there’s a free shuttle bus from Syntagma.