Postcard from... Athens


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The Independent Online

The ancient Acropolis looms over Athens like an untouchable beacon of godliness – tourists making the pilgrimage armed with bum-bags and bucket hats are like ants climbing to its summit.

The streets below tell a different story. With more than 2,000 graffiti and street artists painting its walls, Athens is fast becoming a mecca for the contemporary.

“I was arrested last night,” says Achilles, a rising street artist working in and around the Metaxourgio neighbourhood. “It’s OK, though, because most of the time they don’t bother to prosecute us – the police have enough to deal with.” The city is awash with colour;  in some areas walls, doorways and window frames have so many layers of graffiti it’s impossible to tell the original style of the building.

Artists like Achilles can make a living from painting their murals over unsightly tags and swear words, paid for by the home or shop’s owners. Once he spray-painted an abandoned  shop front in broad daylight for a film. “Everyone assumed I had permission because who else would be so stupid?” he says.

Is anywhere in the city off-limits for street artists, I wonder? “The Acropolis,” he says. “Only tourists  bother to go up there.”