Great Place Wednesday: Syntagma Square, Athens, GR

The last year has seen tremendous, grass-roots change and protest against authoritarianism across the globe.  We discussed this last February, right on the cusp of the “Arab Spring” protests in many countries of Northern Africa and the Middle East.  In recent months, increasingly large protests have shaken Athens as the populace has risen up to demand change among their elected leadership.

Athens is a city with a density problem. With massive growth happening far too quickly in the early part of the 20th century, due to a mass exodus of ethnic Greeks from land now part of Turkey, the capital is densely populated, and lacking major open space.

The center of the city is Syntagma Square, overlooked by the Greek Parliament Building.  This plaza is located along major boulevards, and is accessed from many points by transit connections.  Syntagma, as we have seen in recent weeks, is where Athenians gather to protest and call for change.

With a good mix of hard surface and greenery, the plaza is a pleasant place to escape the arid heat of the city.

A military presence is constant at Syntagma, with a troupe of traditionally dressed soldiers guarding a memorial on the north end of the square.

Although usually a vibrant, active place, below is the scene at Syntagma when the nation stages mass protests.