The district of Metaxourgeio is quickly emerging as the artistic heart of Athens, Greece. Its creative, cultural, and musical legacies merge with vibrant new spaces in the area, making it the quintessential spot for artists and travelers of all lifestyles to gather and take part in its transformation. It is rapidly gaining recognition for its lively nightlife, private art galleries, cultural multi-use spaces including several theatres, all which contribute to its energetic atmosphere. It’s also home to the Municipal Gallery of Athens, an art museum dedicated to Greek artists. In 2018, Time Out ranked Metaxourgeio at #4 on its Top 50 Coolest Neighborhoods in the World.
To dive into the complete artistic past of the district is a big task—so let’s explore part of it through its rich musical history. The three following singers are nationally recognized musicians in Metaxourgeio’s history: Danai Stratigopoulou, Vicky Moscholiou, and Giannis Poulopoulos. These are just a few among many Greek artists who are connected to the district and whose legacies live on today, and quietly inform the emerging atmosphere.
Danai Stratigopoulou was a singer and academic who was born in 1913 and died in 2009. A composer of around 300 songs, much of her career was also devoted to serving as a Greek interpreter of popular folk songs, making her a notable figure in the literary and international university world in addition to music. For many years of her life she lived in Chile, where she served as a professor of Greek folklore at the University of Santiago, in addition to personally translating Pablo Neruda’s major work “Canto General”. Neruda was a Chilean poet who earned the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971.
Born in Metaxourgeio, Vicky Moscholiou was also a Greek singer. Born in 1943 during the German occupation of Greece, she came from extremely humble beginnings. With a family legacy in theatre, she wanted to become an actress but instead became a singer who rose to prominence in the 1960s. Some of her lyrics (even translated into English) are soft and beautiful, such as: “You left and went far away / Clouds have covered the heart / The songs extinguished from the lips / The flowers withered around” from her song “Ta Deilina”.
Another singer connected to the district is Giannis Poulopoulos, who was a prolific musician born in the district and died just recently in 2020. The fourth biggest-selling singer in Greece of all time, he was extremely popular from the 1960s–1980s. His songs were featured in many Greek movies of the time, and he was also an avid painter.
With all that said, Metaxourgeio clearly has a rich history regarding Greek artists, but part of its present-day contagious energy results from many different cultures there. Its multinational character is scattered throughout the neighborhood, such as in Chinatown and at many restaurants. Many establishments have names borrowed from international vocabularies, and the resulting mixing pot is mutual osmosis and growth for locals and visitors alike.
It is also financially accessible to all visitors. With luxury residential apartments and more humble buildings, it offers opportunities for all travelers. You can pick from chic Michelin-rated restaurants, such as the 2 Michelin-starred Funky Gourmet, or more casual places. Travelers can try interesting food at the vegetarian and vegan-friendly California-inspired bar and eatery called the San Francisco Sandwich Shop.
In addition, the presence of non-governmental organizations and socially responsible enterprises contribute to the green and DIY culture you can feel walking around. The neighborhood boasts green spaces throughout, beautiful public art, and increased efforts for sustainable practices including urban gardening and a bioclimatic kindergarten.
A new sense of community resides there among a beautiful mix of older buildings of classical architecture next to new and modern structures, as well as buildings that are patiently waiting for renovation.
An exciting—yet absolutely realistic—dream is for this vibrant up-and-coming neighborhood to keep attracting more and more artists to come and soak in the atmosphere. It can be a place for pilgrims of all art forms to be productive in collaboration and creativity. They can contribute their unique and diverse ideas to the artistic identity of the neighborhood—in part, building off those who have given it the legacy it has such as Stratigopoulou, Moscholiou, and Poulopoulos, as well as creating a distinctly modern multi-faceted neighborhood.