How Athens’ Historic Omonoia Square Has Changed Over The Decades

Date: 07.06.2019 / By Philip Chrysopoulos / / Comments (0)
The new face of Athens’ Omonoia Square..

The long-awaited redevelopment and reconstruction of Omonoia Square is in its final stages, with residents and workers in downtown Athens expecting a positive change to the area.

The major facelift to the city’s iconic square was estimated to be completed by early summer. However, municipal elections and the snap national election on July 7 has pushed the project back slightly.

The new version of Omonoia Square will cover an area of 4,500 square meters (more than 48,00 square feet) and will once again include a fountain, a feature that had existed until 1992. Athenians loved the fountain, and many soccer fans had jumped into the fountain to celebrate victories through the years.

The popular Omonoia fountain was removed in 1992 due to work which was carried out for improvements to the Athens metro system, leaving many residents of the capital unhappy.

The revamped Omonoia Square will be illuminated by new LED lighting fixtures, and will have many plants as well as new shade features, while a new type of pavement will also be laid down. In addition, all the new features and materials will be friendly to the environment.

For decades, Omonoia Square was known as the meeting point for all Athenians, and the heart of its retail sector. However, with the new millennium the square fell into disuse and dereliction due to the negligence of municipal authorities. Since the 2010s, Omonoia Square and the general area around it has served as a hangout for stranded migrants as well as the playground of drug dealers and contraband street vendors.

The aim of the local authorities is to upgrade the area by reconstructing the square and renovating the surrounding buildings. In addition, the departing mayor and newly elected-mayor Kostas Bakogiannis, who will take his seat in September, both pledge that they will work to putting en end to all the delinquent and unlawful activities taking place around Omonoia.

Municipal authorities believe that the revamped square will also boost commerce in the area and bring new investments to it.

The history and many transformations of Omonoia Square

In 1846, the space of today’s Omonoia Square was allocated and construction began. It first took the name “Palace Square” and then “Otto Square,” after the first King of Greece.

The square was renamed Omonoia Square (“Concord Square”) in 1862, after the two rival political factions of the time shook hands for the good of the homeland, following King Otto’s dethronement.

The square was illuminated with gas lamps in 1877.

In 1895, the Athens-Piraeus underground train station was built; ever since that time, Omonoia Square has been considered the center of the capital city.

The Square changed its shape and became circular in 1930, when florists’ kiosks were also added, and the square took on a commercial character. It also became the meeting point for visitors from the provinces during that era.

In 1954, an underground space was excavated under the Square to house shops and banks, while the first escalators were also put in use there.

The first major reconstruction of the famed square took place in the 1960s, seeing it reduced in size and a fountain placed at its center.

In the year 1988, the massive glass sculpture “Dromeas” (“The Runner”), the work of sculptor Costas Varotsos, was installed, only to be moved opposite the Athens Hilton in 1992 when work on the Athens metro began.

The latest reconstruction of Omonoia Square, on the occasion of the Athens Olympic Games, was completed in 2004. The historic square was yet again fenced off, marking the beginning of construction for its new facelift, in late 2018. As the new millennium progresses, the historic square awaits yet another metamorphosis.

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