Athens has set an example of successful crisis management from tackling the financial crisis, to reversing negative publicity and accommodating more than 5 million tourists per year, implementing a successful social inclusion strategy, providing educational and medical services to families with low income, reviving local landmarks and boosting local entrepreneurship. If anyone seeks an example of shared spirit and resilience, they need to look no further than Athens.
A budget of 264 million euros was approved in 2020 for revitalisation works in the City of Athens– a rise of almost 40% from 2019. Athens invests in a plan for an improved revitalized city by “restarting Athens”.
More than 80 million euros has been pledged on everyday public works such as supporting repairs to streets, sidewalks and public spaces; resurfacing and remodeling old streets, urban and public spaces with an emphasis on green areas. The changes also include maintenance works on the city’s sewage system. Works will take place all over Athens, but with an emphasis on its popular commercial center.
Upgrading infrastructure for cleaning, recycling and lighting will also play a leading role in the years to come with almost 40 million being spent on the purchase of mechanical and electric equipment for cleaning and recycling. The Mayor also emphasized the city’s commitment to “a comprehensive urban management plan based on the principles of sustainability and resilience”, with better maintenance of public green spaces including fire protection and anti-flooding works.
To that end, the City of Athens has emerged from the lockdown with bold plans for the 6.8km Great Athens Walk that will offer residents and visitors much more space to walk, run, roam and cycle through the capital’s historic streets. In one of the biggest urban interventions in the history of Athens, sidewalks will be extended, traffic limited, bicycle lanes formed, and trees and flowers planted to create one of Europe’s most beautiful urban promenades.
The Great Athens Walk will transform the historic heart of the city by unlocking its huge cultural wealth and delivering an urban centre that is not only a walker's delight, but sustainable and environmentally aware. On completion of the new network of routes, you’ll be able to move for the first time between Athens’ world-class archeological sites and landmarks – from the Acropolis and Ancient Agora, to the modern Olympic (Panathenaic) Stadium and the Academy of Athens - without getting in a car. Meanwhile, the iconic ancient neighbourhood of Plaka and a number of vital downtown arteries, including Ermou, Mitropoleos and Athinas streets, will also be converted into car-free zones. The ambitious 50-million-euro vision will create 50,000 square metres of free public space and elevate the experience of all who visit Athens. Works are estimated to be finalised within four years, with the lion’s share of the project delivered by the end of 2022.
Last but not least, three ambitious public projects are already in the works. Two landmark sites in the centre of Athens, Lycabettus Hill and the National Garden are finally getting the attention they deserve with new path paving, restoration and maintenance work, while a new park is coming to the formerly run-down area of Elaionas, hoping to transform the area.