Man de Code

by Christos Zampounis

Is Kolonaki chic?

We were walking with Zacho Hatzifotiou on Patriarchou Ioakeim street. The diary read 2003 and the late bon vivant had just published his book “Kolonaki before the Fall”. He grumbled, I remember and built the downfall of the capital’s once chicest neighborhood. “What do so many shoemakers want, since they spend their day lying on the armchairs of the pastry shops in the Square? Where do they melt so many shoes?’ It was the “golden age” of Greece, just before the Olympic Games. To get a table at Da Capo, you had to have means or, as is the case in bouzoukis, be a regular. To open a boutique, you had to give “air” rents of five years. Even the basements had their fair share of less well-off entrepreneurs. And yet, this burgeoning porro was far from the social order of precedence before the “Falling”. The chic families who settled in the 19th century on the slopes of Lycabettus, to be next to the Palace, when the state change came, they looked for a new home in other areas, such as Psychiko (s.s.: we never say Paleo, unless we live in Neo), Filothei, Kifisia, Ekali, and for sea lovers Glyfada, Voula, Vouliagmeni. Kolonaki was “captured” by ambitious middle-class people from other parts of the Basin and by dynamic provincials who had succeeded in their places. The palatial aristocracy of the first inhabitants has been replaced by cafe-style internal tourism of dubious elegance. The financial crisis that followed came to end with the wave of neo-enrichment that – what an irony – the rise of PASOK to power brought. Kolonaki, around 2010-2011, was deserted, with “For Rent” on the shop fronts outnumbering the trees in the National Garden! A few beacons, such as “Ratka” and “Abreuvoir”, were left to illuminate the “past glories”, until the Attiko Metro company decided to create a new station in Kolonaki square. The works have already started, causing disturbance to the residents, but not Exarchia-style demonstrations. Without being an expert in real estate, he understands the upgrade that the new development will cause, although I’m afraid that this does not discount, even if the prices rise, that Kolonaki will become chic again.


Photo by Georges Dambie