ATHENS – The concrete jungle of Greece’s capital has earned the city the ignominy of being third from the bottom in a list of the world’s greenest municipalities, ahead of only Istanbul and neon-filled Tokyo.
The survey was done by TravelBird, an online holiday site located in The Netherlands and showed that Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, was the greenest city for travelers to visit, with the most parks and trees per capita among 50 major cities listed.
Auckland in New Zealand came in second, followed by the Slovakian capital Bratislava and Sweden’s Gothenburg, with Sydney, Australia coming in fifth.
The index analyzed mapping data from 50 popular city break destinations evaluating the types and number of green spaces such as parks, golf courses, meadows, vineyards and farms.
Prague, Rome, Bern (Switzerland), Hamburg and Riga (Latvia) were in the sixth through tenth position while Athens was 48th, showing its reputation for not creating green space.
Ironically, the old Hellenikon International Airport site on Athens’ coast was supposed to be turned into Europe’s biggest urban park before an economic crisis led successive governments to decide to have it mostly developed into buildings.
Athens’ main green space is the unkempt National Gardens of only 38 acres next to the Parliament and the main city square of Syntagma.
Curiously, Paris, the City of Light and noted for its beauty, was 45th on the list while New York City, despite having Central Park, was only 42nd.