ATHENS – The long-neglected Omonia Square that had become a hangout for drug dealers, prostitutes, migrants and criminal elements and overrun with filth and graffiti will show off a new renovation when it reopens May 14.
The idea of new Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis, who got a private-public partnership to work fast to restore the image of the blighted area will include a fountain similar to what had graced it decades ago, lost in a series of failed reshuffled designs, including one put forward by his mother Dora Bakoyianni when she was mayor.
The work had been completed earlier this year and was just about to be shown off when the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic hit and businesses were closed and people required to mostly stay home.
With a lockdown that was imposed on March 23 starting to gradually lift, ridership is up on the Metro, with Omonia being a main stop. It is a rotary that isolates a public gathering area in the middle that had become a grimy concrete pit.
Municipal crews were removing the barricades and disinfecting the area to get the fountain, which will be lit, ready to start operating, the renovation funded by private donors to try to lure people to an area many had avoided, within sight of City Hall.
Omonoia has undergone various transformations throughout the years. The Square was constructed in 1846 and its original name was Plateia Anaktoron (Palace Square).
It was given its final name of Omonia in 1862 because it was the site were leaders of the opposing political factions gave the oath of peace (omonia, in Greek).
New hotels are slated to open on Pireos and Stadiou streets, while the historic Bageion and Alexandros hotels are to reopen said Kathimerini before the lockdown began but with hopes still high for the area.
The four-story Bageion Hotel, on the corner of Athinas Street, was constructed between 1890 and 1894 based on plans by the architect Ernst Ziller. The Bageion and the Alexandros hotels are listed buildings and landmarks of the capital’s classical 19th Century urban architecture.