Old and New

On one of those evenings when we took a devious route home, we stopped to contemplate this building.  Once upon a time it was probably somebody's pride and joy; a house - or shops with apartments over, balconies, stylish shutters.... It's a sad building now and there are lots more like it in Piraeus.

Blame the Brits apparently - so it goes, the Allied Forces bombed the daylights out of Piraeus to speed the departure of the opposition in the closing stages of WWII, and the Brits bombed the remaining daylights out of it again in support of one side in the civil war that followed.  We haven't done our own historical research on that and are simply reporting the story as it is told here.
Some of you might recall having seen this one before...

Tree growing from inside the house here...

A rare wooden one

The old face of Piraeus took a bit of a pasting in and after WWII regardless of who you blame for the damage.  What followed was a period of rapid population expansion as people were encouraged to move to Athens and Piraeus from the islands and rural parts of Greece (1950s-1970s in particular).

That would have been boom time in the metropolis.  Residential buildings must have been growing like mushrooms, and they weren't always the best quality or most sensible designs, but they housed people.  Owners of derelict, destroyed, or simply 'old' homes were encouraged to part with them to developers on the basis that they would get in exchange two apartments in the apartment block that would replace the old house.

Rather too late is seems, someone came to their senses and realized that very little remained of Piraeus' historic residential architecture, and a ban was slapped on further destruction.  Now they just slip quietly into decay unless the families who own then can afford to restore them, or can find a business willing to take them on as commercial premises and restore them.

So the next few photos give you some flavour of the old either maintained or restored.  And we think they have a charm that is definitely lacking in the modern.

This house, close to us, has been restored from dereliction over the last 12 months.  It is a work in progress still.

At the other end of this time line here are a few apartments currently under construction around us.  This one was a hole in the ground until the middle of last year.

This one shows you the basic construction method that doesn't seem to have changed all that much since the 1970's - concrete structural elements, filled in with brickwork, plastered over.

There are a few altogether more modern apartment blocks and this photo show three generations of housing.  The oldest single story cottages are far left partly behind the bus.  They are derelict and inhabited now by some homeless street people and their dogs and their recyclable waste collections.

There remain one or two small single storey homes with their little yards or gardens still occupied and wedged between newer and bigger properties in streets around where we live. In other parts of Piraeus, further from the centre, their concentration is higher - and their neighbours lower.

This one is the butchers shop where we buy my chicken


  1. Hari Om
    Oh that one with the shirt still tugs at my heart! All architure fascinates me, but to see it so negelected... sad indeed. Thanks for this tour and insight to the area where you live, Tigger. Hugs and whiskeries, YAM-aunty xxx

    1. It's not entirely neglect. War and earthquakes took their toll on the structures, economics and modernization affected the desire of people to live in these places. France was the same; old was abandoned for new and only the foreigners were fool enough to come and pour their money into the old sink holes the locals refused to live in any more. Xxx F

  2. It’s so sad to see so many derelict buildings
    I wonder if the owners of those buildings are now descendants living overseas
    And just don’t know they own them or just don’t care

    1. Many live here. I know one whose wife 'owns' a villa in central Athens. The law prevents them from doing anything to it unless they do full 'period' restoration. They simply can't afford that, so it quietly crumbles.

  3. I suppose it was the same in cities in many countries. Just look at what they did to Birmingham!

  4. Such a pity they are not restoring those old buildings. We had/have a few on the waterfront here. They can get EU loans and handouts to restore the old houses but I'm not sure of course how much more the owners have to put in themselves. One building on the harbour has just been finished after many years a falling down and then slow restoration. It's a showpiece now. I hope more of them are fixed up.

  5. good morning Tigger and F... we much prefer the old over the new and hate to see the ones that are still beautiful but going into ruins. that is a long time to sit there. I have heard that it cost more to restore than to build and that is why they do this same thing here. some cities have restored from 200 years ago but most have been torn down...trees do out live humans, but here in Florida there is a disease that is contagious that will kill citrus trees of all kinds. we had fruit for 16 of the 22 years it lived, the disease destroyed whole orchids and then blew through the breezes and hit some of the trees in yards.

  6. It's nice to see the hous being restored, I wish someone would take on the other phones in your earlier photos, I would if I had the money.


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