The best time to enjoy the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in summer is in the evening, shortly after the sun has set. In August, when many Athenians are away on vacation, it’s a quieter, more relaxed place, although there’s still plenty going on.
The 210,000 m2 multipurpose cultural and recreation center, designed by architectural firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop, was warmly embraced by the city’s residents from the first day it opened. Today, surrounded by beautifully tended gardens featuring characteristic species of Greek flora, it’s the home of the Greek National Opera and the National Library of Greece.
Begin your visit at the impressive Lighthouse atop the Greek National Opera building, which affords panoramic views of Athens, Piraeus and the Saronic Gulf. Take a walk around the 400m-long Canal and stop for a coffee or a healthy snack. Cool off with an ice cream or some fresh juice from one of the vans in front of the Agora; stop by the smoke-free playground area (a must if you’re with kids), or relax in front of the Dancing Fountains, the SNFCC’s latest attraction: 59 vertical water jets and 10 swiveling fountains, illuminated by underwater LED lighting, produce regular water shows – in August, every hour from 21.00 to midnight, to the accompaniment of music by Manos Hadjidakis and Georges Bizet (snfcc.org).
This text was first published as part of “Beat the Heat”, an article published in Greece Is Athens, Summer 2019 Edition.