Ippodromiou Square, the ruined Palace of Galerius, Navarinou Square, the Arch of Galerius (widely known as the Kamara), the Rotunda, the churches of Agia Sophia, Agios Ioannis and Acheiropoietos, all serve as a trail for a long and fulfilling walk around the city center.
The city center is an area I know like the back of my hand. I still remember the chocolate-flavored milk and bougatsa (custard-filled pastry) my grandmother used to buy us for a quick snack before we raced off to play again. We used to go down to the ancient Palace of Galerius. We considered it ours. As its owners, we knew every nook and cranny there. Witches and snakes were hidden in the area’s various caves – or at least they were in the stories we would make up.
I still remember the first time my heart throbbed when I noticed a girl with long black hair in shorts and a leopard-skin top. That was back in the 1980s. All was good back then.
Even the atrocious-looking buildings on Gounari St. stand like monuments. It’s a road that functions like an artery. Northwesterly winds still find a way through this street to deliver oxygen to the city.
The Kamara is a meeting point for self-respecting demonstrations and first dates. The Rotunda is a misunderstood monument as a result of its varied past – is it an Orthodox church, mosque, museum or exhibition space?
All these places are marvelous and represent elements of the city’s history. All have been fused into a melting pot of cultures over the past 2,000 years. Streets connected to squares are at the heart of the city, from one generation to the next. I still run into old friends and acquaintances at these spots. Groups of friends, musicians, night owls, weirdos, eccentrics, ghosts, gods – they’ve all kept hanging out at the squares, and the younger crowds have come to join them too.
• Vagelis Liakos is a designer and co-founder of the award-winning creative agency Beetroot.