Once Upon A Time Around The Old Gas Factory…
In 1857, François Feraldi undertook the project of lighting Athens with gas. The city municipality granted the French entrepreneur the privilege of operating a gasworks for 50 years, and the streets of Athens were illuminated by gas for about 60 years. The gas facilities were located southwest of the intersection of Iera Odos Street and Piraeus Avenue; today, this district is named Gazi after Mr. Feraldi’s gas factory.
A backstreet culture transformed the area around the factory with brothels, small houses for families, workers and Muslims of northern Greece who arrived seeking a job in the factory. While it may be hard to believe, crime was not an issue in this district; however, Gazi was not yet the place that Athenians wanted to go for a night out, unlike the popular areas of Exarcheia or Kolonaki. However, people from varying backgrounds found a way to co-exist in peace here. Soon, numerous garages, paint shops and spare parts stores opened up, crammed next to each other along the narrow streets of the area.
The kilns of the gas factory were finally extinguished in 1984. In 1986, the place was declared a protected historical monument by the Ministry of Culture. In 1999, the first artistic events were hosted on the factory’s premises. Nowadays, the place is called Technopolis and is a well-known cultural site of the capital. The famous radio station, Athena 984, is located in Technopolis, playing music for the people of Athens since 1987.
In the early 21st century, this region became the haunt of the gay community. Music nightclubs operating on Iera Odos Street attracted more and more people, and small old houses with courtyards and brothels were converted into cafés and bars. Soon, restaurants and small clubs popped up, and the area began to have a vibrant nightlife. In 2013, the Industrial Museum Gasworks was inaugurated, opening a new page in the history of the old factory. The pedestrianization to Thisio and the construction of Keramikos Metro Station marked the way for Athenians to gather at Gazi and discover a whole lot of alternative forms of entertainment.
Some of the most famous haunts of the town are actually located in Gazi. Their design is mainly industrial, a reflection of the way of life in this district during the past decades.
Gazarte is a multicultural hall of art, hosting a cinema, a bookstore, a concert hall and a bar offering coffee and drinks. Kanella is an all-time classic choice for dinner, still holding an old-fashioned style that makes you feel like you’re at your grandmother’s house, and is a popular choice among people of the theater and arts. Gazaki is one of the oldest bars in the area with good music, devoted fans and a gay-friendly mood, as are most of the bars in this district. Socialista is one of the biggest mainstream clubs with various events for different music tastes. Nipiagogio (meaning kindergarten) is another great choice for those seeking delicious cocktails, freestyle music and great parties.
Gazi is among the must-visit places for those exploring Athens. All you have to do is catch Metro Line 3 and take a stroll through the area. You are sure to find places, tastes, music and trends that will suit your style.
By Maro Zouganeli