New metro line to open in Athens, but it’s not all good news

The capital’s citizens are concerned about the management of the project, which seems to jeopardize local vegetation and accelerate processes of gentrification.

Within five or six years, the fourth line of the Athens metro should be inaugurated, consisting of 15 stations that will increase the reach of the Greek capital’s metro system by more than a third, transporting about 340,000 passengers and taking 53,000 cars off the road each day, according to the Athens Metro Company, Elliniko Metro.

The works, which began in 2021, also include the design of four new squares near the stations and the redevelopment of three existing ones. The projects chosen in November 2023 for the four new sites show elegant and minimalist entrances, surrounded by pedestrian areas with newly planted young trees.

Photo Konstantinos da Adobe Stock

However, the management of the project has raised criticism from Athenians, who express concern both about the possible reduction of public greenery and the increase in social disparities. In particular, there are fears that Exarcheia, the “anarchist neighborhood” of the Greek capital city, will be rapidly gentrified. Indeed, some argue that the location has been chosen precisely to accelerate this process.

Exarcheia’s main square, currently in ruins, is indeed the site of an upcoming station that is feared will heavily transform the area. The area has a strong cultural identity and has been the epicenter of various disturbances in the past, following the killing of a 15-year-old boy by the police in 2008.

Furthermore, residents fear that these works may directly or indirectly threaten existing public spaces. Athens, in fact, despite not having large parks, has many small tree-lined squares to which residents are extremely attached, real open-air living rooms.

In January, the authorities halted work around Rizari Park, for example, until further analysis is carried out on the potential effects that the metro construction site could have on local vegetation; and residents of the central Kolonaki Square expressed their outrage at seeing mature trees removed to be replanted elsewhere.

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