Blues Brothers? This Athens hotel rocks out with art

Athens BlueBuilding is a bold, design-driven collection of just six furnished apartments in a brand new mid-rise building in the beating heart of one of Athens’ most exciting neighborhoods, Pagrati.

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It’s the result of a unique collaboration between renowned Athenian architects Demetrios Issaias and Tassis Papaioannou and Greek artist Alekos Fassianos, who has left his mark throughout the Greek capital.

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There are one-of-a-kind design elements by the artist at various touch points throughout the property, from sculptural metal bee door handles to whimsical metallic rooftop “dragons.” And of course, right outside the glass front door you will find numerous cafés and restaurants of every variety —maybe too many to count!— while iconic Athenian monuments like the Panathenaic Stadium (the Kallimarmaro) and National Garden are just a short stroll away.

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The place brings a splash of style to a neighborhood on the rise.  Home to the Panathenaic Stadium, the area also crackles with restaurants, cafes and cultural highlights such as the new Goulandris Museum.

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Many of the apartment buildings in Pagrati are of the polykatoikia, or typical Athenian apartment block style but Athens BlueBuilding brings a colorful counterpoint to those. With Athens BlueBuilding the renowned Athens-based architectural team of Demetrios Issaias and Tassis Papaioannou has literally elevated the stature of Efranoros Street, one of the main streets of Pagrati (its “other half” is Eratosthenous Street, which slopes downward from little Plastiras Square leading to the busy Leof. Vasileos Konstantinou boulevard and southern entrance to the National Garden).

Papaioannou has said “buildings are never neutral but rather every one of them speaks in a revealing fashion about the causes that bring them to life.” Here, we have a bright pop of color in an urban district teeming with activity, thus amplifying the whole sensory experience.

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It’s an organic addition to a neighborhood that celebrates eccentricity. The bohemian spirit of the bars and cafes along nearby Archimidous Street (right behind the stadium) and Varnava Square seem to invite new wrinkles on classic urban aesthetics. Here on Efranoros Street (named for an ancient Greek artist, by the way), an irregularly shaped plot of land in an already crowded area created some unique, Manhattan-style challenges for the architects. But it mean there could be balconies in both the front and back of each apartment.

The semi-cylindrical central staircase, is projected as a separate element of the whole composition, with its exterior painted blue which makes it a fitting complement to the blue of the Athens sky. The sliding wooden façade screens provide not only protection from the strong sunlight but also optical isolation from the buildings across the street. Add to this an expansive roof terrace with sweeping views of Ardittou Hill, the Acropolis and Mount Lycabettus and the effect is that of having a calm and aesthetically refreshing perch in the heart of the city—a place to rest and recharge before exploring more of  Athens.

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Among Greek contemporary artists in the postwar period, none has left a bigger mark on the Greek capital than Alekos Fassianos. Born in Athens in 1935, the “Fassianos look” is instantly recognizable thanks to its singular but ever-evolving iconography blending references to Greek mythology and ancient painting with evocative allusions to the history of modern Greece. He has been variously inspired by gods and goddesses, by the traditional Greek “karagiozis” folk puppets, ancient ruins and romantic café tables.

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With Fassianos the “myth of Greekness,” however open to interpretation that may be, is something in which to revel. You may have spotted his winged and buff bronze male figures eyeing each other underground in the Metaxourgio metro station, or a coppery cutout of a more contemporary Athenian man about town with flowing scarf and bicycle rising above the urban fray on Aiolou Street. Classical ideals, modern accoutrements: Whenever you are in central Athens today, you’re really in Fassianos country.

For a cool blue stay with an artistic accent in the heart of non-touristy Athens, all signs point to Athens BlueBuilding!

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Want to see more of the Athens BlueBuilding? Check out the video
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