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Exarcheia, Greece

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Exarcheia (Greek: Εξάρχεια pronounced [eˈksaɾ.çi.a]) is a neighborhood in downtown Athens, Greece close to the historical building of the National Technical University of Athens. The Exarcheia region is famous as a home for Greek anarchists. It took the name from a meExarcheia, GreeceExarcheia, Greecerchant named Exarchos (Greek: Έξαρχος) who opened a large general store there. Exarcheia is bordered on the east by Kolonaki and is framed by Patission Street, Panepistimiou Street and Alexandras Avenue. Exarcheia is renowned for being Athens' historical core of radical political and intellectual activism.


Features

The National Archaeological Museum of Athens, the National Technical University of Athens and Strefi Hill are all located in Exarcheia. The central square features many cafes and bars with numerous retail computer shops located mainly on Stournari street, also called the Greek Silicon Valley. Located on Exarcheia square is one of the oldest summer cinemas of Athens, called "Vox", as well as the Antonopoulos apartment building, known as the "Blue Building", because of its initial color, which is a typical example of modern architecture in Athens during the inter-war period. Due to the political and intellectual character of the neighborhood, many bookstores, fair trade shops and organic food stores are also located in Exarcheia. Exarcheia is also known for having comic book shops.


History

The district of Exarcheia was created between 1870 and 1880 at the confines of the city and has played a significant role in the social and political life of Greece. It is there the Athens Polytechnic uprising of November 1973 took place. In December 2008, the murder of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos by a policeman in Exarcheia caused rioting throughout Greece.


Exarcheia is a place where many intellectuals and artists live and an area where many socialist, anarchist, and anti-fascist groups are accommodated. Exarcheia is also an art hub where theatrical shows and concerts take place around the central square. The headquarters of PASOK, a Greek political party that supported austerity measures dictated by the European Union in 2009, are also located in the neighborhood and has been a target of attacks by anarchists. Police stations and other symbols of authority (and capitalism) such as banks are often targets of far-leftist groups. One can find numerous anti-capitalist graffiti in the district.


Protests that begin in Exarcheia evidence diverse political formations and coalitions, including dispossessed young people, migrants, anti-authoritarians, anarchists, and Greek citizens from the moderate to extreme on both ends of the political spectrum.


The European refugee crisis resulted in an enormous migration to Greece - in 2017, 55,000 people throughout Greece were registered as permanent residents. When borders between Greece and the European Union were closed, many migrants were forced to stay in camps that lacked housing or hygiene infrastructure. As a result, refugees and migrants sought alternative options within Athens, including squats in the Exarcheia neighborhood.


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