Athens Losing War On Graffiti

'Kaminis, no wall will be left untouched,' says the slogan sprayed near Monastiraki Square in central Athens.
‘Kaminis, no wall will be left untouched,’ says the slogan sprayed near Monastiraki Square in central Athens.

Undaunted by the removal of graffiti which adorns many buildings in Athens, street artists promptly spray-painted the walls again almost the moment their work was removed and vowed to continue taking over the city.

City officials last month went on a campaign to remove graffiti which they said is an eyesore and all over the place, but the vandals have returned with a new assault.

A few days after municipal crews scrubbed graffiti from the entrance to the Varvakeio meat market on central Athinas Street, someone painted graffit on the building’s rolling metal shutter on a main street near City Hall without being seen.

It was removed again but the vandals said they’ll just keep doing it until the city gives up and lets them use walls, shutters and whatever they want as their personal canvas.

Critics said the cleanup campaign launched by Mayor Giorgos Kaminis aims to deflect attention from more fundamental problems, such as growing poverty and unemployment and others said not allowing street artists to paint whatever they want wherever they want stifles free expression and is heavy-handed suppression with right-wing authoritarian overtones.

“Kaminis, no wall will be left untouched,” said a newly sprayed slogan near Monastiraki Square, which was scrubbed away by municipal workers. Kaminis took to Facebook to defend what he was doing. “Public space belongs to everyone and no one has the right to pollute it, to appropriate it, or to destroy it,” Kaminis said.

“I am sure that this view is shared by the majority of the city’s residents, which is why they have welcomed the campaign to prettify the facades on the center’s historic streets with enthusiasm,” he said.

Kaminis pledged he will do what it takes to clean up the capital. “We will keep removing (such graffiti) until it becomes understood that this type of behavior is not tolerated by the majority,” he said.


  1. What a complete joke. There are businesses all over Athens, including several, if not DOZENS within 150m from Varvakeio market on Athinas which operate ONLY TO SELL SPRAY PAINT CANS to anyone able bodied enough to walk in, give a couple of euros and pick the color of their choice. What happnes next is that the cans are used to spray stupid graffiti, NOT ART, all over private and public property all over Athens, including historic sites and monuments. What are the police doing? Nothing. Driving around like little hells Angels on their papakia, stopping for coffee, doing NOTHING. The private citizens action group Athenistas have dont more to organize graffiti cleanups in Athens than the entire city public officials appointed by the Mayor can do..or even want to do. Graffiti is a problem in this city and the entire county and NO ONE CARES enough to do anything about it other than apathetically go about their indifferent ways, ignoring what the youth and destructive among us are doing every single night in the capital.

  2. Why should this surprise you Greeks happily throw rubbish anywhere they want why should a little Graffiti bother them
    The place remind s me of a third world country no wonder we have so many ill eagles here it remind’s them of home

  3. The graffiti is ugly and those who spray on people’s property should be put in prison and fined. If they want to spray on something then they should spray on their own homes. I bet their homes are clean of graffiti.

  4. As an artist who struggles for commisions and pays for
    my own materials through blood and sweat, I would rather die than steal a
    ‘canvas’ from someone’s architectural work of art, or someone’s home or
    business. It’s criminal. It’s utterly wrong, and no amount of
    narcissistic rambling about “artistic expression” is going to change
    that. Graffiti destroys the self respect (and the value) of entire
    communities. Next time I’m in Athens, I’m going with my own paint brush,
    and I pledge to paint over every single hideous tag on historic
    buildings that I have the time and resources for.