STAVROS NIARCHOS FOUNDATION CULTURE CENTER
Renzo Piano once said that ”one of the great beauties of architecture is that each time, it is like life starting all over again”. I couldn’t agree more. Last time I was in Athens, I had the chance to visit of his latest designs, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, which reminded me of his words.
Ever since it was completed and opened to the public, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center has become one of Athens’ great landmarks. Located just 4 km off the centre of Athens, it hosts the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera in a beautiful landscaped park with its open air Agora, Esplanade and cooling canal when one can relax or get active. I remember hearing about this place for years, so I was really curious and excited to see the final result. Friends who have been were praising the project but what was so special about it? I couldn’t wait to finally see it myself.
It turns out that Renzo Piano and his team (who are behind buildings like the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Shard in London and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco) worked miracles once again. The whole space is a cultural playground and a meeting point for Athenians. My favourite spots were the canal which actually feels like an extension of the sea, the park which is full of Mediterranean aromas from the fresh herbs and pine trees, and – don’t laugh at me! – the ”musical carpet” (where you basically step on notes to create your tune) which made me go back to my childhood.
The last building that moved me so much was the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris but I have to say that its magnitude and connection to the surroundings doesn’t even compare to this one. Within less than a month, I was lucky enough to see a free live jazz concert (which you probably saw on my Instagram!), visit a fantastic exhibition about Piano’s other great designs, attend a fireworks show and go for a run in the track field – just a few of the things one can do at the SNFCC. I actually love the opera and am already looking forward to buying tickets on my next trip (in a few months – yay!).
If you live in Athens or are planning a trip there soon with friends or family, make sure to include the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in your itinerary. Aside from its architectural beauty, there are lots of activities planned and I’m sure you’re going to love it as much as I did!
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