Kallithea (Greek: Καλλιθέα map) is the 8th biggest municipality in Greece (110,187 inhabitants, 2001 census) and the 4th biggest in Greater Athens (following Athens itself, Piraeus and Peristeri). The centre of Kallithea (Davaki Square) lies at a distance of 3 km to the south of the Athens city centre (Syntagma Square) and 3 km to the north-east of the Piraeus city centre (Korai Square) (photo 1). Kallithea extends from Filopappou and Sikelia hills in the north to the Phaleron Bay in the south. Its two other sides consist of Syngrou Avenue to the east (border to the towns of Nea Smyrni and Palaio Faliro) and Ilisos river to the west (border to the towns of Tavros and Moschato) (photo 2).
The site on which the city was developed covers the biggest part of the area to the south of Athens, protected in the ancient times (5th century BC) by the Long Walls to the west and the Phaleron Wall to the east (photo 3). Somewhere within this area the ancient town of Xypete existed. This town and its citizens are mentioned amongst elsewhere in Plato's Dialogues.
The 1896 and 2004 Athens Olympics
The plans for the establishment of the new city of Kallithea were officially approved in December 1884. On the longitudinal axis of the town (Thisseos Avenue) the Athens to Phaleron tramway used to run from the beginning (1850) to the end (1955) of its operations. Near the centre of the town the Shooting Range (Skopeftirion) was built to house events of the first modern Olympic Games (1896 Summer Olympics). These games took place in three venues: the refurbished ancient stadium of Athens (Panathinaiko Stadium) 2 km NE of Kallithea, the Faliron Velodrome (currently Karaiskaki Stadium) 2 km SW of Kallithea and the Kallithea Shooting Range (Skopeftirion).
Events of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games also took place in the district of Kallithea, notably Handball and Taek Won Do in the new Sports Pavilion (Faliro) by the bottom of Syngrou Avenue and Beach Volleyball in the Olympic Beach Volleyball Centre on Kallithea beach (Tzitzifies).
The Growth of the City
Between the first (1896) and the recent (2004) modern Olympic Games in Athens the city of Kallithea grew significantly. First the tramway depot and workshop were built there (1910) followed by the Harokopios Graduate School (1925) and the Panteios Graduate Scholl of Political Sciences (1928).
In the 1920s the town was flooded by the thousands of refugees after the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922), the Asia Minor Catastrophe (1922) and the Treaty of Lausanne (1923). These refugees arrived in Kallithea mainly from the south Black Sea (Pontus, from ancient Greek cities such as Sinope (now Sinop, Turkey), Samsus (now Samsun, Turkey), Kerasus (now Giresun, Turkey), Trapezous-Trebizond (now Trabzon, Turkey), Tripolis (now Tirebolu, Turkey), Argyroupolis (now Gumus-hane, Turkey) and other remnants of the late Byzantine Empire.
A few had arrived earlier (1919) from the north and east (russian) coasts of the Black Sea, from places such as Odessos (Odessa), Marioupolis (Mariopol', Sea of Azov) and other, after the failed attempt of the western allies (Greece included) against the young Bolshevik state during the Russian Civil War.
Black Sea immigrants of Greek origin also settled in Kallithea in the 1930s, as a result of the change of soviet policy towards ethnic groups. Their origins were mainly in the east coast of the Black Sea (Batumi, Sochumi, Novorossisk, Anapa etc.)
The first refugees settled originally in the site of the Olympic Shoting Range (1896) until they were gradually transferred to new dwellings. After its evacuation the building of the Shooting Range served as a scholl until the Nazi Occupation (1941) when it was converted to prison. The prison of Kallithea was demolished in 1966. Among other, fighters of the Greek Resistance and victims of the Greek Civil War had been jailed there (e.g. Nikos Beloyannis).
In the 1990s, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a new wave of Greek immigrants arrived in Kallithea from the east coast of the Black Sea, from the Caucasus highlands in Georgia as well as from distant settlements in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan where their Black Sea Greek ancestors were expelled during the Stalin regime in the 1930s.
Until 2004 south Kallithea (Tzitzifies) housed the only horse track in Greece (Ippodromos - Hippodrome) which moved to Markopoulon near the Eleftherios Venizelos Airport. The same area of the city (Tzitzifies) is associated with the development of greek folk music (rebetiko and later laiko). Popular composers and singers used to perform there (Markos Vamvakaris, Vassilis Tsitsanis, Yannis Papaioannou, Marika Ninou, Sotiria Bellou, Manolis Chiotis, Mary Linda, Yorgos Zambetas, Stelios Kazantzidis, Marinella, Poly Panou, Viki Moscholiou etc.)
Kallithea houses two universities (Harokopion and Panteion), numerous cultural associations and several sport clubs, the most well known among which are Kallithea FC (soccer) and Esperos (basketball, volleyball, handball, tabletennis as well as soccer in the past).
The city is accessed from the east by Syngrou Avenue, from the south by Poseidonos Avenue, from the north and west by Kifissos Avenue/GR-1 and from the Athens centre by Thisseos Avenue (via Syntagma, Amalias, Syngrou). The metropolitan railway (line 1 stations Kallithea and Tavros), the tramway (stations Kallithea and Tzitzifies) and numerous bus and trolley-bus lines along the Thisseos, Syngrou and Posseidonos Avenues connect Kallithea to almost any destination in the Athens basin.
Astronaut photo showing the city of Kallithea (bordered with white dotted line), its location next to the Athens centre (to the right) and the Phaleron Bay (to the left), as well as the local layout of the metropolitan railway (cyan line) and its stations (yellow circles). Enlarge
The 5th century BC fortification of Athens "long walls" (red lines) superimposed on a recent astronaut photo. Also shown the river beds in ancient times (cyan lines), the new river bed (dotted cyan line), the ancient roads coinciding with existing ones (yellow dotted lines) and the Phaleron coastline at ancient times (blue line). Enlarge
Sites of interest
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