Spectacle Archive

Athens Kaisariani - 1998

Still from Athens Kaisariani

Introduction

Video documentation of the streets of Kaisariani, particularly of the few remaining small adobe built single floor buildings that are fast disappearing, being replaced with apartment blocks.

Kaisariani (Greek: Καισαριανή), also Kessariani and Kaissariani) is a suburb in the eastern part of Athens, Greece.

History

Among the areas of Attica where the Minor Asian refugees settled, was the colony of Kessariani. In late 1922, (according to some unconfirmed records) very few Minor Asian families settled, under extremely difficult conditions, in this area and set their tents near the Venereal Diseases Sigrou Hospital (across from where Hotel Caravel is situated today), in order to be close to their relatives - mostly women - victims of Turkish brutality, who had been, after their rape, afflicted with venereal diseases. Due to that, this area was originally named Sigrou Colony. In a few months - in the early 1923 - the state gradually settled about 8000 refugees, mostly from the coast of Minor Asia. (Further information on this matter can be provided on the web page concerning the Centre of Minor Asian Culture)

Several months after the first settlement of the refugees, a more organized effort from the state commenced. The choice of the area of Kessariani started the city s first definite phase that continues till 1935. Particularly, in May 1923, works began in Kessariani, that included the construction of 500 wooden hutments and 1000 adobe built rooms.

This construction was adapted to that of the blocks, 10 or 12 houses made up a block. At the centre of every block, there was a kind of a court-like space, the communal lavatory.

Two important women of Kessariani, the "priestess" of Greek traditional music, Domna Samiou and the writer Despina Fotinou, describe the squalid conditions, as each experienced it, at a different time and from a different point of view.

The brickworks, as mentioned above, was the basic constructing method of houses for the refugees. These small structures, made of adobe, were deficient, allowing their users a small flexibility for personal initiative.

In parallel to this constructive method, refugee apartment blocks are being built, in the late 1920s, two-storey in a similar formation within the block. Each household was granted acreage of approximately 36sq. These tenement houses lay along the old military street, around which Kessariani will spread, and reached the square to the elementary school built by Venizelos. Later on, some three-storey apartment blocks were also built.

he suburb today after going through fire and water, is considered to be an advantageous place to live in, mostly due to the environment and the warmth of its people. The suburb is growing; it has won several fights... regained its footing and stood up. Today it attracts many people, it has somewhat changed...  But its history, still wanders about everywhere, it lies in every part of it. History that moulds our character and forms our conscience.

From the official Kaisariani Municipality website

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Credits

Date: 1998
Location: Kaisariani (Καισαριανή)
City: Athens, Greece
Original Format - colour, mini DV, 120 mins
Language versions - english
Useful link: - http://www.kessariani.gr/...

Ordering Information

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