Great Outdoor Cinemas in Athens To Catch A Movie This Summer
Cinema under the stars is a cherished Athenian institution during the steamy summer months. Every neighbourhood has at least one open-air movie house—some as old as the history of cinema itself. Rows of chairs with little tables in between. A bougainvillea-framed screen. The chirp of cicadas and the heady fragrance of honeysuckle and jasmine mingling with hot, buttered popcorn. Welcome to therina sinema (open-air cinemas)—one of the most atmospheric rituals of an Athenian summer. It’s not the movie that takes top billing; it’s the experience.
Photo: Thomas Gravanis
Cinema arrived in Greece in 1896. In the summer of 1900, in the crowded cafés of Syntagma square, films were projected outdoors for the first time by the so-called provolatzides, who unfolded big pieces of cloth to screen movies in popular areas of the city. Shortly afterwards, the first official open-air cinemas started popping up, with free entrance at first. They became so popular that by the 1960s over 500 cinemas were operating in Attica.
Today, there are 65 outdoor cinemas in Athens. Some are municipal, some private; some are hidden in parks, others are by the sea or in forgotten courtyards between apartment blocks.