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Refugee and Social Housing in Kaissariani

Functionality and utilization of the space to the maximum are the main features of the refugee and social housing.

  1. Modern and Contemporary era (1821 - )

    1923 The military Greek government requested a loan from the League of Nations to deal with the situation.

    1929 Until the late 1920s, refugee housing is single-family or two-story housing. A law of 1929 paved the way for the construction of multi-storey buildings.

    1933 Refugee settlements began to be built in a more organized strategy. Among them is that of Kaissariani.

  2. Ottoman era (1453- 1821)

  3. Byzantine era (331 AC- 1453)

  4. Roman era (30 BC- 330 AC)

  5. Hellenistic era (322- 31 BC)

  6. Classical era (478-323 BC)

  7. Archaic era (800-479 BC)

  8. Geometric era (-1100- 800 BC)

  9. Prehistory (-1100 BC)

What I can see

Kaissariani today is considered a thriving middle-class district, which was “born” out of the refugee settlement in the area, about 100 years ago. Few buildings are reminiscent of that era. Only few of the first two-storey refugee houses survive. Today we mainly see the later refugee and labour apartment buildings of the 1950s. The architectural characteristics of these apartment buildings are functionality, utilization of space, adequate ventilation and lighting of the apartments, open squares and greenery. Already, however, the earlier, interwar residences followed the same logic and remain very interesting examples of interwar modernist architecture. In some buildings, the bullet holes of the December events of 1944, which were the bloodiest conflict of the Greek civil war in the capital, have also been preserved.

What I can't see

About a million Greek refugees arrived in 1922 and a few hundred thousand more after the population exchange between Greece and Turkiye (Turkey) and the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne. Their housing, together with the wars that followed (World War II, Civil War) was among the greatest challenges of the 20th century for the Greek state. Until basic infrastructure was built, the refugees lived in public buildings, churches and shanties, simultaneously facing health risks (e.g. cholera) and the hostility of the local Greeks, who carried out pogroms and called them “Turks”,  “Turkish seeds”, “shitty Mongols” and other names. The original two- storey houses had a rectangular layout with shared bathrooms and other sanitary facilities. These settlements were built in “empty” areas, far from the already inhabited ones, as the impositions had economic and political cost and the hostility between locals and refugees was exacerbated by their co-housing. The refugee population, like that of Kaissariani, suffered a double shock. The first was the “uprooting” from their ancestral homes and the second was their “violent” urbanization. Many of them lived far from urban centres and suddenly found themselves living – by force and not by choice – in large cities and apartments.


Giannakopoulos G., (2003), Η Ελλάδα με τους πρόσφυγες, [Greece with Refugees], in Ιστορία του Νέου Ελληνισμού, 1770- 2000, [History of modern Hellenism, 1770-2000] v.7, p.p. 89-100

Kardamitsi- Adami M., (2003), Αρχιτεκτονική, παλαιά ρεύματα και σύγχρονες λύσεις, [Architecture, old styles and contemporary solutions], in Ιστορία του Νέου Ελληνισμού, 1770- 2000, [History of modern Hellenism, 1770-2000] v.7, p.p. 211-234

Leontidou L., (2016), Φτωχογειτονιές της ελπίδας, [Slums of hope], in Ιστορία μιας πόλης, [The History of a city], part 3, p.p. 50-57, Lifo

Lianos Ν.Α., (2016), Η στεγαστική αποκατάσταση των προσφύγων, [Housing Rehabilitation of Refugees] in Ιστορία μιας πόλης, [The History of a city], part 3, p.p. 40-49, Lifo

Magklinis I., (2013), Η πρωτεύουσα των προσφύγων, [The capital of refugees], in Ιστορία μιας πόλης, [The History of a city], part 1, p.p. 21-27, Lifo

Mpelavilas N., (2021), Ιστορία της πόλης του Πειραιά, 19ος και 20ος αιώνας, [The History of the City of Piraeus, 19th and 20th centuries], Alexandria Publication

Collective Work, (d.u.), Αθήνα, τεκμήρια φωτογραφικού αρχείου, [Athens, photo archive documents], Secretariat General of Information