Thessaloniki's waterfront, a symbol of the future

Prizewinning Nea Paralia attracts thousands of people

25 January, 13:42

    Nea Paralia Salonicco (Cortesia dello studio Nikiforidis-Cuomo) Nea Paralia Salonicco (Cortesia dello studio Nikiforidis-Cuomo)

    (by Patrizio Nissirio) (ANSAmed) - Thessaloniki (Greece) - The new prizewinning waterfront in Greece's second city is uniquely beautiful in the January cold, even if the winter weather does keep the crowds away. 'Nea Paralia' (New Beach) is normally thronged with people strolling, practicing sport or simply whiling away the hours in what has become a positive symbol of modernity and the future in a country that has for too long struggled under the burden of the economic and migration crises. "Once upon a time, in the 1980s, there was nothing here, just cars parked everywhere. Only people living on the margins were to be found here, the rest of the Thessaloniki population didn't really frequent this part of the city. Now there's everything: families, couples, street traders, people eating, reading, sunbathing. The area has come alive, it is reconciled with the city and joins it to the sea. I really like to see people enjoying themselves here," architect Prodromos Nikiforidis of the local firm Nikiforidis-Cuomo that designed Nea Paralia told ANSAmed. The waterfront was created in two stages and fully opened in 2014, quickly becoming one of the main attractions in Thessaloniki.

    Stretching for 3.5 km from the Royal Theatre to the concert hall, it is studded with seven themed parks created to a contemporary design. These include the 'Garden of sound', the 'Garden of the afternoon sun' and the 'Garden of Alexander', next to the equestrian statue of Alexander the Great, the symbol of the Greek region of Central Macedonia of which Thessaloniki is the capital.

    Roughly 1,800 new trees were planted for the project and a sculpture, 'The Umbrellas' by Greek artist Giorgos Zongolopoulos, has become one of the most photographed spots along the entire waterfront. "It was important to deeply know the city in order to design this project," said Nikiforidis. "In my view to make an intervention of this nature it is necessary to experience a place, rather than turn up from another reality with a project that doesn't take the context into account. This is why we created the themed parks, each of which preserves elements of the original waterfront." From Nea Paralia, the view of the city stretching out along the bay is breathtaking. On a winter's day the dark blue sea is dotted with tankers and container vessels.

    "I know some people find these ships annoying, but I like this view," the architect said with a smile. (ANSAmed).

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