The redesigned Omonia Square, with its signature fountain now restored, was unveiled to Athenians on Thursday evening.
Coming as Greece starts to gradually lift the lockdown restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the unveiling of the historical landmark was welcomed by residents of the capital, who stopped their cars and motorcycles to watch the fountain being switched on.
One of the largest water fountains in Europe in terms of water volume, the 30-meter-wide fountain shoots water 20 meters high. It has a total of 188 water jets and 177 underwater headlights.
In a statement, the Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis stressed that "Athens and its people are regaining their public space. Each emblematic point of the city restores its imprint on its daily life and culture. This is also the case with Omonia, which returns to the citizens, not as a crossing point but as a point of reference and destination."
Omonia, he notes, "is part of the mosaic created by the Great Walk. It complements and highlights it. We are proud of every inch of public space that is given to Athenians."
Bakoyannis also hailed the fountain’s innovative and ecologically friendly design, saying that it uses a fraction of the water used by conventional fountains and is also energy efficient.
Apart from improving the appearance of one of the more rundown parts of central Athens, the new square will also be “an oasis of cool,” which will help lower the temperature in its vicinity and filter pollution from the air.
Omonia Square was radically rebuilt by the city of Athens with the help of private sponsorships, replacing a fountain removed in previous overhauls.
The work was completed some time ago but the square remained closed for public use due to the coronavirus restrictions.
Omonia has undergone various transformations throughout the years. The Square was constructed in 1846 and its original name was Plateia Anaktoron (Palace Square).
It was given its final name of Omonia in 1862 because it was the site were leaders of the opposing political factions gave the oath of peace (omonia, in Greek).