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Athens Conservatory: A well-kept urban secret

“I’ve been angry for the past three years. You’ll get angry too at what you’ll see,” said Nikos Tsouchlos in his usual mild tone as he welcomed me into his office at the Athens Conservatory on the corner of Rigilis and Vassileos Constantinou streets, where he’s been president of the institution since 2013, before taking me on a tour of parts of the buildings that have never been used since construction work stopped in 1976.

A well-kept urban secret, the Athens Conservatory is one of the most expensive properties in the Balkans, yet over 6,000 square meters in the basement remains as it was 40 years ago when the money for the building’s completion ran out and the workmen laid down their tools. In 1980, the state undertook the cost of completing the work in exchange for ownership of the conservatory’s old headquarters.

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Today, after so many decades of advancement in Greek society, a 700-seat amphitheater, a large foyer, teaching rooms and various spaces for events are waiting to be rescued, not just because abandoning them is, to put it simply, ridiculous, but also because making use of them could help the conservatory improve its dire finances...

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