Courtesy: Thomas Gravanis

From experimental spaces with laser-cut bowls to skate parks with outdoor cinemas and artistic cafes, Athens’ skater scene is on a roll.

By Alex King

Thrills and spills stack up at Latraac skate park.

Photo: Thomas Gravanis

Teaching kids the moves at Latraac.

Photo: Thomas Gravanis

Young refugees get active with local children at Latraac.

Photo: Thomas Gravanis

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When Athens' hardcore skaters aren't perfecting their kickflips, you'll most likely find them at Color.

Photo: Thomas Gravanis

“These guys know the city better than anyone else,” Vassilis says. As the team set off, the thundering of polyurethane on tarmac echoes through Psirri's narrow, Ottoman-era streets. They burst out onto Athinas Street, adding another layer of chaos to the street's usual hubbub. After taking turns to flip over a metal grate on Kotzias Square, next to Athens' ancient fortifications, they cruise up pedestrianised Aiolou Street, weaving in and out of bemused shoppers. Heading up Lekka Street, they pass Ministry of Concrete—another store with its own team—before emerging onto Syntagma Square. Riders grind a metal-tipped ledge, then lounge on the marble stairs below the Hellenic Parliament, as Manos Kyriakousis nails a huge air over their heads.

Great skate spots abound across Athens, but the best street-style park is a metro ride away at the OAKA Olympic Complex at Marousi (Please note that the Central Stadium and the Cycling Track of the Athens Olympic Sports Complex are closed indefinitely, as an extensive maintenance of the stadium is scheduled.) Jumping off Line 1 at Eirini Station, you can cruise under the iconic arches of Santiago Calatrava’s stadium to the skate and BMX park.

From here, it's a manageable push to the Galatsi DIY in Veikou Park, which also boasts an outdoor cinema and theatre. The sprawling concrete park oozes mellow, Venice Beach-vibes. The blazing sun, too, is a reminder that the Athenian climate rivals that of Southern California—the spiritual centre of the skateboarding universe.

With American pros like Curren Caples dropping by to check out the heat, visitors and locals alike are starting to recognise skateboarding's growing impact on Athens’ culture and architecture. While the crisis may have sapped energy from many scenes, skateboarders have long been at the vanguard of Athens' grassroots resurgence. Because, unlike so many others, they never lost hope in this vast, sun-bleached concrete playground.