When you think of the world’s most prosperous shopping streets, you probably don’t think of Greece.
But back before the double whammy of the 2008 financial crisis and 2010-2012 eurozone crisis, Athens was home to some of the most prime retail space on the planet.
In 2012 Joe Weisenthal wrote a post about Ermou, which real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield said was the 10th most expensive in the world for retail space in 2007.
I thought I’d update Joe’s post to see what had changed in the last three years — what I didn’t realise is that I’m actually staying on the street in question. Like him, I never would have guessed this was once such a prosperous area.
The price of retail space in the area has fallen by nearly half since then and it’s lost a lot of its former glory — take a look.
I started on the western end of the street, near my hotel -- it doesn't look like this was ever part of the prime retail space.
Even further up the street, towards the prime shopping area, there were buildings that looked like they'd been left alone for a long time.
Some looked like they had some sort of renovation work being done at some point, but there wasn't much sign of that when I visited.
The Church of Panagia Kapnikarea is in the middle of the street -- it's an intact Byzantine church built in 1050, one of Athens' oldest.
Sprider, a chain of Greek value fashion stores, closed down in 2013. Nothing had replaced this large outlet since then.
This Adidas store looked a little more full than when Joe Weisenthal visited, but not much more full.
At the very end of the street you can see Syntagma Square, the focal point of the protests (and sometimes riots) of the last six years.
Plenty of the stores remaining at the most eastern part of the street would be recognisable to people from other countries.
A Greek business lobby group says that without a bailout deal, 59 businesses are closing each day in the country.
Back in 2007, it cost about $450 per square foot to rent retail space on Ermou, according to Cushman and Wakefield.
In their latest report Ermou costs just $253 per square foot, a decline of nearly 50% from its heyday.
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