Visitors to Athens Greece will soon have to add one more destination to their must-see list: The Ellinikon which, among other things, will be home to Europe’s largest coastal park, virtually doubling the amount of greenspace in Athens. Greece is a nation festooned with monumental sights and ancient classics so it’s hard to imagine anything new in this bastion of antiquities, but Ellinikon will have plenty of new to offer visitors. In addition to a 500-acre coastal park, the development will be joined by a beachfront Mandarin Oriental hotel, 50-story residential tower, two shopping malls, a sports complex, casino, and a marina designed to accommodate mega-yachts. Just 25 minutes from the Athens airport and only 20 minutes from the Acropolis and the center of Athens, the Ellinikon’s reinvention of the Greek coastline promises to be transformational to the Riviera and to Athens.
The visionary behind this monumental project is Odisseas Athanasiou, the chief executive officer at LAMDA Development. Athanasiou and his team saw opportunity in neglected land in and around along the city’s coastline – land which was once home to the decommissioned Athens International Airport and also the site of the 2004 Olympic Games. Says Athanasiou, “This place used to be 70% cement and soon it will be 70% green. It is going to change the whole microclimate of the area. And, because we get to start from scratch, we can build a 15-minute city where you can be anywhere you need to be within 15 minutes.”
Sustainable LEED-certified next generation construction is a leading priority in the development of Ellinikon. Today, the dormant runways and unused Olympic athletic venues are being dismantled and regenerated into the new construction, taking on life as park benches for the greenspace, or foundations for other buildings. The dedicated efforts at reuse mean most of the demolition materials remain on site, to be regenerated rather than trucked offsite and dumped elsewhere.
Visitors to the Ellinikon will have ample activities to choose from notes Athanasiou, “We don’t want to just offer shopping. For example, in one of our malls, Golden Hall, we have a museum for the Olympic Games, an aquarium, and an adventure-land for families.” There will be several luxury hotels to choose from as well. The Mandarin Oriental Athens Hotel and Luxury Residences will be situated along the coastal front of The Ellinikon and is set to open in the summer of 2027. According to the current plans, the 5-star hotel will offer 123 rooms and suites, along with 17 luxury branded residences, all with breathtaking views of the Saronic Gulf and direct access to the sea. It will be in good five-star luxury company with the recent opening of the One&Only Aesthesis (which is not part of the Ellinikon) just down the road. The second luxury hotel, based near the marina, has yet to be named.
On deck for the first phase, which should be completed by the end of 2026, is the redevelopment of the coastline, the Riviera Galleria mall, Riviera Tower (50 stories or residential), two luxury hotels, and an integrated resort casino from Hard Rock, as well as other beachfront residences and a sports complex. The Park, which will be larger than London’s Hyde Park and Europe’s largest coastal park, will take shape slowly as they convert old airport runways into orchards and walking paths. Now, they are building the vital infrastructure – such as a tunnel to divert traffic underneath the park – to create the unseen but essential elements to any greenspace.
Today, the curious can pay a visit to the Ellinikon Experience Center and Park which offers a micro-dose of the eventual project with interactive displays and features such as a zen garden, water maze, and forest playground. You’ll also get to see firsthand the scope and breadth of the project in real time as construction is going on just outside the area. The Greeks share a compelling history of creating timeless architecture that continues to amaze and delight centuries later. The Ellinikon development shares that Greek penchant for creating things with a transformative potential as it promises to be a destination enjoyed by generations to come.