They operate from summer to September. Open-air cinemas spread out the white projection screen on the terrace of a block of flats or backyard and travel us to the world of 7th art with the star-filled sky serving as a roof.
Open-air cinemas are the trademark of Greek summer and we are all waiting for them to open with eagerness. The beginning of summer projections is the signal for us to leave our houses and fill the terraces and backyards enjoying a lemon drink and popcorn.
Nothing compares to a night out with friends to an open-air cinema and under the stars, cooled by the summer breeze, see Cary Grant running away from an airplane or enchanting Rita Hayworth throwing a glove at you.
The Athens centre has at least 15 open-air cinemas that usually open in June and close in September or with the first rains. Some of them operate also in the winter, since they have a retractable roof that opens and closes depending on the weather.
They first opened in Greece in the beginning of 1900 and their most prolific period was between 1958-1974. They are usually on a terrace of a block of flats or in a backyard; their screen and walls around are surrounded by a floral decor to give as much as possible the impression of a traditional backyard. Jasmine is nostalgically connected to open-air cinemas, imagine there is a song dedicated to that, but jasmine has gradually disappeared together with the open-air cinemas institution.
The movies that are usually projected are reruns of first-run films from the winter period andremakes of classical movies of the world cinema that attract the wider public. Many movies have a second round success in open-air cinemas, after their projection in the winter in indoor cinemas.
Seldom one can see a first screening film or a Greek movie. Usually, one cannot see thrillers in open-air cinemas, nor splatter films and science fiction and generally movies with many effects, and this is for “technical reasons”. Various effects create a lot of noise and disturb the …neighbors. If the sound is lower, the viewers will not like the movie and there will be complaints. So, a mean solution in selected. Social movies, comedies, police movies, cinephile, something particularly enjoyable that fits the spirit and disposition of the viewer during the summer period. The public’s attention is every year drawn to remakes of classic black and white movies. And believe me, black and white movies are ideal for open-air cinemas. Hitchcock is the public’s preferred director.
The experience to see a movie under the star-filled sky is unique. You get the feeling that you enjoy something forbidden and you feel very lucky. You are of course very jealous of those who live in a block of flats nearby and see the movies for free. It is also fun to sit in the dark and see lights turn on and off from the nearby block of flats.
The plastic or director’s chairs, the little table in the middle, a refreshing drink, classic popcorns or nachos, and enjoy! Generally bars in open-air movies are fully equipped while they don’t offer the same things. However all have: beers, coffees, soft drinks, lemon ice, popcorn, nachos, potato crisps, chocolates, ice creams and some others cheese pies, sandwiches and …appetizers.
After a movie in an open-air cinema you can stroll in Athens’ small streets or go to a tavern or to a bar for a drink. Everyone leaves with a feeling of satisfaction.
We propose you some cinemas and directions to get there:
- One of the oldest open-air cinemas in Athens is Zefyros in Thiseio, which is especially for cinephiles. Close by, one can find the cinema Thisseio.
Nearest metro station, Thisseio.
- Stepping down the Psirri square, one can find the homonym cinema which has a small bar where you can get a drink after the end of the film. Of course, it is imperative to stroll around the area.
- In the area of Exarheia and around, one can find the most open-air cinemas, that is where the open-air cinema’s heart beats. In Exarheia square on a terrace there is the VOX cinema, while on Valtetsiou street, there is Riviera in a magnificent backyard. The area is very welcoming and full of life with many cafes, taverns and restaurants.
- Up Mavromichali street to Alexandra street you’ll find ALFAVIL and Panathinaia and at the same level but on Zoodochou Pigis Street, Ecran. From Panepistimio metro station, you can reach all these on foot. You will walk more to get to Mavromichali, except if you go via Alexandra avenue which is closer by. Of course, you can take any bus goes up Ch. Trikoupi, which is parallel to Mavromichali, and get off two stops before Alexandra avenue.
- In Kolonaki, the most classy area of Athens, you can find one of the oldest cinemas in Athens, if not the oldest, that of Dexameni, in the homonymous square. There is a long walking distance, and a bit uphill.
- In the center of Zappeio you will find Aigli cinema. It is at the end of the planted with trees road, by the restaurant. Closest metro station, Syntagma.
- On the other side of the city, at Kodringtonos road, Patision side-road, there is Trianon, classic cinephil meeting place for summer-winter.
- Alternatively, there is the bar 45 mires in the area of Gazi, on the terrace of which with view over the Acropolis you can see any film you like, without however listening to the music or the dialogs of the movie, but to the rock music of the café while enjoying your drink.