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Kallithea (Greek: Καλλιθέα map, meaning "good view") is the 8th largest municipality in Greece (109,609 inhabitants, 2001 census) and the 4th biggest in the Athens urban area (following Athens itself, Piraeus and Peristeri). Additionally, it is the second-most densely populated municipality in Greece (after Neapoli, Thessaloniki), with 23,080.4 inhabitants / km².
The center of Kallithea (Davaki Square) lies at a distance of 3 km to the south of the Athens city center (Syntagma Square) and 3 km to the north-east of the Pireas city center (Korai Square) (photo 1). Kallithea extends from the Filopappou and Sikelia hills in the north to Phaleron Bay in the south ; its two other sides consist of Syngrou Avenue to the east (border to the towns of Nea Smyrni and Palaio Faliro), and the Ilisos River to the west (border to the towns of Tavros and Moschato) (photo 2).
The site on which the city was developed covers the biggest part of the area to the south of Athens, protected in ancient times (5th century BC) by the Long Walls to the west and the Phaleron Wall to the east (photo 3). Somewhere within this area the ancient town of Xypete lay. The town and its citizens are mentioned among other places in Plato's Dialogs.
The plans for the establishment of the new city of Kallithea were officially approved in December 1884. On the longitudinal axis of the town (Thisseos Avenue), the Athens to Phaleron tramway once ran, from the beginning (1850) to (1955) and the end of its operations. Near the center of the town the Shooting Range (Skopeftirion) was built to house events of the first modern Olympic Games , the 1896 Summer Olympics, and these first modern games took place in three venues: the refurbished ancient stadium of Athens (Panathinaiko Stadium) 2 km NE of Kallithea, the Faliron Velodrome (currently Karaiskaki Stadium) 2 km SW of Kallithea, and the Kallithea Shooting Range (Skopeftirion).
Events of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games were also sited in the district of Kallithea, notably handball and Taekwondo in the new Sports Pavilion (Faliro) by the bottom of Syngrou Avenue, and beach volleyball in the Olympic Beach Volleyball Center on Kallithea Bay(Tzitzifies).
Between the first modern games (1896) and the recent (2004) Olympic Games in the city, Kallithea grew significantly. Initially the tramway depot and workshop were built here in 1910, followed by the Harokopios Graduate School (1925) and the Panteios Graduate School of Political Sciences (1928).
In the 1920s the town was flooded by thousands of refugees following the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922), the Asia Minor Catastrophe (1922), and the Treaty of Lausanne (1923). These refugees arrived in Kallithea mainly from the south Black Sea (Pontus), from ancient Greek cities such as Sinope (now Sinop, Turkey), Sampsus (now Samsun, Turkey), Kerasus (now Giresun, Turkey), Trapezous-Trebizond (now Trabzon, Turkey), Tripolis (now Tirebolu, Turkey), Argyroupolis (now Gümüshane, Turkey) and other remnants of the late Byzantine Empire.
A few had arrived earlier (1919) from the north and east (Russian) coasts of the Black Sea, from places such as Odessos (Odessa), Marioupolis (Mariupol', the Sea of Azov) and elsewhere, after the failed attempt of the western allies (Greece included) against the young Bolshevik state during the Russian Civil War.
Black Sea immigrants of Greek origin also settled in Kallithea in the 1930s, as a result of the change of Soviet policy toward ethnic groups. Their origins were mainly in the east coast of the Black Sea (Batumi, Sukhumi, Novorossiysk, Anapa etc.)
The first refugees settled originally near the site of the first Olympic shooting range (1896), until they were gradually transferred to new dwellings. After its evacuation the building bound with the shooting range served as a school, until the Nazi Occupation of 1941, when it was converted to a prison. The prison of Kallithea was demolished in 1966 ;among others, fighters of the Greek Resistance and victims of the Greek Civil War had been jailed there, such as Nikos Beloyannis.
In the 1990s, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a new wave of Greek immigrants arrived in Kallithea from the east coast of the Black Sea, from the Caucasus highlands in Georgia, as well as from distant Greek settlements in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan where their Black Sea Greek ancestors were expelled during Stalin's regime in the 1930s.
Until 2004, south Kallithea (Tzitzifies) housed the only horse track in Greece (Ippodromos - Hippodrome) , which later moved to Markopoulon, near Eleftherios Venizelos Airport. The same area of the city , Tzitzifies, is associated with the development of Greek folk music , particularly rebetiko and later laïkó). Popular composers and singers once performed here ; Markos Vamvakaris, Vassilis Tsitsanis, Yannis Papaioannou, Marika Ninou, Sotiria Bellou, Manolis Chiotis, Mary Linda, Yorgos Zambetas, Stelios Kazantzidis, Marinella, Poly Panou, and Viki Moscholiou.
Kallithea houses two universities (Harokopion and Panteion), numerous cultural associations and several sport clubs, the most well known of which are Kallithea FC (soccer) and Esperos (basketball, volleyball, handball, and also soccer in an earlier period).
The city is accessed from the east by Syngrou Boulevard, from the south by Poseidonos Avenue, from the north and west by Kifissos Avenue/GR-1, and from the Athens center by Thisseos Avenue (via Syntagma, Amalias, Syngrou). The metropolitan urban railway (Metro line 1 stations Kallithea and Tavros), the tram (stations Kallithea and Tzitzifies), and numerous bus and trolley-bus lines along the Thieos, Syngrou and Poseidonos Avenues connect Kallithea to almost every destination in the Athens basin.