ZEP Kissos – Thermi, Greece - Atlas Obscura

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ZEP Kissos

Thermi, Greece

A settlement that was stopped in the middle of construction, leaving behind paved roads, curbs, light poles, a stormwater drainage system, and even a basketball court, but no houses. 

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About eight kilometers outside of Panorama, Thessaloniki, is a place that resembles, more than any other, an eerie and abandoned nuclear test base. This is ZEP Kissos (ZEP stands for Zone of Active Urbanism) and its story dates back to the 1980s. Despite having paved roads, curbs, light poles, and astormwater drainage system, Kissos is a non-settlement. It even has a basketball court, but no houses.

From up here, the views of the Thessaloniki airport, Thermaikos Gulf, and down to Megalo Emvolo and Nea Michaniona are breathtaking. Time has ravaged what infrastructure has managed to be built on this hillside. The asphalt has been torn up in many places, lush vegetation springs up from the sewers, and on the slopes, flocks of sheep graze sporadically.

By prefectural decisions in the 1970s, the wider area was declared a reforestation area. In 1985, by court decisions, the area was designated as grassland, followed by two Presidential Decrees, which gave the green light for its urban development. At the end of the 1980s, the infrastructure works that exist to this day were carried out. Reactions from ecological groups erupted, but the signature of the responsible Minister of Urban Planning was never signed, so in 1995, the area was again classified as a forest and reforestation area. In the meantime, three building permits had been issued, which are reportedly still pending before the State Council.

In the years that followed, the case was brought before the courts several times and in different jurisdictions. The Kissos ZEP file was reopened between 2012-14, but without ever adding a single stone to the slope. The case last came into the news in the summer of 2015, when ecological movements reported that the local municipality had decided to increase the company’s share capital. Will there be a new episode in this crazy story, which has been going on since the mid-1980s, in the near future?

Know Before You Go

You can reach ZEP Kissos starting from Panorama in Thessaloniki by car, but there are multiple roads leading to Kissos.


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