Lamia. My little hometown.

A photo story.

Lamia is a town of about 80,000 people north of Athens, in central Greece. It’s literally build on a side of a mountain.

When you grow up in a small place, that you always want to get out, it’s hard to love it. It always symbolises your humble beginnings. It reminds you of the kids at school that use to bully you. It reminds you of these dark days of your childhood, the boring times, everything.

Lamia has a lot of narrow alleys like this. Around them you’ll find a lot of bakeries, coffee shops and traditional tavernas. The sun is never missing.

But here’s the weird thing. Give it a good 15 years and everything starts to fade out. That bully at your school, you barely remember his name. These dark moments? You realise that they are what made you strong today. They are less dark. And your humble beginnings? Those you need to remember the most. Your friends, your family, the old streets you walked.

The city has organically grew over the years. Newer buildings are built among old houses. Sometimes, if you look closer, you can time travel in an age of extreme poverty and struggle.

I grew up in Lamia during the 90s and early 00s. I remember these days when the city was growing exponentially. You could see more people living a better life, with several luxuries. But you couldn’t fail to notice the contrast with the past. You could look around you and see old buildings from the early days of the previous century. The people that lived there went through a lot of hardships. My hometown was in the epicentre of the Greek civil war. You were never too far away from an older person, that fought against his own family during that war, telling a story. In the meanwhile, we were buying luxury cars like crazy, and borrowing money to visit Europe. The statue of Aris Velouchiotis (below) is even to this day controversial to the people of Lamia, so are Porsche Cayenne’s.

Aris Velouchiotis. A key figure during the Greek civil war. He was from Lamia.

The post crisis Lamia, like the rest of the country, is going through a small PTSD. People are having hard time to get used to the new reality. Big factories that use to operate in the area are now closed. The retail stores of the central square are clinically dead. It will take a lot of time to find new ways of surviving. On the bright side of things, younger people are now looking into agriculture and in modern types of crops. It’s really nice to go back and see people finding ingenious new, but old, ways to make due.

What does the future hold? I wish I knew. But you know what? I’m hopeful. Greeks aren’t strangers to hardships, eventually we’ll go through that crisis. My hometown, mostly due to geography, has always been in the centre of most of these hardships. I only hope that when we get out of this we will be wiser, more composed, more hard working and less impulsive on important decisions.

Finally, what makes every small town beautiful is your own people. The people you grew up with and they love you and support you along the way. So remember to go back to them every now and again and show them your love.