Periptero: All About the Legendary Greek Kiosk

Greek kiosk or “periptero”

When most people think about visiting Greece, they think about major tourist attractions like the Acropolis and the Delphi Theater. For those who want a more authentic experience, though, check out the periptero.

A periptero is a kiosk that can be found in every village, town, and city across the country. Periptera (the plural form of periptero) are similar to convenience stores, selling everything from newspapers and magazines to cigarettes and pain medications.

The first periptero opened in Athens in 1911. It was located on Panepistimiou Street, which is one of the main roads in Athens, and remained in business until its demise in 1997 when it was sunken as a result of a construction accident.

The Greek kiosks or periptera have often been described as the hearts of the neighborhoods. They don’t just offer convenient access to everyday products. They also serve as places for locals to share juicy gossip, discuss politics and sports, or just catch up with one another.

This is likely to change, though, thanks to recent legal updates.

When they first arrived on the scene, periptera were treated as property that could be passed down from parents to children and grandchildren. However, in 2015, the law changed.

Now, a periptero license cannot be renewed once it has been terminated. This means that periptera are likely to disappear as their current owners age and are no longer able to run them.

Greek kiosk seller – Photo: dadofekl /Flickr

The Greek periptera are also in danger thanks to the country’s ongoing economic struggles (which were exacerbated by COVID-19).

Athens was once home to around 1,080 periptera. Now, nearly half of them have closed, and approximately 300 have been abandoned. Others have been removed by municipalities to make room for new structures and developments.

For those who want to see and experience the Greek periptera but can’t take a trip to see them in person, this video is a great representation of their influence.