It is best known as the birthplace of democracy and for its dirty and traffic-choked streets overlooked by the imposing ruins of the ancient Parthenon temple.

But Greece’s capital Athens will soon have an £6.8billion seaside development of luxury hotels, 8,000 upmarket homes, shopping malls, restaurants, a casino and a marina with moorings for mega-yachts, creating a skyline which has been likened to a mini Dubai.

The sprawling complex of glass and concrete, described as Europe’s biggest real estate project, is taking shape on 1,500 acres of the city’s former Ellinikon international airport which closed in 2001.

Construction bosses believe that recession-hit Athens’ fortunes will be transformed by the new neighbourhood with its pair of 200m high towers, making them the tallest buildings in southern Europe.

Hopes are high that the site, on an area three times the size of Monaco, will become the latest destination of choice for well-heeled tourists wanting to splash out on designer shopping or homes in the sun.

Greece’s capital Athens will soon have an £6.8billion seaside development of luxury hotels, 8,000 upmarket homes, shopping malls, restaurants, a casino and a marina with moorings for mega-yachts

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The sprawling complex of glass and concrete, described as Europe’s biggest real estate project (Left is what it looks like now and, right, the development plans)

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The current beach (left) looks barren. But its overhaul could see it transformed into a new ‘playground for the uber-rich’

The sprawling complex of glass and concrete, described as Europe’s biggest real estate project, is taking shape on 1,500 acres of the city’s former Ellinikon international airport which closed in 2001 

But some local critics fear the ‘tacky, mini Dubai-style resort’ will wreck the character of their historic city by making it a playground for the rich and famous, eclipsing the traditional classical treasures of Athens.

Local resident and saleswoman Peppy Koliakakou, 50, attacked the traffic-free development, saying: ‘All Greekness will be wiped out.’

Ms Koliakakou told MailOnline that it would cause real estate prices to soar, putting home ownership out of reach of younger people by attracting a super wealthy chauffeur-driven elite with ‘millions of dollars in hand’.

She added: ‘This is a playground for the uber rich, which the average Greek will not be able to enjoy.

‘I want my kids to be able to stroll out and enjoy the liberty and ease of a Greek neighbourhood.

‘There should have been other alternatives to developing the decrepit airport, not a complete sell out to foreign interests. I am worried that this will tarnish Athens and that it will turn the area into a tacky, mini Dubai.’

Gin mill owner Yianna Massonos, 56, said she doubted she would visit the complex due to what she described as ‘the bling of the project’.

She said: ‘I don’t think the average Greek will reap the full benefits of the project. Only high-flying multi-millionaires, sheiks and emirs have bought up the stunning flats.’

But some local critics fear the ‘tacky, mini Dubai-style resort’ will wreck the character of their historic city

Local resident Peppy Koliakakou, 50, attacked the traffic-free development, saying: ‘All Greekness will be wiped out’ 

The new development will feature a marina able to berth super yachts of the rich and famous 

But she said she hoped it would have a knock-on effect by helping local businesses, and give a boost to Athens by showing there was more to Greece than ‘the sea, and the beaches on the islands’.

Another local Antonis Theodoros who has bought a flat in the area, said: ‘It’s going to be Vegas meets Miami in Athens. I’m looking forward to it.’

Against a backdrop of drilling and construction work, he added: ‘There is no doubt that the quality of life will change here and that it will only improve the area.’

Athenian businessman Petros Tsitsiricos, 59, was also enthusiastic and welcomed foreign investment boosting the local economy and creating an estimated 75,000 jobs.

He said: ‘For a bankrupt nation, like Greece, any development project, not least this mammoth undertaking, is positive.

Hopes are high that the site, on an area three times the size of Monaco, will become the latest destination of choice for well-heeled tourists

The vast project has been described as Europe’s biggest real estate scheme

The £6.8billion seaside development will see luxury hotels, 8,000 upmarket homes, shopping malls, restaurants, and a casino being built 

‘So, rather than having this airport rotting – attracting rats, cockroaches and bats – why not see it mushroom into a playground for the rich.

‘It can only boost demand and business altogether. And that can only spell a blessing for a financially devastated country like Greece.’

Thanos Viktorators, a private security guard of VIP clients, new bitcoin casino was full of enthusiasm, describing the project as bringing Athens – one of the world’s oldest capital cities – into the 21st century.

He said: ‘We Greeks discuss and discuss, deliberate and procrastinate. That this is happening in itself is a feat for this country.

‘For us, as Athenians, it will only upgrade our lives, aesthetically and even morally, as citizens of a capital that can show more than its ancient ruins.’

The ambitious scheme will have a series of landscaped area for wealthy visitors and locals to enjoy

Construction bosses believe that recession-hit Athens’ fortunes will be transformed by the new neighbourhood

The luxury development will come complete with its own array of swanky shops and eateries 

Cars will be banned, except for emergency vehicles, and the development will be served by a new tramline as well as two existing Metro stations

The catch, he says, is whether the project’s building deadlines will be met. If construction work drags on, he fears it will only reinforce the image of Greece as ‘a laggard’, rather than a country that gets things done.

Sophia Hiras, 57, who is president of an animal welfare centre on the island of Karpathos described the project as ‘unavoidable’, although she is concerned about its impact on the environment.

She said: ‘We don’t make cars or technical equipment or computers. Greece markets tourism. It is our pride product.

‘All the hoopla over this project is understandable because it is the first of its scale. But it is signalling that Greece is in tune with the global pace of modernisation.

‘More state assets should be privatised, entrepreneurship and innovation should be encouraged. Perhaps this project can signal Greece’s coming out from an age of distress.’

The Ellinikon will occupy a stretch of just over two miles of coastline beside the already upmarket seafront neighbourhoods of Glyfada and Vougliameni, making it a glossy addition to an area already known as the Athens Riviera.

Sophia Hiras, 57, who is president of an animal welfare centre on the island of Karpathos described the project as ‘unavoidable’

The Ellinikon will occupy a stretch of just over two miles of coastline beside the already upmarket seafront neighbourhoods of Glyfada and Vougliameni

The planned development will make it a glossy addition to an area known as the Athens Riviera

A new outdoor area complete with its own boating lake as part of a 600-acre public park  

The inside of one of the buildings at the planned development 

The development company Lamda boasts that it will eventually include two luxury shopping malls and five star hotels alongside extensive leisure facilities including a marina and a 600-acre public park connecting the city to the beach.

The new infrastructure works will include building a tunnel to relieve congestion on part of Poseidonas Avenue that snakes along the coastline, creating a pedestrian route between the park and the beach.

Cars will be banned, except for emergency vehicles, and the development will be served by a new tramline as well as two existing Metro stations.

Developers are also promising that homes and buildings will be built to high energy-efficient standards with recycled materials used as much as possible, although environmentalists fear it will draw more traffic into the surrounding area.

Odisseas Athanasiou, chief executive of Lamda Development, said the first 1,500 homes in phase one of the project are priced from €6,000 per square metre, a lower price than other property in nearby southern suburbs of Athens.

Developers are also promising that homes and buildings will be built to high energy-efficient standards with recycled materials

Odisseas Athanasiou, chief executive of Lamda Development, said the first 1,500 homes in phase one of the project are priced from €6,000 per square metre

The prices that have already gone up by an estimated 15 per cent are still a fraction of London’s average property value which is €18,400 per square metre or Paris at €15,600, according to research by Savills.

The project’s Riviera Tower, which will be Greece’s first residential skyscraper, has already had all of its 170 units sold while all 28 homes in another area called Cove Villas have also all been snapped up.

The nearby Riveria Galleria complex of shops, restaurants and cultural spaces for performances is being built in a series of sweeping curves to replicate the sails of Greek ships.

Lamda is describing it as ‘a unique proposition in luxury, fashion and leisure’.

The next area to go up for sale, called Little Athens, will initially have 1,115 new homes with its centrepiece being Park Rise – a 50-metre block with 88 apartments ranging from one to five bedrooms.

The nearby Riveria Galleria complex of shops, restaurants and cultural spaces for performances is being built in a series of sweeping curves to replicate the sails of Greek ships

What the scene could look like when  people go out for a meal at one of the development’s swanky new restaurants 

The block behind a curved facade, described as ‘a reimagined classic Greek column’, will feature resident-only fitness facilities including an indoor pool and private gardens.

At least one third of the apartments have already been sold with three quarters of the buyers being Greek and a quarter foreign, although the homes have not yet been marketed abroad.

Building work on The Ellinikon is scheduled to be completed in ten years, but the developers admit that serious labour shortages in the construction industry continue to be a challenge.

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