by Natasha Pavlopoulou
ATHENS, July 23 (Xinhua) -- The sun is setting while the opening titles of the movie appear on the big screen. The strong smell of jasmine and popcorn fills up the atmosphere and the songs of cicadas are heard everywhere. This is the scenery of the open air cinemas, one of the most characteristic elements of the Greek summer.
"Cine Thiseion" next to the heart of ancient Athens, with a view towards the sacred rock of Acropolis has been operating for more than 80 years.
"Thiseio, was founded in 1935. The cinema did not stop working during the Nazi occupation of Greece, movies were constantly shown, while in the 70s and 80s there were also entertainment shows in the breaks," Mihalis Maniakis, manager of the cinema and projection operator, said.
He belongs to the second generation of the family who continues the tradition.
Cine Thiseion shows both first-run studio releases and classic Hollywood movies. In recent years, the composition of the cinema's audience has completely changed, according to Maniakis.
The number of Greeks has decreased and foreign visitors from all over the world have grown considerably. This is due to the rise of tourism in Greece, which sees more than 27 million tourists in 2017 according to central Bank of Greece figures, and also to the fact that Cine Thiseion has been ranked in various international lists as one of the World's Best cinemas in recent years.
"There was a large increase in foreign customers. We have always had tourists walking around the pedestrian street of Dionysiou Areopagitou, coming in to see this Greek patent with cinemas that there is nowhere else in the world," Maniakis noted.
Jim Smyth from New York have lived in Athens for four years now, enjoys the idea of being outdoors in an open cinema with people and friends.
"Before Athens I lived in Beijing and in Moscow, where open-air theaters weren't so popular. I think back in the USA they were, but it was long time ago that I lived there. Here in this neighborhood there are six outdoor theatres," he told Xinhua.
Himany Patel, who is from India and lives in Barcelona, is also a fan of the atmosphere in the outdoor cinemas. She enjoys the fresh air, the fact that she is not surrounded by walls and having all this scenery around.
Over the years many traditional cinemas of Athens have disappeared, victims of the multiplex cinemas, the real estate boom and the financial crisis. Most open-air cinemas survived.
Cine Paris in Plaka neighborhood is also one of the oldest. It closed though for a while and "lost" the title of the oldest open air cinema of Athens to Cine Thisseion. Cine Paris first opened in 1920, and closed during the 60s before reopening in 1986.
"Athens Open Air Film Festival" was inaugurated in the summer of 2011 with cultural events throughout the city. From June to August, open-air cinematic screenings are hosted in parks, squares, museum courtyards and archaeological sites, attracting permanent residents, visitors and tourists.