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This Greek shopping street used to be the 10th most expensive in the world

Take a look at it now.

WHEN YOU THINK of the world’s most prosperous shopping streets, you probably don’t think of Greece.

But before the double whammy of the 2008 financial crisis and the 2010-2012 eurozone crisis, Athens was home to some of the most prime retail space on the planet.

In 2012, Joe Weisenthal wrote a post about Ermou Street, which the real-estate firm Cushman & Wakefield said was the world’s 10th most expensive retail space in 2007.

Three years later, I’m staying in a hotel on the exact same street, and like Weisenthal, I never would have guessed this was once such a prosperous area.

The price of retail space in the area has fallen by nearly half since 2007, and the space has lost a lot of its former glory — take a look.

I started on the western end of the street, near my hotel — it doesn’t look as if this was ever part of the prime retail space.

i-started-on-the-western-end-of-the-street-near-my-hotel--it-doesnt-look-as-if-this-was-ever-part-of-the-prime-retail-space

There’s a lot of graffiti.

theres-a-lot-of-graffiti

The places at this end of the road certainly weren’t selling high-end goods.

the-places-at-this-end-of-the-road-certainly-werent-selling-high-end-goods

But the bars and restaurants on the side streets seem as if they’re still doing OK.

but-the-bars-and-restaurants-on-the-side-streets-seem-as-if-theyre-still-doing-ok

Some places are shuttered and look as if they have been closed for quite a long time.

some-places-are-shuttered-and-look-as-if-they-have-been-closed-for-quite-a-long-time

This is a typical view of one of the side streets without any shops or places to eat on it.

this-is-a-typical-view-of-one-of-the-side-streets-without-any-shops-or-places-to-eat-on-it

Monastiraki, a square on the site of a 10th-century monastery, had a great view of the Acropolis.

monastiraki-a-square-on-the-site-of-a-10th-century-monastery-had-a-great-view-of-the-acropolis

Even farther up the street, toward the prime shopping area, there were buildings that looked as if they had been left alone for a long time.

even-farther-up-the-street-toward-the-prime-shopping-area-there-were-buildings-that-looked-as-if-they-had-been-left-alone-for-a-long-time

Some seemed to have had some sort of renovation work done at some point, but there wasn’t much sign of that when I visited.

some-seemed-to-have-had-some-sort-of-renovation-work-done-at-some-point-but-there-wasnt-much-sign-of-that-when-i-visited

I passed a small ATM line of Greeks trying to reclaim their deposits, too.

i-passed-a-small-atm-line-of-greeks-trying-to-reclaim-their-deposits-too

The Church of Panagia Kapnikarea is in the middle of the street — it’s an intact Byzantine church built in 1050, one of Athens’ oldest.

the-church-of-panagia-kapnikarea-is-in-the-middle-of-the-street--its-an-intact-byzantine-church-built-in-1050-one-of-athens-oldest

There was clearly more activity farther up the road, but some stores were still shuttered.

there-was-clearly-more-activity-farther-up-the-road-but-some-stores-were-still-shuttered

Sprider, a chain of Greek value fashion stores, closed down in 2013. Nothing had replaced this large outlet since then.

sprider-a-chain-of-greek-value-fashion-stores-closed-down-in-2013-nothing-had-replaced-this-large-outlet-since-then

At the very end of the street you can see Syntagma Square, the focal point of the protests (and sometimes riots) of the past six years.

at-the-very-end-of-the-street-you-can-see-syntagma-square-the-focal-point-of-the-protests-and-sometimes-riots-of-the-past-six-years

Back in 2007, it cost about €405 per square foot to rent retail space on Ermou, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

back-in-2007-it-cost-about-450-per-square-foot-to-rent-retail-space-on-ermou-according-to-cushman-and-wakefield

In the firm’s latest report, Ermou costs just €228 per square foot, a decline of nearly 50% from its heyday.

in-the-firms-latest-report-ermou-costs-just-253-per-square-foot-a-decline-of-nearly-50-from-its-heyday

Even at this end of the street, some storefronts were pretty much abandoned.

even-at-this-end-of-the-street-some-storefronts-were-pretty-much-abandoned

All photos: Mike Bird/Business Insider. For the full story, read BusinessInsider.

Read: Greece has another €10.3 billion in debt due in 2015>

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