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Public buildings in Athens

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Corridor: Western Trans-Balkan Road
Country: Greece, Athens
Type: Historic Town
Epoch: Modern Times
World Heritage:
Modern TimesHistoric Town

In the historic centre of Athens one can see some beautiful Neoclassical public buildings, all of them built in the 19th century when the Greek modern state was formed.

The Vallianos National Library forms part of the so called "Neoclassical Trilogy" of the City of Athens: Academy - University - Library. It consists of three solid parts, out of which the one in the middle – which is also the biggest – houses the Reading-Room. To enter this part, one has to pass through a Doric-style row of columns (designed after the Temple of Hephaestus in the Ancient Agora of Thission, which served as its model), after climbing on a monumental curved double staircase of a Renascence style. The Reading-Room, surrounded by Ionian-style columns, is covered by a glass ceiling. The cast-iron constructions of the bookstands were referred to as exceptional back in their time. In general, the building is considered to be a characteristic sample of mature Neoclassicism.
It was built between 1887 and 1902, based on a study of the Danish architect, Theophile Hansen - brother of Cristian Hansen. Hernest Ziller was the supervising architect who also studied the entrance stairways and the main bookstands.
The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens is also a part of the so called "Neoclassical Trilogy" of the City of Athens. It consists of a group of built masses that shape up a double "T", with two symmetrical courtyards. The facade is strictly symmetrical to the arcade of rectangular pillars, set-off by an Ionian-style entrance. The bases of the columns and the capitals of the entrance are perfect replicas of the equivalent found in the Propylea of Acropolis. The building follows the basic aesthetic rules of early Neoclassicism, while at the same time is adapted to the Greek Mediterranean climate. The outside statues complete the entrance's composition, that is evidently distinguished to "base," body" and "crowning" parts.
It was built between 1839 and 1864, based on a study drawn by the Danish architect Cristian Hansen, who was also supervising the works in the beginning, to be followed afterwards by A. Theophilas and L. Kaftatzoglou.
The Academy of Athens is the third part of the so called "Neoclassical Trilogy" of the City of Athens. It consists of aesthetically distinct parts that form a harmonic ensemble of built mass. A corridor connects the two lateral wings to the main body of the building, which -in its proportions of line and mass- is set-off by its Ionian-style entrance and its big pediment. The entrance has elements originating from the eastern side of Erechtheion, on Acropolis. The predominant material on the facets is marble. Overall, the building is a characteristic example of mature Neoclassicism.
It was built in two phases, in 1859-1863 and 1868-1885, based on studies of the Danish architect Theophile Hansen and it is believed to be his most exquisite work in Greece. Hansen himself was also supervising the construction up to 1861 when E. Ziller took over.
A representative sample of the early period of Neoclassicism in Greece, the Parliament is an abstemious work of strict geometry in its mass. The formation of its spaces forms a frame and a central rectangular body that separates the opening in between in two courtyards. Doric-style column rows stand in front of the facade and the back (eastern) side. It was built between 1836 and 1840 based on the study of the Bavarian architect Fr. Goertner. Originally it served as a palace of Otho, the first King of Greece after the end of the Turkish occupation, who moved from Nauplion (initial royal seat and temporary capital of the Hellenic State) to Athens in 1834. The Greek state expropriated the estates occupied by the building, the front plaza and the royal garden. The first Parliament was temporarily housed in a private residence building in Kolokotronis Street while afterwards it moved to the University building and much later, in 1857, to the building of Stadiou Street that houses today the Museum of History and Ethnography.

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