September 2008 Newsletter: Special Feature
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 Special Feature: Heritage Walks in Athens
 6th Heritage Walk: The Heart of the Modern Greek State

(Continued from August's Issue)

STARTING POINT: Evangelismos Station
TERMINUS: Acropolis Station

The 7th walk takes us to some of the foremost museums of the city. Since there are many museums on this heritage walk, it may be wise to make the walk twice, and divide the visits in two days. In either case, there is also the possibility of a pleasant stroll in the National Garden.
From the Metro station "Evangelismos" and taking the exit to Rizari St, the visitor should either head south for the Military Museum, and continue to the Byzantine and Christian Museum or head north and begin with a visit to the National Gallery.


(1) THE NATIONAL GALLERY - ALEXANDROS SOUTSOS MUSEUM: It displays mostly the work of Modern Greek artists, and some pre-19th-century icons and paintings of Cretan and Eptanesian origin. The National Gallery Collection includes works by seminal Greek painters, such as: Nikiforos Lytras, Nikolaos Gyzis, Constantinos Parthenis, Nikolaos Lytras, Yannis Tsarouhis, Yannis Moralis, Nikos Hatzykiriakos-Gkikas. (1 Michalakopoulou St and 50 Vas. Konstantinou Ave, tel.: 210 7235857, 7235937-8)

(2) WAR MUSEUM: Devoted to exhibits concerning the various wars of the Greek people. It contains an important collection of weapons of various periods - over 3,000 objects of defensive and offensive warfare (armor from the medieval period, Caucasian pistols, Muslim, African, Indian and Japanese weapons) and a fine collection of watercolors of the Balkan Wars and the Asia Minor Expedition by Thalia Flora - Karavia (1871-1960). (2 Vasilissis Sofias Ave, tel.: 210 7290543, 7215035)

(3) BYZANTINE AND CHRISTIAN MUSEUM - DOUKISSIS PLACENTIAS MANSION: The mansion of the French Duchess of Placentia (17851854), was built in 1840-48. It has been considered the work of the architect Stamatis Kleanthis, but a recent study attributes it to Christian Hansen. Remodeled in 1931 to house the Byzantine Museum. Recently, new spacious halls were added in the basement.

Among the Museum exhibits that date from the 4th - 19th c., one should not miss the following:
Marble sculpture of Orpheus playing the lyre to wild and tamed animals; a symbolic depiction of Christ attracting believers, dating from the 4th century {T93}.
A golden necklace from the Mytilini treasure of the 7th century {BXM 872}.
Marble plaque from the architrave of an iconostasis (10th c.), with the figures of James, son of Alphaios, Philip and Luke (rare combination of the techniques of painting and relief sculpture {T150}.
Mural taken from the apse of the sanctuary of the Church of St George Lathrinos, in the island of Naxos (13th century), representing the Deisis (Prayer of Supplication with Christ Pantokrator and the Mother of God and St. John the Baptist on either side). St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil.
Double-sided processional icon. On one side there is a representation of the Crucifixion of the 9th and 13th centuries; on the other side, a representation of Panaghia Pammakaristos, from the beginning of the 16th century {No. T. 157a).
Panaghia Glykofilousa (The Mother of God sweetly kissing her Son) of the 12th c. {No. T 137}
Double-sided icon. On one side, a representation of St. George in prayer to Christ; a painted wooden sculpture of the 13th c. On the other side, two holy women in prayer {T 89}.
Mosaic icon "Panaghia' Episkepsi" ("The Visitation") - 13th to 14th c., from Constantinople {T 145}.
Archangel Michael an icon of the 14th c. A splendid example of Paleologan classicism {No. T 2162}.
Double-sided processional icon from the 14th c. One side: representation of the Crucifixion, where the bright vivid colors transport us to an eternity of restrained grief awaiting redemption. Other side: representation of Panaghia Vrefokratousa (Virgin holding the infant) {No. T 169}.
15th c. icon depicting the Nativity, the joyful story of Christmas, in one composition {No. T2447}.
Imperial chrysobull or decree on a parchment by Andronicus 11 (1301), in which he grants special privileges to the Bishop of Monemvasia. In a miniature, Christ gives his blessing to the emperor.
(22 Vasilissis Sofias Ave, tel.: 210 7211027, 210 7232178)

(4) THE BRITISH EMBASSY: Built by Anastasios Metaxas (1928) and once the residence of Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos and his wife, Elena Skylitsi. The British Embassy has been housed here since 1939. (1 Ploutarchou St, tel.: 210 7272600)

(5) MUSEUM OF CYCLADIC ART (N. P. GOULANDRIS FOUNDATION): It comprises a modern building on Neofytou Douka St and the imposing Stathatos Mansion on Vasilissis Sofias Ave. It houses the private collection of Cycladic and Ancient Greek Art of Nikolaos and Dolly Goulandris, the Carolos Politis collection (14th c. BC - 6th c. AD), and the Thanos Zintilis collection of Cypriot antiquities from the Chalkolithic Period until early Christian times.

The collection of Cycladic Art is, together with that in the collection of the National Archaeological Museum collection, the best in the world as far as Cycladic art and civilization (3000-2000 BC) are concerned. The Othon Stathatos mansion was built in 1895 by the architect Ernest Ziller in neoclassical style, with a few touches of eclecticism. Today it holds replicas of antique furniture and hosts important changing exhibitions. (4 Neof Douka, tel.: 210 7228321-2)

(6) BENAKI MUSEUM: Housed in the mansion of the distinguished family of Emmanuel Benakis, built in 1905 by the architect Anastasios Metaxas, and donated to the Greek State by its founder Antonis Benakis in 1929.

The exhibits from Greece are presented in this, the main building, the most noteworthy being:
Neolithic statuette; end of the 4th millennium BC {No. 31350}.
One silver and two gold cups from Evoia; early Helladic period (3000-2800 BC) {Nos. 2049 & 1516 respectively}.
Mycenaean gold cylix with the design of a dog; 13th century BC {No. 21081.
Amphora of the Geometric period depicting a dead man; a work of the so-called "painter of the Benaki Museum" (720-700 BC).
The "Treasure of Thessaly", marvelous pieces of Hellenistic jewelry {Nos. 1556, 1578, 8251, etc.}.
Two sepulchral portraits in the Fayum style from Antinopolis, Egypt of the 3rd century AD.
Coptic textiles; especially one bearing a representation of Saint Mark {No. 69911}.
Slender Processional Cross from Adrianople (10th century) {No. 33794}.
Part of the mosaic figure of the Virgin from the Stoudion Monastery in Constantinople (10th century) {No. 9074}.
Parchment manuscript depicting the three children in the furnace of the Book of Daniel, from the Monastery of Pantokrator, Mount Athos, cod - ex 49, 1084 AD {No. 66}.
Pectoral with a cameo of Christ Pantokrator; 12th century {No. 21131}.
Icon depicting the Hospitality of Abraham, a symbolic illustration of the Holy Trinity, end of the 14th century {No. 2973}.
Icon of St. Anne with the Virgin, from the workshop of the great Cretan master, Angelos Akontantos (first half of the 15th century) {No. 2984}.
Two icons by Domenikos Theotokopoulos, later known in Spain as El Greco. St Luke is a rare example of work during his Cretan period (1560-1567) {No. 11276}. The "Adoration of the Magi", although painted in Venetian style, is however dated to 1565-67, before he moved to Venice. (No. 3048}.

The 1st floor of the Museum displays mainly folk art, such as jewelry, embroidery, ceramics, wood sculptures, marble sculptures, and costumes from all over Greece, water colors aquarelles, oil paintings, prints, and other illustrations of Athens and Greece, as well as more recent icons. Some examples to be noticed are:
Jewelry from Patmos {No. 7324}
Bridal bed-canopy from Rhodes of the 17th c. {No. 7650}
Gold-embroidered "Epitaphios" (a central feature of the Lamentation over Christ on Good Friday) of the mid 16th c. {No. 34680}
Textile from Brusa (16th c.) {No. 2864}
Greek heirlooms from Asia Minor

The 3rd floor displays historic heirlooms of the struggle for national independence from the 18th century onwards, and a cross section of photographs and paintings by prominent painters and poets of the 20th century, especially from the "Generation of 1930". (1 Koumbari St, tel.: 210 3671000)

We enter into the National Garden from the entrance of Irodou Attikou St, and we come out from the entrance of Zappion Megaro. (For details about the National Garden, see August's Issue.)

(7) PRESIDENTIAL MANSION:: Built in 1891-1899 by Ernest Ziller for Crown Prince Constantine, on the grounds of the Royal Palace's vegetable garden. The dancehall to the north of the main building was added shortly after, and a new wing facing Vassileos Georgiou St was built in 1963-4. The main building follows the arrangement of a private mansion. Once the royal palace (19131967), and since 1975 the residence of the President of the Republic of Greece. (Irodou Attikou St)

(8) ZAPPION MEGARON: One of the finest examples of Athenian neoclassicism. The great benefactor Evangelos Zappas offered the money for the building in 1856. According to the original design, made by Francois Boulanger, the mansion was to be built on the turning point of the Stadium. The Zappion was finally built by Theofilos Hansen and completed in 1879 in its current location. The official opening was in 1888 and its management was the responsibility of the Foundation for the Olympics and for Legacies. It housed the first Olympic village during the 1st Olympic Games of modern history in 1896.

(9) PANATHENAIC STADIUM or KALLIMARMARO: Built in 329 BC by the orator and administrator Lykourgos for the athletic competitions of Panathenaia (the major Athenian festival in honor of the patron goddess Athena). In the mid 2nd century AD, the whole Stadium was laid out in marble by Herodes son of Atticus. In 1894-96, the Stadium was re-constructed with new marble, following a donation by George Averof, to the design of Anastasios Metaxas. The opening ceremony was in 1896 at the 1st modern Olympic Games. (16 Archimidous St, tel.: 210 7526386, 210 7522986)

(10) OLYMPIEION: The Temple of Zeus Olympios was built by the Philhellene Emperor, Hadrian (117-132 AD). This, the most monumental temple of its time, was dedicated to Zeus, the father of gods. Initially there were 104 columns; of which today only fifteen remain standing, with a sixteenth lying on the ground. There used to be three rows of eight columns each on the east and west sides, and two double rows on the two long sides. The temple was built on the site of other earlier temples, also dedicated to Zeus Olympios. The ancient Athenians considered the shrine to Olympian Zeus as one of the oldest in the city. North of the Olympieion, and inside a small park, one can still see the remains of a propylon, which was part of the Themistocleian wall, and a Roman bath. (1 Vasilissis Olgas Ave, tel.: 210 9226330)

(11) HADRIAN'S GATE: Built by the Athenians in honor of emperor Hadrian, a friend of the city of Athens. Hadrian himself passed under this glorious gate to attend the inauguration of the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The Corinthian style gate marked the border of the old city of Athens in relation of the new district that Hadrian built. On the east frieze, and under the arch, one can still see today the inscription "on this side it is Hadrian's city, not Theseus's". On the west side of the gate, the inscription says "on this side is Athens, the former city of Theseus." (Junction of Vasilissis Olgas and Vasilissis Amalias Aves)

(12) CHURCH OF AGHIA AIKATERINI: A medieval church that dates from the second quarter of the 11th century, originally dedicated to the Saints Theodore. In 1767 it became a Dependency of the monastery of Saint Catherine on Sinai and has since been dedicated to Saint Catherine. It became a parish church again in 1882. A further extension in 1927 distorted its appearance and brought it to its current form. Note the Byzantine dome, of the so-called "Athenian-type".

  • TRIPODON ST

  • ELLINIKI ETAIRIA

  • LYSICRATES' MONUMENT

  • ACROPOLIS STATION (M)

To read about these 4 locations, please refer to our March newsletter featuring Heritage Walk #1

Excerpt from: "Heritage Walks in Athens" by the Municipality of Athens Cultural Organization,
and by the Elliniki Etairia Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and the Cultural Heritage


Next Month's Final Article:
Heritage Walk #8: THE HIGH POINT OF ATHENIAN NEOCLASSICISM

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