© ERT Archives

December 16, 2016

Once upon a time in Athens

Text Translated from Apocalypsejohn.com

Images Sources: Historic Photography Archive  Byzantine & Christianity Museum, Neohellenic Sotiriou Archives,  Konstantinos Tripos Neohellenic Historical Collection – Benaki Museum Photographic Archive, www.elia.org.gr, Google Street View, ERT Archive, news247.gr

Αρχείο Σωτηρίου, Νεοελληνική Ιστορική Συλλογή Κωνσταντίνου Τρίπου – Φωτογραφικό Αρχείο Μουσείου Μπενάκη, www.elia.org.gr, Google Street View, Αρχείο ΕΡΤ, news247.gr

During the 19th century, Athens experienced its architectural golden era. Within fifty years, a small village at the foot of the Acropolis became a European capital with palaces, mansions, boulevards and some of the most beautiful neoclassical buildings in the world. However, the development, reconstruction, excessive modernization, economic interests, as well as the war and lack of money contributed to some wonderful buildings to be lost forever.

Hotel Aktaion


The most emblematic building of all. Hotel Aktaion was built from the architect Panos Karathanasopoulos, a student of world-famous Ernst Ziller, according to the standards of the coastal palace hotels that flourished in European cities. The hotel was inaugurated in 1903, and served as the center of leisure for the elite of Athens for decades. It used to have 160 rooms, large banquet halls, gardens and a beach. The decline of Aktaion Hotel, however, began just before the Second World War, as it suffered from extensive damage from bombings. After the war, Greece could not sustain such a venture and the hotel was abandoned and finally demolished from Aristides Skyllitsis, the Pireaus’ mayor during junta.

Hall Negreponti


This magnificent building was the largest loss of Syntagma Square, a mansion that was built in 1880. Negroponti’s Hall belonged to the golden age of Athens, when Amalias’ Avenue was the official “ride” of the Athenians. Constantine I and his wife Sophia used to live in this building, while it also housed the Ministry of Merchant Marine. Negroponti’s Hall was demolished in 1956, and an apartment building was constructed in 1959.

Villa Margarita


Villa Margarita was built in the early years of the 20th century and belonged to an Armenian merchant. It was located at the junction of Vasilissis Sofias Avenue and Mesogeion. This unique mansion resembled a castle, an unusual structure for Athens, with towers and battlements, built exclusively of stone. Villa Margarita was bought from Efstathios Lampsas, the founder of Grand Bretagne Hotel in Athens, and thereafter his daughters inherited this wonderful building. During the 1960s, a large part of the gardens was expropriated for the enlargement of highways. The heirs sold the tower in 1970, and the new owners, the Mortgage Bank, immediately decided for its demolition. Moreover, the view of junta government was that the building had nothing to do with the Greek architectural tradition and there was no reason to maintain it. Today, the 9-floor building of the National Bank can be found in Villa Margarita’s place.

Athens Municipal Theatre

athensmunicipal-theaterThe loss of the Athens Municipal Theatre is the demolished culture of Athens.

Once upon a time, on Kotzia Square, existed the Municipal Theatre of Athens. Designed from the architect Ernst Ziller and financed from the national benefactor Andreas Syggros, the Municipal Theatre of Athens was inaugurated in 1888. Apart from the interventions of Syggros, the theater suffered from a lack of money, which significantly delayed the erection of its austere decor, so that it would never get the glory it deserved. In 1901, the Royal (now National) Theater opened its doors to the public and the Municipal Theater lost its importance. In 1922, the Athens Municipal Theater hosted refugees from Asia Minor who, in their suffering from the harsh winter, lit fires within the theater causing major damages. Finally, mayor Contantine Kotzias and the governor of the National Bank, John Drossopoulos, because of their annoyance of the obstructed view they experienced from their offices just opposite at the Aeolian Street, decided to demolish the Athens Municipal Theater and the square was name after mayor Kotzias.

Pesmazoglou Hall


Pesmazoglou Hall was located at the corner of Vasilissis Sofia’s Avenue and Herodes Atticus Street. It was built in 1900 from the architect Ernst Ziller for the businessman I. Pesmazoglou. The aim was to rent luxury apartments to foreigners. Since it was one of the first large-scale buildings in the city with the distinctive tower-dome in its corner, Pesmatzoglou Hall was partially demolished in the 1960s in order to house offices. The other part, which housed the German Embassy during junta, is maintained up until today.

Villa Thon


Nikolaos Thon was born in Athens in 1850 and was the son of Bavarian accountant Carl Thon, a member of the sequence of King Otto, and himself was a senior courtier of King George the First. The mansion of Thon was located at the junction of Kifissias and Alexandras Avenue, and was completed in the 1880s. Villa Thon was a magnificent building both in design and in decor with sculptures, stained glass windows, and a beautiful garden. In 1921, the estate was sold, while thereafter it operated occasionally as a clinic, school, pub, barracks, prison, and residence. In 1944, the villa was blown up during the December events. Following the war, a group of stores and branches were built, while its position was overtaken from an office building. From villa Thon, today one can only evidence the church of Agios Nikolaos, the sole circular temple in Greece.

Saripolou House


The House of Saripolou was one of the few examples of neo-Gothic style in Athens, which was located in the northwest corner of Patission Avenue and Chalkokondyli. It belonged to legal Saripolou John and was built around 1870. It was inherited from his daughters, while it left the family ownership in 1908. Saripolou House endured for almost 90 years before being demolished in 1956 when a badly maintained office building was constructed. Athena Saripolou-Liva, one of the daughters of John, immortalized in the watercolors the interior and exterior of her parental house.

House Tsopotou

Tsopotou House was one of the most unique houses in Piraeus. The unknown architect had copied the Monument of Lysicrates in Plaka. The house endured 100 years, from 1870 to 1970 until it was demolished. In its place, another apartment building was constructed.

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