If you are one of those people who love observing the buildings while walking the streets of a foreign city, this list will be a treat! There are numerous remarkable buildings in Athens, but you have to know where to look for them. So, here is a list of 15 outstanding buildings in our city that we believe will give you a better insight into Athens' secrets!
Table of Contents
1. National Technical University of Athens
42, Patission st.
The construction of the building transpired in three stages, due to the need for more auditoriums: between the year 1862-1876, 1930-1935, and 1950-1957.
This building complex and the student uprising against the junta go hand in hand in Greek history. In fact, the uprising against the military dictatorship begun on November 14, 1973, and ended on November 17, 1973, when a tank entered the university after breaking down the central gate. The invasion resulted in the murder of hundreds of students who were standing behind the gate cheering slogans about freedom. This is the greatest uprising in the modern history of Greece, while the broken gate is still there, lying on the floor behind the new gate, as historical memorabilia.
100, Peiraios av. & 1,Persefonis
Technopolis (Gazi), Kerameikos - credits: Heracles Kritikos/Shutterstock.com
In 1860, the first gas installation of Athens was built in the area of Gazi, with the neighborhood being named after the installation. During the late years of the 19th century, Technopolis kept expanding and in the middle of the 20th century, it hosted wood factories, blacksmiths, machining centers, repair garages, reservoirs, furnaces, and many more buildings. Today, it is one of the most popular venues in Athens. Numerous musical and cultural events have taken place in this area since 1999 and it is one of the most favored places for concerts, especially during the summer and the autumn.
3. Hotel Mpageion
18, Omonoia sq. & Athinas st.
Hotel Mpageion - credits: lifo.gr
Erst Ziller was the one who made the designs for the Mpageion hotel which was built during 1890-1894. What is really impressive about this building, however, is that despite the declination of the hotels following WWII, Mpageion was the only one that remained open until 1969.
4. Iliou Melathron
12, Panepistimiou st.
Iliou Melathron - credits: gtp.gr
Iliou Melathron is an iconic Athenian building that was designed in 1879 by E.Ziller. It was restored in 1984 as well as in the first years of the 21st century. Today, it hosts the Monetary Museum of Athens and in case you decide to visit the museum, you‘ll have the chance to admire the impressive interior of this outstanding neoclassical building.
5. Panepistimio Athinon (University)
30, Panepistimiou st.
University - Panepistimio Athinon - credits: Anastasios71/Shutterstock.com
Panepistimio is part of the Neoclassical Trilogy that includes the Academy, University (Panepistimio), and Library of Athens, and it is undoubtedly one of the highlights of Athens.oth locals and visitors who happen to be in the area surrounding Panepistimio love gazing at these buildings that are so impressive, that inspire awe for the previous generations who created these architectural treasures. The architectural masterpiece of Panepistimio was designed by C.Hansen.
6. 74th Primary School, Athens
106-108, Andrianou st.
The 74th Primary School is probably one of the most beautiful public schools in Athens. It was designed by Greek architect P. Kalkos. It is noteworthy that the Doric columns and the classical pediment of this building run counter to its small scale.
7. Villa Ilissia
22, Vasilisis Sofias av.
Nowadays, Villa Ilissia houses the Byzantine and Christian Museum - credits: Leonid Andronov/Shutterstock.com
Villa Ilissia -or 'Megaro of Ilisia'- is an idiosyncratic two-story building in which elements of Classicism and Romanticism coexist in harmony. It used to be the house of Sophie Lebrun (also known as Duchesse de Plaisance) until 1854. After the death of Lebrun, it was used as a building for military services until becoming the host of the Byzantine Museum of Athens.
8. Interwar block of flats
55, Vasilisis Sofias av.
Interwar building in Vas. Sofias Avenue - credits: https://goo.gl/EqxSDC
K.Kitsiki was the architect of this interwar block of flats. Having graduated from the Berlin-Charlottenburg school, he created this distinct building, promoting the association of old and new forms; it is deemed as a typical ''erker'' building due to the protruding volumes.
9. Church of Agioi Anargiroi (“Agiotafitiko Metochi”)
Pritaneiou & Erechtheos st.
Agiotafitiko metochi (church of Ag.Anargiroi) in Plaka - credits: Dimitris Kamaras/flickr.com
This church is a basilica church that was built during the Ottoman Rule. In the 17th century, it was the property of a family named Kolokinthi, while it has been part of the property of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem since the 18th century. It also speculated that it was used as a female monastery during the 17th century.
10. Church of Agios Nikolaos, Ptochokomeion (workhouse)
Vasilisis Sofias av. & Ploutarchou
The church of Agios Nicolaos was built in 1876 - credits: Dimitris Kamaras/flickr.com
The workhouse of Athens was founded by the 'Almoner Company' and it was finally established in 1876 thanks to a donation of Andreas Syngrou. The building of the foundation no longer exists but fortunately, the church of St. Nicholas which was then built inside the enclosure is preserved. It is a domed cruciform church designed according to the rules of Neo-Byzantine architecture.
11. The Athens Tower
2-4, Mesogeion av.
Athens tower is the first skyscraper of Greece and still, the tallest one! - credits: PitK/Shutterstock.com
To be honest, it is probably one of the ugliest buildings of Athens. However, it is remarkable fro being the first skyscraper of the city, with the Athens tower still being the tallest building of Greece to this day!
12. The refugee housing complex
165-169, Alexandras av.
The refugee housing complex - credits: greekreporter.com
The refugee housing complex in Alexandra Avenue is one of those sights of Athens that break your heart. The buildings were constructed during 1933-1935, as part of the Welfare Ministry's plan to accommodate the myriad refugees from Asia Minor who had flooded Athens and Greece. That's how this building complex came to be, with a total of 228 apartments, distributed in eight apartment buildings, which were arranged to be superimposed to each other and parallel to the axis of the avenue. They are strictly utilitarian buildings, according to the rules of German Functionalism, without a trace of decoration. Despite their bland look, however, just traces of the bullets of the 'Dekemvriana', a series of clashes fought during World War II in Athens –from 3 December 1944 to 11 January 1945 – between the Greek left-wing Resistance forces and the British Army supported by the Greek Government, can be found on the walls. In 2007, 90 out of 228 apartments were still inhabited, while the rest of them had been acquired by the municipality of Athens in view of the regeneration of the wider area.
26, Panepistimiou st. & Sina st.
Ophthalmiatrion Ahinon, Panepistimiou St.- credits: odosell.blogspot.com
The construction of the building of Ofthalmiatrio (eye center) first began in 1847 under the authority of Hansen. However, he quitted when the construction was paused and postponed due to financial difficulties. Thus, the better part of the building was built under the leadership of L. Kaphtatzoglou. What makes this building truly remarkable is the fact that it is in marked contrast to the imposing Neoclassical Athens Trilogy (Academy – University – Library) which are located in the same street.
14. Tzistarakis Mosque
1, Areos st & Pandrosou, Monastiraki sq.
Tzistarakis Mosque - credits: trabantos/Shutterstock.com
According to tradition, in the construction of this Muslim mosque, a column from the temple of Olympian Zeus was used. Yet, scientists believe that the column which was used in its building was probably taken by the adjacent Roman Hadrian's Library. Today, Tzistarakis Mosque houses a branch of the Museum of Greek Folk Art. In 1966, the building was remodeled in order to be used by the exiled king of Saudi Arabia for praying.
15. National Observatory of Athens
National Observatory of Athens - credits: Dimitrios/Shutterstock.com
The neoclassical building of the National Observatory of Athens was built in 1843, but the inauguration took place in 1846. Hansen was -once again- the architect of the building and George Sina was the generous businessman who funded both the construction and the equipment purchase of machinery and implements. The reason why the National Observatory was built on the Hill of the Nymphs instead of Lycabettus, which was the initial option, is that according to legend, Athenian astronomer Meton used to observe the stars from the former location.
These are just a few of the noteworthy buildings to marvel at when visiting Athens. Athens is a historic city, where one can find architectural treasures of different centuries and remnants of ancient ages mere meters away from each other. These buildings' presence is moving and definitely impressive for anyone who is interested in learning the story of Athens.