Acropolis and ancient temples of downtown Athens are always included in the 'to-do' list of people visiting Greece. They are popular and for good reason; buildings reveal so much about the history and the culture of a nation. However, these historical monuments are not the only must-see spots with impressive buildings in the center of the Greek capital. Athens has a charming neoclassical side that only a few tourists get to know. That's why here, we provide you with all the information about the impressive Athenian neoclassical buildings like Zappeio, Athens Academy, and the Iliou Melathron.
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Greek Neoclassical Architecture
The Academy of Athens - credits: Iornet/Shutterstock.com
Neoclassicism could be compared to a child that Greece gave life to, then, Western Europe raised, and finally, in the 19th century, it came back to the place where it was born. The advent of neoclassicism in Greece happened to coincide with the liberation of the country and the arrival of King Otto. The Greeks had been in thrall to Ottomans until then, so, their sudden urge to forget their past contributed to the rapid spread of neoclassicism. It is reported that it was exactly what Greece needed at the time, in order to be restructured. People were trying to get away from the tragedy they had experienced; thus, the reconstruction of Athens, the urban development, and the emerging breathtaking neoclassical buildings became the hope for a new start. Notably, it was the time when Athens became the capital city of the country.
Characteristics of neoclassicism in Athens
The University of Athens - credits: Anastasios71/Shutterstock.com
Neoclassical buildings are known for their decadence, the presence of ancient Greek order in their architecture, their rich adornment, and the luxury materials which were used for their construction. However, there are some distinguishing features that lead to the neo-Hellenic architecture, as an extension of neoclassicism; neoclassicism was marginally altered in Greece and these distinctive buildings acquired a unique personality. At the beginning of the 20th century, when Athens had already been shaped according to the norms of other European capital cities, it was remarkable how the architecture of folk houses incorporated characteristics of neoclassical buildings. Despite the use of low-quality materials and the simplification of the neoclassical models, brilliant houses of neoclassical beauty graced the streets of Athens due to the collaboration of creative architects and roof tile craftsmen.
3 neoclassical buildings in Athens you should not miss
The Academy of Athens
The perspective of the Academy of Athens - credits: Anastasios71/Shutterstock.com
The building of Athens' Academy was designed in 1859 by T.Hansen as part of the architectural Athens trilogy (Academy, University, and Library) and it remains one of the most astonishing buildings of the city. It is located in Panepistimiou st. and thousands of passers-by stand in awe before the building every day.
Iliou Melathron - credits: Havoc/Shutterstock.com
On the same street as the Academy of Athens, Iliou Melathron is a distinguished neoclassical house of Athens. It was designed in 1878 and three years after, it became the house of Heinrich Schliemann; the man who made significant discoveries from Mycenae and the Trojan War. It is believed that the house of Schliemann was one of the most glorious ones of the time, as the dynamic proportions and the elaborate neoclassical decoration makes it a perfect example of the miracles of Greek architecture. The marble columns on the outside and the copies of the triglyph and the metope of the temple of Athena in Troy, inside the ground floor, are the most emblematic features of this iconic Greek neoclassical building. Today, the building hosts the Monetary Museum of Athens.
Zappeion - credits: Aerial-motion/Shutterstock.com
The building of Zappeion lies within the premises of Athens' Νational Gardens, one of the biggest parks in Athens, and it is deemed as one of the most impressive buildings of neoclassicism in Greece. It is the first one built exclusively for the Greek Olympic Games. Many architects were working on it, but Hansen was the man who made the final touches once again. The Greek parliament dedicated the building in 1888 in a festive atmosphere. Nowadays, the Zappeion hall often hosts art exhibitions and various events.
When neoclassical buildings are as staggering as these are, and hide as much history as these do, they can’t be omitted; it would be a crime! Athens is a city with neoclassical treasures, different from one another, that manage to impress whoever pays them the attention they deserve. By choosing a tailored travel experience in Greece, you can create a customized trip based on your desires and needs. We will design step-by-step your itinerary full of activities, ensuring you will leave Greece enchanted and enriched with knowledge and wonderful memories!