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The Venetian Interlude II (1684-1689)


A view of Acropolis and part of the city of Athens, sketched by Babin and published by Spon (1672-1676).

After the conquest of Crete in 1669, the Turks changed their interests to the north. Having taken over several cities in Poland and Russia, they laid siege to Vienna in 1683. The Turkish army under Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa, however, was defeated on September 12 by the Polish army under the command of the Polish King, Jan Sobieski and Duke Charles of Lorraine, who felt that it was necessary to expel the Turks from Europe entirely.

Α “Holy League” of Austria, Poland and Venice was founded, with Papal blessings, for the purpose of conquering the European portions of the Ottoman Empire and a war of Christians against Muslims began. A mercenary army composed of fighters of many nationalities was organized. Francesco Morosini (1619-1694) was appointed as its leader.

Francesco Morosini, which many researchers believe came from the Greek Mavrogenis, was a descendent of a well-known Venetian family. His ancestors included Doges, Admirals, Generals, and Latin Patriarchs of Constantinople. At an early age, he was distinguished by his bravery and his military valor in battles against pirates of the Aegean and against Turks during the Turko-Venetian War.

In 1654, at the age of only thirty-six, and following the successive deaths of Admirals Mocenigo and Foscarini, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief and Admiral of the Venetian Fleet, the Defender of Crete, Leader of the war against the Turks. The Turko-Venetian war lasted until 1669. On September 27, Morosini, after extremely harsh fighting, signed the treaty for the surrender of Crete and returned to Venice, defeated, but a hero. He was charged with treason and put on trial. He was found innocent by a majority vote. Demoralized, he withdrew voluntarily from public life to live in total obscurity.

Fifteen years later, in 1684, by a decision of the Senate and the Council of Six, Franceso Morosini, at 66 years of age, was appointed general of all land and sea forces of the Republic, Commander-in-Chief of all military operations against the Turks.

In 1684 the sixth war broke out between the Ottoman Empire and Venice, a further stage in an apparently unending struggle between the two powers for control of the Aegean.

On June 10, 1684, a mass was celebrated at St. Marks in the presence of the Doge Marcantonio Giustinian, and Morosini departed with the entire fleet of the Republic. In the first year of the war, the Venetians conquered Preveza and Lefkada. Meanwhile, the Turks engaged in major military preparations. In view of this, the Venetians sent proclamations throughout the Italian peninsula, as well as the Germanic lands, in order to mobilize a voluntary mercenary army. As Dimitrios Kambouroglou writes: “The Venetians had discovered the secret for conquering the world. They didn’t trouble themselves to have their own armies and generals. They rented them.” The Venetians took on the obligation to pay them, supply them with war-making materials and ensure that their food supplies were adequate. The mercenary forces were placed under the administration of Count Otto Wilhelm von Konigsmark (1639-1688).

Count Otto Wilhelm von Konigsmark was born in 1639 in Beiden, Westphalia. An exceptional student, he received the highest honors at the University of Jena. He chose a military career and enlisted in the Swedish Army. In 1686, the Venetians offered him the leadership of the mercenary forces with a salary of 18,000 ducats, offering him as well the option of taking with him his wife, Katherina Karlotta, and his entourage. The lady-in-waiting to the countess, Anna Akerhjelm, a woman unusually educated for her time, had left us her diary, as well as letters to her brother, which describes the campaign vividly.

At the start of 1685, the diverse, multilingual army gathered on the Venetian isle of Lido and set out for Greece.

With surprise attacks and methodical sieges, the ports and fortresses of the Peloponnese –Pylos, Navarino, Methoni, Koroni, Argos, Nafplion, Patras, Rio, Mystras, Corinth– fell into Venetian hands. Thus, with the exception of Monemvasia, the Venetians became masters of the entire Peloponnese –an extremely fertile extent of land ten times the size of their own, with ports that secured the entire Aegean for Venetian commerce.

The Kingdom of Moreas was established, and lasted until 1714. Morosini assumed the title of Knight of St. Mark and was awarded the honorary designation of “the Peloponnesian”. His bronze bust was placed in the great hall of the Palace Loge. Konigsmark’s salary was raised to 24,000 ducats annually.

The feelings of the Greeks of the day must have been ambivalent. Deliverance from the Turks would have been a mercy, but since 1204 the Venetians had probably wreaked as much destruction in the region as had the Turks, and were equally hard masters.

The west side of the Acropolis with the Frankish Tower, in a painting by Lemercier.

View of Athens in 1686. Chalcography of the work of Vincenzo Maria Coronelli. istoriografiche de’ regni della Morea, Negreponte e littoral fin’ a Salonichi. Venice 1686. It is a copy of the drawing of J. Spon. (Staikos – Biggopoulou “H Anadysi” page 5.)

In August of 1687, the troops gathered at Corinth. Morosini, accompanied by Konigsmark, explored the possibility of dividing the Isthmus and his engineers were in fact worked out a plan. But when they realized the number of laborers and the amount of time the project would take, they abandoned the idea. A war council was held to decide if the troops, following fortification of the Isthmus, would winter in the Peloponnese or if, for the rest of the summer, they would engage in new military enterprises, and, if so, in what direction.

Crete was ruled out because it was far from the Peloponnese, Evvoia was also considered to be relatively distant, and the fortress of Chalkida among the best fortified, while at the same time the Turks were gathering their forces in Mainland Greece. Their thoughts turned to Athens.

The sources of the period describing the Athens campaign and the blowing up of the Parthenon are few and contradictory amongst themselves. Morosini’s correspondence; the official minutes and announcements of the Venetian Republic, which served political purposes; the witness of persons of many nationalities written in different languages; the witness of people present during the campaign and others who gathered their material in Venice, without ever have gone to Athens, all generate many uncertainties and difficulties in researching the events.

At the end of August, 1687, a Capuchin priest, authorized to negotiate the amount which the Athenians would pay every year in order to keep the campaign from taking place, arrived in Venice. The Venetians asked for 40,000 reals annually. At the beginning of September, a new delegation of Athenians, headed by the Metropolitan Iakovos, arrived to negotiate the amount. After much negotiating, they reached an agreement, and Morosini promised that they would not be disturbed.

On September 14, 1687, another war council took place, at which the leaders of the forces insisted that the Athens campaign proceed. Morosini raised objections using arguments, which demonstrated his strategic capabilities, since what his arguments turned out to be valid. First of all, winter was approaching and the conquest of the fortress in a brief time would be difficult. Second, once the fortress was conquered, the military benefits of its conquest were dubious, since the Turks could invade the Peloponnese from Megara and provisions for the troops in Athens could only be sent from the sea, which was at a distance. Finally, if the Turks were later to attack Athens, the Venetians would have to abandon it and, naturally, to destroy the city and the fortress. Moreover, Athens would be subject to the revengeful mania of the Turks, while otherwise they would pay their tax. Unfortunately, however, the other leaders were not persuaded.

Exactly at that moment, a third delegation of Athenian notables arrived, soliciting the Venetian campaign with promises of making their own contribution. They assured the Venetians that the Turks had been terrorized, that the fortress of Athens was in poor shape, and that it would fall in a matter of days. The relations between Turks and Greeks in that period were very bad and the rumors of a Venetian campaign against Athens had made the Turks more hostile. The Athenians believed they had found the opportunity to break out of bondage. Based on this new state of affairs, the war council decided on a campaign against Athens.

Before describing the campaign let’s revise in a nutshell how the Acropolis looked like during the medieval and early modern period until the preceding days of the attack.

In the 6th century AD, the Parthenon was converted into a church dedicated to Saint Sophia. Later, we find the church dedicated to the Virgin, the so-called Atheniotissa. The transformation of the building into a Christian church, and in fact into a basilica, took place as follows: The two formerly independent large spaces of the inner cella were connected by three doors that were opened in the dividing wall. The ancient main temple, being three-aisled, served as the temple of the Christian basilica, while the ancient western wing served as its narthex. The eastern door was eliminated in order to place there the Christian sanctuary, in accordance with the orientation of Christian churches, while the existing western door of the temple was retained as the main entrance. In this church the emperor Basileios II came to pray in 1018 after his victory over the Bulgarians.

From the beginning of the 13th century, the temple, still dedicated to the worship of the Virgin, continued to operate, but as a Catholic church. In 1380, King Pedro IV of Aragon, without having seen the Acropolis, describes it in an official document: “The above-mentioned castle is the most important ornament in existence in the entire world and this perhaps because none of the living Christian Kings have been able to build anything like it.”

In 1458, sultan Mohammed V the Conqueror came to Athens and admired the monuments of the Acropolis. The Parthenon was then converted to a mosque and a minaret was erected. The first illustrations of the Acropolis were done by Cyriacus of Ancona around 1435—a depiction that was reproduced in 1465 by Giuliano Giamberti, known as Sangallo.

Around 1640 the Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi describes with admiration the temple. In 1674 it received a visit from the French ambassador of Louis XIV to the Ottoman Porte, the Marquis Olier de Nointel. His painter, Jacques Carrey in only 15 days, depicted, systematically and with great accuracy, the pediment, the frieze, and the southern metopes of the Parthenon. Many of those who have studied the Parthenon sculptures rely on these valuable drawings, while a portion of the sketches would be irretrievably lost thirteen years later.

In 1676, the French doctor Jacob Spon published a drawing of Athens showing the Acropolis, which had been sketched by the Jesuit missionary Jacques-Paul Babin. In the same year, Georges G. de Saint-Georges, who had never visited Greece, published a description of the temple in his work, and in turn, Spon, with the British botanist George Wheler depicted Athens, giving us descriptions, as well as illustrations of the monuments of the Acropolis.
In early 1687, the Frenchman Graviers d’Ortières visited Athens, and the engineer Plantier sketched for him a perspective of the Parthenon, the last before the catastrophe.

In 1687, the Parthenon, after its transformation first into a Christian church and then into a mosque, was in the following condition, according to the description of the architect Manolis Korres. The “intercolumnia” (i.e. the space between the columns of a colonnade) of the peristyle were enclosed by a wall roughly five meters high. The intercolumnia of the western and probably those of the eastern porch, were united with a similar wall in order to form a closed corridor, perhaps a kind of substitute for the atrium of a typical basilica. In a few of the intercolumnia, entrances into the building were opened and at those points additional steps were carved into the basis of the peristyle.

The ancient roof had been destroyed by fire in the 3rd century AD and along with it almost the entire insides of the sanctuary. In the major repairs that followed, the new roof of the temple, wooden with clay tiles, only covered the sanctuary, while the wings remained exposed. And these were not the only differences between the new and the old roof. Adhering to more recent models, it had a far larger incline. The exaggerated height of its easternmost section above the main temple, related to three later windows on each side, is perhaps due to a much later change in the Christian church. The Christian windows that were opened in the long walls divide the frieze and are so high that their upper reaches form small pediments at the level of the roof.

The minarets of the mosque were raised on the southwestern corner of the sanctuary upon the strong trunk of an older stone tower with a spiral internal staircase. Within the cella, the two-storey arrangement of the columns was utilized for the construction of galleries, probably only over the side aisles. The floor of the eastern part of the cella, was raised to create the sanctuary. There were two more columns, made of jasper, as well as the “ciborium” (i.e. the canopy surmounting the altar), which had four columns made of porphyry, with Corinthian capitals made of white marble. In the apse, the “synthronon” (i.e. the raised seats’ area for the higher clergy) with a semicircular graduated arrangement still exists. The Turks plastered over the insides of the mosque in order to hide the Christian frescos.

The Erechtheum in the early Christian period was changed into a three-aisled, basilica dedicated to Christ the Savior. During Frankish rule, it seems to have acquired a secular use. During Turkish rule, it was used as the residence for the Pasha and his harem. It was mentioned little or not at all by travelers of the period, but seems to have been maintained in good condition. In its western section, a large underground reservoir was created. The residence was extended into its northern porch, in whose intercolumnia walls were built. East of the northern porch, along the length of the northern wall of the classical building, there was a three-storey wing of the residence, with a single-sloped roof. The Porch of the Maidens was left untouched, but walls, however, covered the spaces between the Caryatides.

From the end of the 3rd century AD, the Propylaea was connected uninterruptedly with the fortifications along the western side of the Rock, which is, strategically speaking, the only vulnerable side of the Citadel. According to the description of the architect Tassos Tanoulas, the Propylaea at the end of the 12th century had already become the residence of the Orthodox Bishops of Athens and was later converted into the residence of the Frankish rulers. The chapel which had been connected with the northern wall of the central building during the middle Byzantine period was retained during Frankish rule.

Atop the central building a storey was added, which used the ancient paneled ceiling as its floor. In the art gallery, a ceiling with a cross vault was constructed, which was used as a floor for the added storey. That storey was extended eastward over the late Roman reservoir. Over the southern wing, the Frankish Tower was built to a height of twenty-six meters. In the intercolumnia of the Doric colonnades of the central building, walls were built, thus eliminating the entrance into the Citadel from the Propylaea. The new entrance to the Acropolis was between the Frankish Tower and its southern wall. Access to the palace took place from the eastern porch. The classical building was maintained almost untouched, but the total impression was that of a fortress with towers and crenellated ramparts. During Turkish rule, the Propylaea was used as the residence for the Commander of the Acropolis Garrison.

In 1640, a lighthning struck the central building of the Propylaea, where gunpowder was being stored, resulting in a huge explosion that demolished a section of it. Nonetheless, it appears from Spon and Wheler’s 1676 description, as well as from the 1687 illustrations of d’Ortières and Verneda, that the western portion of the building was not destroyed.

The temple of Athena Nike was still untouched in its position atop its ancient Tower when Spon visited the Acropolis. A fortification that enclosed the space between Agrippa’s Monument and the Tower was high enough to include the western facade of the temple with the walls.

Finally, within the Acropolis there, for years, existed homes built on top of the monuments out of materials that had fallen from them.
The Turks in Athens, once they realized that the fortified rock of the Acropolis was the primary and most important obstacle to conquest Central Greece, and since, of course, the initiatives of the Athenians had not escaped them, made the requisite preparations.

They tried to confront the fearsome artillery fire of the Venetians, which was exceptionally strong and had brought catastrophe and desertion to Fortresses of the Peloponnese. Because of the range of fire—the range, depending on the kind of artillery, varied between 100 and 700 meters—the danger of cannon fire on the Acropolis was apparent from the western side, that is, from the hill of the Muses and the Pnyx, locations from which the Venetians would be able to set up their artillery.

The Turks rushed to erect new fortifications to strengthen the western side of the Acropolis, which was its only vulnerable entrance. The repaired the walls, built a tower west of the temple of Athena Nike and they reinforced the ramparts between the temple and the Agrippa Monument in order to place a second battery of cannons. Because of the need for ready-at-hand materials, they demolished the temple of Athena Nike and used its architectural parts, along with rocks and earth, to build the rampart. In the excavations following the liberation, all of the temple’s parts were discovered, permitting it to be re-erected in 1838. Naturally, shell damages do not exist. The campaign against Athens began on September 19, 1687.

Morosini, in order to deceive the Turks and catch them unprepared, sent a portion of the Venetian fleet, under admiral Venier, towards Evvia. The Turks, indeed, were relieved that, for the time being, the threat had been averted. On the same day, the rest of the fleet transported to Pireaus the entire Venetian army—according to Morosini’s secretary, Locatelli, 9,880 men and 871 horses—along with artillery, bombs, military supplies and plentiful materials for a siege.

Akerhjelm mentions in her diary that, because of a major windstorm, the galley which she boarded to accompany the Countess von Konigsmark was forced to land at the port of Pireaus, where naturally it took down the Venetian flag and raised the British one. Fortunately for the ladies, the British Consul was in Piraeus and, speaking in English, told them that the Athenians were not inclined to pay taxes to the Venetians, but speaking in German, said that the fortress of the Acropolis had only four hundred men and, consequently, its capture would not be particularly difficult. The ladies insisted on touching land and went to visit the famous Lion of Piraeus, and in fact to in fact to measure it. The next day, a favorable wind blew in and they departed, with useful information for Morosini.

On the morning of September 21, 1687, the Athenians awakened to see the entire Venetian fleet anchored off Piraeus. Even Venier had arrived from Evvia. The Turks were overcome by fear and terror. With enormous haste they gathered their valuables and ascended the Acropolis. By mid-day they were all enclosed in the Fortress. In Athens, only the Greeks remained.

According to Locatelli, a committee of notables visited Morosini and promised obedience, assistance, and topographical and strategic information. The Athenians sided with the Venetians because, if they had remained neutral, no matter who would won, they would suffer the consequences, and Morosini’s bombs would have destroyed the city. Thus they decided to side with the Venetians openly and to remain in the city, taking care at the same time to hide their valuables out of fear, both of the Turks and of the Venetians.

The Venetians advanced with a force of 150 men under colonel Raugraf von der Pfalz who occupied Athens in order to protect the Athenians from the Turks. They sent a message to the Turks, seeking the surrender of the Fortress in exchange for the undisturbed departure of the Turks, along with their portable goods. Ali, the Agha of the Castle, refused. He had ammunition and was awaiting Serasker (the commander-in-chief of the Ottoman army) with reinforcements. The main force of troops under Konigsmark—with the guidance of the Athenians—moved through the olive groves of Attica and, without entering Athens, occupied the main strategic points from which they could make an offensive on the Acropolis, mainly the hills and heights west of the Castle.

Meanwhile, army engineers attempted, from the north, to open underground passages in order to use explosive materials to blow up the Fortress. The Turks fired on them continuously, thinning out their ranks. The Venetians manage to reach the cave of Agraulos, where they were stopped by the density of the rocks.

On the night of September 21st to the 22nd, Konigsmark, according to descriptions, put his artillery in place: on the hill of the Muses a wall of cannons consisting of 15 guns, on the Pnyx nine, and on the Areos Pagos five enormous mortars. The Turks fired incessantly against the Venetians, attempting to prevent them from setting up their artillery. On the morning of September 23, the Venetian artillery was in its final positions and began to systematically strike the Acropolis.

In charge of the artillery was Antonio Muitoni, Count di San Felice, who most witnesses accuse of being totally incapable. Amply ironic descriptions from his collaborators tell us that “often the shells sailed over the Fortress and landed on the other side, resulting in the deaths of the besiegers instead of the besieged.” Seeing no results, the Venetians set up a new artillery battery on the eastern side of the Fortress, sent a colleague to Moutoni named Leandros, while Konigsmark personally supervised. On September 25, according to the Count Léon de Laborde a bomb landed in the small powder magazine in the Propylion, the gunpowder ignited and a portion of the Propylion collapsed. The Venetians continued to bombard the Fortress with undiminished intensity.

There is conflicting information from the period regarding the “fortuitous” blowing up of the Parthenon. Some sources say that the shot was random, others that it was aimed. According to the witness of the German officer Sobievolski, on September 22, a Turkish deserter told Morosini that most of the Turks’ ammunition was stored in the Parthenon, and that the most important of the women and children of the Turkish community were also taking shelter there, thinking that the Venetians would not bombard the priceless edifice. After receiving the information, most of the mortars directed their fire at the temple, without, however, success, since the temple was marble, and thus the building well protected.

The night of September 26 (towards the 27th), during the full moon, a bomb—some claim that it was fired by a lieutenant from Luneburg -managed to pass through an opening in the roof and to ignite a large quantity of gunpowder that was stored within the temple. The explosion that followed split the building in two, ruining the finest structure of classical Art. The Venetians, according to the sources, exploded in cheers. Some shouted “Long Live the Republic”, others “Long Live Konigsmark”. Even the besiegers on the Museion Ηill were showered with fragments of marble.

As a result of the explosion, three of the sanctuary’s four walls nearly collapsed and three-fifths of the sculptures from the frieze fell. Nothing of the roof apparently remained in place. Six columns from the south side fell, eight from the north, as well as whatever remained from eastern porch, except for one column. The columns brought down with them the enormous marble architraves, triglyphs and metopes. The entire building suffered a fearsome shock. The blast and the blowing up of the building created indescribable panic. Three hundred Turks were killed by the marble that was launched in all directions. The fire spread to surrounding homes, and, since there was not enough water, became extended ever further. The entire night of September 26 (towards the 27th) as well as the entire next day, the Acropolis burned.

Despite everything, and while threatened with burning, the Turks decided not to surrender, since they had received word that Serasker was nearing with powerful Turkish forces. And indeed, early on the morning of September 28, Serasker’ forces arrived. However, Konigsmark was expecting them and turned immediately against them with the largest part of his army and cavalry. Serasker was terrified and retreated without firing a single shot, and the besieged Turks saw their last hope extinguished. They decided to surrender and raised the white flag above the tower of the Propylion on September 28, 1687. Five Turkish representatives emerged, authorized to negotiate the terms of surrender. A cease-fire order was issued and the representatives were led to the military camp in Pireaus.

A war council was called together. Morosini insisted on the unconditional surrender of the Acropolis and of the besieged. The delegated Turks asked for an explicit guarantee of their lives and facilitation of their departure. Konigsmark sided with the Turks and on September 29, a treaty was drawn up that began with the words “out of compassion.” The Turks received a guarantee of their lives and freedom of departures, with the right to transport whatever luggage they were able to carry on their shoulders, excepting, of course, arms and ammunition.

The Turks surrendered at mid-day September 29, 1687 and the Venetian flag was raised from the Propylion over the Acropolis. It was in a tragic state. The three hundred dead still remained unburied, the injured had neither doctors nor medicine, and the rest, living so many days crowded together among the ruins and corpses were in a miserable state. A few risked contact with the foreign guards and the Greeks in order to sell their personal valuables that they were not able to carry with them.

The Citadel and the City of Athens as seen by the Venetian army in 1687 (engraving, Stathis Finnopoulos collection).

Two views of the bombardment and plan of the Acropolis Citadel (engraving).

The bombardment of Acropolis, in a sketch by the Venetian Giacomo Verneda.

On October 4, as soon as the Turks had abandoned the Acropolis, the Venetians ascended and occupied it. Count Pompei was appointed Commander of the Fortress. His first concern was the interment of the bodies, which had remained unburied for around ten days, and an inventory of the abandoned warfare materials. At the same time, improvised teams tried to put in order the endless amounts of marble that were scattered everywhere from the explosion and to open passages amongst the ruins of the burnt houses. Morosini, accompanied by Konigsmark, surrounded by the upper echelon of the officer corps, entered triumphantly into Athens. At the gates of the city, the Bishop and Athenian nobles which received them as victors and declared their fealty to the Republic of St. Mark. Morosini ratified the social privileges of the Athens, approved self-government and recognized the rights of the Archbishop and the Orthodox Clerics.

A thanksgiving mass was celebrated in one of the “largest mosques,” which was converted into the church of Aghios Dionysios the Areopagite. Later, most of the abandoned mosques were converted into Orthodox churches, while one of them was dedicated to Catholic worship and another to the Protestant.

After the mass, Morosini and his entourage ascended the Acropolis. The sight of the ruined monuments appears to have provoked sincere sorrow from the conquerors. Acherhelm: “How distressed was Excellency (meaning Konigsmark) at having had to destroy the beautiful temple that, for 3000 years, stood there and was called the temple of Athena! But for naught! The bombs did their work in a manner such that never can this temple be rebuilt!”.

The victors decided to winter in Athens. The foreign mercenaries set up camp by nationality in Athens. The Venetian engineer Verneda, following an order from Morosini, composed a topographical plan and representation of Athens and the Acropolis. A series of these plans, as well as others, depicting the bombardment and explosion have been preserved up to the present.

We do not have much information about Athens and its inhabitants during the period of co-existence with foreign peoples. What we do know from sources, in any case, is that the Athenians received them well and treated them considerately. The problem of language differences, naturally, made communication very difficult. The German mercenary Urlich Friedrich Homberg wrote: “Athens is a large and populous society. I wouldn’t change the wine of Attica for the best beer. Here I found enormous grapes like those mentioned in the Old Testament. Two men would find it difficult to lift a single cluster”.

Akerhjelm wrote to her brother: “The city is better than all the others. There are many beautiful cities, both of Greeks and of Turks. They have clothes made of fine fabrics, and of wonderful weaving. We went to see a Capuchin who lives at Demosthenes’ Lantern, and he treated us to wine, bread, apples, figs and pomegranates. It is impossible for me to describe all of the antiquities that are found here! I would like to know, my brother, what you think about our being in this city, Athens, the fount of civilization for all the others, including that of Rome!”.

In the meantime, the relations of the Venetians and the mercenaries worsened daily. Morosini in his reports accused the foreign mercenaries of constantly extorting him with new and constantly increasing demands for pay, while the mercenaries, in all the descriptions that have been preserved, accuse the Venetians of bad faith and greed. Characteristically, Homberg writes: “The Republic had deceived us and behaves towards us in a despicable manner. Twenty-eight Ducats that should have the value of 23 German Talira they exchange for 15, because we are forced to take half a Florin for three-and a half Talira which in Venice would have the value of two.” It appears that Morosini gave them devalued Venetian currency, considering it to be a healthy measure by thus reducing their payments. The religious differences between the Catholic Venetians and the Protestant Germans, along with the linguistic differences that made communication difficult, hindered contact between them even more.

The differences and the hostility between the Venetians and the mercenaries naturally worked to the detriment of the Athenians. The mercenaries did not execute, as promised, their obligations to protect the Athenians from Turkish raiders and many residents of Attica were forced to abandon their homes and lands and move to the main Athens village. In Athens, due to the concentration there of the people of Attica and the army, food supplies began to get scarce; the mercenaries began looting and pillaging and, moreover, a plague broke out. Meanwhile, the Turks were gathering their forces in Thebes.

On December 31, 1687, Morosini convened a war council in Piraeus where he laid out the critical nature of the situation. He demonstrated that, in order for Athens to be properly fortified, many years of labor and around 3000 laborers would be required. Excluding this, he proposed abandoning Athens, exiling the Athenians in order to avoid their slaughter by the Turks and, finally, using explosives to level the city and the Acropolis to their foundations, in order the prevent the Turks from once more fortifying them.

Three days later, the war council again convened, as newer reports presented the situation as exceptionally critical. A final decision was made on the emigration of the Athenians to other regions under Venetian control.

Morosini called together the notables to announce the decisions of the council. In his report to Venice of January 1, 1688, he wrote: “They listened mournfully the announcement of the decided-upon measures. I tried to comfort them, promising that I would give them every support and every assistance in their new residences.” The Athenians offered funds, they proposed the formation of military forces that would undertake defense against the Turks and the financial support of these forces for one year, but Morosini turned them down. On February 12, 1688, the war council made a unanimous, final decision for the immediate abandonment of Athens. The proposal for destroying the city was considered. Fortunately, neither the time nor the means existed. To destroy the walls of the Acropolis and its monuments to their foundations would require thousands of workers and a long-term project. No one present thought of another reason for avoiding the destruction of the monuments aside from the lack of laborers, tools and time. Finally, the city was saved from the considered destruction.

Thus the preparations for departure began. On December 4, the Senate sent the following decree to Morosini: “We received the diagram of the city of Athens and its Fortress which was drawn up by Count di San Felice and with pleasure observed the famous ancient monuments existing there. We authorize you the removal and sending to us here that which would be judged the most important and most artistically vigorous to enhance the prestige of the Sovereign, and to also be used as a new immortal monument of Our Distinguished Virtue. The vote was 162 for, 2 against, and one abstention.

Morosini chose the best preserved statues of the western pediment and tried to remove them. He writes in his report of March 19: An effort was made to remove the large pediment, but collapsed from the colossal height and it is a miracle that something didn’t happen to some laborer. The reason is that the structure is built without mortar and the various stones are assembled together with remarkable skill. Furthermore, from the explosion in the gun powder magazine, the structure suffered a most serious shock. Our inability to erect scaffolds, by transferring from the galleys the high masts and other necessary mechanisms, has forced us to abandon any subsequent effort. As a result, every effort to remove other sculpted decorations has ceased. Furthermore, missing from the buildings at this point are the most wonderful pieces and those that remain are of lower value and manifest missing parts due to their age. By all means, he continued, “I decided to take a lioness of the most beautiful artfulness, even if its head is missing, that could be easily be replaced, however, with the marble that I will send you along with the lioness and is of a like.

In total, Morosini took whatever lions he found: one from the Acropolis, one from the district of the Theseion, and of course, the well-known Lion of Piraeus, which was the reason that the port of Piraeus had been named Porto Leone. The lions were transported to Venice and, from that time, have adorned the Naval Station of the Republic as a trophy of the victors. Morosini’s officers, Venetian and foreign, took with them whatever pieces were easily transportable. Items from the Parthenon or other monuments of Athens which today are found in private collections and European museums without anyone knowing how, were possibly transported in this period by the soldiers of Morosini’s army.

The most typical case is that of Morosini’s secretary San Gallo, who took with him the head of a female statue which fell from the western pediment during the Venetians’ failed effort and was separated. After many misadventures, the German archeologist Weber, who had studied the Parthenon carvings from Elgin’s casts, purchased it from a Venetian marble worker just as he was about to break it, recounts de Laborde, who later bought it from Weber and removed it secretly from Italy. Today the “Laborde head” is found in the Louvre. Another Venetian officer took a section of the frieze showing two horsemen in the procession and the head of a horse. Today it is found in the Museum of Art History in Vienna.

A Danish officer named Hartmand took two heads from each of two southern metopes. Today they are found in the Copenhagen National Museum. In any case, the hurried departure, the illnesses and the inability to transport many objects, on the one hand, and the indefinite future of the campaign, on the other, were the reasons that the looting did not become systematic. The path of pillage, however, had already opened.

The Parthenon was a house of worship for the Muslim faith before it was destroyed. The Turks did not allow the removal from the building of the smallest stone of religious value. Only because it was decimated by Morosini’s bombs and abandoned as useless ruins could Elgin later receive permission to remove certain items and, misusing the firman (ottoman imperial decree), proceed with the total looting of the ruined Parthenon. The events of 1687-1688 were the initial cause for all the succeeding catastrophes and we can consider it certain that, if Morosini’s siege and military bombardment had not taken place, the Parthenon would have survived until today nearly intact.

In mid-March 1688, lots of Athenians boarded Venetian ships in a state of enormous despair and mourning and abandoned Athens, taking with them whatever possessions they could carry. Some established themselves in Salamina, others in the Peloponnese and others on the Ionian Islands. On April 4, the evacuation of Athens was complete. War-making materials were loaded on the boats, the army boarded and the signal for departure was given. On April 8, Morosini abandoned the city. After his astounding victories of the past three years, he for the first time abandoned a conquered fortress.
The Doge Marcantonio Giustinian had just died. On July 8 in Aegina, Morosini received word of his election to the highest office of the Republic. His enthronement took place in Aegina and, now as Doge, he departed for Chalkida.

In September 1688, during the siege of Halkida, Konigsmark died. At the end of the year, Morosini fell ill and was forced to return to Venice. Five years later, at the age of seventy-five, he launched for the third and last time a campaign against the Turks. He fell ill at Karystos and was transported to Nafplion, where he died in January 1694. His coffin was buried with high honors in Venice.

From a military standpoint, the campaign against Athens was an insignificant event, but it would remain always in history because it resulted in the destruction of the greatest masterpiece of classical antiquity.

The Venetians, of course, looked at the matter from the mindset of the era. They attempted, with blasting powder, to destroy the Acropolis, celebrated in particular when the Parthenon exploded and their goal was attained, while the only reason they did not destroy the monuments before abandoning Athens was the lack of time, workers and tools.

Morosini was a highly capable general. From the start, he was against the campaign and all of his arguments showed themselves to be valid. Once the decision to attack was made, the Acropolis, for him, was merely another fortress and the Parthenon another powder magazine that needed, at all costs, to be conquered by arms. As James Morton Paton wrote in 1940, it was amongst the first and, by all means worst instances where “strategic necessity” turned modern weapons against an unrivalled work of art.

The departure of the Venetians placed the Greeks of Athens in a very difficult position They had certainly not opposed the invaders, and therefore dreaded the wrath of the returning Turks. Α few sailed to Zakynthos, which was then under Venetian rule. Many made their way went to other areas under Venetian control: to Nauplia, Patras, Gastouni, Koroni and Dimitsana. Some of these received grants of land or money and settled permanently in the Peloponnesus. But most of the Greek population fled to the island of Salamis, where they built themselves houses, and even churches, at Ambelakia

Α few people stayed behind in the city, but they soon found themselves prey to marauding brigands, and were forced to take refuge in the surrounding hills Α chronicler reported:' They took whatever they could and escaped to the mountains. Most of the houses collapsed, the streets filled up, and the entire town became a lamentable wilderness. Marauders set fire to the trees, and the flames from these burned down even the ancient monuments.' Athens remained almost a ghost town of under 1000 people for three years (This is the lowest population of the city throughout its history). Even the surrounding mountains were not secure, for Pendeli Monastery was pillaged at this time.

One of the most prominent citizens, Limberakis, sought an amnesty for the people from the Sultan, and was successful, so some Athenians returned. Those who remained at Ambelakia were attacked by a force of Turks, who killed all the men they could, carried away three hundred and fifty women and children into slavery, and took everything they could plunder. In May 1689, the Venetian Dimitriοs Gaspari offered to transfer the survivors to Aegina on his galleys, but by that time most of them had already decided to accept an amnesty from the Sultan and returned to Athens.

It was in the interest of the Turks to have the Athenians return so that they would be able to provide revenues in the future, so sultan Suleiman II issued a three-year tax amnesty, and the voivode provided funds for rebuilding. In time, even many of those who had settled in Venetian controlled areas in the Peloponnesus, but who had not received grants of land, gradually drifted back home.

View of the Acropolis, Athens and Piraeus. sketched by George Wheler Voyage de Dalmatie, de Grece, et du Levant, 2vol., Amsterdam 1689. During his travel around Greece with J. Spon. In the image below we can see how he depicted the roads lto the neighboring towns of the basin, the stadium with the bridge crossing the Ilissos river, the Olympeion, the churches of Aghioi Theodoroi, Aghias Skepis, Panaghias Lykodymou, Aghios Kosmas (in the homonous neighborhood), Aghios Nikolaos in Phalero and the harvour in Piraeus (Porto Leone). The city is crossed by the Kifissos and Ilissos rivers. (Staikos – Biggopoulou “H Anadysi” page 7.)

Map of Athens with many of its monuments mentioned, including the Aghios Georgios hill (Lykavittos); the Aghios Dyonisios Aeropagitus church; the Ilissos river; the roads to Chalkida, Sounio, Piraeus, etc.; the school of Aristoteles. Vincenzo Maria Coronelli, Βενετία 1688. Βενετία, Biblioteca del Civico Museo Correr M 4990.

View of Athens from the Northwest sketched by Francesco Fanelli during the siege by Morozini, Atene, Attica descritta da suoi principii sino all’ aquisto fatto dall’ armi venete nel 1687, Venezia 1707. (I. Travlos).

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Discussion Starter · #22 · (Edited)
Later Ottoman Athens (1689-1821)


After the destruction of the Parthenon by the Venetian artillery, a new mosque was built during the 18th century inside its ruins, as depicted here in a painting by J. Skene (1838).

Fewer Turks returned after the Venetian occupation than had lived there before. Whereas before the Venetian occupation, throughout the 17th century Turks had formed one quarter of the population the rest being Greeks, afterwards the Turks came to about one tenth. Nevertheless, a small mosque was erected inside the ruins of the Parthenon, mostly out of fallen material. At about this time, a company of whirling dervishes took over the Tower of the Winds as their tekke. Their dances, taking place as they did in this unique building, became one of the sights of the city for foreign visitors, one frequently represented in engravings.

In the 18th century Athens began to acquire places of learning once more. In 1721 the Medresse, a Turkish religious seminary was founded by Mehmet Fakhri. It carne to be used as a general meeting hall for the Turks. In 1750 Ioannis Dekas, an Athenian who had fled with the Venetians and made a lot of money in Venice, built and endowed a school for twelve poor Athenian children in what is now Deka Street, near Monastiraki.

In 1759 the voivode Tzistarakis built the mosque which bears his name on the present Monastiraki Square. The workmen dynamited one of the columns of the Temple of Olympian Zeus to obtain high quality lime for the stucco. The Pasha of Chalkis had him banished for this act, even refusing a bribe of 16,000 piastres which the voivode offered him. The people attributed the outbreak of plague that year to the disease being released by the destruction of the column.

Western visitors continued to arrive in significant numbers for the first time, providing valuable information about the city at that time. Edward Gibbon described the inhabitants 'walking with supine indifference among the glorious ruins of antiquity.' The number of travellers increased after Stuart and Revett published their Antiquities of Athens in 1762. These travellers allow us to glimpse life in Athens in some detail. Thus Hans Christian Anderson reported seeing black Ethiopian slaves belonging to the Turks, who lived high in the caves in the side of the rock on the northern slope of the acropolis. Some of the cave entrances would be partially bricked up for added shelter. The Ethiopians used the ruins of the Temple of Olympian Zeus as a mosque. In 1760, Athens became a malikhane, state land belonging to the sultan, which he would lease to a tenant for his lifetime. The tenant would pay the sultan a lump sum based upon ten times the annual revenue of the property and exercise judicial rights over the inhabitants. His first project after appointment would be to recoup the money he had paid for the lease from the townspeople.

In 1772 Hadji Αli Haseki, an Anatolian Turk in the bodyguard of Sultan Abdul Hamid Ι, purchased the malikhane. After three years he was made voivode. Hadji Αli Haseki's general aim, quite simply, was to extort as much money from the Athenians as possible.

In 1777 and 1778, hordes of mercenary Muslim Albanians burst into the city. They had been called into Greece by the Turks to aid in the bloody suppression of a revolt in the Peloponnese instigated, but inadequately supported, by empress Catherine of Russia. Afterwards, many of them had remained to rob and pillage. In consequence, Hadji Αli ordered the building of a defensive wall, known as the Serpentzes, around the city. In places it followed the lines of the walls of Themistokles on the north and east. Along its northeastern part it was accompanied by the road which today is known as Panepistimiou.

This wall was of poor quality, barely three metres high and one wide, and incorporated much masonry from ruins and monuments The chronicler Dimitrios Kalephronas wrote: 'As soon as the work was completed, Hadji Αli presented the Athenians with a bill of 42,500 piastres for supervisors from outside, and they paid it. But the wall became a prison for the Athenians. He set guards at the gates, and the Athenians suffered much, until by 1784 'the curse of his rule was no longer to be borne.'

In 1785, Haseki was summoned to Constantinople for trial, together with those archons who had collaborated with him. Nevertheless, five years later he was able to return. As a result: 'In 1791 and this year 100 there was nothing but oppression, with people fleeing the country and the Athenians fleeing in every direction. The years 1789-92 were the worst in the twenty-year period of Hadji Ali's rule.' The prisons were full as Haseki tried to extort money from the wealthier citizens. This was too much even for the sultan, and he was banished to Chios and beheaded three years later.

During these years, specially the revolutionary years in France, Athens became increasingly a port of call, or touristic destination, for foreign travellers. William Rae Wilson wrote: 'Ι crossed over in a small boat to Athens, the principal city of the Grecian empire, and put up in a small convent al the extremity of it, inhabited by a solitary monk, where, from the crowd of names of Englishmen written and cut on the walls, seems to be a kind of headquarters for Βritish travellers.' He was referring to the monastery of Saint Spyridοn. Near the end of the century John Bacon Sawry Μοrritt exemplified the ruthless attitudes of the aristocratic antiquities collectors of the period: 'It is very pleasant to walk the streets here. Over almost every door is an antique statue or basso-relievo, more or less good though all much broken, so that you are in a perfect gallery of marbles in these lands. Some we steal, some we buy.' Later he wrote: 'We have just breakfasted, and are meditating a walk to the citadel, where our Greek attendant is gone to meet the workmen, and is, Ι hope, hammering down the Centaurs and Lapiths... Nothing like making hay when the sun shines, and when the commandant has felt the pleasure of having our sequins for a few days. Ι think we shall bargain for a good deal of the old temple...'

He did not get what he wanted, but in 1799, Lord Elgin was accredited in Constantinople as British ambassador to the Sublime Porte. His agent, the Neapolitan Giovanni Battista Lusieri arrived in Athens to accomplish Elgin's project of removing fine examples of ancient sculpture to Britain. The Βritish consul, Logothetis, was instructed to obtain permission from the Dizdar Aga. After six months negotiations permission was given in return for five guineas. Even so, he refused them permission to erect scaffolding, lest the workmen peek into the garden of his harem. Then on receiving news of the approach of a French fleet, foreigners were forbidden access to the acropolis.

Elgin then reportedly went straight to the Ottoman Foreign Ministry to request a firmαn in the name of Sultan Selim II, to override local officials, and obtained one. This was presented to the voivαde of Athens. On the basis of this authority, over the next few years the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Propylaea and the temple of Athena Nike were denuded of their sculptures, which were shipped to England. The painter Edward Dodwell visited Athens during the course of this work and wrote of 'the inexpressible mortification of being present when the Parthenon was despoiled of its finest sculpture, and when some of its architectural members were thrown to the ground.' Edward Clarke reported 'down came the fine masses of the Pentilican marble, scattering their white fragments with thundering noise among the ruins.' In recompense for the marbles, Lord Elgin left a clock to the citizens. Α tower was built to house in the bazaar.

Detailed account of the Elgin incident with the marbles:

Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl; of Elgin, British Ambassador to the Sublime Porte of Constantinople (Istanbul) the seat of the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the 19th century, having stripped down the monuments of the Acropolis from 1801 - 1804 brought back to London one whole caryatid from the Erechtheion, huge pedimental figures, friezes, metopes and parts of columns from the Parthenon and other pieces representing over half of all the surviving sculptures from the monuments.

These were sold to the British Government in 1816, after the Select Committee of the House of Commons had debated the issue and considered the method of their acquisition, their value and the importance of buying them as public property. At the conclusion of this procedure, in spite of some serious misgivings expressed by a number of MPs and witnesses, especially whether a British Ambassador was justified in using his position to acquire antiquities from the Government he was accredited to, Elgin won the day. Parliament decided the sculptures be bought at the recommended price of £35,000.00, that they remain together and be displayed at the British Museum which maintains to this day that the so-called ' Elgin Marbles' are legally and properly held by it. Scholars have now seriously disputed this claim in the light of recent research and findings especially concerning the validity of the so-called firman.

In the year 1799, the 7th Earl of Elgin, was appointed Ambassador at the Sublime Porte of Constantinople in Ottoman Turkey, 'not without lobbying on his own part'. Elgin had been engaged for some years building a grand country house, to be called Broomhall. The architect was Thomas Harrison, a fine architect in the Greek style and passionate admirer of Greek classical architecture, who strongly encouraged Elgin to arrange for drawings to be made of the Greek antiquities in Athens and especially "to bring back plaster casts in the round of the actual surviving objects. There was no suggestion at that time that the original remains themselves should be removed."

The Athenians were thrilled with the arrival in 1800 of the Elgin team hoping it would create jobs and bring money to the city. Amongst them was the Reverend Philip Hunt - a deft negotiator consumed by an insatiable appetite for Greek antiquities - and the Italian Giovani Batista Lusieri - a professional landscape painter, in charge of the whole project.

To start with, Lord Elgin's aims were modest: As Britain's ambassador he used his considerable influence with the Sultan to be allowed to draw and make casts of the Parthenon sculptures. He wished to bring such sketches and casts back to Britain so as to improve artistic appreciation and taste among his countrymen. However, the more he busied himself with this project the more he realised that under the eminently bribeable Ottoman officialdom in charge, the Parthenon sculptures were there not only for copying but also for the taking.

The two Ottoman dignitaries mentioned in the correspondence of the team members were the Voivode, governor of Athens, and the Disdar, the military governor of the Acropolis, then a publicly owned military complex under the authority of the Sultan himself. Intrigued by the fascination the Acropolis exerted on Western visitors these two were not averse to sell them the odd piece of it but kept quiet about it lest they lose their heads (literally).

With such a Damocles' sword over him, the Disdar was prepared to sell access to the Acropolis but when it came to allow the Elgin team to sketch, including perhaps the military fortifications and even spy on women in the Ottoman houses visible from the Acropolis, he drew the line. He demanded a firman (Sultan's decree). Lord Elgin In Constantinople started to work hard to obtain one.

In February 1801, six whole months after their arrival in Athens, Lord Elgin's artists were finally allowed on to the Acropolis. However, when the scaffolding was erected and the moulders were ready to start work, the Disdar took fright and banned access to the site until the promised firman was securely in his hands.

In spite of claims by Elgin's men at the time of the removals, and the British Museum in later and recent years, no "firman" was ever produced either at the Select Committee in 1816 or in later years when serious doubts were expressed about the existence of a firman in the first place (See below: The firman and the legitimacy of the acquisition). The only written evidence is that of an Italian translation of an "official letter" now in the possession of William St. Clair, a Cambridge historian. However, the following is the account of the granting of a so-called "firman" as given in evidence at the Select Committee in 1816 and repeated ever since by all who wish to retain the Marbles in Britain.

The first firman was issued in May 1801 and appears to have been sent directly to the Ottoman officials in Athens through Ottoman channels. Its contents have never been known but one can surmise that it allowed Elgin's team access to the Acropolis to draw, erect scaffolding and make moulds.

This was soon deemed insufficient by the team. So Hunt asked for a second firman that would give them per mission 'to dig, to take away any sculp tures or inscriptions which do not interfere with the works or walls of the citadel'. Granted on 6 July 1801, this alleged firman - or 'official letter' as the Select Committee calls it - was discovered in its Italian translation by William St.Clair in the Hunt papers held by the family. It authorises Elgin 'to remove some stones with inscriptions and figures'. Even by these terms, Lord Elgin was given per mission to copy, draw, mould and dig around the Parthenon but not to saw sculptures off the monument.

A month later, In August 1801, Hunt asked the Voivode to allow him to take down the metopes from the Parthenon, a move that even Logotheti, the Greek Vice-Consul of Britain in Athens was reluctant to approve. The event was witnessed and described by Edward Daniel Clarke (1769-1822), a British scholar, traveller and coin collector in his Travels Part II, section 2, p.483. 'One of the workmen' he writes 'came to Inform Don Batista that they were going to lower the metopes. We saw this fine piece of sculpture raised from its station between the triglyphs: but while the workmen were endeavouring to give it a position adapted to the line of descent, a pair of adjoining masonry was loosened by the machinery and down came the fine masses of Pentelican marble scattering their white fragments with thundering noise among the ruins. The Disdar, seeing this, could no longer restrain his emotions; he actually took his pipe from his mouth and letting fall a tear, said in a most emphatic tone of voice 'telos.' ['The end!' or 'Never again!'] positively declaring that nothing should induce him to consent to any further dilapidations of the building'.

The end ('telos') was, however far from near. In the spring of 1802 Elgin came over to Athens himself, congratulated his team and oversaw personally the removal of the stunning horse's head from the chariot of the waning moon (Selene) in the east pediment.

Shipping the sculptures to London presented problems. In September the 'Mentor', Elgin's own small brig, sank outside the Island of Cythera with some of the finest sculptures of the Parthenon. On Christmas Eve 1802, Hunt managed to enlist the help of Captain Clarke, commanding the HMS 'Braakel', to salvage the sunken sculptures and ship them to London.

Lord Elgin left Constantinople with his family on 16 January 1803, was captured by the French and held prisoner for the next three years. During that time his man in Athens, Lusieri, removed one of the Caryatids of the Erechtheion and replaced it with a crude bare brick pillar to prevent the roof from collapsing.

By 1806, when Elgin was released from captivity, his second large collection of antiquities was still In Athens with the beleaguered but loyal Lusieri standing guard over It. When in 1809 the new British Ambassador Robert Adair asked for their release, the Ottomans told him that Lord Elgin had never been authorised to remove any sculptures from the Parthenon In the first place. On 18 February they changed their mind and the Voivode was ordered to let them go.

The order reached Athens on 20 March. Losing no time, Lusieri loaded everything on a ship that set sail for London on 26 March. It contained most of the Parthenon sculptures but had to leave behind five of the heaviest cases. These were shipped to London a year later on 11 April 1811 by a British navy vessel having on board Lusieri and his last cargo 'the last plunder from a bleeding land' as Byron was to call it in Childe Harold.

Dr. Jeanette Greenfield in her highly regarded book "The Return of Cultural Treasures" (First published 1989, 2nd edition 1998, Cambridge University Press) has this to say on the firman:

"Although there has been debate as to the extent that the firman empowered Lord Elgin, the real issue in my view, centres around the fact that the original firman was never produced by Elgin in the House of Commons Parliamentary Select Committee in 1816. Only a copy written from memory was produced. There is no direct documentary proof of the right to remove the marbles. Even regarding such documents as exist there are arguments over the interpretation of the alleged wording which would not have been stretched to justify destruction of the Parthenon."

In 1998, an eminent Greek historian/Turkologist, Professor Vassilis Demetriades, wrote an article on the real nature of the Turkish firman, following extensive research on Ottoman administration and having examined a huge number of Ottoman archives both in Greece and in Turkey (Constantinople). These are some of his findings:

"In the Ottoman Empire there was no legislative body to debate or enact the state's legislation. Only the 'holy law of Islam' was acceptable as the basis of the state and the Sultan's right to amend the provisions of the holy law, wherever necessary. This right was expressed in 'firmans'. Elgin claimed that he had secured such a legal document, but was the document presented as such a firman? Professor Demetriades questions this:

"Any expert in Ottoman diplomatic language can easily ascertain that the original of the document which has survived was not a firman. "Ferman" in Turkish denotes any order or edict of the Ottoman Sultan. In a more limited sense it means a decree of the Sultan headed by the cipher (tughra) and composed in a certain form. All firmans have some common features that distinguish them from documents of other types.

Professor Demetriades lists all these features in great detail and concludes:

As none of these features are present in the document produced, the document whose translation we have is not a firman." Professor Demetriades believes on present evidence that there has never been a "firman".

Some apologists of the British Museum have claimed that the British used the word "firman" to describe any official letter issued in the Ottoman Empire. That maybe so, but that suggests that the legal weight of a proper firman allowing Elgin's men to enter the Acropolis has never existed. Instead it appears that an obliging Vizier simply sent a letter of introduction giving instructions for Elgin's men to be allowed to enter the Acropolis with specific guidelines for acting there.

Athens of late 18th century and the turn of the 19th century:

The Roman bridge on the Ilissos river. Sketched by Stuart – Revett (1751-1753). (Travlos, “Urban development of Athens, page 119”)

The occupation of Italy by Napoleon in 1796 diverted the young noblemen on the Grand Tour to the friendly Ottoman Empire. Many were lodged by Spyridοη Logothetis. In 1798 he received John Twedell, in 1801 Edward Daniel Clarke. In the same year, Edward Dodwell and William Gell stayed with the Makri family on Ayias Theklas Street, in 1809 Byron and Hobhouse. Hobhouse observed that even the few Turks living in Athens: 'subdued either by the superior spirit of his subjects, or by the happy influence of a more genial climate, appears to have lost his ferocity, to have conformed to the soil, and to have put on a new character, ornamented by the virtues of humanity, kindness, and an easy affability, to which he attains in no other quarter of the Mahometan world.'

He supposed the number of houses in Athens to be between 1200 and 1300. The majority of the population was Greek in a 80% while a 20% of the population Turks and Albanians (of which two third Turks and one third Albanians). There were also seven or eight 'Frankish' families, under the protection of the French Consul. There were also a handful of western European families as well as a few African Muslims and Jews. He thought the houses of the more important Athenians inferior to those of the wealthier Greeks at Ioannina or Livadia. The streets were narrow and irregular. Many had a raised causeway on both sides, so broad as to contract the middle of the street into a kind of dirty gutter. The bazaar was at a little distance from the foot of the hill, and had several coffee-houses, which at were crowded by Turks playing draughts and chess. It was formed by one street, rather wider than usual, intersecting another at right angles; and a little above where the two meet was the principal ornamented fountain in the town, supplied by a stream still brought in artificial channels or stone gutters from a reservoir under Mount Hymettus.

There were only four principal mosques with minarets in the city, although there were eleven places of worship for the Turks. The number of Christian churches was out of all proportion to the Greek population. Thirty-six were constantly open, and had services performed in them; but if the chapels which were shut every day except on the days of their particular saints were counted, there would have been nearly 200!

Hobhouse recorded that the voivode interfered little with the management of the Christians, and generally contented himself with the receipt of the tribute, collected by the archons. These were formerly eight in number; but at that time there were only five.

It is common ground in the historiography of the Athens of recent times, the incorrect indication of its unimportance, during this period. For instance expressions like “Athens was then 1834 a town of 10 or 12,000 inhabitants, a total ruin with a few dwellings at the foot of the Acropolis”; are some the characteristic expressions, of this perception.

Nonetheless, witnesses to the period suggest that this impression does not correspond to reality. “Athens, the City” was the setting for the recollections of Panagi Skouzes “between 1788 and 1796”, while Panagiotis Kodrikas visited his “ home city of Athens” in 1789. Arriving with Lord Byron in Athens in 1810, Baron Hobhouse, hearing their driver say “Affendi, i chora” (the town), thought he heard “to chorio” (the village). But “we were not a little surprised, upon looking up, to see in a plain at a great distance before us, a large town rising round an eminence, on which we could also discern some buildings, and beyond this town, the sea”.

In fact, throughout the period of Turkish rule, Athens not only remained a city, but it remained consistently the largest city in “Sterea Ellada, followed by Thebes, Livadia, Lamia, Atalanti, Salona and, later, Messolonghi, while presenting an impressive geographic expanse, beyond its medieval boundaries.

Being a Metropolitan See as well as the seat of an Ottoman Kaza, it specialized in a series of activities of an urban nature, such as production of silk fabrics, soap making and leather tanning. Characteristically, when in October 1833, a list was compiled of buildings to be expropriated for the sake of excavation, it included 400 houses, seven bakeries and 103 workshops (among which were two olive presses and two soap factories), within the boundaries of the later Hephaestus, Metropolis, Nikis, Amalias and Lysikratis streets, that is, about half of the Old City.

But it was considered important even beyond “Sterea Ellada”, Athens belonged in the category of important Balkan cities. Just before the Revolution, it was counted among the top ten cities of the southern Balkans, after Constantinople, Thessaloniki, Adrianople, Ioannina, Serres, Larissa, Tripoli and Patras. It was placed in the same category as the Epirotan Argyrokastro, but surpassed recognized cities, such as Verria, Monastiri, Argos and Nafplion, Kastoria, Berati and Arta; as described by General Marmont, a French General and Nobleman, and Marshal of France; he was the aide-de-camp of Napoleon Bonaparte during his campaigns.

Among the cities of what later became free Greece —a matter of particular significance, since these were the cities from which a capital would necessarily be chosen— pre-revolutionary Athens was the third, after Tripoli and Patras.

The exact number of inhabitants is difficult to determine, but all of the indicators, nonetheless, suggest that the number was in the range of over 10,000.

In October 1824, during the Goura commandership, a census of revolutionary Athens took place, according to which the City had decreased to 9,040 inhabitants and 1,605 houses, divided into 35 parishes. In that same period, the truly major city of Thessaloniki had 60,000 inhabitants, while Tripoli and Patras each had around 15,000. Thus the statement that Athens “was not among the most important pre-revolutionary cities” lacks validity. Even more, to call a Balkan settlement of 10,000 inhabitants at the start of the 19th century a “village” or even a “town” is to apply later criteria anachronistically. And even on the basis of newer criteria, based either on the Municipal Law of 1912 or on that of 1954, 10,000 inhabitants is exactly the point at which a settlement is treated as a city rather than a town.

It must be noted that this relative “renaissance” of the city, despite the circumstances, was connected by the popularity Athens had among foreigners and the increasing number of tourists that visited the city each year during the second half of the 18th century and early 19th century, which would never stop actually until our days, with one only short interruption that lasted as much as the revolution of ‘21 did in Athens.

The regular tax transmitted from Attica to Constantinople was between seven hundred and seven hundred and fifty purses; but the archons, under various pretences, exacted twice as much; and as they never gave any account to the people of the manner in which their money had been disposed of, they did not fail to enrich themselves out of the difference. Threats, and sometimes punishments, were employed to wring from the peasants their hard-earned pittances.

The archbishop of Athens exercised absolute authority over the clergy, and had a prisοn near his house for the confinement of offenders, whom he might punish with the bastinado, a beating on the soles of the feet with rods, to any extent short of death. His place was purchased from the Patriarch, the cost later being recouped by exactions from the people.

The families of Westerners settled at Athens chiefly supported themselves by lending money, at an interest of from twenty to thirty per cent to Greeks merchants. They held balls and parties in the winter and spring in their own small circle, to which the leading Greeks were invited.

Some of the travellers compared the landscape they encountered with near-idyllic description of Athens; as depicted in the well-known works of Chateaubriand and Pouqueville. Since the time, in 1806, that Chateaubriand visited the city, he mentioned that “Each house had its garden planted with orange trees and olive trees. Certain houses in particular did not lack propriety or elegance. The people seemed to him gay and content.”

Hobhouse reported that until within a few years previously, a journey to Athens was reckoned a considerable undertaking, fraught with difficulties and dangers; and that only 'a few desperate scholars and artists ventured to trust themselves amongst the barbarians, to contemplate the ruins of Greece.' But in recent years Attica swarmed with travellers' to the extent that 'several women had ascended the Acropolis' and that the city was soon to be provided with a tavern.

The region immediately to the north and north-west of the city, Hobhouse described as interspersed with small villages, hidden in shady groves. The Athenians were fond of the luxury of a summer retreat, had constructed kiosks, or summer houses, the lower part of mud and the upper of wooden planks, 'affording agreeable shelter during the intolerable heat of summer.'

'Some of these gardens were near villages such as Kifissia, at the foot of Mount Pentelicus, and Chalandri, in the same quarter; but the large tract of them was in the long line of olive-groves which form the western boundary of the plain of Athens. This district, watered by the Kifissos, in the neighbourhood of the site of the Academy, and the Kolonos Ηίppius, about twenty minutes' walk from the gale leading to Thebes, was to the south called Sepolia, and to the north Patisia, and was divided into extensive grounds allotted for supplying the city with fruit and vegetables which were brought by the Patission road (today Patission Avenue), and are for the most part not cultivated by their owners, but let out to the peasants of the villages.'

The Κifissos, he described as a sort of ditch-stream, almost dry in summer, and in winter only a torrent passing through the olive-groves and gardens, each of which is watered. Irrigation was 'effected by raising a low mound round eight or nine trees, and then introducing the stream through *****, so as to keep the roots and part of the trunks under water for the necessary length of time. Each owner watered his grove for thirty or forty hours, and paid so much a tree to the voivode, or to someone who had leased the revenue from that officer. 'During that period the peasants constructed huts with boughs, and watched each other day and night, so as not to lose their own portion, or to allow to others an unfair abundance of the valuable water.' He several limes observed their fires among the trees; and, as they watched in parties, and heard the sound of their voices, and the tinkling music of their guitars, on returning to Athens from an evening's ride

The village of Κifissia was then the favourite resort Athenians during the summer and autumnal months. The only village in Attica adorned with a mosque: it contained about two hundred houses. In the middle of it was an open space, where there were two fountains, and a large plane-tree, beneath whose overhanging branches was a flat stone, which was carved into squares so as to serve as a draught board, around which the Turks could be seen sedately smoking, or playing.

At Piraeus there was a monastery, dedicated to St. Spiridion, and inhabited by three or four friars; a summer retreat and warehouses belonging to a Frenchman, who resided in the city in the double capacity of physician and merchant; and a custom-house, the collector belonging to which was a dealer in fruit and Greek spirits. While he was there he saw in the harbour two ships at anchor. One of them was destined to receive the spoils of the Parthenon; and the other had recently arrived with a cargo of human beings from the coast of Africa. There were between two and three hundred slaves in the city: chiefly females, the servants of the Turks, who had the reputation, he said, of being indulgent and kind-hearted masters. He asked a black girl who brought a duck to the Capuchin convent for sale, how she came to be made a slave She said that she was born in Egypt, and caught in the neighbourhood of Alexandria while she was at the well drawing water. The only other trade at Piraeus was the exportation of the productions of Attica, the chief of which was olive oil.

Records from the period of Florentine rule in 15th century suggest that at that time the hills around Athens were well wooded. Thus significant deforestation occurred under Ottoman 365 years rule (reforestation recovery begun in the 19th century). Engravings from this period also frequently show camels. Although not a major trading centre, Athens was connected with the rest of the empire by the camel caravan routes which once had their terminus at Belgrade.

A view of the city of Athens, painted by Richard Temple (1810). In the picture it is well depicted the size the city had during this period, when the densely urbanized area of the main town reached the Acharnian gate in the intersection of Eolou and Sofokleous streets. The aproximate population of the main town in 1810 was between 10,000 and 12,000.

Aghios Dimitrios Chapel. Epimenidou street. (Late 17th century).

Residential building. Now belonging to the Educational Foundation of the National Bank. Thoukididou Street 13. (ca. 1770)

Church Mansion. Scholeiou 5 street & Epicharmou Street. (ca. 1770)

Lord Byron’s visit to Athens:

In early 19th century the famous British poet and leading figure of Romanticism, Lord George Gordon Byron, visited Athens during his two years trip to Portugal, Spain, Malta and Greece. However he spent most of the time touring Greece, having been based in Athens.

He first put foot in Greek territory, coming from Malta, on September 19, 1809 and would leave Greece on April 22, 1811.

Some of the cities he visited include Preveza, Ioannina, Tepeleni, Messolonghi, Smyrna, Constantinople, Patra and Athens among others.

But we’ll focus on his visit to Athens, where he spent most of his time during his stay in Greece.

He arrived Athens on December 25th, 1809, coming from Thebes. On their way to Athens the numberless relics and monuments laying by the road inspired the genius of Byron, who wrote about what he saw:

Fair Greece! sad relic of departed worth!
Immortal! though no more; though fallen, great;
Who now shall lead thy scatter'd children forth
And long-accustom'd bondage uncreate?
Not such thy Sons who whilom did await,
The hopeless warriors of a willing doom,
In bleak Thermopylæ's sepulchral strait:
Oh! who that gallant spirit shall resume,
Leap from Eurotas' banks, and call thee from the tomb!

In the course of the afternoon of the day after they had left Thebes, in attaining the summit of a mountain dividing Viotia with Attika over which their road lay, the travellers beheld Athens at a distance, rising loftily, crowned with the Acropolis in the midst of the plain, the sea beyond, and the misty hills of Egina blue in the far distance (some 100 kms away from that point).

On a rugged rock rising abruptly on the right, near to the spot where this interesting vista first opened, they beheld the remains of the ancient walls of Phyle, a fortress which commanded one of the passes from Viotia into Attica, and famous as the retreat of the chief patriots concerned in destroying the thirty tyrants of Athens.

That view inspired Byron who wrote about it with a sheer poetic flexibility:

Spirit of freedom! when on Phyle's brow
Thou sat'st with Thrasybulus and his train,
Couldst thou forebode the dismal hour which now
Dims the green beauties of thine Attic plain?
Not thirty tyrants now enforce the chain,
But every carle can lord it o'er thy land;
Nor rise thy sons, but idly rail in vain,
Trembling beneath the scourge of Turkish hand,
From birth till death enslaved; in word, in deed unmann'd.​

John Galt (1779-1839), the author of Byron’s biography, “The Life of Lord Byron” wrote: “Such was the condition in which the poet found the country as he approached Athens; and although the spirit he invoked has reanimated the dejected race he then beheld around him, the traveller who even now revisits the country will still look in vain for that lofty mien which characterises the children of liberty. The fetters of the Greeks have been struck off, but the blains and excoriated marks of slavery are still conspicuous upon them; the sinister eye, the fawning voice, the skulking, crouching, base demeanour, time and many conflicts only can efface”.

The first view of the city was fleeting and unsatisfactory; as the travellers descended from the mountains the windings of the road among the hills shut it out. Having passed the village of Cassa, they at last entered upon the slope, and thence into the plain of Attica but the intervening heights and the trees kept the town concealed, till a turn of the path brought it full again before them; the Acropolis crowned with the ruins of the Parthenon—the Museum hill—and the Monument of Philopappus—

A description of Byron’s excursions around Attika is detailed next by John Galt:

After having halted some time at Athens, where they established their headquarters, the travellers, when they had inspected the principal antiquities of the city (those things which all travellers must visit), made several excursions into the environs, and among other places went to Eleusis.

On the 13th of January they mounted earlier than usual, and set out on that road which has the site of the Academy and the Colonos, the retreat of Aedipus during his banishment, a little to the right; they then entered the Olive Groves, crossed the Cephessus, and came to an open, well-cultivated plain, extending on the left to the Piræus and the sea. Having ascended by a gentle acclivity through a pass, at the distance of eight or ten miles from Athens, the ancient Corydallus, now called Daphnérouni, they came, at the bottom of a piney mountain, to the little monastery of Daphné, the appearance and situation of which are in agreeable unison. The monastery was then fast verging into that state of the uninhabitable picturesque so much admired by young damsels and artists of a romantic vein. The pines on the adjacent mountains hiss as they ever wave their boughs, and somehow, such is the lonely aspect of the place, that their hissing may be imagined to breathe satire against the pretensions of human vanity.

After passing through the hollow valley in which this monastic habitation is situated, the road sharply turns round an elbow of the mountain, and the Eleusinian plain opens immediately in front. It is, however, for a plain, but of small dimensions. On the left is the Island of Salamis, and the straits where the battle was fought; but neither of it nor of the mysteries for which the Temple of Ceres was for so many ages celebrated, has the poet given us description or suggestion; and yet few topics among all his wild and wonderful subjects were so likely to have furnished such “ample room, and verge enough” to his fancy.

The next excursion in any degree interesting, it a qualification of that kind can be applied to excursions, in Attica, was to Cape Colonna. Crossing the bed of the Ilissus and keeping nearer to Mount Hymettus, the travellers arrived at Vary, a farm belonging to the monastery of Agios Asomatos, and under the charge of a caloyer. Here they stopped for the night, and being furnished with lights, and attended by the caloyer's servant as a guide, they proceeded to inspect the Paneum, or sculptured cavern in that neighbourhood, into which they descended. Having satisfied their curiosity there, they proceeded, in the morning, to Keratéa, a small town containing about two hundred and fifty houses, chiefly inhabited by rural peasants.

The wetness of the weather obliged them to remain several days at Keratéa, during which they took the opportunity of a few hours of sunshine to ascend the mountain of Parné in quest of a cave of which many wonderful things were reported in the country. Having found the entrance, kindled their pine torches, and taken a supply of strips of the same wood, they let themselves down through a narrow aperture; creeping still farther down, they came into what seemed a large subterranean hall, arched as it were with high cupolas of crystal, and divided into long aisles by columns of glittering spar, in some parts spread into wide horizontal chambers, in others terminated by the dark mouths of deep and steep abysses receding into the interior of the mountain.

The travellers wandered from one grotto to another until they came to a fountain of pure water, by the side of which they lingered some time, till, observing that their torches were wasting, they resolved to return; but after exploring the labyrinth for a few minutes, they found themselves again close beside this mysterious spring. It was not without reason they then became alarmed, for the guide confessed with trepidation that he had forgotten the intricacies of the cave, and knew not how to recover the outlet.

Byron often described this adventure with spirit and humour, magnifying both his own and his friend's terrors; and though, of course, there was caricature in both, yet the distinction was characteristic. Mr Hobhouse, being of a more solid disposition naturally, could discern nothing but a grave cause for dread in being thus lost in the bowels of the earth; Byron, however, described his own anxiety as a species of excitement and titillation which moved him to laughter. Their escape from starvation and being buried alive was truly providential.

While roaming in a state of despair from cave to cell; climbing up narrow apertures; their last pine-torch fast consuming; totally ignorant of their position, and all around darkness, they discovered, as it were by accident, a ray of light gleaming towards them; they hastened towards it, and arrived at the mouth of the cave.

Although the poet has not made any use of this incident in description, the actual experience which it gave him of what despair is, could not but enrich his metaphysical store, and increase his knowledge of terrible feelings; of the workings of the darkest and dreadest anticipations—slow famishing death—cannibalism and the rage of self-devouring hunger.

From Keratéa the travellers proceeded to Cape Colonna, by the way of Katapheke. The road was wild and rude, but the distant view of the ruins of the temple of Minerva, standing on the loneliness of the promontory, would have repaid them for the trouble, had the road been even rougher.

This once elegant edifice was of the Doric order, a hexastyle, the columns twenty-seven feet in height. It was built entirely of white marble, and esteemed one of the finest specimens of architecture. The rocks on which the remains stand are celebrated alike by the English and the Grecian muses; for it was amid them that Falconer laid the scene of his Shipwreck ; and the unequalled description of the climate of Greece, in The Giaour , was probably inspired there, although the poem was written in London.

We all arrived at Colonna, remained some hours, and returned leisurely, saying a variety of brilliant things, in more languages than spoiled the building of Babel, upon the mistaken seer; Romaic, Arnaout, Turkish, Italian, and English were all exercised, in various conceits, upon the unfortunate Mussulman. While we were contemplating the beautiful prospect, Dervish was occupied about the columns. I thought he was deranged into an antiquarian, and asked him if he had become a palaocastro man. ‘No,' said he, ‘but these pillars will be useful in making a stand' and added some remarks, which at least evinced his own belief in his troublesome faculty of fore-hearing.

“On our return to Athens we heard from Leoné (a prisoner set on shore some days after) of the intended attack of the Mainotes, with the cause of its not taking place. I was at some pains to question the man, and he described the dresses, arms, and marks of the horses of our party so accurately, that, with other circumstances, we could not doubt of his having been in ‘villainous company,' and ourselves in a bad neighbourhood. Dervish became a soothsayer for life, and I dare say is now hearing more musketry than ever will be fired, to the great refreshment of the Arnaouts of Berat and his native mountains.

“In all Attica, if we except Athens itself, and Marathon,” Byron remarks, “there is no scene more interesting than Cape Colonna. To the antiquary and artist, sixteen columns are an inexhaustible source of observation and design; to the philosopher the supposed scene of some of Plato's conversations will not be unwelcome; and the traveller will be struck with the prospect over ‘Isles that crown the Aegean deep.' But, for an Englishman, Colonna has yet an additional interest in being the actual spot of Falconer's Shipwreck . Pallas and Plato are forgotten in the recollection of Falconer and Campbell.

From the ruins of the temple the travellers returned to Keratéa, by the eastern coast of Attica, passing through that district of country where the silver mines are situated; which, according to Sir George Wheler, were worked with some success about a hundred and fifty years ago. They then set out for Marathon, taking Rapthi in their way; where, in the lesser port, on a steep rocky island, they beheld, from a distance, the remains of a colossal statue. They did not, however, actually inspect it, but it has been visited by other travellers, who have described it to be of white marble, sedent on a pedestal. The head and arms are broken off; but when entire, it is conjectured to have been twelve feet in height. As they were passing round the shore they heard the barking of dogs, and a shout from a shepherd, and on looking round saw a large dun-coloured wolf, galloping slowly through the bushes.

Such incidents and circumstances, in the midst of the most romantic scenery of the world, with wild and lawless companions, and a constant sense of danger, were full of poetry, and undoubtedly contributed to the formation of the peculiar taste of Byron's genius. As it has been said of Salvator Rosa, the painter, that he derived the characteristic savage force of his pencil from his youthful adventures with banditti; it may be added of Byron, that much of his most distinguished power was the result of his adventures as a traveller in Greece. His mind and memory were filled with stores of the fittest imagery, to supply becoming backgrounds and appendages, to the characters and enterprises which he afterward depicted with such truth of nature and poetical effect.

After leaving Rapthi, keeping Mount Pentilicus on the left, the travellers came in sight of the ever-celebrated Plain of Marathon. The evening being advanced, they passed the barrow of the Athenian slain unnoticed, but next morning they examined minutely the field of battle, and fancied they had made antiquarian discoveries. In their return to Athens they inspected the different objects of research and fragments of antiquity, which still attract travellers, and with the help of Chandler and Pausanias, endeavoured to determine the local habitation and the name of many things, of which the traditions have perished and the forms have relapsed into rock.

During his residence at Athens, Lord Byron made almost daily excursions on horseback, chiefly for exercise and to see the localities of celebrated spots. He affected to have no taste for the arts, and he certainly took but little pleasure in the examination of the ruins.

The marble quarry of Mount Pentilicus, from which the materials for the temples and principal edifices of Athens are supposed to have been brought, was, in those days, one of the regular staple curiosities of Greece. This quarry is a vast excavation in the side of the hill; a drapery of woodbine hangs like the festoons of a curtain over the entrance; the effect of which, seen from the outside, is really worth looking at, but not worth the trouble of riding three hours over a road of rude and rough fragments to see: the interior is like that of any other cavern. To this place I one day was induced to accompany the two travellers.

We halted at a monastery close by the foot of the mountain, where we procured a guide, and ate a repast of olives and fried eggs. Dr Chandler says that the monks, or caloyers, of this convent are summoned to prayers by a tune which is played on a piece of an iron hoop; and, on the outside of the church, we certainly saw a piece of crooked iron suspended. When struck, it uttered a bell-like sound, by which the hour of prayer was announced. What sort of tune could be played on such an instrument the doctor has judiciously left his readers to imagine.

When we reached the mouth of the grotto, by that “very bad track” which the learned personage above mentioned clambered up, we saw the ruins of the building which the doctor at first thought had been possibly a hermit's cell; but which, upon more deliberate reflection, he became of opinion “was designed, perhaps, for a sentinel to look out, and regulate, by signals, the approach of the men and teams employed in carrying marble to the city.” This, we agreed, was a very sagacious conjecture. It was, indeed, highly probable that sentinels were appointed to regulate, by signals, the manoeuvres of carts coming to fetch away stones.

Having looked at the outside of the quarry, and the guide having lighted candles, we entered into the interior, and beheld on all sides what Dr Chandler saw, “chippings of marble.” We then descended, consecutively, into a hole, just wide enough to let a man pass; and when we had descended far enough, we found ourselves in a cell, or cave; it might be some ten or twelve feet square. Here we stopped, and, like many others who had been there before us, attempted to engrave our names. Mine was without success; Lord Byron's was not much better; but Mr Hobhouse was making some progress to immortality, when the blade of his knife snapped, or shutting suddenly, cut his finger. These attempts having failed, we inscribed our initials on the ceiling with the smoke of our candles. After accomplishing this notable feat, we got as well out of the scrape as we could, and returned to Athens by the village of Challandri. In the evening, after dinner, as there happened to be a contract of marriage performing in the neighbourhood, we went to see the ceremony.

Between the contract and espousal two years are generally permitted to elapse among the Greeks in the course of which the bride, according to the circumstances of her relations, prepares domestic chattels for her future family. The affections are rarely consulted on either side, for the mother of the bridegroom commonly arranges the match for her son. In this case, the choice had been evidently made according to the principle on which Mrs Primrose chose her wedding gown; viz. for the qualities that would wear well. For the bride was a stout household quean; her face painted with vermilion, and her person arrayed in uncouth embroidered garments. Unfortunately, we were disappointed of seeing the ceremony, as it was over before we arrived.

This incident led me to inquire particularly into the existing usages and customs of the Athenians; and I find in the notes of my journal of the evening of that day's adventures, a memorandum of a curious practice among the Athenian maidens when they become anxious to get husbands. On the first evening of the new moon, they put a little honey, a little salt, and a piece of bread on a plate, which they leave at a particular spot on the east bank of the Ilissus, near the Stadium, and muttering some ancient words, to the effect that Fate may send them a handsome young man, return home, and long for the fulfilment of the charm. On mentioning this circumstance to the travellers, one of them informed me, that above the spot where these offerings are made, a statue of Venus, according to Pausanias, formerly stood. It is, therefore, highly probable that what is now a superstitious, was anciently a religious rite.

A residence at Athens, day after day, is but little more interesting than in a common country town: but afterwards, in reading either of the ancient or of the modern inhabitants, it is surprising to find how much local knowledge the memory had unconsciously acquired on the spot, arising from the variety of objects to which the attention had been directed.

The environs of the Piræus were indeed, at that time, well calculated to inspire those mournful reflections with which the poet introduces the Infidel's impassioned tale. The solitude, the relics, the decay, and sad uses to which the pirate and the slave-dealer had put the shores and waters so honoured by freedom, rendered a visit to the Piræus something near in feeling to a pilgrimage.

After touring around Greece for a period Byron returned to Athens in July, 1810.

At Athens he met an old fellow-collegian, the Marquis of Sligo, with whom he soon after travelled as far as Corinth; the Marquis turning off there for Tripolizza, while Byron went forward to Patras, where he had some needful business to transact with the consul. He then made the tour of the Morea, in the course of which he visited the Vizier Velhi Pasha, by whom he was treated, as every other English traveller of the time was, with great distinction and hospitality.

Having occasion to go back to Patras, he was seized by the local fever there, and reduced to death's door. On his recovery he returned to Athens, where he found the Marquis, with Lady Hester Stanhope, and Mr Bruce, afterward so celebrated for his adventures in assisting the escape of the French General Lavalette. He took possession of the apartments which I had occupied in the monastery, and made them his home during the remainder of his residence in Greece; but when I returned to Athens, in October, he was not there himself. I found, however, his valet, Fletcher, in possession.

There is no very clear account of the manner in which Lord Byron employed himself after his return to Athens; but various intimations in his correspondence show that during the winter his pen was not idle. It would, however, be to neglect an important occurrence, not to notice that during the time when he was at Athens alone, the incident which he afterwards embodied in the impassioned fragments of The Giaour came to pass; and to apprise the reader that the story is founded on an adventure which happened to himself—he was, in fact, the cause of the girl being condemned, and ordered to be sewn up in a sack and thrown into the sea.

One day, as he was returning from bathing in the Piraeus, he met the procession going down to the shore to execute the sentence which the Waywode had pronounced on the girl; and learning the object of the ceremony, and who was the victim, he immediately interfered with great resolution; for, on observing some hesitation on the part of the leader of the escort to return with him to the Governor's house, he drew a pistol and threatened to shoot him on the spot. The man then turned about, and accompanied him back, when, partly by bribery and entreaty, he succeeded in obtaining a pardon for her, on condition that she was sent immediately out of the city. Byron conveyed her to the monastery, and on the same night sent her off to Thebes, where she found a safe asylum.

For 10 months the residence of Byron in Athens was in the area of Psiri, in the house of Theodoros Makris, located in Aghias Theklas 11 street (then Agias 14) at the corner of the intersection with Papanikoli street, a few meters away from Iroon square, the heart of Psiri.

In this house he became involved with Theressia, one of the three daughters of Theodoros Makris. He fell madly in love with her and wrote the famous poem "Maiden of Athens" (1809).

Theressia was born in this same house in the 1790’s. Though Byron never had a relationship with her the mere mention of Theressia in the poem inspired a sort of cult and nineteenth century tourists would visit the house and hope to witness the beauty that had inspired the great romantic poet.

It is said that when Byron and Hubhouse first met Theressia, the latter said to the poet: “Look, it seems that one of the Caryatides came to life.
In a letter he sent to his friend Mr Henry Drury he wrote: "I am dying for love of three Greek girls at Athens, sisters. I lived in the same house. Teresa, Marianna and Katinka are the names of the three divinities, all of them under fifteen"

She was immortalized in his poem, the “The Maiden of Athens”

Maid of Athens, ere we part,
Give, oh, give back my heart!

Or, since that has left my breast,
Keep it now, and take the rest!
Hear my vow before I go,
Zoë mou sas agapo.
By those tresses unconfined,
Wooed by each Aegean wind;
By those lids whose jetty fringe
Kiss thy soft cheeks' blooming tinge;
By those wild eyes like the roe,
Zoë mou sas agapo.

By that lip I long to taste;
By that zone-encircled waist;
By all the token-flowers
that tell What words can never speak so well;
By love's alternate joy and woe,
Zoë mou sas agapo.

Maid of Athens! I am gone:
Think of me, sweet! when alone.
Though I fly to Istambol,
Athens holds my heart and soul:
Can I cease to love thee?
No! Zoë mou sas agapo.​

It’s said that she got married in 1820 with the British consul in Messolonghi and spent the rest of her life in London, where she died in 1876.

Year later he returned to Greece to support Greek independence struggle from the Ottomans, arriving at Kefalonia in the Ionian Islands on August 4, 1823. He spent £4000 of his own money to refit the Greek fleet, then sailed for Messolonghi, arriving on December 29, 1823 to join Alexandros Mavrokordatos, a Greek politician with military power. During this time, Byron pursued his Greek page, Lukas Chalandritsanos, but the affections went unrequited. When the famous Danish sculptor Thorvaldsen heard about Byron's heroics in Greece, he voluntarily resculpted his earlier bust of Byron in Greek marble.

Mavrokordatos and Byron planned to attack the Turkish-held fortress of Lepanto, at the mouth of the Gulf of Corinth. Byron employed a fire-master to prepare artillery and took part of the rebel army under his own command and pay, despite his lack of military experience, but before the expedition could sail, on 15 February, 1824, he fell ill, and the usual remedy of bleeding weakened him further. He made a partial recovery, but in early April he caught a violent cold which the bleeding — insisted on by his doctors — aggravated. The cold became a violent fever, and he died on April 19, 1824.

Painting of Theressia the, Maiden of Athens

Painting of the Maiden of Athens by CR Cockerell

Sketch by K. Chelmis of the place where the house of the Makris family was.

The Capuchin convent where Byron lived in Athens after his return from a trip all around Greece. Located next to the Lisikrates Lantern in Plaka, at the intersection of Byronas and Epimendi.

The city walls:

Finally to close this chapter about this period of the Athenian history, we are going to make a short description of the Athens walls during the later Ottoman occupation.

But first let’s cover in a nutshell the long history of the preceding defensive walls, that surrounded the main city of the Athenian basin.

The first defensive wall came into existence in the 5th century BC, in the year 478 BC to be more precise, in the aftermath of the Persian wars. It was supplemented by the so-called “Diateichisma” around 310 BC and, subsequently, by the wall of Hadrian from 125-135 AD. Inside this wall the so-called Late Roman wall was raised, between 276 and 282 AD, followed by the so-called Rizokastro during the 12th century.

From the 15th to the 18th centuries, the City did not have walls, except for the Rizokastro south of the Akropolis. In the other areas, the fences around house and enclosing fields formed a kind of protective barrier, like those of the main towns (“Chora”) of certain Aegean islands. Nonetheless, to fend off the Albanian raiders, an improvised wall was built in 1778, during the time of Voevoda Hatzi Ali Haseki.

The Haseki wall is of particular interest, since to a large degree it coincides with the Themistoklean one, demonstrating the longevity of certain spatial structures which survived up to the selection of Athens as the capital; as well as showing us the larger size the city had acquired during the later Ottoman occupation period.

The wall began in front of the Akropolis, where stood the so-called Portal of the Castle (or of the Tombs, or of Karababa). From the Akropolis, it cut through the Theseion, where stood the Portal of Drakos (Aslan Kapousi or Portal of Mantravili), from which began the road to Piraeus. The wall continued on to the district of Aghii Asomati, where it met the Portal of Moria (Mora Kapousi or Giftiki Portal), and from there began the road to Elefsina. Continuing, it reached the district of today’s Koumoundourou Square, and continued towards Evripidou Street, cutting through Socratous and Athinas Streets and reaching Sophocleous St. where the Mnidiatiki Portal (the Grib Kapousi or Portal of the Holy Apostles) opened up. From here the road to Menidi and Evia, (today’s Acharnon St.); as well as Patission, began. The wall continued in the direction of what later became Klafthmonos Square, which it crossed to reach Stadiou St., and from there, traversed the block where the “Metochiko Tameio Stratou” building was later situated, as far as Panepistimiou St., where it turned towards Syntagma Square and reached Amalias Ave. at its intersection with Othonos, where the Mesogeitiki Portal (Msogia Kapousi or Portal of Boubounistras) was located. From here the road toward Mesoghia began. Roughly following Amalias, the wall reached Kamaroporta or the Portal of Vasilopoulas, that is, Hadrian’s Gate, and from there crossed Amalias vertically and headed towards the corner of Makriyanni St., opening on to the Portal of the Three Towers (or Inte Kapousi or Arvanitiki Portal), from which the road towards Sounion and Phaliron began.

And the wall, after continuing to the base of the Akropolis and the Herodeion, was identical with the southern section of the 12th century Rizokastro, then turned towards the North and arrived again at the Akropolis. Aside from the denser areas, the wall also enclosed a few low density expanses, particularly towards the north, the northeast and the east.

During the 18th century a road was developed along the Northeastern side of the Haseki wall (which followed more or less the same course of the ancient wall); later in the 19th century this road would be renamed to Panepistimiou.

Also, most of the streets of areas like Plaka, Psiri and parts of the historic center (up to Sofokleous street) coincide with the modern ones.

Topographic plan of the 18th century Athens. The image includes a rendering of the Acropolis, the walls, the Olympeion, the Herodes Atticus theatre, while at the north side of the city you can see a column still standing in the Aghios Ioannis stin Colona church, located in the City Hall area (Evripidou street). There have been also included many of the main roads leading to other villages of the Athenian basin and beyond.

Map of late 18th century Athens. The image shows how the densely urbanized section of the city reached to the north the area of the current City Hall; to the northeast, Stadiou ave. (where the 18th century wall was built); and to the west the area around Koumoundourou square and Keramikos. There’s also a clear depiction of the city walls and the roads to other villages, including Acharnon, Patission and the road to Chalkida (which in this section followed the same line of modern Charilaou Trikoupi). The streets of the city are the same irregular thoroughfares used today in the historic center, Plaka, Psiri, Monastiraki, Thisseion and Kerameikos; since the only ones laid out later in those parts of the city are Ermou, Aiolou and Athinas. Finally we see a clear depiction of the old road located to the northeast along the city walls which later would be known as Panepistimiou. Designed by Coubault, ca 1800

Another depiction of late 18th century Athens’ streets map. Designed by the French consul Louis François Sébastien Fauvel, a little before 1800.

Roman Agora Gate in 1762

Parthenon in 1804

Piraeus in early 19th century

The Athens market ca. 1799

Boubounistra Gate in 1819

Ifaistou street and the Hadrian Library in 1819

The Acropolis in 1819

Gate of Roman Forum in 1819

Tower of the Winds 1819

18th century map

The Capuchin Monastery where Lord Byron stayed

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
PART V - Revolutionary Athens - The War of Independence (1821-1832)


Revolutionary Athens - The War of Independence (1821-1832)​

The news of the French Revolution and the disturbances of the Napoleonic Wars excited political passions across Europe. In 1815 in Odessa the secret Friendly Society was founded to organise revo1ution among the Greeks. Many influential phanriotes, rich Greeks associated with the patriarchate, wished take the empire over from within, while many leaders of the Church rightly foresaw the prospect of loss of the privileges and influence they enjoyed in the setting up of a modern state. Then in March 1821, taking advantage of the difficulties the Ottoman government was having with the powerful and unruly Αli Pasha of Ioannina, revolt broke out all around Greece from Crete to Thrace, beginning in the Peloponnese.

As news of the revolt reached Attica the people of the villages rose immediately. Preparations had already been made, centred upon Menidi (ancient Archarnon) in the foothills of Mount Parnes. Many of the Greeks of Athens sent their families to Salamina. The few Turk inhabitants, withdrew onto the acropolis, taking with them Greek hostages.

Α Greek force entered Athens on May 7th and laid siege to the Acropolis. But in early August a large Turkish army under Omar Vriοni passed through, forcing the Greeks to withdraw to Salamina and Aegina and restocked the Acropolis with food. When his army left, the Greeks returned and resumed the siege. They made no attempt to storm the citadel, and even resumed cultivation of their fields. On 21st June, 1822, the Turks were forced to surrender because they had run out of water.

By the terms of their surrender the Turks were to hand over most of their money and property and all their weapons, and be transported to Anatolia in neutral ships. Fearing reprisals for generations of oppression, they asked the Austrian, Russian and French Cοnsuls to guarantee their safe conduct, and the archbishop required the leaders of the Greek forces to swear to observe the truce. The Turks were held in the voivode's residence in the ruins of the Library of Hadrian while awaiting the ships. But a few days before they arrived a rumour of an approaching Turkish army triggered a general massacre. George Finlay wrote: 'The streets of Athens were stained with the blood of four hundred men, women and children. From sunrise to sunset during a long summer day, the shrieks of tortured women and children were heard without intermission.' The survivors were only saved by the arrival of French marines from warships, who escorted them to safety.

When the Greeks began to quarrel over the spoils, a message was sent to Demitrios Ypsilanti to take command. The chieftains, however, chose to elect one of their own number, Odysseus Androutsos of Epiros, as commander in Athens. Α former member of the bodyguard of Αlί Pasha of Ioannina, he arrived in September with about one hundred and fifty followers.

The Turks had been forced to surrender the Acropolis because of lack of water. In case they should find themselves in a similar position, the Greeks began a search for a source of water they knew from their ancestors ancient tradition lay inside the ancient defences of the citadel. The archaeologist Kyriakos Pattakis located the Κlepsydra Spring, and Androutsos had the fortifications modified to enclose it, constructing a stairway to provide access. He also laid in supplies of food and weapons.

The fiercely independent Androutsos soon found himself at odds with the Greek government in Nauplion. After leading a campaign against the Turks in Euboeia he made his own truce with them, and even took some Turkish cavalry into his employ. In spring 1825 he attacked some villages around Attica. In April 1825 he was arrested by one of his own men, loannis Gouras, and imprisoned in the Frankish Tower. On 5th June 1825, his body was found near the church of the Metamorphosis in Theorias Street. He was supposed to have 'fallen' to his death from the walls of the acropolis while trying to escape, when the rope broke. It was generally assumed that he had been strangled, and his body thrown down to make it look like an accident.

During 1826, the war went badly for the Greeks. Egyptian mercenaries, under Ibrahim Pasha, devastated the Pelopoηηese and many other regions of Greece, and only Korinthia and Attica remained free. In late summer a Turkish army under Mehmet Reshid Pasha ('Kioutahis') and Omar Vriοni entered Attica. So oppressive and cruel had Gouras been that the villagers welcomed them. Gouras withdrew into the Acropolis, making no attempt to defend the town. Ioannis Makriannis, a peasant from the mountains of Central Greece, orphaned by the Turks, led the defence of the lower town. For thirty-four days they repaired the damage to the walls inflicted by Reshid's cannon. When the town fell, in August, they retreated onto the citadel.

Thus a second siege of the Acropolis began. On 13th October, Gouras was killed by a sniper. Faced with failure everywhere, the government decided that the Greeks needed for the sake of morale to rescue this symbol of national pride and Western values. Α number of regular soldiers were assembled at Salamis under the French Philhellene, Colonel Charles Fabνίer and 2,500 regulars under George Karaiskakis, a chieftain from the mountains of Roumeli.

Fabνίer and Karaiskakis moved their forces near to Piraeus in an attempt to force the Turks to raise the siege, but Karaiskakis unexpectedly pulled back his forces, leaνίng Fabνίer and his men dangerously exposed, and forced to pull back. Afterwards there were mutual recriminations.

The Turks continued the bombardment of the Acropolis. Under the leadership of Makriyannis the Greeks secretly placed gunpowder in a Turkish outpost close to the defences, and then tried to lure the Turks to that place for talks. When one of his men got drunk, drew his knife and started shouting, the Turks became suspicious and pulled back. The Greeks attacked nevertheless, and the gunpowder went off harmlessly. When the Turks counterattacked 'Makriyannis cried out to supposed hidden companions to 'Fire off the other mine,' which frightened the Turks, who fled. The Turks planted a mine of their own under the citadel but it was discovered by a young Athenian who went down on a rope to investigate.

In October some of Gouras' men fled to Salamina. When Gouras was killed by a stray bullet, a committee of five, including Makriyannis, was set up to administer the garrison until the government could send a new commander. Α letter was smuggled out which told them of Gouras' death and begged for reinforcements. Six days later a battle took place which lasted from dawn to sunset, during which Makriyannis was badly wounded several times, but kept his men fighting. His wounds were so serious that at first the surgeon refused to operate as he considered his case hopeless, but he finally succeeded in saνίng his life. The government sent four hundred and fifty men to reinforce the citadel, who managed to enter secretly.

Αt the end of November, supplies were running short, especially ammunition, fuel and medicine. It was decided that someone would have to break through the Turkish lines and report to the government on Aegina. Makriyannis agreed to go with an escort of five men, aIthough his wounds had still not healed. The six charged the enemy and succeeded in breaking through the Turkish lines. Makriyannis warned the government that the need for help was urgent if the Acropolis were not to be lost. He then went to Methana to ask Fabvier to organize an expedition to take fresh supplies of gunpowder into the Acropolis. Fabvier agreed, but insisting that he and his men would withdraw as soon as their mission was completed.

He landed with six hundred and fifty men at Phaliro on a moonlit night in December. Each man had tied a sack of gunpowder on his back, and had received instructions to move swiftly and silently. They reached the outposts of the Acropolis safely and delivered the gunpowder, but before they could withdraw, the alarm was raised. Fabvier and his men, unable to fight their way through the Turkish lines, were forced to withdraw inside the Acropolis. Afterwards, Fabvier could never be convinced that the garrison had not deliberately alerted the Turks in order to compel him to remain with them. He later complained that every time they tried to slip away, the Turks were always somehow alerted, frustrated their getaway.

Captain Frank Abney Hastings, an officer of the Royal Navy, arrived in Piraeus in February 1827 in his own steamship, an iron paddle steamer, the Karteria, accompanied by six smaller ships, with George Finlay and Samuel Howe. Two land forces were assembled, one on Salamina and the other at Eleusina. Ιt was hoped that these, with supporting fire from the ships, would be ab1e to move the Turks from their positions and relieve the Acropolis. One force commanded by Colonel Gordon landed at Phaliro, where his Greek irregulars ignored orders to remain silent and fired off their guns to let the garrison know that help was on the way. Thus alerted, the Turks were able to force Gordon and his men to withdraw. After a Turkish cavalry charge had killed five hundred men of the Eleusina force, the rest fled. Reshid Pasha had the heads of the dead Greeks displayed before the defenders on the Acropolis to reduce their morale.

In March General Sir Richard Church and Admiral Lord Cochrane, the newly appointed army and navy commanders-in-chief, arrived. Karaiskakis was disgusted that these positions had been given to foreigners. Nevertheless, eighteen thousand men were assembled at Piraeus, Phaliro, and Megara, the largest fighting force to be gathered in anyone place since the start of the war. About five thousand troops, led by Karaiskakis, stationed themselves at Keratsίnί, on the plain to the west of Piraeus. Church, assembled a second force often thousand at Piraeus; while Lord Cochrane, hired a thousand Hydriots, who occupied the hill of Munychia, overlooking the port.

One day when Cochrane was reconnoitring the enemy positions at the head of a small force, a skirmish with an enemy patrol took place. Spying an opportunity for a quick victory with a determined charge, he forthwith led his men into battle. Convinced by what appeared to be a stupid act that fresh forces they had not yet detected must have come to support the Greeks, the Muslims abandoned their redoubt. Three hundred Albanians under Turkish command fled for shelter to the monastery of Saint Spyridοn, where they were soon entirely surrounded.

After two days intense fire, Cochrane offered them terms. They would be sent as prisoners of war to the ships if they surrendered. Karaiskakis agreed to this, and so they did surrender Unfortunately, the Βritish commanders had failed to ensure that the terms of this agreement wou1d be observed by their own forces. When the Albanians emerged, and some Greeks tried to rush past them into the monastery to lay claim to spoils, one of them bumped into an Albanian, and shooting broke out. Over a hundred of the Albanians were killed then and there, while the rest scattered and were hunted down individually.

Some time afterwards, the commanders met to plan their attack on the Turks besieging the Acropolis. The approach to the city from Piraeus lay through vineyards and olive groves, which would provide excellent cover, and the enemy could not use their large cavalry force against them. But Cochrane suddenly decided to move the troops at Piraeus to Phaliro by boat, and then advance from there towards the city across the open heath land of the area then called Analatos.

Then during the night before the attack a totally unexpected disaster occurred. Some Hydriot soldiers got drunk and attacked a Turkish outpost near Phaliro. Karaiskakis went out to investigate and was hit by a stray bullet. He did not want to alarm his men, so he got back onto his horse, and said that his injury was not serious. Shortly afterwards, he had to dismount and walk, supported by a companion, whom he asked to make sure that no foreign doctors were allowed anywhere near him He was taken on board ship to Salamina and died when they disembarked at Koulouri. The loss of this able leader, who had the respect and affection of aIl the Greek fighters, was a great tragedy for Greece.

During that same night, three thousand men and nine field guns were transported by ship from Piraeus to Phaliro; but the operation was only completed just before daybreak, so that it was clear that it would be too late for them to be able to reach the enemy forces before sunrise. In spite of this, Cochrane and Church insisted that the attack go forward, choosing to superintend operations from the decks of their boats.

Thus dawn found the Greek forces strung out across the open heath, half way between the coast and the Acropolis. It was a perfect opportunity for the Turkish cavalry, and they did not fail to seize it. The initial two cavalry charges were resisted by the advance guard of regular troops. But at the third, the enemy broke through, and a panic retreat began. The Greeks were cut down as they fled towards the sea Only the desire of the Turks to celebrate their victory allowed many Greeks to escape.

This was one of the greatest disasters of the entire war. Within two hours, between one thousand and fifteen hundred men had fallen in battle. Two hundred and forty prisoners had been taken by the Turks, and were beheaded, one-by-one. The heads were sent to Constantinople as a evidence of Kioutahis' victory. George Finlay noted: 'It dispersed their last army, and destroyed all confidence in the military skill of their English commander-in-chief.'

On 27th May 1827, Fabvier agreed to surrender the Acropolis to Kioutahis. The besieged had run out of food. The inhabitants were evacuated by French and Austrian warships to Salamina. For the remainder of the war, the Turks retained their hold over Athens.

In order to end the war without massacres of Christians which would be unpopular with Philhellenic public opinion at home, the Great Powers then decided to make Greece semi-independent under Ottoman sovereignty. The Turks, with victory clearly in their sights, refused to compromise. Α few months later, in October 1827, the Turkish-Egyptian fleet was destroyed by the combined British, French and Russian fleets at Navarino. The withdrawal of Turkish forces was arranged, and the French Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Mediterranean Fleet sailed in to supervise their evacuation.

Α series of agreements among the great powers, concluded between September 1829 and July 1832 established the limits and nature of the new state.

Kapodistrias, leader of the provisional government, saw that the issue might in the end be settled on the basis of each party keeping what they had. So he encouraged Ypsilantis to enter Attica and Boiotia, where, in September 1829, he won the last battle of the war between Thebes and Livadia. The Turks were forced to cede the territory to September, by the Treaty of Adrianople.

During this time, Christopher Wordsworth described his lodging as in the nearest building to the Temple of Theseus on the extreme edge of the modem town. There were few other buildings near. At a little distance to the south he described a peasant engaged in ploughing the earth with a team of two oxen: the soil along which he was driving his furrows covering part of the ancient agora.

The bazaar was in a long street, the only bazaar of any importance. It had no foot-pavement; there was a gutter in the middle, down which, in wintry weather the water ran in torrents. The houses were generally patched together with planks and plaster. Looking up the street, you could see the commodities with which the market was supplied: 'Barrels of black caviar, small pocket-looking- glasses in red pasteboard cases, onions, tobacco piled up in brown heaps, black olives, figs strung together upon a rush, rices, pipes with amber mouth-pieces and brown clay bowls, rich stuffs, and silver-chased pistols, dirks, belts, and embroidered waistcoats. ..' There were 'no books, no lamps, no windows, no carriages, and no newspapers.' There was no post-office. The letters which arrived from Nauplia, after having been publicly cried in the streets, if they were not claimed by the parties to whom they were addressed, were committed to the flames.

He was perhaps the last Westerner to observe Ottoman Athens: 'The muezzin still mounts the scaffolding in the bazaar here to call the Mussulman to prayer at the stated hours; some of the few Turks inhabitating Athens still doze in the archways of the Acropolis, or recline while smoking their pipes, and leaning with their backs against the rusty cannon which are planted on the battlements of its walls; the Athenian peasant, as he drives his laden mule from Hymettus through the eastern gate of the town near the Arch of Adrian, still flings his small bundle of thyme and brushwood, from the load which he bags on his mule's back, as a tribute to the Mussulman toll-gatherer who sits at that entrance to the town; and a few days ago the cannon of the Acropolis fired the signal of the conclusion of the Turkish Ramadan - the last which will ever be celebrated at Athens.'

The countryside was still dangerous. It was regarded an act of incredible rashness for a traveller to venture on a ride from Athens to Menidi, for there resided the Greek captain, Vasso. His men indemnified themselves by robbing without mercy whoever fell into their hands. Many of the villages were deserted; their population has left them, either to take refuge in the mountains, or to swell the numbers of the robbers. Even the immediate neighbourhood of Athens itself was in such a stale that excursions into its environs were difficult and dangerous. Just a few days previously, he recorded, two Greeks coming from the Piraeus in the evening were plundered and severely wounded on the road.

Α series of agreements among the great powers established the independence of Greece after over 370 years since the fall of the last Greek state (Kingdom of Greece) in the times of the Paleologos dinasty; under the 'protection' of the Great Powers, and chose as its ruler Prince Otho, second son of the Phihellene king Ludwig Ι οf Βaνaria. Otho arrived in Greece with 3,500 Bavarian troops at Nauplion on 1st February, 1833.

Since he was only seventeen years of age, a regency was established on behalf of Prince Otho. Count Joseph νοn Armansperg presided over the government, Professor Ludwig νοn Maurer oversaw the creation of systems of central and local government, and a minimal justice system; while General Karl Wilhelm νοn Heideck oversaw military matters, including the Bavarian soldiers.

At this time Athens had a population of around 10,000.

In the period from 1830 to 1833, after the end of the war, the relative calm allowed a gradual rebirth of the City to take place.

View of Athens a few years before the beginning of the Greek Revolution

1,298 Posts
Discussion Starter · #24 · (Edited)
PART VI - The 1832-1862 period. Part 1


THE 1832-1862 PERIOD. PART 1​

As it happened with Paris in the 1850’s when an exhaustive urban modernization took place something similar would happen in Athens in the 1830’s, of course in a smaller scale; since Paris in 1835 had a population of 900,000 and Athens during the 1830’s between 10,000 and 20,000 (of course in this figure the population of the neighboring villages of the Athenian basin is not included).

Until the 1850’s Paris had serious urban difficulties, poor sanitary, humble housing (mainly medieval structures) and it still retained mostly its medieval character.

Georges-Eugène Haussmann was hired by Napoleon III on 22 June 1852 to "modernize" Paris. He hoped in hiring Haussmann that Paris could be moulded into a city with safer streets, better housing, more sanitary, hospitable, shopper-friendly communities, better traffic flow, and, last but not least, streets too broad for rebels to build barricades across them and where coherent battalions and artillery could circulate easily if need be. There are two views of Haussmann, many consider him as the man who destroyed Old Paris, while other consider his as the creator of a new and better Paris.

The project encompassed all aspects of urban planning, both in the centre of Paris and in the surrounding districts: streets and boulevards, regulations imposed on facades of buildings, public parks, sewers and water works, city facilities and public monuments.

The narrow interweaving streets and cramped buildings impeded the flow of traffic, resulting in unhealthy conditions that were denounced by the first hygiene scientists. At the end of the 1830s, prefect Rambuteau realised that the problems regarding traffic and hygiene in the old over-populated districts had become a cause for concern; in accordance with the miasma theory of disease, then prevailing, it was important to "let air and men circulate". This conclusion stemmed from the 1832 cholera epidemic—which killed 20,000 in Paris out of a total population of 650,000 in the 1830’s.

The key of the modernization of Paris was founded on the opening of new broad avenues that would enclose patches of the old streets system; resulting in the demolition of large areas of the medieval city. So Haussmann’s project expropriated and then demolished the buildings and built new avenues fully equipped with water, natural gas and sewers. 20,000 houses were destroyed, and over 40,000 built between 1852 and 1872.

But the backbone of Paris’ body was and still remains, its network of large avenues, which also was carried out by means of expropriations and demolitions.

The connection between the great boulevards required the creation of squares on the same scale. The Châtelet, converted by Davioud, is the crossroads of the two great axes crossing Paris from north to south and east to west. The works of Haussmann converted other great squares at crossing points across the whole city: Place de l'Étoile, Place Léon-Blum, Place de la République, Place de l'Alma.

But over twenty years before that urban modernization took place in Paris something very similar was planned for Athens, of course at a smaller scale but with same basis, in order to change its provincial character into something more appropriate for the capital of a country.

Back in those days (and before) what is now Athens, was made up of a plethora of villages scattered all around the Athenian basin, which by the pass of time were unified forming and urban continuum; nowadays these former villages are nothing else but just part of the same city, the Athenian suburbs.

So the early plans of modernization were first focused on the main village of Athens; nowadays the city center.
In November of 1831, the architects Stamatis Kleanthis and Eduard Schaubert, students of perhaps the most important German neo-classical architect, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, settled in Athens, where they carried out a systematic geographical survey of the city, and subsequently drafted a city planning proposal, in anticipation of Athens’ possible establishment as the capital of the liberated part of Greece.

In fact, in May 1832, the post-Kapodistrian Temporary Government tasked them with elaborating a New Plan for the City of the Athens, independently of its becoming the capital or not. The plan was drafted and submitted in December 1832, and on June 29 1833 it was approved by the Regency, who had in the meantime take the reins of state, and given a final stamp of approval by the Royal Decree of July 6 of the same year.

The New Plan for the City of the Athens, designed by Kleanthis and Schaubert in 1833

However this plan was never put into effect, because of its highly “destructive” nature of the old city.

In this plan the city would include about half of the Old city, while extending from it to the West, the North and the East. The other half of the Old City, defined by Hephaestus, Pandrosos and Adrianou streets, as mentioned, was to be expropriated for archeological excavation. But the preserved section of the Old City would be maintained only as a geographical space, and not as a construction zone, since it was anticipated that its largest section would be divided up by new roads and standard rectangular building lots.

The shape of the main axes would be an isosceles triangle, with its peak at today’s Omonia Square, its sides defined by Piraeus and Stadiou streets, and Ermou Street as its base. Its entire orientation was aimed at Piraeus, the Stadium and, primarily, the Akropolis, at whose feet it spread out in an open embrace. The Royal Palace was expected to stand at the peak of the triangle: a symbolic merger of the geometric apex and the apex of state power. The orientation of the sides of the triangle was not accidental: As Kleanthis and Schaubert note in their memorandum, “they meet in such a manner that allows viewing simultaneously the comely Lykavitos, the Panathenaic Stadium, the rich-in-proud-memories Akropolis, and the military and commercial ships of Piraeus, from the balcony of the Royal Palace” (Biris 1938, p. 16).

Piraeus and Stadiou streets were interrupted, symmetrically in relation to the Royal Palace, by the Borsas (Stock Exchange) and Theatrou city squares. These are today’s Koumoundourou and Klafthmonos Squares which, in fact, are symmetrical, something which one cannot easily recognize within the present-day chaos of Athens. Piraeus and Stadiou streets would terminate in two circular plazas defining the city limits: one the one hand, Kekropos Square at the large intersection towards the West of the regional road of the Ancient City, where lies today’s Gazi, and on the other hand, Mouson Square to the East, facing the Messogion Gate (where is today’s Syntagma Square).

The road network was elaborated in part as spokes with hubs at circular plazas, and in part as horizontals and verticals in the direction of the main axes, always with absolute regularity. The broader area of the Royal Palace would be surrounded by wide avenues. The exact sites of all the public buildings and, more generally, the districts for all of the functions of the City: Ministries, Courts, Military Barracks, Police, the Postal Service, the Mint, Metropolitan church, Academy, Library, the Stock Exchange, Markets, Parks and so forth. The totality was designed to host all of the activities of a capital and a population which was expected to reach around 40,000.

The geometric planning that runs through both the Kleanthis-Schaubert plan and the Klenze plan (which we will turn to soon) is a basic constitutive element of neoclassical-romantic city planning as it had taken shape at the end of the 18th Century. Equally constitutive are a number of other characteristics, which had, of course, made their appearance at various moments in the Renaissance and after, but which now had crystallized into a structured whole. Those characteristics are quantitative programming, as, for instance in the determination that the highest number of inhabitants expected for Athens (without the neighboring villages that would later become part of the city) was 40,000. Functional planning and the rational use of space, as well, of course, as the requisite historic references.

This perception of City Planning is seamlessly connected with the notions of Nation, Law, State and Government, as they were current during the course of the 18th Century. They are notions of a new bourgeois consciousness and find their exact symbolic expression in the Burg, the New City. As Tsiomis observes, this new city must, on the one hand, be a rationalistic City-Machine, functioning without impediments, expressing the myth of total control and total planning, a city which functions effectively and, on the other hand, a City-Center, the Capital of a State—that is, the Center of Power, a material point for the input of information and the output of directives, as well as the Symbolic Center, the hub of organization for the realm of the nation-state.

As noted before, the plan was approved in July 1833; by the end of the year, its implementation had begun. Just as the lines were being laid down and it became physically clear what areas would be expropriated for the erection of public buildings, the development of the parks and the new roadway network, as well as the archeological excavations, a wave of protests erupted from property-owners, along with charges of profiteering. In May 1834, Maurer, the Regency member, visited the city to examine the situation on site. The uproar which he witnessed led the Regency, on June 11, 1834, to order the final cessation of the implementation of this modernization, but highly destructive, plan.

So next, the famous Bavarian architect Leo von Klenze was summoned to examine the whole issue. Klenze’s visit lasted from June to September 1834, and resulted in the drafting of a New Plan or, rather, a revision of the original one. Its main characteristics were a reduction in the total size of the city; a partial reduction in the excavation area, with a boundary at Adrianou St.; a reduction in the width of the roads and the spatial surface of the plazas, as well as the elimination of avenues within the old city (with the exception of Athinas, Aeolou and Ermou) and a reduction of the parceling out of the Ancient City: Instead of laying out a plethora of new roads, the use of the existing pathways (which traced their existence back to ancient and medieval times) was proposed, with modest widenings and a re-alignment here and there; and finally, the movement of the Royal Palace, and thus of the city’s entire administrative center of gravity, from Omonia Square to the upper reaches of Keramikos.

The Klenze Plan was approved on September 18, 1834, while at the same time the date of December 1, that is, two and half months later, was fixed for the transfer the Seat of State from Nafplion to Athens. The plan was immediately put into action. Klenze’s amendments confined the difficulties, without, however, eliminating them. The start of demolition in order to open, initially, the new roads Aeolou, Ermou and Athinas, met the opposition of residents, to whom the government had not provided new plots of land in some other location, as had been agreed to. Work was repeatedly halted and then continued with police assistance, with protests from the Municipal Authority itself.

The other avenues would be based on the existing, since ancient times roads, like Patission (the road to Patissia), Vasilissis Sofias (the road to Kifissia), the existing road to Piraeus would be extended from Keramikos to Omonia square taking the form of a boulevard, while the existing since Ottoman times, road parallel to the northeastern part of the 18th century wall would be converted into an elegant boulevard, Panepistimiou. Between the old town and the existing road to be transfomed into Panepistimiou, a new road would be opened known as the road of the Stadium or Stadiou.

When King Otto was elected king, the Great Powers extracted a pledge from Otto’s father to restrain him from hostile actions against the Ottoman Empire, and insisted on his title being that of “King of Greece” instead of “King of the Greeks”, which would imply a claim over the millions of Greeks then still under Turkish rule.

The young prince arrived in Greece in 1832 at the age of 17; with 3,500 Bavarian troops and three Bavarian advisors aboard the British frigate HMS Madagascar. He would reign from Nafplion until it was decided to have the capital transferred to Athens.

On the morning of December 1/13, 1834 King Otto arrived in Athens; after twenty-one guns saluted his disembarkation in Piraeus. This was the scheduled date for the transfer of the Greek capital from Nafplion to Athens. It had been raining constantly for two weeks. It cleared just before Otto and his entourage were about to enter the Athens main town, where he was welcomed by the Bavarian regents, the ministers of the interior and foreign affairs and the municipality of Athens.

The royal cavalcade moved towards Athens. Preceding his retinue, the king entered the capital on horse. Outside the wall, on the small hill of Staktotheke, gathered the Athenians who had come to welcome their young sovereign.

Gypsy’s gate, the main gate leading into the city, had been transformed into a triumphal arch with laurel and olive branches draped around it. Along with his entourage, the city administration and all the citizens, Otto entered the new capital in the midst of excited acclamations and headed towards the Church of St. George, the converted Temple of Theseus, where a doxology was held; this was the last religious service to be held in the converted temple.

One of the Athenian elders formally welcomed the young king saying: “Those who reside in this city of your choice salute you, O King! Your happy arrival here will mark a new epoch, being the beginning of noble hopes, not only for the Athenians and the rest of the Greeks, but for all civilized world.”

After the ceremonies Otto crossed the narrow streets of the town and arrived at his residence, the house of the Chiotan banker Alexandros Kontostavlos, which was purchased by the government. Built in 1832 and consisting of seven or eight rooms, it was located close to the Haseki wall at the east side of the town; it was surrounded by a huge garden (nowadays Kolokotronis square). Otto, would live in this mansion for two years. During his stay in this building the Danish architect Hans Christian Hansen planned a remodelation and enlargement which never happened. After the arrival of Queen Amalia they would move out to the mansion (which now houses the Museum of the City of Athens) of another Chiotan banker, Stamatis Vouros, in Klafthmonos square. The former mansion of Kontostavlos later would house the Parliament until the fire of 1854 which destroyed it entirely. The construction of the new building started in August, 1858 and from 1875 to 1935 it would house again the National Parliament. It now houses the Historic and Ethnologic Museum.

In the evening of Otto’s arrival the Acropolis was lit with fires.
After the arrival of Queen Amallia, the royal couple, which recently got married, took up temporary residence in February 1837 until the completion of the Royal Palace (now the National Parliament) in two mansions side by side, now the Museum of the City of Athens, in the present Klafthmonos Square. Their new residence was built in 1833 and just like Kontostavlos mansion it was also located close to the Haseki wall. The area in front of their house was planted with the trees which are still to be seen on the square. They stayed here until 1843.

As mentioned before the Stamatios Kleanthes’ and Gustav Edouard Schaubert’s plan was turned down for being too destructive and instead King Ludwig of Bavaria invited his court architect, Leo νon Klenze, to modify the plans by leaving the original town as it was and building another modern town to the north and northeast.

Plans for a royal palace seem to have been given absolute priority by the government. When Otto's brother, Maximilian visited Athens, he proposed that the royal palace be sited on the Acropolis. He asked the architect Schinkel, who had never been to Greece, to design one. He submitted his remarkable designs in 1834. These included a large classical villa on the south-eastern part of the Acropolis, with a sunken hippodrome between the Parthenon and the Erechtheion, to serve as a ceremonial forecourt. Α monumental bronze statue of Athena Promachos was to tower over the whole. The new palace was mostly limited to a single storey in order not to compete with the ancient monuments, and there were many colonnades and open courts. Luckily, King Ludwig insisted that 'nothing new should be allowed on the Acropolis.'

Accordingly, in 1835, the Bavarian State Architect, Friedrich νon Gaertner, was commissioned to design a palace, the king promising to provide the necessary finance in the form of a long term loan. The site for this was finally chosen by Ludwig himself during his visit to Athens from December 1835 to March 1836, following a suggestion of Klenze. Unfortunately, either Ludwig's benevolence, or his pocket, could not rise to the design νon Gartner produced, and much of the decorative embellishment had to be abandoned. The architect complained that what remained resembled an army barracks.

The final version of the Plan for the City of the Athens, after von Gaertner’s intervention and the definite reposition of the Royal Palace.

Finally, Gaertner decided to choose the defile running between Lykabettos and the Akropolis, outside of the wall of the Mesogaia Gate, for being the most optimal place for such a building and worked out plans for the construction of the Royal Palace where it was finally built (today’s Parliament building), with the requisite adjustment of the surrounding area. Its construction started on January 25/February 6, 1836.

A few changes of layout in the area of the Royal Palace were made also in 1837, with the so-called Hoch plan.

The practical effect of these repeated series of changes was, on the one hand, the preservation of a large section of the Old City, with a corresponding delay in the anticipated extension of the Capital towards its new borders, and on the other hand, a reorientation of the City towards the final building site of the Royal Palace, with the valorization of the section east of the Athinas street axis. This valorization is manifest, for instance, in the disproportionate development of Stadiou, and Panepistimou streets in comparison to Piraeus, and of Klafthmonos Square compared to Koumoundourou Square, and so on.

King Otto and Queen Amalia finally moved into the palace on July 25 / August 6, 1843, just one month before the new building became the background of the September 3rd revolution, which aimed the establishment of a national constitution.

Faced with its inability to financially support the projected expropriations, it was decided, on November 11, 1836, a new reduction of the archeological area to take place, a decision known as the Hansen-Schaubert revision18 (Biris 1933, pages 22-32). Other revisions, on a smaller scale, took place throughout the 19th Century.

Meanwhile, Queen Amalia busied herself with the palace gardens. Α Roman mosaic unearthed was used as the floor of a pergola called the 'Garden Room', and the king and queen occasionally held dinner parties there. Initially, the public was admitted into the gardens during certain times, but the queen decided that the privilege was being abused, and on 21st June 1851, it was decided in future to restrict admission to those holding special permits. When this provoked public outrage, the idea was quickly dropped.

Paradoxically, the grandeur of the palace and its gardens had the opposite effect than that originally intended. Out of proportion in a city the size of Athens the ostentatious building and its luxuriant gardens served only to stimulate resentment towards its foreign occupants.

There was for many years, as was to be expected, an acute housing shortage as affluent Greeks from Constantinople and elsewhere moved into the new capital. The Dane Christian Hansen arrived in 1833, and was soon appointed state architect. In 1838 he was joined by his younger brother Theophilus. The existing ancient roads leading to neighboring villages were transformed into boulevards (Panepistimiou, Vasilissis Sophias, Amalias, Pireos, Patission), as well as new ones were laid out (Ermou, Stadiou, Athinas, Aiolou and the extension of Pireos from Kerameikos to Omonoia), they all were lined with neoclassical buildings to stress a connection with Athens' classical past. The Hansen brothers, aware of the other strand of the Hellenic inheritance, also designed many Byzantine-style buildings, such as the ophthalmic Hospital on Panepistemiou. The main avenue laid out was Εrmου, crossed by Athinas and Aiolou.

The new houses tended to follow the ground plan of the houses of the Turkish period, except that their outward looking sides were in the neo-classical style, with symmetrical doors and windows and antifixae, which became a fashion, placed along the edges of the roofs. Perhaps the most striking change in what had been entirely inward-looking dwellings was the addition of a balcony. If they could be afforded, palm trees were placed in the courtyards, usually two: one on each side of the main entrance. Thus, many of the old Ottoman period houses were preserved being only restyled on their facades and exteriors. So many of the current neoclassical buildings seen in areas of the old town are nothing more, but old houses built before the 1821 Revolution which were transformed into neoclassical, retaining inside much of the original 17th or 18th century structures and styles.

Quite a few of the Philhellenes who had fought for Greek independence, often ineffectually, took up residence in or near the city: including Sir Richard Church and the historian James Finlay. To these were added a variety of foreign residents who settled there for various reasons, including Sophie de Marboise, the eccentric duchess of Plaisance. Lord Carnarvon noted the heterogeneity of the new population: 'Chiefs, respectable for their past exploits but who are disposed to lament that ever sons of theirs should read or write, jostle against their children, the disciples of young France. There seems as yet no principle of cohesion, not even a growing tendency to amalgamate; and even in the king's palace, the honest but slow and formal Bavarian sits side by side with the intelligent but less scrupulous Greek, with little courtesy on their lips, and with real aversion in their hearts.'

The American visitor J. L. Stephens lamented the cosmopolitan nature of the new city: 'But already Athens has become a heterogeneous anomaly; the Greeks in their wild costume are jostled in the streets by Englishmen, Frenchmen, Italians, Dutchmen, Spaniards; and Bavarians, Russians, Danes, and sometimes Americans. European shops invite purchasers, by the side of eastern bazaars, coffeehouses, and billiard-rooms; and French and German restaurants are opened all over the city.

Sir Ρultney Malcolm has erected a house to hire near the site of Plato's Academy. Lady Franklin has bought land near the foot of Μουnt Hymettos for a country-seat. Several English gentlemen have done the same. Mr. Richmond, an American clergyman, has purchased a farm in the neighbourhood, and in a few years, if the 'march of improvement' continues, the Temple of Theseus will be enclosed in the garden or the palace of King Otho; the Temple of the Winds will be concealed by a German opera-house, and the Lantern of Demosthenes by a row of three-story houses.'

New town houses were built by wealthy immigrants, for the city was top-heavy with the wealthy and bureaucrats, while the artisan and servant class built homes, often mere shacks, outside the town centre. Thus the affluent core quickly became ringed with poorer districts. One of the first sources of immigrants was the Maltese community of Nauplia, which moved into the district immediately around Aghiou Filipou, in the Monastiraki area as soon as the capital was transferred to Athens. They hired themselves out for labouring jobs around the former mosque in the Wheat Market.

Soon islanders were attracted to the city to ply their traditional trades: stonemasons from Anafi, workers in marble from Tinos, carpenters from Andros. At first, they built themselves houses on the edge of the city in the neighbourhood of the present church of Zoodochos Pigi on Akademias, an area that became known as 'the Suburb' of the village itself. Next they settled at the eastern side of the Acropolis in a rocky area which would have reminded them of their island homes. Two such men from Anafi built themselves a hovel overnight. Soon others followed, and a (typical island village emerged, now known as Anafiotika.

Jews settled in the area of Melidoni Street, and set up shops on Ermou.

Development was planned for the districts to be named Neapolis and Nea Sfaira during the 1840s and 1850s. In Nea Sfaira, planned as a working class district, special apartment blocks with courtyards were built for workers from the provinces. This area came to be known as Metaxurgeio, from a silk factory founded in 1853. New working class suburbs grew up in the area of Thiseio and Petralona next to the boundary of the eighteenth century wall. Petralona was for a long time a shanty town where stockbreeders lived. They kept the goats that provided the city with milk.

Many of the 300 medieval churches of Athens were demolished during what has been called the 'barbarous wave of modernism that swept over Athens during the early period of Otto's reign. Even the beautiful church of Kapnikareas in Ermou Street was earmarked for demolition, and only saved by the University, which took it over.' Fortunately that “wave of modernism” stopped early and lots of medieval churches and monasteries all around Athens were saved, thus giving us today the possibility of witness of the Athenian medieval architecture, thanks to the preservation of those buildings.

The Byzantine-style cathedral was only finished in 1862, at the end of Otto's reign.

In the final Kleanthis-Schaubert plan, of June 1833, the development of four adjoining “Boulevards”, arranged to form a square, in which was included the plaza of the Royal Palace, today’s Omonia Square. The final layout of Athens’ streets, with the continual changes in plans, makes difficult the exact identification of the boulevards with today’s roads, but we can say, in a rough sense; that the northern boulevard of this project, never materialized, coincided approximately with today’s Favierou and Chalkokondyli streets, the southern boulevard with the today’s Euripidou St., the western with the axis of today’s Nikiforou St., while the eastern boulevard does not coincide with any contemporary street, since its orientation was totally different from the road network that finally took shape. In any case, we can imagine that a conceivable straightaway which started from the northern edge of Klafthmonos Square, would terminate at the intersection of Themistocles and Solonos streets. The four vertices making up the tetragonal shape were contemplated, with the first at the present intersection of Veranzerou and Marni streets, the second at today’s Kaniggos Square, the third at theater square (today’s Klafthmonos) and the fourth at Borsas Square (today’s Koumoundourou/Eleftherias). These boulevards were laid out essentially on the uncovered free zone north of the old historic town and the Haseki wall, which, at that point, in any case, ran along the path of the ancient city wall.

The Von Klenze plan abolished the boulevards provided for in the Kleanthis-Schaubert plan. On the contrary, it provided for boulevards (“peripatoi” in the Greek version of the plan) that would circumscribe the entire city. Specifically, it provided, from west to east, for the boulevards Cycladon, Korinthou, Peloponnisou, Delphon, Lokridos, Viotias and Evias, named in accordance with its orientation towards the corresponding edge of the City. Of those boulevards, Peloponnisou corresponds roughly with current Achilleos but is parallel to current Megalou Alexandrou, Delphon corresponds to current Satovriandou street, Lokridos (for which the already existing Ottoman road would be used) corresponds to current Panepistimiou, from Omonia to Amerikis Street, Viotias corresponds roughly to Valaoritou and Zalokosta, and continues into the grounds of the Royal Palace (which was not then planned for there, but instead for the Keramikos) and finally Evias corresponding roughly to today’s Amalias Ave.

In practice, only Lokridos and Evias boulevards were laid down during that period, one succeeding the other, to form a single avenue which begins from Omonia Square and reaches the pillars of the Olympian Zeus—today’s Panepistimiou and Amalias; and only because they already existed as an old road since the Ottoman times, running parallel along the eastern side of Haseki’s wall, and fitted well with the location of the new Royal Palace to be built in 1836.

Along this axis, Alexis Politis notes, were built the main memorable structures of Athens: the Arsakeio School, the Library, the University, the Academy, the Eye Clinic (“Ofthalmiatreio”), the Catholic Church, the Archeological Society Building, the Schliemann Building (“Iliou Melathron”), the Palace, the Royal Gardens, and the Anglican Church. Panepistimiou and Amalias were, until 1840, called Boulevard Street.

It is also worth noting that the four points of the tetragon formed by the boulevards in the rejected Kleanthis-Schaubert plan still today constitute the city’s spacious linkage points.

The area now known as Metaxourgeio, before the liberation laid outside the historic city of Athens, exactly next to it; just like an outer, beyond the walls suburban neighborhood of the main town. It was mainly a rural area, with orchards and fields, and had two additional features, which somehow predisposed the area to a certain type of development. Firstly, to the south of it laid the area of the Dipylon (nowadays the archaeological site of Keramikos), with an important junction where Iera Odos and Pireos, which terminated further south, at the “Dragon Gate” and Sepolia converged. From this crossroads that is clearly shown on Aldenhoven’s 1837 map, a central road led to the Moria-Gate of Haseki’s fortification wall. Secondly, right beside the Moria-Gate (on present-day Sarri street), gypsy blacksmiths had settled, for which reason it was also called “Gypsy-Gate”. Consequently, transportation, communication and industry functions were already present in the vicinity of this area; named at that time “Chezolitharo” or “Chesmeno Lithari”, before Athens became capital of the state.

When Athens was declared capital and the area was included in the plans of modernization of the city, further urbanization of the area of Metaxourgeio was also included. At that moment, the possible directions its development could take were naturally many. A temporary decision charted the first direction, and this was the initial plans of Kleanthis-Schaubert and Klenze for building the king’s palace in the nearby areas of Omonoia and later in Dipylon (Kerameikos). The prospect of becoming a central urban area mobilized purchases of land in the area and attracted the significant investment of George Cantacuzenos, a Phanariot, in a large urban property that would operate as a shopping centre. At the same time, other wealthy immigrants began to build their large residences.

But this temporary decision was changed, and the final decision in 1836 to locate the palace at the opposite edge of the city, upset the balance of social evaluation and “froze” developments at Chezolitharo. The Cantacuzenos complex remained unfinished, since there was no more interest in building a shopping centre in this area, now off the main central administrative area. And indeed, interest and demand for urban land turned towards the northern and northeastern suburban zones.

Nevertheless, the houses which had already gone up or were finished a little later in Metaxourgeio, even though most of them had been abandoned by their original (wealthy) owners, kept open for a while the prospect of the area’s designation as a residential zone. However the area remained less populated and less developed than its adjoining areas to the east for the next twenty years.

From a French map of 1854 it is evident that over the twenty-year interval land occupation in the area had remained at the level of 1837. Both maps show four occupied plots, while in 1854, as can be clearly seen, the orchard of the silkmill had been added. It is also evident on the map, that Millerou street constituted the first pole of organized planned settlement in the area, because the new layout at this point followed the earlier road axis.
Section of F. Aldenhoven’s map of Athens in 1837; marked are the four abandoned building plots on Millerou street, the road intersection at the Dipylon and the fortification wall of Haseki.

Section of a French map of Athens in 1853-1854. Marked are the four abandoned building plots and the orchard of the silkmill on Millerou (then Kerameikou) street, the old road to Sepolia and the road intersection at the Dipylon. The old town is also showed in shadowed blocks. (From: L. & R. Matton, Athènes et ses monuments du XVIIe s. à nos jours, Athens 1963).

Section of a map of Athens in 1862, by the German officer C. von Stranz. The plot of the silkmill is shown here united with the adjacent one to the southeast. At the corner of Millerou and Piraeus streets, the building of the the Chatzikostas Orphanage and, further south, on Piraeus strret, the gasworks (Gazi).

The Streets names:

Before the Liberation and the civic planning of Athens, most of its myriad streets did not, of course, have particular names, at least as we mean that today. So many of those centuries-old thoroughfares have been renamed or baptized.

Until then, buildings were identified on the basis of the owner’s name, or the resident and the parish in which it was found. For instance, “house of the former owner Hatzi Ali, parish of Gorgopikou” or “house of Spyros and Panagiotis Varimpompis, parish of Vlasarou.”

Additional information was sometimes offered, as in the case: “house of the widowed Miserokena, near the Theseus Temple, parish of Philippos” or “workshop of Sotiris Lardis in the outer market”. A few of the streets had names, some of which are used until today to refer those streets, such as “Lekka” (between Voulis and Kolokotroni Sts), “Voria” (today’s Voreos, between Aiolou and Athinas Sts), “Tatsi” (today’s Taki St., in Psyri); the first and the third owe their names to those of the fountains to which they led.

The first street names were given by Kleanthis and Schaubert when they developed their city planning proposal for Athens in 1832. Predictably, names inspired by Greek antiquity totally prevailed, the only exceptions, perhaps, being the Boulevards and the city squares of the Royal Palace, the Borsas and the Theatre. Of those names, a small number corresponded to some topographical reality. For instance, Piraeus street is actually directed towards Piraeus, Mesogion street towards the Mesogia, Stadiou, as originally conceived, terminated at the Stadium, Areos Pagos street aimed at the rock of the same name, and Athinas street, correspondingly, towards the Temple of Athina Pallas, while Lysikratous reached the same-named monument and Aiolou to the supposed Aiolos Temple, that is, the Clocktower of Andronikos Kyristou. Moreover, the Royal Palace, Borsas and Theatrou city squares were intended to host the corresponding institutions of palace, market and theatre. Aristophanes street also terminated at Theatrou Square, and was parallel to Evripidou and Menandrou streets. Groupings of this kind can be observed in other circumstances, as well. Thus, the rhetoricians Demosthenes, Isokratis and Aischinis are the names of parallel streets, as are the streets named after the philosophers Evklidis and Aristotle, while the streets named after the sculptors Phidias and Praxiteles intersect.

Assuming the layout of the new plan in 1834, Klenze, paradoxically, changed, among other things, all of the names given by Kleanthis and Schaubert, except for three: the streets of Ermou, Piraeus and Themistokleous (today’s Agiou Konstantinou). What he did essentially was to transfer Kleanthis-Schaubert’s various names, adding and subtracting a few. He also acted in an archaic mode, but he added a few dynastic names. Thus Royal and Borsas squares, names that no longer corresponded to their respective functions, were renamed Othonos and Loudovikou, respectively. Theatre Square, where the theater was expected to remain, was simply renamed Aischylou.

In practice, what initially took place was chaotic. Some streets appeared with the names given to them by the first plan, while others by the second. In the course of time, a very small number of the names from that period survived in the aftermath. Only eight streets kept the names that the plan intended for them. Of those, six came from the original Kleanthis-Schaubert plan, which showed more durability than Klenze’s plan in that respect. Specifically, except for Piraeus and Ermou, the surviving names are Stadiou (rather than Phidiou, as Klenze proposed), Athinas (rather than Nikis), Ailou (rather than Poseidonos) and Aristidou (rather than Kallikratous) streets. Only Praxitelous street, as envisioned in the Kleanthis-Schaubert plan, still retains the name Klenze replaced it with: Keramikou. The Boulevards (Panepistimiou-Amalias), were renamed in 1884. The two squares, Othonos and Loudovikou, retained their names until the end of the reign of Otto. Subsequently, Loudovikou was renamed Dimarchiou Square, as it remained until its was dedicated to Konstantinos Kotzias, Governor of the Capital under Metaxas dictatorship. For its part, Othonas replaced much later, at the beginning of our century, Demosthenes in Syntagma Square.

As for the other streets, some were never built at all, while the ones that did, received names other than those planned. Essentially, that is, we have a third transfer of the same set of names, with some new additions and subtractions. Certain name changes, of course, made sense. In the end, for instance, the great square on Stadiou street was never the site of the theater, which as we saw before, was built to the northwest, conferring its name on the same-named square, intersected by Hirodotou street, which was consequently and rightly renamed Menandrou street. The Royal Palace, with its repeated translocations, carried its name with it. The Square of the Royal Palace moved from Omonia to Keramikos, to finally end up at the other edge of the city (roughly were the Kleanthis-Schaubert plan had put the Mouson Square). There, the Square of the Royal Palace kept that name for a long time, although replaced, after the 1843 events, by Syntagma Square.

King Otto only stayed from December 1834 to 1836 at the Kontostavlos Mansion, where the Old Parliament (currently Historic Museum) was later built. But that stay did leave an unexpectedly long-lasting footprint: Royal Palace Road, which survived for quite a time, before assuming the name by which we know it today: Kolokotroni street. In addition, the original name of Syntagma Square survived furtively for 75 entire years in its corner, as Mouson Street, until it assumed the name of the Serbian leader Karageorgis in 1908.

With the successive construction of the City’s various institutions—usually on a different site than the one planned for, streets were renamed after the institutions to which they led. Thus we have Typografio street (Printing Office street, Georgiou Stavrou street since 1884), Ophthalmiatriou street (Eye Clinic street, Edouardou Low street since 1910), Nosokomiou street (Hospital street, renamed Academias street in 1884), and so forth.

With the exception of this kind of naming to mark places in the City, archaic names dominated throughout the entire century. Indeed, the basic axes of the Neapolis district also bear ancient names: Themistokleous, Hippokratous, Asklipiou (1884). After 1890, the roads from Strefi Hill and beyond entered the plans, and the names of Byzantine emperors were given to these distant roads of a largely spontaneous neighborhood: Komninon street in 1915, Tsimiski in 1921, Vatatzi and Laskareos in 1927, and Isavron (the former Karyon) only in 1928.

Earlier, although still quite late, during the rein of King George the First, the names (by district) of some of the protagonists of 1821 were honored, primarily those who, in the aftermath, had a political career in the newly-formed state: Longou, Koletti, Tzavella, Andreou Metaxa, Zaimi, Mavromichali, Deliyianni (1884-1890), etc., as well as the localities of important Revolutionary battles: Valtetsiou, Kiafas, Gravias, Arachovis, Dervenion. A few of the remaining fighters were honored in the same period in the streets around Iroon (Heroes) Square in Psyri: Karaiskaki, Miaouli, Papanikoli (1884), while the upper part of Falirou street took the name of Makriyannis only in 1933.


Neoclassical architecture at the end of the 18th and the first part of the 19th centuries was a predominant international style that was produced by the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th century, both as a reaction against the Rococo style of anti-tectonic naturalistic ornament, and an outgrowth of some classicizing features of Late Baroque.

Intellectually Neoclassicism was symptomatic of a desire to return to the perceived "purity" of the arts of Rome, the more vague perception ("ideal") of Ancient Greek arts and, to a lesser extent, sixteenth-century Renaissance Classicism, the source for academic Late Baroque.

There is an anti-Rococo strain that can be detected in some European architecture of the earlier 18th century, most vividly represented in the Palladian architecture of Georgian Britain and Ireland, but also recognizable in a classicizing vein of Late Baroque architecture in Paris (Perrault's east range of the Louvre), in Berlin, and even in Rome, in Alessandro Galilei's facade for S. Giovanni in Laterano. It is a robust architecture of self-restraint, academically selective now of "the best" Greco-Roman models, which were increasingly available for close study through the medium of architectural engravings of measured drawings of surviving Greco-Roman architecture.

Neoclassicism first gained influence in Paris, through a generation of French art students trained at the French Academy in Rome and influenced by the presence of Charles-Louis Clérisseau and the writings of Johann Joachim Winckelmann, and in London, through the examples of Paris-trained Sir William Chambers, Clérisseau's pupil Robert Adam and James "Athenian" Stuart, later British architects such as Henry Holland, George Dance, Jr., James Wyatt, Thomas Harrison and Sir John Soane developed the style in Britain. It was quickly adopted by progressive circles in Sweden as well.

At first, in the 1760s and 70s, classicizing decor was grafted onto familiar European forms, as in Gatchina's interiors for Catherine II's lover Count Orlov, designed by an Italian architect with a team of Italian stuccadori (stucco workers). A second neoclassic wave, more severe, more studied (through the medium of engravings) and more consciously archaeological, is associated with the height of the Napoleonic Empire.

In France, the first phase of neoclassicism is expressed in the "Louis XVI style" of architects like Ange-Jacques Gabriel (Petit Trianon, 1762–68); the second phase, in the styles called Directoire and "Empire", might be characterized by Jean Chalgrin's severe astylar Arc de Triomphe (designed in 1806). In England the two phases might be characterized first by the structures of Robert Adam, the second by those of Sir John Soane. This style was immediately adopted in Spain, Poland, Russia, United States and Germany.

In the case of Germany Karl Friedrich Schinkel was the most prominent architect of neoclassicism.

From about 1800 a fresh influx of Greek architectural examples, seen through the medium of etchings and engravings, gave a new impetus to neoclassicism that is called the Greek Revival.

The Greek Revival was an architectural movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, predominantly in northern Europe and the United States. A product of Hellenism, it may be looked upon as the last phase in the development of Neoclassical architecture. With a new wave of travellers and scholars visiting Greece during the second half of the 18th century and especially after the French Revolution of 1789, archaeologist-architects of the period studied the Doric and Ionic movement; examples of which can be found in Russia, Poland, Lithuania, and Finland (where the assembly of Greek buildings in Helsinki city centre is particularly notable).

In Germany the Greek revival is predominantly found in two centres, Berlin and Munich. In both locales, Doric was the court style rather than a popular movement, and was heavily patronized by Frederick William II and Ludwig I as the expression of their desires for their respective seats to become the capital of Germany. The earliest Greek building was the Brandenburg Gate (1788-91) by Carl Gotthard Langhans, who modelled it on the Propylaea.

Ten years after the death of Frederick the Great, the Berlin Akademie initiated a competition for a monument to the king that would promote “morality and patriotism." Friedrich Gilly’s unexecuted design for a temple raised above the Leipziger Platz caught the tenor of high idealism that the Germans sought in Greek architecture and was enormously influential on Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Leo von Klenze. Schinkel was in a position to stamp his mark on Berlin after the catastrophe of the French occupation ended in 1813; his work on what is now the Altes Museum, Schauspielhaus, and the Neue Wache transformed that city. Similarly, in Munich von Klenze’s Glyptothek and Walhalla were the fulfillment of Gilly’s vision of an orderly and moral German world.

By comparison, the Greek revival in France was never popular with either the State or the public. What little there is started with Charles de Wailly’s crypt in the church of St Leu-St Gilles (1773-80), and Claude Nicolas Ledoux’s Barriere des Bonshommes (1785-9). First-hand evidence of Greek architecture was of very little importance to the French, due to the influence of Marc-Antoine Laugier’s doctrines that sought to discern the principles of the Greeks instead of their mere practices. It would take until Laboustre’s Neo-Grec of the second Empire for the Greek revival to flower briefly in France.

In Greece, this style arrived via Germany, since Bavaria was, in that period, among the most important centers of Neoclassicism; it was logical that the German school, mostly influenced by the Greek revival style, would be mostly applied in Athens due to the origin of the royal family.

Nonetheless, the neoclassical style in Greece acquired its own dynamic and particularity, the main characteristics of which were its re-immersion in classical models, its wide acceptance, which exceeded the monumental structures and the well-heeled classes to reach the wide mass of the population and, finally, its long persistence, which runs to the interwar period; something that would make of Athens one of the most rich cities in number of buildings based on this style, indeed a living museum of Neoclassical architecture.

As already noted, between 1830 and 1833, before it was designated to be the capital, Athens already had significant neoclassical style construction activity. Some characteristic worth of mention buildings of this period include:

  • The house of Stamatis Dekozis-Vouros from Chios, in the district of Theater Plaza (today’s Klafthmonos Square), at Paparigopoulou street 7; where Otto resided after his marriage, from February 1837 until the Royal Palace was completed. This dwelling was built in 1833-1834, based on the plan of the architects G. Luders and J. Hoffer, and today houses the Museum of the City of Athens, of the Vourou-Eutaxia Foundation.

  • The house of the Austrian Ambassador Prokesch von Osten, on Feidiou street 4 (between Panepistimiou and Akadimias), built in 1835, which housed the Greek Odeon (1919) and unfortunately today is abandoned. It was the first house in Athens to have a central heating system. Back in those days it was surrounded by a huge garden that comprised a square from Panepistimiou to Akadimias avenues (next to the Zoodochou Pighis church) and from Charilaou Trikoupi street to Emanouil Benaki.

  • In the Aerides area, next to Mendresses, across from the Clocktower of Kyristou, the house of Lassanis, which was also built around 1833 and which today houses the Museum of Musical Instruments. In spite of its neoclassical style it retains some folkloric architectural elements. It belonged to Georgio Lassoni from Kozani, who fought in the revolution and struggled for the liberation of Greece in Sterea and Macedonia. During the reign of Otto he was the director of the Ministry of Economy and Nomarch of Attika among other positions.

  • In the, then neighboring village, of Kypseli, “half an hour from Athens”, according to Ross, we can witness today the Malkohm residence, built in 1831 and located close to Aghia Zoni in Aghias Zonis street, 39. It was a design of architects Kleanthis and Schaubert. It was the residence of the British admiral Malkohm (who had replace Codrington in the administration of Mediterranean affairs). This building would later house for a period the French embassy.

  • The Hotel Aiolos built in 1835 and designed by Kleanthis, located in the intersection of Aiolou 3 and Adrianou 64; exclusively to serve as a 25 rooms hotel. Its construction was finished in 1837.

  • The Hotel Byron located in Aiolou 38 at Aghia Irinis square, was built in 1833; and for almost a century it functioned as a hotel; which was first named “Anatoli” (East) and by late 19th century it was renamed to Byron. Its architecture follows a strict neoclassical style, with emphasis on simplicity. It is probable that in 1833 during his first visit to Athens, King Otto stayed here. It is also worth of mention that until the 1860’s when the Observatory was built it housed along with the hotel an astronomical and meteorological institute.

  • The Nikolaou Dragoumi residence located at Kladou 8 in Plaka. It was built in 1835. It belonged to the former revolutionary fighter Nikolaos Dragoumis, who during the reign of Otto undertook several administrative position including that of Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was also the publisher of the “Pandora” newspaper. Currently it is abandoned.

  • The Proveleggiou residence located in Myllerou 24 and Kerameikou is a 1834 two-story building. Back in those days this area was known as “Chesmeno Lithari”, later renamed Metaxourgeion. It is characterised by its simplicity based on the rush of its construction which just like the neighboring, Kantakouzinou residence in Myllerou 32-46 and the Vlachoutzi residence in Pireos 35 was justified by the imminent construction of the Royal Palace (which in those years according to the early plans would be constructed in the Kerameikos area, after the plans of Omonoia were rejected and before the ones of Syntagme aproved). It is said that the first owner of this house was the Italian Count Botsari, who came to Athens and purchased several houses and land plots.

  • The Military Hospital Makrygianni located at Makrygianni 2-4 in the homonymous area, south of the Acropolis. Built in 1834 and designed by Wilhelm von Weiler who was inspired in the German Neo-Romantisism.

  • Two story building located in Thrasyboulou street 8, built in 1832. Worth of mention in this building are the semicircular additions above the wooden window shutters.

Between the time of the drafting of the Kleanthis-Schaubert plan until final arrangements were made regarding the Royal Palace, that is from 1832 to January 1836, a significant number of important personages of Athens (mainly Phanariotes) rushed to purchase lots believing that the Royal Palace would be built as anticipated in the first two plans, that is, either at Omonia or at Keramikos, hastened to purchase lots and to build in the broader Omonia district and along the Piraeus street axis.

Distinctive among this buildings are:

  • The two houses of Vlachoutzis, on Piraeus St, which were used as the first seat of the Regent. One of the two, the only one that has survived, housed, after one storey was added in 1845, the School of the Arts, later the Polytechnic (1837-1872), subsequently the Athens Odeon and today, the Drama School of the National Theatre.

  • The aforementioned Provelengios residence on the corner of Keramikou and Myllerou.
  • The mansion, or better the compound, of Kantakouzinos, also on Myllerou St., (that remained half-completed when the site of the Royal Palace was finalized).

Finally, during the same period, the first state buildings of Athens made their appearance. For example:

  • The Royal Printing Office on Stadiou Street, between Santaroza and Arsaki streets, based on the plans of J. Hoffer, and built between 1834 and 1835. It originally housed the Printing Office (until 1906), and subsequently the Athens Court of First Instance (until 1984).
  • The Mint on the Stadiou Street side of Theatre Square (that is, Klafthmonos), which was built in 1835, mostly likely on a plan by Schaubert, and which later (1884) housed the Finance Ministry, with the addition of another storey. It was torn down in 1940.

Notably almost none of the public buildings were built where the city plans had anticipated, but instead, for the most part, on whatever public lands were available.

Regarding all of these early buildings, it is obvious that of least concern in their construction was whether they adhered to some style, neo-classical or otherwise. They were modest two-storey structures, with simple lines, and not particularly elegant. Nonetheless, a classical discipline of form and in the handling of space is discernable.

However in the meantime, the first structures appeared in which the architectural order is more emphatically manifest.

Some examples of these buildings include:

  • The villa of the British admiral Malkolm which was described above.
  • The house of Ambrosios Rallis on Klafthmonos Square, which was built in 1835, also by Kleanthis. It later housed the British Embassy until its demolition in 1938.

  • the house of the German philhellene Heinrich Treiber, also built in 1837, on the corner of Ermou and Agion Asomaton streets, which at one point housed the Poorhouse (1865). It does not exist today.

At the same time, the construction of other buildings began, such as:

  • The Royal Palace, based on the plan, as already noted, of von Gaertner (1836).

  • The City, so-called Civic Hospital, which today houses the City of Athens Cultural Center. It is located in Akadimias 50 and was built in 1835 by Christian Hansen.
  • The University, based on the plan of Christian Hansen (1839-1864).
  • The Gennadios house in 1845, on Akademias St., where for a short time the French Archeological School was housed (1846-56), and later various schools, such as the Ionian School and the Economic High School, which was torn down in 1980.
  • Finally, the Arsakio Girls’ School, by Lysandros Kaftantzoglou (1846).

These structures are characterized by their rigorous composition, based on balance, simple geometric forms, specific templates, homogeneity of materials, antique style, with a tri-partite ordering of facades that is stressed by the pediment, without, however, exaggerated decorative elements.

This Athens is not particularly well-known to us, since laid over it was the later, so-called Eclectic Athens of the second half of the 19th Century—briefly put, the Athens of Ziller. This later architectural order is characterized by a continually increasing search for “artful” decorativeness, which quickly became stereotypical and widespread: “anthemia” (palmettes), antefixes, statues, birds and flowerpots, which were sold readymade at construction materials depots. The tendency towards creating an impression led to the asymmetrical organization of space, as, for instance, in the case of the Stathatos Mansion.

It must be noted that the number of 19th centuries buildings of this period are really abundant all around Athens and especially in the city center, it is only that many people just overlook their existence, but they are still there.

For instance about third of the buildings on Aiolou Street today are still the buildings of the 19th century, hidden often beneath metallic additions and store windows. The same happens in Mitropoleos and Ermou streets, along with dozens of other streets in the historic center, and not there alone. On streets considered to have been totally transformed, such as Patision, Acharnon or Tritis Septemvriou streets, and in districts such as Vathi Square and Agios Pavlos, there are lots of 19th century buildings still standing there.

To the list we should also add lots of buildings of the Ottoman period that have been disguised in a Neoclassical style with just some addition to the facade, but retaining most of their original structure, thus transforming only their exterior look.

Some examples of this kind of buildings found all around the center include:

  • The Finlay residence located at Kekropos street 8, was built in the 18th century and disguised or transformed into a more Neoclassical style during the 1830’s by its owner, the Scottish historian and philellene, George Finlay, whou fought in the ’21 revolution and later decided to stay in Greece until his death. He was also the owner of other two houses; one located in Scholeiou street (General Church’s house, which was built in the Ottoman period) and the other in Adrianou street.

  • The Old Criminal Court, located at the intersection of Aghias Eleousis 4 and Kakourghiodikiou ir was built during the Ottoman period as a church dedicated to Aghia Eleousa. During the revolution its roof was damaged and in 1835 the authorities decided to use it as a criminal court (of course this is not the only case that a church was transformed into a secular building; another case is that of Christou Kopidi which housed the Areos Pagos). So based on the design of Christian Hansen it was transformed in 1835; however much of its original eclesiastical style survived despite the Neoclassical mask. It was later used as a police department, a registry office and in 1955 it was acquired by the Church of Greece and was used by several philanthropic organizations; until 1972. Since then it remains vacant. In 1993 it was listed as a heritage building by the Ministry of Culture.

Social and political situation:

Although Athens was supposed to be the capital city of an independent state of Greece, at that time 'independent' did not signify very much. The Bavarian triumvirate of regents was, in effect, the government of Greece. When they wanted advice, they sought it from the young king's father, Ludwig of Bavaria. The administration was entirely dominated by Bavarians. The regents engaged in rivalry among themselves until two were recalled, leaving Armansperg in control. Behind the Bavarians were the three 'Protecting Powers: Britain, France and Russia.

In addition, three of the Great Powers: Britain, France and Russia, vied for influence through their representatives in Athens. They sought supporters among the leading Greeks, to whom they offered their patronage. To the Russians gravitated the supporters of Κapοdίstrias, such as Kolokotronis and the klefts. This conservative group believed that as the leading Orthodox state, Russia was the natural patron of Greece. loannis Kollettis led a 'French party', which promised to support the interests of island ship-owners and Peloponnesian landowners. The pro-English group, led by Alexandros Mavrokordatos, saw themselves as the modernising 'Westernisers', and were strongest in Athens, as bureaucrats, intellectuals and those in commerce favoured this group. Athens became the hub of the rivalry and manoeuvring between these factions, something that was to continue for many years.

Armansperg deliberately created a social milieu built around the court. Balls were frequent; but during the earliest years the ladies had to be carried through the alternately dusty and muddy streets to the dances in their finery on the backs of the Maltese porters or on donkeys. Hotels soon sprang up for the increasing number of visitors. The first, the Hotel l'Europe, was opened on Ermou Street in 1832. Βy 1835 there were three.

In 1837 the University of Athens was founded. The building chosen, was a 17th century house high in the Plaka (nowadays the Athens University Museum), it was in the hands of the architects Schaubert and Kleanthes, who had bought it from a Turkish woman, Sante Hanum. It was at that time known as the 'Little Acropolis' because the pair had filled it with casts of ancient monuments. It opened with thirty-three professors and fifty-two students in law, arts, theology and medicine, and another seventy-five who just attended classes. During the 1840s the magnificent building on Panepistemiou was erected with money largely provided by Baron Sinas. Lectures were often delivered on the lawns in front of the building.

Baron Sinas was taking up an ancient tradition of private benefaction for the good of the city, one which other prominent Diaspora Greeks were also to espouse. Unfortunately, the works were usually prominent, but of limited value to a city lacking almost all amenities. Baron Sina's bizarre donation of an astronomical observatory on the summit of the Hill of the Nymphs, for example, fulfilled no urgent or obvious public need in the 1840s, while many urgent and obvious public needs went wholly unsatisfied.

The work of archaeological conservation - and destruction - began immediately. In August 1834 the German archaeologist Ludwig Ross was appointed to 'restore' the remains on the Acropolis. He immediately tore down indiscriminately the Byzantine, Frankish and Turkish buildings of the Acropolis to expose the classical site. In so doing, he began the process which was to result in the bare marble wasteland of today, in which the classical remains seem to have no continuity with the present, and which exists in a strange isolation from the rest of the life of the city.

In 1836 Edward Giffard wrote of the Frankish Tower: “This tower is in the rude style of the fortifications of Western Europe in the Middle Ages; and judging from all the views prior to the last year or two, the Franks had surrounded the whole summit of the Acropolis with walls and towers of the same character; so that, but for the pediments of the Parthenon peering above these works, the Acropolis must have looked like an old European fortress. In the progress of the labours, in which the present government is assiduously employed for clearing the Acropolis, all these Frank constructions, as well as those which the Turks superadded, have already, with the exception of this tower, disappeared. The first persons we met on the Acropolis were parties of Greek labourers excavating and removing the rubbish, in order to dig the summit to its original levels. All the Frank and Turkish ramparts, which formed as it were a parapet to the fortress, having been already removed, the ancient temples now stand conspicuous down to their bases from quarters, (except on the westward, where the Propylaea intercepts the view) and the workmen, employed in the levelling, wheel their barrows to the very edges of the precipice, and empty their contents into the valley below.”

Much of the excavation was chaotic. The historian George Finlay described how ίt was first decided to excavate one half of the existing town in order to search for antiquities, though it was calculated by a French engineer that the expense would exceed the excavation of Pompeii. “The proprietors of the houses in the district marked out for the purpose of this excavation were for two years prevented from completing them, even though some of them were half finished before the plan was adopted. At length the government changed its mind, and without any public communication, commenced building a large barracks in the middle of the ruins of Hadrian's library, exactly in the spot where excavation might have been attended with some success; and to cure its successors from a wish ever to repeal its own folly, it filled up that part of the enclosure near Lord Elgin's lower and nearly booed the church of the Megale Panaghia in which are many antiquities and some very curious paintings, with ten feet of additional rubbish.”

In 1835 the Thiseion was laicised and turned into the National Archaeological Museum. In 1837, the Greek Archaeological Society took up responsibility for all archaeological work.

Until 1835 Athens was ruled by elders and notables, but in March of that same year the first municipal elections took place and 18 town councillors were elected, three of which were candidates for mayor. Of these three candidates Otto chose Anargyros Petrakis, who took office in May 1835; while as president of the council was chosen Dimitris Kallifronas.

The Anargyros family established in Athens during the 17th century when they came from Dimitsana escaping from the Ottoman governor of Dimitsana, Sertar Aga. This was a family of long monastic and religious tradition, with most of its men being members of the church. It is after this family that the monastery established in the 17th century around the 10th century temple was named.

However Anargyros Petrakis broke this tradition as he rejected the idea of becoming a priest and instead he studied medicine. He entered the political world during the revolution, when in 1822 he was chosen by Odysseas Andrutsos, as elder of Athens and finally in 1835 mayor in compliance with the new administrative system.

Since the municipality was in bankrupt, he sold three of his properties in order to raise the city funds. With that money he established a public school in Plaka, a municipal police force, he cleaned the city by establishing a streets cleansing and garbage gathering service, he extended the public streets lighting system by adding oil lamps to the existing from the Ottoman period ones, founded a new library and two public clinics for the poors. So we must admit that in two years he did a lot for the city; as well as funding much of it.

View of Lykavitos from a terrace

Some of the other villages of the Athenian basin:

The transfer of the capital to Athens understandably instigated a large inflow of new residents. From roughly 12,000 in 1834 (a census of 1835 gave 12,706), the number of residents doubled over the next decade; this figure of course does not include the surrounding villages of Athens and the swiftly growing Piraeus, that would put this number up to some 50,000. Athens’ role, however was mainly administrative and, not that of an industrial center, which in any case, was a role adopted by Piraeus.

Outside the city in the neighboring villages (today just neighborhoods of the 5 millions metropolis) there remained little law and order. The Bavarian contingent had become the core of the new Greek national army. The kleftes would hijack carriages containing foreign dignitaries behind the royal palace, near Αmbelokipi. However, since the kleftes preyed chiefly on the poor country people, neither the Bavarians at the royal court nor the king's Greek ministers, were inclined to consider the problem an urgent one. When a certain Bibisi took to robbing travellers at Αmbelokipi, within sight of the royal palace itself, however, a price was put on his head; and he was finally shot by a gendarme - himself a former brigand.

The population of the port of Piraeus was low during the Ottoman period and mostly rural. There was the monastery of Saint Spyridon built in 1590. One of the few mentioned inhabitants of Piraeus during the 18th century was the French merchant, Cayrac, a person who earned the trust and respect of both Greeks and foreigners.

In 1792, Hydraians, and later in 1825 - when the revolutionary struggle had already begun, Psarians settled in Piraeus, but both attempts resulted in abandonment; due to the reactions of rural landowners of the area.
Some of the known settlers that arrived in the area of Piraeus in 1829 included Yiannakos Tzelepis, in memory of whom the Tzelepis Promenade was named, two of Tzelepis' brothers, Spyridon Diplaris, from the main town of Athens, and loannis Katelouzos.
From 1830 to 1834, the number of residents, gradually grew. In 1834, Cleanthes and Schaubert drew up the excellent - for that time - town plan of Piraeus which was approved, with a minimum of amendment, by the Architect Klenze and the Regent. In 1835, following an application by the most prosperous of the inhabitants, the Municipality was established. On 14 December, 1835 the first Municipal elections were held and, on 23 December, 1835, in the partly ruined church of the Monastery of St. Spyridon, the first municipal council was sworn in and undertook its duties under the Mayor, Hydraian Kyriakos Serfiotis and Deputy Mayor, the Chian, Constantinos Skylitsis.

So the town of Piraeus which until a few years before the revolution was just an insignificant harbour made up of a few fishermen's huts, a few farm-buildings on its surrounding land - towards Keratsini the "Dogana" (customs-house) and the Monastery of St. Spyridon, within a few decades became a real contender to the town of Athens, both in population and infrastructure; not to mention that it became the industrial center of Attika.

In 1835 the "village" had begun to take shape, and drew 300 inhabitants from all parts of Greece, thus creating, by virtue of their varied origins, a lively urban nucleus. Naturally, all that did not come about by chance. Certain pre-requisites existed and these greatly assisted their realisation. There were also certain "factors" which played a corresponding role. First of all, the favourable geographic location of the area, then its nearness to the main town of Athens (which later would get unified with Piraeus together with the rest of the basin’s villages forming the huge metropolis Athens is now), a decisive incentive attracting more and more new settlers to the area from all parts of the country. Moreover, the correct assessment and forecast by many who appreciated the region's future prospects, were soon to be well justified. Indeed, by the end of the 19th century, certain events had contributed decisively to the evolution of Piraeus and its ultimate declaration as the country's leading port - a position which, for 50 years-, was claimed by Syros, the region's most important maritime centre of the period.

Development in Piraeus was swift. As early as 1836 Charles Βracebridge could describe: “several large houses have been built: some good streets, flanked by low but respectable dwellings, have already been completed. Α large customhouse has been built, and a quay and lazaretto are in immediate contemplation; the population may be about 1,500. Though trade cannot be said to flourish at the Piraeus, still it has become a bustling place.”
By 1840 Bavarian soldiers had broadened Pireos, the eternal road which linked the port to Athens for the last 24 centuries, and it begun being served by a horse bus and hire carriages.

First of all, the city changed its appearance with the help of Cleanthe's and Schaubert's town plan. This excellent plan was not, of course, adhered to in its entirety. If that had happened, Piraeus would not have been according to I. Meletopoulos' very accurate observation ‘just a beautiful city’, as it is, but would have been an example to all others."

However, the amendments and deviations that were made, did not greatly change the city - thus it became adorned with spacious central roads and squares.

In some of the many neighboring villages of the basin the situation during this period was like this:

The area of Peristeri located some 6 kms / 4 miles to the west, and which existed since ancient times as one of the 174 demos that made up the Athenian city-state; was a famous area throughout history for the enormous surrounding Olive groves “Elaiones”. During ancient times lots of “Athenian demos” developed in the western Athenian basin, most of them belonging to the “phile” of the Akamantidas. Among these towns it was the ancient “Cholargos”, home town of Pericles, which was located between the Kifissos river and the Poikilos mountain; in the area of current Peristeri. The area of Peristeri continued to be inhabitated during medieval times as well as the Ottoman period. The area was rich in olive trees; here rich families had their rural properties as well as their weekend residences known as “Pyrgakia”, while cultivators lived in smaller humble houses or shacks.

First mention of the place name, Peristeri, is mentioned in 1592 in a document that indicates the division of the land owned by Dimitris Poulimenou Fakais; however since in those times there wasn’t any organized register of lands, we cannot assert with certainty that it was the formal name of the village. First registered mention of the town with the formal name of Peristeri is found on the documents of the Athenian notary Panaghi Poulou in 1822. After the liberation of Athens the revolutionary fighter Soutsos acquired some lands in the area. During the late Ottoman and revolutionary periods; the village of Peristeri was located in the area known as “Ekato Dentra” (hundred-trees), and is made up of just a few houses. Later this part was renamed Palio Peristeri (Old Peristeri), since the new part of it was established where the Greek refugees from Ionia would later settle in 1922.

Another mentioned village of the area is Levi, located in an area rich with water on both banks of the Kifissos river, with two churches one on each bank of the river; Aghiou Dimitriou Oplon on the east one and Aghia Paraskevi on the western.

The main activiteis of Peristeri during the first half of the 19th century was agriculture and stockbreeding; the farmers of the town used the garbage of Athens as fertilizers of their fields which was transported by carts.

Kifissia, with a continous history that can be traced back to the ancient times; during the Ottoman Period, was a prosperous town, which was accurately described by the Turkish traveller Evliya Tchelebi in 1667. He described a small country town set in a fertile plain of paradisiac beauty, with three hundred tile-roofed houses. Half the inhabitants of the town were Muslims and half were Christian. He records that there was a single mosque, without a minaret, and many small Christian chapels - some of which survive today, he also mentioned the existence of a school. The area was full of weekend houses belonging to rich families.

During the revolutionary years lots of Kifissians and Chalandrians fought against the Ottoman yoke; among them we can mention Athanasios Viltaniotis, who lost his life during the 1827 siege of the Acropolis by Kioutachi; Alexandros Kallipetis and Georgios Kourtis, the latter having fought under the command of Georgios Karaiskakis; after the end of the revolution Kourtis moved to the residence of the former Ottoman administrator of Kifissia.

became a summer resort for high society. The British diplomat Sir Thomas Wyse reported: “The diplomatic corps spent their summers in Kifissia, the king too passed months (here whenever the Queen went to visit her relations in Germany.” Christopher Wordsworth described how, each summer, the 'fifty-two' leaders of Athenian society moved To Kifissia “in the pine woods, where there are many pleasant, and some very fantastic, villas, and where picnics, tennis and card parties, theatrical performances and dances, fleet the hours, which are always golden, away.” While such things were expected of foreigners, the people of the district were shocked to witness the French songs, the piano playing, and the western-style dancing of the educated and urbanised Greeks who had recently entered the country. In time, the danger from brigands was to prove a deterrent to visitors, and for a time, Kifissia went into a temporary decline.

Penteli has also a history that can be traced back to ancient times. during the 10th century the construction activity of churches was significant, some of them have been described in the medieval period chapter, the most popular of them being; the Tao and the Kimisis Theotokou monasteries. During the Ottoman times the area was chosen by the “klephtes”, hidden shools and other activities of the resistence against the Ottomans. The local monasteries were also centers of education for Greeks from the villages of the Athenian basin.

After the liberation many villagers from Marathon and other neighboring towns settled the area. In 1830 the Franco-American philellene Sophie de Marbois-Lebrun duchess of Piacenza (Dukissis Plakentias), born in Philadelphia in 1785; established in Nafplion, making generous donations for the organization of the liberated Greek state. 17 months later she left Greece until 1834 when she returned and purchased large tracts of lands in Penteli as well as in areas around the town of Athens. In 1836 she left Greece for a few months due to the illness of hes daughter Eliza who finally lost her life in 1837. So hard was the loss of Eliza for the duchess that when she returned to Athens, she embalmed her body and put it temporarily in a room of her house located in Pireos street in Athens; until the works of a mausoleum dedicated to Eliza in Penteli would be finished.

In 1840 she purchased a land of 174 hectares in Penteli for 7,512 drachmes. In 1841 after the design of architect Stamatis Kleanthis the “Dukissis Plakentias” tower was finished. She also financed the construction of other residences in the area including the “Castle of Rododafni”. Unfortunately, her temporal house in Athens was destroyed after a fire, including the lifeless body of her daughter. After this event she retired to her residence in Penteli, where she died in 1854.

The number of villages all around the basin was really large and would require a whole separated chapter, so the aforementioned towns give us in a nutshell, an idea of what was the situation like in the areas located beyond the walls of the main town of Athens.

Villa Ilissia

Piacenza’s residence in Penteli

Tourelle Penteli

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Discussion Starter · #25 · (Edited)
The 1832-1862 period. Part 2 (The Constitutional Monarchy)


The boulevards provided by von Klenze, are noted, in this topographic plan of Athens, designed in 1841 by P. W. Forschhammer.

Although King Otto tried to function as an absolute monarch, as Thomas Gallant writes: he 'was neither ruthless enough to be feared, nor compassionate enough to be loved, nor competent enough to be respected.' By 1843 public dissatisfaction with him had reached critical proportions, and several plots were hatched.

The Bavarian advisors were arrayed in a council of regency headed by Count Josef Ludwig von Armansperg, who as minister of finance, had recently succeeded in restoring Bavarian credit at the cost of his popularity. The United Kingdom and the Rothschild bank, who were underwriting the Greek loans, insisted on financial stringency from Armansperg. The Greeks were soon more heavily taxed than under Turkish rule; they had exchanged a hated Ottoman tyranny, which they understood, for government by a foreign bureaucracy, the "Bavarocracy", which they despised. In addition, Otto showed little respect for local customs. A staunch Roman Catholic, he refused to adopt Orthodoxy, making him a heretic in the eyes of pious Greeks.

In 1837, Otto visited Germany and married the beautiful and talented Duchess Amalia of Oldenburg (December 21, 1818 - May 20, 1875). The wedding took place not in Greece, but in Oldenburg, on November 22, 1836; the marriage did not produce an heir and the new queen made herself unpopular by interfering in the government.

Moreover, not entirely faithful to his wife, Otto had a liaison with Jane Digby, the English aristocrat daughter of Admiral Henry Digby and Lady Jane Elizabeth. She lived a life of adventure, a notorious woman Otto’s father had previously taken as a lover also.

Meanwhile, due to his overtly undermining the king, Armansperg was dismissed as Prime Minister by King Otto immediately on his return. However, despite high hopes by the Greeks, the Bavarian Rundhart was appointed chief minister and the granting of a constitution was again postponed. The attempts of Otto to conciliate Greek sentiment by efforts to enlarge the frontiers of his kingdom, for example, by the suggested acquisition of Crete in 1841, failed in their objective and only succeeded in embroiling him with the Great Powers.

Throughout his reign, King Otto found himself confronted by a recurring series of issues: partisanship of the Greeks, financial uncertainty, and ecclesiastical issues.

Greek parties in the Othonian era were based on two factors: the political activities of the diplomatic representatives of the Great Powers: Russia, United Kingdom and France and the affiliation of Greek political figures with these diplomats.

Financial uncertainty of the Othonian monarchy was the result of; Greece's poverty, the concentration of land in the hands of a small number of wealthy families like the Mavromichalises of Mani, and the promise of 60,000,000 francs in loans from the Great Powers, which kept these nations involved in Greek internal affairs and the Crown constantly seeking to please one or the other power to ensure the flow of funds.

The political machinations of the Great Powers was personified in their three legates in Athens: the French Theobald Piscatory, the Russian Gabriel Catacazy, and the English Edmund Lyons. They informed their home governments on the activities of the Greeks, while serving as advisers to their respective allied parties within Greece.

Otto pursued policies, such as balancing power among all the parties and sharing offices among the parties, ostensibly to reduce the power of the parties while trying to bring a pro-Otto party into being. The parties, however, became the entree into government power and financial stability. The effect of his (and his advisors') policies was to make the Great Powers’ parties more powerful, not less. The Great Powers did not support curtailing Otto’s increasing absolutism, however, which resulted in a near permanent conflict between Otto’s absolute monarchy and the power bases of his Greek subjects.

Otto found himself confronted by a number of intractable ecclesiastical issues: monasticism, autocephaly, the king as head of the church and toleration of other churches. His regents, Armansperg and Rundhart, established a controversial policy of suppressing the monasteries. This was very upsetting to the church hierarchy and the Russian Party, which was a stalwart defender of Orthodoxy.

Once he rid himself of his Bavarian advisers, Otto allowed the statutory dissolution of the monasteries to lapse. On the issue of autocephaly and his role as king within the church, Otto was overwhelmed by the arcana of church doctrine and popular discontent with his Roman Catholicism.

In 1833, the regents had unilaterally declared the autocephaly of the Church of Greece. This recognized the de facto political situation, as the Patriarch of Constantinople was under the political control of the Ottoman Empire.

Conservatives (mostly in the Russian Party), concerned that having a Catholic as the head of the Church of Greece would weaken the Orthodox Church, criticised the unilateral declaration of autocephaly as non-canonical. They likewise resisted the foreign, mostly Protestant, missionaries who established schools throughout Greece for the same reason. Tolerance of other religions was supported by some in the English Party and others educated in the West as a symbol of Greece’s progress as a liberal European state. In the end, power over the church and education was ceded to the Russian Party, while the king maintained a veto over the decision of the Synod of Bishops. This was to avoid discrediting Greece in the eyes of Western Europe as a backward, religiously intolerant society.

On 3rd September 1843, led by Kallerghis and Makriyannis, the troops in the infantry barracks mutinied and marched to the open square outside the palace. It was one o'clock in the morning. The king ordered the troops back to their barracks, promising to consider their request for a constitution; but they were not inclined to disperse. Then the crowds swelled, civilian leaders arrived, and artillery was brought up. The king agreed to dismiss all foreigners from his service except for those who had assisted in the War of Independence, and to produce a constitution. The crowd insisted that the king personally thank the leaders of the mutiny, which he did, no doubt reluctantly. Finally, at three o'clock in the afternoon, the troops marched past the palace shouting 'Long live the constitutional king Otto Ι'. The revolution was a victory for the old leaders of the National Revolution.

In the new constitution, Otto retained considerable power, but agreed that his successor must be of the Christian Orthodox religion. There was a two-chamber parliament, the vouli and gerousia. The square outside the palace was renamed Syntagma Ρlataia (Constitution Square). Makriyannis praised 'the blessed people of our capital, who were all involved, yet no one even had a nosebleed.' This apparent social harmony was not to last.

Unfortunately, the prime ministers who followed paid scant attention to the constitution. In 1844 Ioannes Kolettis became prime minister. This former brigand set the tone for what was to follow by using a mixture of bribery and intimidation to govern. Political life was organised through a system of patronage. People would attach themselves to a political leader and offer him their loyalty and support as their patron, in return for favours such as jobs, government permissions, etc. For their part, the politicians regarded public office as a means of enriching themselves and their clients. The system came to be known as clientism. Kolettis also employed the bands of “listes” (brigands) to ensure that if elections had to be held, they produced “acceptable” results. His example was soon copied by other leading politicians, leading to a system of government in which politicians and criminals cooperated with each other to their mutual advantage (a type of governmental system not as rare as one might imagine, and by no means still extinct today in our capitalist Western world countries).

Ever alert to the need to manipulate public opinion, Kolettis took up and publicised the 'Great Idea'; the liberation of all lands of the Greeks inhabitated mostly by Hellenes and still occupied by the Ottoman empire and the recovery of Constantinople. Even King Otto espoused it enthusiastically, probably as a cheap means of gaining some legitimacy in the eyes of his subjects. Kollettis could say to the National Assembly in January 1844: “There are two great centres of Hellenism. Athens is the capital of the kingdom. Constantinople is the great old historic capital of Greece, the City, the dream and hope of all the Greeks.” The idea that Athens was only a temporary capital probably held back the development of the city and its institutions. David Holden writes: “It is hard nowadays for foreigners to take the Great Idea seriously, so patently absurd does it seem.” But it was no more absurd than a united Italy or Germany would have seemed at the beginning of that century. Α typical nineteenth century romantic nationalist dream, it seems absurd only because it was never realised.

Such grandiose schemes came up against the reality of national powerlessness in the infamous Don Pacifico incident of 1847, when the house of this Portuguese Jew was burned down by an indignant crowd after he had insulted the Good Friday funeral procession of the dead Christ. His demand for a ridiculous amount of compensation from the government was rejected. Pacifico then used his birth on Gibraltar to claim British citizenship, and appealed to the chauvinistic British Foreign secretary, Lord Palmerston. In a classic example of 'gunboat diplomacy' the British navy blockaded Greek ports for three months. After a threat to bombard Athens, Otto capitulated to this bullying.

In October 1853, hostilities broke out between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. When Turkish forces were withdrawn from Greece's northern borders, in accordance with the 'Great Idea', Otto invited Greeks to cross the border to liberate their brothers still in bondage. The prisons were opened and klefts and other prisoners streamed across the mountains into Thessaly and Epirus with the aim of extending the boundaries of the small Greek state. Naturally, many of them decided to opt for the much less risky choice of staying inside the kingdom and resuming their vocation as brigands. Unwilling to see the Ottoman Empire broken up and fall under Russian control, Britain and France sent a naval force to Piraeus, and imposed upon Greece a government compliant to their policies; while larger allied force landed in Crimea. The Anglo-French force remained in Greece throughout the duration of the Crimean War, until February 1857. Thirty British and twenty-three French sailors and soldiers died in Greece during that time. They had brought with them a cholera epidemic, which swept Attica and killed many thousands.

By 1855 the main village of Athens was a small town of around 35,000 inhabitants (not counting neighboring villages of the basin, that would increase that number to 61,000) and 2,000 dwelling houses. The population remained heterogeneous, differences of origin and status still being distinguished by dress. The most prominent citizens, gathered around the court, were from well-educated, sophisticated Phanariot families, rich merchants from Syros and Hydra, descendants of the medieval and Ottoman period Athenian families and uneducated foustanella-clad chieftains famous from the war. Below these were the traders and artisans who served them, many from the islands. Athens was the capital city of a country of only 800,000; while over 4,000,000 Greeks still lived outside the kingdom, and for all of them, 'the city' remained not Athens but Constantinople. Most Greek trade was conducted in cities like Smyrna, Thessaloniki, Moschopolis, Adrianopolis and Constantinople. Syros was the most important port in the free kingdom. Nevertheless, merchants of the Greek Diaspora were increasingly beginning to open offices in Athens, send their sons to Athens University, and even act as public benefactors.

Βy the end of Otto's reign, some of the most distinctive forms of Athenian life had already begun to emerge. Edmund About was struck with the outdoor life of the Athenians. In the centre of the town, the intersection of Aeolou and Ermou, the citizens were to be found sitting before the coffee-houses, or standing up in the middle of the street, discussing politics and, smoking cigarettes. Students would collect in groups before the University and debate on the lawns. The shops of the grocer, the barber, or the chemist he called 'the drawing-rooms for the use of the people.” The bazaar was the most frequented part of the town. “In the morning, all the people, of what ever rank, go themselves to market. If you wish to see a senator carrying kidneys in one hand, and salad in the other, go to the bazaar at eight in the morning. They walk from shop to shop, getting information as to the price of apples and onions, or giving an account of their vote the day before to some money-changer, who stops them as they go by. At eight o'clock in the evening, in summer, the bazaar has really an enchanted aspect, It is the hour when the workmen, the servants, the soldiers, come to buy their provisions for supper. The more dainty divide among seven or eight a sheep's-head for sixpence; the frugal men buy a slice of pink watermelon, or a large cucumber, which they bite like an apple. The shopkeepers, from the midst of their vegetables and their fruits, call the buyers with loud cries; large lamps, full of olive oil, throw a fine red light on the heaps of figs, pomegranates, melons, and grapes.”

About was surprised by the widespread practice of sleeping out on the streets in cloaks from the middle of May till the end of September. The women, who went out rarely, and never to the bazaar, slept on terraces or on the roofs, if they were flat.

The hackney-coaches of Athens were rickety, dirty, and in bad repair; seldom with window glass. They were all to be found together in a muddy place called the square of the carriages, the present Monastiraki Square, where one would be besieged by eager coachmen. An agreement had to be made with them for each ride, for there was no fixed fare.

The area now known as Omonoia square was first planned by Kleanthes and Schaubert in 1834. Until then the area was rural-suburban occupied by farms and a few houses. It was diagonally crossed by the road to Acharnes which until those times (since antiquity) ended at the intersection of Aeolou and Sofokleus at the Acharnian gate, as we mentioned before. The first project planned the area to be used for the royal palace; in the next two plans of 1835 and 1836, which moved the palace, first to Kerameikos and to Syntagma respectively; it was decided that in this site would be constructed a new church dedicated to Jesus the Savior, however the amount of money collected was finally destined to the construction of the new Metropolitan cathedral, next to the 12th century Panaghia Gorgoipikoos church, however the amount.

Finally in 1846 the new square was completed and was first named Plateia Anaktoron (Court square) and later renamed Othonas square, after King Otto. It must be noted that for its construction, the road to Acharnes was shortened a kilometer to the northwest, instead of the 500 meters that would have situated its extreme point in the northwestern corner of the square, diagonally opposite to Stadiou; making thus a more symmetrical layout of the area, however this was not the case. The name Omonoia (concorde) was finally adopted in 1862 when the leaders of the different political parties, which had caused so many internal conflicts and turmoil, subscribed to a final peaceful concorde. It was on October 14, 1862 that the Athenians gathered in the square to celebrate the abdication of King Otto. After the doxology, the temporal president Dimitris Voulgaris, made a speach, in which he declared the pact between the political leaders and accordingly the renaming of the square as a symbolic signature of it. He also swore the oath of faith to the nation and compliance to the national decisions.

The fashionable world of Athens had for its principal diversion the walk on the 5 kms road to Patissia (Patission). People would show themselves there in winter, from three to five; in summer, from seven to nine. On a bare open space was a little wooden rotunda where a band played every Sunday. The people would stand around to listen, and watch the King and Queen ride out with the high society.

When Amalia arrived in Greece as a Queen consort in 1837 she had an immediate impact on social life and fashion. She realized that her attire ought to emulate that of her new people, and so she created a romantic folksy court dress, which became a national Greek costume still known as the Amalia dress.

It follows the Biedermeier style, with a kaftan top over which is worn a richly embroidered jacket. It was completed with a cap or fez, traditionally worn by married women, or with the kalpaki (a toque) of the unmarried woman, to which was added the black veil for going to church.

This dress became the usual attire of all Christian townswomen in both Ottoman Empire-occupied and liberated Balkan lands as far north as Belgrade.

In the early years of the new monarchy, Queen Amalia, with her beauty and vivaciousness brought a spirit of smart fashion and progress to the impoverished country. She laboured actively towards social improvement and the creation of gardens in Athens, and at first won the hearts of the Greeks with her refreshing beauty. The city of Amalias and the village of Amaliapolis were named for the Queen.

The signs of the impending end of Otto's reign were evident for some year before he was driven from the throne. The students of Athens University followed the popular struggle for national liberation in ltaly with particular enthusiasm, and were dismayed by Otto's support for the Austrians. Fired by the idealism of the French Revolution, they became increasingly indignant at examples of oppression by the foreign court. In addition, a new generation of politicians, such as Deligeorgis, were beginning to demand modernisation.

In May 1860 the students demonstrated. On September 6, 1861, a student named Aristeidis Dosios (son of politician Konstantinos Dosios) attempted to murder Queen Amalia while she was returning from her walk to Elaionas. He was hidden behind the building of the hotel Megali Bretania (which at the moment housed the French Archeological Institute), and shot her unsuccessfully. He was openly hailed as a hero by opponents of Otto. He was sentenced to death, but the Queen intervened, and he was pardoned and sentenced to life imprisonment. His attempt, however, also prompted spontaneous feelings of monarchism and sympathy towards the royal couple among the Greek population.

In February 1862, the garrison of Nauplia staged a brief mutiny. Then the chieftains in Arcarnania and Patras declared themselves in rebellion. In October, while the royal family were touring the country, Athenians rioted and broke open the prison. When the king returned by sea to Piraeus he was refused admittance. When the commander of the port tried to let him in, he was killed by his own men.

Ambassadors of the Great Powers urged King Otto not to resist, so accepting the inevitable, the king and queen took refuge on a British warship and returned to Bavaria the same way they had come to Greece (aboard a foreign warship), taking with them the Greek royal regalia which he had brought from Bavaria in 1832.

The garrison in Athens announced the formation of a provisional government under the Hydriote Dimitris Vοulgaris, and called for a National Assembly to be elected to frame a new constitution

In Athens order began to break down. The Minister of War occupied the Palace while mutineers took over the nearby Villa Ilissia. Forces loyal to other politicians took the Acropolis and the National Bank respectively. On July 1, 1862 about forty people were killed in confused fighting before an armistice was arranged and the army pulled out of the city. Then the party leader Voulgaris employed the brigand chief Κyriakοs to menace the capital. Large bands of brigands gathered on Mount Pendeli, and then moved en masse to the Tourkovounia hills before being dispersed by cavalry. During that year, when arrangements were being made for Prince George of Denmark to take up office, the brigands became convinced that the new king, on taking the throne, would grant an amnesty for all illegal acts committed before his arrival in the country, which led to a feverish burst of lawlessness.

As for Otto, he died on July 26, 1867 in the palace of the former bishops of Bamberg, Germany, and was buried in the Theatiner Church in Munich. During his retirement, he would still wear the traditional uniform nowadays worn only by the evzones; during the rebellion in Crete against the Ottoman Empire in 1866, Otto donated most of his fortune to support the revolt by supplying it with arms. He also made provisions for his donation to be kept secret until his death, to avoid causing political problems to the new King, George I.

Queen Amalia died in Bamberg; on May 20, 1875 and was buried in Munich beside the King.

When Otto left Greece, the main village of Athens had a population of 40,000 while the total population of the Athenian basin with all the villages included was somewhere around 90,000 and the whole of Attika around 120,000.

Syntagma square 1845

Streets lighting and communications:

Regarding the city public illumination, from the Ottoman period already, the streets were lighted with oil lamps, except on the nights on which the moonlight was expected. If the night was cloudy, people were in danger of breaking their necks. So in 1835, 12 new oil lamps were installed at the central points of the town. By 1850, the number of these oil lamps all around the town was increased to 200. So then, they were replaced by kerosene lamps.

In 1862 Athens implemented a system of public street lighting with gas.

Before electricity became sufficiently widespread and economical to allow for general public use, gas was the most popular means of lighting in cities all around the world. Gaslight cost up to 75% less than oil lamps or candles, which helped to accelerate its development and deployment. The brighter lighting which gas provided allowed people to read more easily and for longer. This helped to stimulate literacy and learning, speeding up the second Industrial Revolution.

The first public street lighting with gas in the world took place in Pall Mall, London on January 28, 1807. In 1812, the British Parliament granted a charter to the London and Westminster Gas Light and Coke Company, and the first gas company in the world came into being. A few years later, on December 31, 1813, the Westminster Bridge was lit by gas. By 1823 numerous towns and cities throughout Britain were lit by gas. In 1816 the first American city to adopt this public lighting system was Baltimore. In 1820 Paris adopted this system too. By 1859, gas lighting was to be found all over Britain.

So as mentioned before, in 1862 the gas lighting system was adopted also by Athens, and by 1866 there were already 1,000 lanterns spread all around the city gaslit streets with a public expenditure of 130,000 drachmes.

Athens and Greece accordingly, entered also the age of telecommunications during this period and we could consider that it did relatively early.

Carl Friedrich Gauss and Wilhelm Weber built and first used for regular communication the electromagnetic telegraph in 1833 in Göttingen, Germany, when they constructed a 1,800 meters double line. The first commercial electrical telegraph was constructed by Sir William Fothergill Cooke and entered use on the Great Western Railway in Britain. It ran for 13 miles (21 km) from Paddington station to West Drayton and came into operation on 9 April 1839. An electrical telegraph was independently developed and patented in the United States in 1837 by Samuel F. B. Morse. His assistant, Alfred Vail, developed the Morse code signaling alphabet with Morse. America's first telegram was sent by Morse on January 6, 1838, across two miles (3 km) of wire at Speedwell Ironworks near Morristown, New Jersey. The message read "A patient waiter is no loser."

In 1848 for example Prussia, planning to connect its capital city to bordering localities, had to enter into not less than 15 conventions with german States to get the necessary permissions to route its telegraphic wired lines. All these conventions were only applied inside the sole Germany. This is in 1849 that the first convention about the "etablishing and utilization of electromagnetic telegraphs to exchange State telegrams" was concluded between Prussia and Austria. We had to wait ten years to see the setting up of true international union. Meanwhile, in 1852 the first submarine telegraph cable is successfully laid across the English Channel, what allowed the first direct London to Paris communications.

In 1859 Greece had its first telegraph line, which was submarine and it linked the port of Piraeus with Syros, some 200 kms to the SSE. The second line was inaugurated that same year, linking with aerial wires the port of Piraeus with the main city of Athens, Aigio and Patra. So all the aforementioned towns were the first ones to use this service. Also in February of 1859, another line was inaugurated linking Syros with Chios and the latter with Smyrna and the rest of Turkey. Thus in February, 1859 the first connection between Athens and Constantinople took place. Two years later this line went out of order and from 1861 and on the connection with Constantinople was done through Lamia, which by that time was also served by this telecommunication technology. However this line was problematic, so the Greek government decided to implement a full submarine service, linking all the Aegean as well as connecting the network with other countries.

In 1864 we note the existence of two international conventions, the one concluded at Brussels, and the one of Berne of 1858. The progress of science, the extension of wired network and the development of telegraphic relationships indicated that both conventions were no more in harmony with the needs and the conditions of the time. So, to take advantage of a complete standardization of telegraphy in international relationships, the French suggested to nations, not only to the members of the previous conventions, but to all European nations to meet at a conference to negociate a general treaty. Great Britain was not invited because, at that time, the telegraph service was in hands of private companies.

The conference met in Paris between March 1 and May 17, 1865. Negociations were arduous but succeeded and the International Telegraph Union, ITU, was established. The memorable document was signed by the French emperor, the Swiss Ministery, followed by the ones of the Austrian (Hungry) representatives, Bade Grand-Duchy, Bavaria, Belgium, Denmark, Sain, Greece, Hamburg, Hanover, Italy, Holland, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, Saxe, Sweden and Norway, Turkey and Wurtenburg. Those 20 States, among which was Greece, were the founders of the Union.

Mid Century Exarhia

Athens center in 1860

Athens center in 1861

Athens in 1873

Syntagma 1863

The demolished Frankish tower ca. 1863

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Discussion Starter · #26 · (Edited)
The 1862-1912 Period. The Georgian Athens



George I arrival

After much deliberation and manoeuvring, in October 1863 the Great Powers decided to invite the eighteen year-old Prince William George of Denmark To ascend the throne. Four years later, he married the Grand Duchess Olga. The pair were to have seven children. In 1872, the king purchased the large estate of General Soutsos at Tatoi to be used as a summer palace. In 1867 a revolt against Turkish rule broke out in Crete. Once more the prisons were opened. The convicts were transported to Crete by the government in order to help secure its liberation. Rounded up by the Turks and shipped back to the mainland, they mostly went to the mountains to continue their careers as brigands.

In Αpril 1870 Lord and Lady Muncaster and their friend Frederick Vyner, vacationing in Athens, decided to make an excursion to Marathon with a secretary at the British Legation, a resident English barrister, and a friend from the Italian Legation. Although careful arrangements were made with the police to ensure the safety of the party, on their way back a band of brigands kidnapped them at Pikermi. Demands were made to the Minister of War for a ransom from the government. The foreign press was loud in its demands for action, and soldiers were sent to hunt the brigands down. When the fugitives were spotted near Dilessi, the brigands, who feared the loss of their prisoners, massacred them with cutlasses and muskets, as was the custom.

The gang was mostly comprised of Vlachs who had entered the country earlier in the year, and who had been employed by an opposition politician, Alexander Koumoundouros, to 'control' affairs for him in Megara. Typically, the judge instructed the jury to find all the Vlachs guilty and all the Greeks not guilty. European public opinion was outraged, and the government was forced to disassociate itself from the brigands, and for the first time to take some effective steps to eradicate the problem. This took some time, but in the long run it most benefited the defenceless country people in rural areas, upon whom the brigands chiefly preyed.

Photograph of the Metaxourgeion in 1869. In the background the Elaionas and the villages of the western basin (Peristeri, Levi, etc) (From: L. & R. Matton, Athènes et ses monuments du XVIIe s. à nos jours, Athens 1963, photograph by Rumine, Paris).

Section of J.A.Kaupert’s map of Athens in 1875. Marked are the manufacturing zone of the city (on the basis of a contemporary guidebook), the Chatzikostas Orphanage and the silkmill, in the ‘vanguard’ of the westwards expansion of the zone.

The year 1871 was observed as a golden jubilee celebration of the 50 years of independence; in what looks like a deliberate act of myth-making, recalling Kimon's interment of the bones of Theseus in the οriginal Thiseion, the body of Patriarch Gregory V, martyred by the Turks on the outbreak of the National Uprising, was removed from its resting place in Odessa and brought in the warship Byzantian to Piraeus. There it was met by the hierarchy of the Church and conveyed To Athens, to be received by King George and Queen Olga and interred in the cathedral.

In 1872, the year that the City Hall (Demarcheion) was built, Charles Tuckerman reported on the state of the city. He noted that most dwelling houses were intended for two families; having one entrance through a gate and courtyard to the ground floor, and another front door leading too the rooms above. The walls were constructed of large cobble stones, roughly cemented. Balconies were regarded as a necessity in all houses for the womenfolk, who would enjoy the street view during the long summer afternoons and evenings. The houses were generally furnished with simplicity. Even in the best, carpets were sometimes visible only in the shape of rugs in front of the sofas, or a square of tapestry in the middle of the floor. Every ceiling, however, was decorated with coloured designs.

Each dwelling-house in the 'better' parts of the city had its garden in the rear. In many of these, or in the court yards, would be displayed 'small fragments of ancient sculpture set up against the wall, or inserted in it; portions of vases or bas-reliefs, a trunkless head, or a headless trunk, inscriptions, etc., which were discovered for the most part on the spot where they were displayed, having been turned up during the process of excavating the foundations.

Much of the building which took place during the later Othonian period was only completed during the reign of king George: such as the Polytechnic (1880) and the Academy (1887). Ernst Ziller was responsible for many fine buildings, such as the mansion of Heinrich Schliemann in Panepistemiou street 12, now the Numismatic Museum, and the National Archaeological Museum. He also laid out a fine avenue of neoclassical mansions in Socrates avenue in Piraeus, which have since disappeared.

Neoclassical houses began to spring up on the hill behind the Panathenaic Stadium, in the area of Metz. This received its name from a beer hall opened in 1870 by a Bavarian, who named it in honour of the victory in the Franco-Prussian War. The old road to Patissia was also gradually lined by mansions. Fine suburbs of neoclassical houses grew up around Piraeus, in Kastella (on Munychia), in Terpsithea and Pashalimani. At the same time, sanitation was improved, and hospitals and orphanages built. Α significant role was played by wealthy benefactors, who continued to make their contribution to the cityscape. In the early 1870s the Zappeion Exhibition hall was built by the Zappeion Brothers. The banker from Constantinople, Andreas Syngrou, founded the Municipal Theatre and laid the wide avenue over the old road to Phalero. Queen Olga engaged in works of charity, in 1883 founding the Evangelismos Hospital and the Orphanage on Pireos Street, now the Municipal Art Gallery.

Illiou Melathron 1878

During the last decades of the nineteenth century Greek politics entered upon a rare period of stability. Political allegiance was still to leaders rather than parties, but two men came to dominate the political scene: one, Theodore Deliyiannis, representing the forces of conservatism, and the other, Harilaos Trikoupis, representing reform. Inevitably, while Deliyiannis used nationalism to court popularity and deflect discontent towards outside enemies, it was Trikoupis who inίtiated much needed reforms in various fields. Important improvements in infrastructure, roads and harbours, economics and education, were made during his terms in office.

During the 1870s and 1880s there was an influx of population drawn by the dream of a better life, mostly from the Cyclades. In consequence, new poor suburbs appeared. During the 1880s all the social problems associated with a rootless population of immigrants came to be felt, particuarly violent crime. With large numbers of unattached young men, even the amusements were likely to be violent. Regular 'stone wars' would be fought between gangs of youths from the different districts. So they established a new feature of local life that was heavily covered by the press of the time; moreover wire meshes were placed over exposed windows. There were highly conventionalised affairs with ritual parades and insults before hand and large numbers of spectators. The injured became local heroes. The poorer areas were terrοrised by gangs of locaI thugs known as “manges”, employed since the time of Kolletis by politicians to intimidate the voters during elections. Some, such as the koutsavakides, affected particular styles of dress. In this atmosphere, knife fights and murders were common occurrences.

Το deal with this problem, Ρrime Minister Harilaou Trikouρis appointed the stern Dimitris Bairaktaris as head of the Athens police force. He increased police pay, doubled the size of the force, and improved training. On several occasions crowds of young men were rounded up by soldiers and exiled without trial to an island for some time.

One problem which became worse and worse towards the end of the century was the growing need for drinking water for the burgeoning population. This gave rise to a new industry, as water was collected in skins and barrels in villages blessed with fine springs, such as Maroussi, and taken down to the city on donkeys, where it was sold in the streets.

In 1884 a new municipal market was opened. By chance, in the same year a fire destroyed most of the old bazaar, assisting in the extinction of much of the old pattern of commerce inherited from Ottoman times and before. The centre of the old bazaar moved to Monastiraki. Ten years later the second-hand shops and the Sunday second-hand market were already established. The burning of the bazaar opened the way for the construction of the railway from Monastiraki to Piraeus, the line of which was laid straight through the middle of the ancient agora, this led, putting a brave face on things, to many archaeological 'finds'.

The increasing wealth of the Athenian bourgeoisie at this time is indicated by the establishement of the “Proton Nekrotafeion” (Cemetey 1º) , as much an opportunity for the display of wealth and status as the Keramikos had been two millennia before.

With a gradually improving infrastructure, the development of industry became possible. Most spectacularly, Andre Cordella applied modern methods to the ancient mines of Laurion. Initially, some eight to fifteen per cent lead was recovered from the ancient spoil heaps. From 1870, a Greek-French company, Ηillarion Roux Cie., took over, and in 1873 they sold out to Andreas Syngros, while another French company moved in. These were able to extract manganese, iron, and even some silver, from the ancient mines. They ernployed Greeks from the islands for the heavy work, and Arvanites from the nearby villages of the Messogaia as surface workers. The companies constructed the port and town of Lavrion for the accommodation of their workers, and laid roads and a railway to Piraeus. Α chimney over 130 ft high was built to carry noxious fumes out to sea.

During the 1880s a narrow-gauge line was constructed around the Peloponnese. lts route has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful in Europe. Α standard-gauge line was laid from Athens northwards to Thessaly in the 1880s, with a branch line to Kalambaka.

At this time, Athens and Piraeus were still separated by extensive olive groves and intermidiate towns as John Pentland Mahaffy reported during the 1880s: 'The dust of Athens, and the bareness of the plain, make all walks about the town disagreeable, save either the ascent of Lycabettus, or a ramble into these olive woods...a strip of country, fully ten miles long, and perhaps two wide on the average, which affords delicious shade and greenness and the song of birds, instead of hot sunlight and dust and the shrill clamour of the tettix. The banks of the Kiphissos, too, are lined with great reeds, and sedgy marsh plants, which stoop over into its sandy shallows and wave idly in the current of its stream the ouzel and the kingfisher start from under one's feet, and bright fish move out lazily from their sunny bay into the deeper pool. Now and then through a vista the Acropolis shows itself in a framework of green foliage, nor do Ι know any more enchanting view of that great ruin.'

Neo Phaliron, with its hotels, theatre and band-stand became the hub of Athenian social life as there was now no danger from brigands so close to the city. James Albert Harrison described a Summer's Evening there in 1878: 'Phalerum Bay is peculίarly beautiful. There are delightful baths, to which the languid Athenians continually resort. Fifty lepta for a bath, one drachma for the theatre, and one for the return ticket, make up an evening's amusement that is extremely cheap and popular. The water is shallow. There are several pretty villas on the shore, and the usual series of xenodocheia, ostiaria, and brassieres along it. Α gay multitude sat in front of them, enjoying the balmy air, the view, the inevitable cigarette, and the tiny cup of coffee, preparatory to the play. An evening in Phaliro is almost the only summer amusement the Athenians have. One would think these beautiful mountains, like those in the neighbourhood of Rome, would be covered with villas (houses); but such has been the insecurity of the country that there are none. Little villages here and there -Patissia, Colonos, Ambelokipos, Chalandri -are sown over the plain; but they all hover in sight like a hen and her chickens. Ι notice in the hotel this precautionary placard: 'Gentlemen on the point of making excursions will please inform the proprietοr twenty-four hours beforehand.' This is for the purpose of letting the authοrities know of the intended journey in case an escort shοuld be needed, or to keep them on the lookout.' Βy 1890 there was a tram from the city to Phaliron.

Just before the outbreak of the Great War Mrs Bosanquet visited the Omorphiekklesia of Galatsi, the Tourkovounia were still open country: 'Wandering these lonely moors it is difficult to believe that we are within an hour's walk of a European capital. Α few shepherds with fierce dogs, or a solitary brushwood gatherer are the only friends we are likely to meet.'

Outside the city and its suburbs, life in the country still went on much as usual. The forest of pine trees stretched from Κίfissia, across Pendeli to Vraona on the eastern coast of Attica. Each year in summer, many peasants from villages like Mandra, Koropi, Spata and Markopoulo, left their homes and went to work in the forest gathering resin for retsina. There, they would stay for several months living in small huts. Vlach shepherds still brought their flocks onto the mountains surrounding Athens. In winter hungry wolves would descend from Parnitha. Occasionally panic would still sweep the villages of the Mesogaia as the news spread abroad that listes had moved onto the nearby mountains.

The danger from brigands had led to a temporary decline in the popularity of the town of Κifissia in the mid-nineteenth century, despite the presence of a body of rural geηdarmerie stationed in the converted mosque on the square. Then in 1885 the Athens-Κίfissia railway line was opened. The οriginal steam engine, popularly known as 'the Beast' (to thereo), which ran from Attikis Square, enabled Athenians to be in the town Κifissia in forty minutes. This increased accessibility from the city, together with a decline in rural brigandage, allowed its popularity to revive.

At the turn of the century, it became the fashion for wealthy families to build summer houses there. Many of the most beautiful villas, erected from the 1890s onwards, were the work of Ernst Ziller. Once more Κifissia became the leading summer retreat of wealthy Athenian society. Starting with the Hotel Melas (1871), the facilities of a resort town quickly grew up. Wealthy Greeks, such as Ρrime Minister Deliyiannis, were regularly spending the summer in their homes or hotels there.

Excavations by the Archaeological Society continued. The site of the Keramikos was located in 1863. In 1864 architect Emst Ziller purchased the area of the Panathenaic Stadium; to excavate the site more efficiently. King George reimbursed him and took over patronage of the digging. The philanthropist George Averoff offered a large sum to refurbish the ancient Panathenaic Stadium using the same marble from Pendeli from which the structure of Parthenon had been built. Soon work began to prepare it for the first modem Olympic Games of 1896, although the work was not entirely completed on time.

The 1896 Olympic Games, which opened on Easter Sunday, Αρril 5th were an important event for Greece, and mayor Spyridon Mercouris, the grandfather of Melina Mercouri, organised a great clean-up and tree-planting in preparation. The illumination of the streets was improved. The Games were a success, which resulted in the revival being made permanent. As far as most Greeks were concerned, the winning of the Marathon Race by Spyros Louis of Maroussi, was the high point of the contest.

In 1896, a revolt broke out once more in Crete, and in January 1897, in Macedonia. Public opinion within independent Greece strongly favoured a military expedition to assist their fellow countrymen. Despite the fact that the state was bankrupt and the army unprepared, Ρrime Minister Theodore Deliyannis gave in to the popular demand and committed the Greek army to war. The Turkish Army had recently been reorganised and re-equipped by German officers, and the Greeks were soon defeated, their headquarters at Larissa being overrun by the enemy. After only thirty days fighting, the war was over, and a humiliating peace imposed upon Greece by the Great Powers. King George Ι, hitherto quite popular, suddenly found himself held responsible for a national humiliation by many of those who had themselves previously been enthusiastic for the war. Public anger against the monarchy culminated in an attempt of murder to the king in February 1898.

Mavrokordatos wrote that there was an atmosphere almost of despair among some sections of the population. They were 'haunted by all sorts of mystical theories of patriotism, and raved about an abstraction called Hellenism, a sort of dream complex of all their unsatisfied instincts. Declaring that the correct little state with its Belgian constitution and its imitation of English politics and French society was all a futile pretence; and that unless Greeks had the vitality to help themselves in their own way it was a pity it had ever emerged from the Turkish shadow.' In Germany, Italy and elsewhere in the Balkan Peninsula, nationalism could claim impressive achievements. Greece had achieved little. Twice the number of Greeks than inside the state still lived outside its borders. Even heroic Crete, which had fourteen times risen against the Turks, had not yet been successfully reunited to Greece.

Αt the end of the century, Queen Olga supervised a project, approved by the archbishop of Athens, to produce an authoritative translation of the Gospels into the form of modern Greek “Dimotiki”, which aroused considerable opposition. In November 8, 1901; students held a protest meeting among the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and then resolved to march throughout the city. The government ordered the Columns cleared. During the riots which ensued, Prime Minister Theotokis was shot at, and when he fled to his home his house was attacked. In the end, eight were left dead and over one hundred injured. The government, the chief of police and the archbishop of Athens all resigned. The Holy Synod forbade all future translations without the their prior approval and that of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Most of the demonstrators were university students who had a vested interest in preserving the artificial form of the language, which only graduates understood, since rendering most of the population illiterate in the official language of their country served to entrench their priνίleged social and economic status. Their services were required, and had to be paid for, to transact any legal business and to fill in any official forms.

The new century saw significant improvements in the amenities of urban life. In 1899, the first motor car appeared. In 1901 over a hundred public lavatories were opened in Athens (a convenience which almost entirely disappeared again under mayor Avramopoulos in the 1990s). In 1904 the Piraeus railway was electrified. Not all such 'improvements' were an unqualified success.

The steam tram to Faliro exploded on May 13th 1907 near Ηadrian's Gate, killing five. It was quickly electrified. In 1907 the Panorama, Athens' first cinema, opened its doors.

On 27th July 1909 the people of Crete flew the Greek flag on public buildings in defiance of the rights of the Sultan. The Turks threatened reprisals, and soldiers of the Great Powers landed at Chania. Previously, in May, a group of dissatisfied officers, led by Colonel Zorbas, had founded the Military League. They found this new humiliation was too much to bear. On 28th August, three thousand officers and men of the Athens garrison marched out to Goudi and set up camp. They demanded the reorganisation of the army, the administration, the judiciary and education. They wanted to exclude the influence of the court, with its cronyism and corruption, and protested at the improper promotion of favourites of Crown Prince Constantine, the Commander-in-Chief. The king threatened to abdicate, but since no great surge of public opinion arose to plead with him to stay on, he instead asked his sons to resign their commands.

Junior naval officers at Salamis then mutinied and seized three vessels and the naval station. After a brief engagement during which six people were killed, the mutineers were imρrisoned and later released. Eleftherios Venizelos, head of the Provisional Government in Crete, was called to revise the constitution. On March 28th 1910, the League of Officers dissolved itself. In January 1912 Venizelos was able to command a majority in the Vouli after an overwhelming electoral victory. Α swathe of reformist legislation was passed. Venizelos was wildly popular, and was to dominate Greek politics for over twenty years. Yet like a small black cloud on the horizon, this brief foray into politics by the military was to presage disasters to come.

The population of Athens was increasing rapidly. By 1879 the population of the city of Athens (without the suburbs of the Athenian basin) had increased to 65,500 and including the suburbs it surpassed the 100,000 while that of Attika was over 130,000.

By 1896, the year of the first modern Olympic Games the population of Athens was 123,000; including the suburbs of the Athenian basin was over 180,000 while that of Attika well over the 200,000.

Already by the 1870’s Athens was the third city of the Balkans after Constantinople and Bucharest; with 800,000 and 150,000 respectively.

Water supply and sewerage system:

During its long history, Athens was supplied with water by different means. In ancient times, in 530 BC in times of Pisistratos, a 2,800 meters aqueduct was built, bringing water from the sources of water located close to Imittos. There were also other smaller aqueducts supplying the city with water; however the largest system was built in 134 AD, when the Hadrian aqueduct was built. It was a huge system bringing water from the sources of Parnitha to the area of Lykavitos, where the Hadrian water tank was constructed and from where the water was supplied to the urban areas by waterbridges. This complex system was so effective that it supplied Athens with water for over 1,500 years, until the Ottoman period when it was abandoned and went out of order. So during this period the Athenians had to open water wells in their backyards and gardens in order to be supplied with this vital liquid.

After the 1821 revolution the water supply system was completely destroyed in Athens, that leading the municipal council to the decision of repairing the ancient Hadrian aqueduct and put it to use back again in 1840; that’s 1,700 years after its construction!
In 1870 the over 1,700 years old Hadrian tank was repaired and put to use, thus increasing the water reserves by 2,200 cubic meters; it worked until 1940.

During this period other works aqueduct were performed too, including another aqueduct and a system of 55 public faucets/fountains; but none of these works solved substantially the water supply needs of this, day by day, growing city; resulting in the need of bringing water from other neighboring towns like Kifissia or Maroussi. So until 1924 Athens was mainly supplied by the ancient system which brought the water from the sources of Parnitha and the other works performed during the second half of the 19th century as well; nevertheless none of them would represent a final solution to the demands of the increasing population.

In 1892 Edward Kalenek suggested the costruction of an artificial lake for the water supply of the expanding city, but it wouldn’t be until 1925 that the works for this vital solution took place.

Regarding the sewage drain system of Athens, since about the 500 BC to the year 1000 AD there was the Iridianos river duct which later was complemented with the Central duct, both served the areas of the Agora, the Ar. Pagos and Pnyka. This system of sewage drainage formed areas of stagnant waters, which as a consequence caused sanitary problems and epidemies like cholera.

Later, in medieval and Ottoman occupation times, the implementation of septic tanks increased; a system that caused also serious sanitary problems to the citizens of Athens, since when a cesspit was saturated of wastes a second adjacent one was opened (increasing the absorption level of wastes by the underground waters) or it was emptied, transporting the wastes in containers that were dumped into rivers and water streams; thus increasing the risks of epidemies and environmental problems.

It was in 1840 that a final solution started to be implemented, with the gradual construction of an urban collecting and draining system of sewage and surface waters. The first streets to have such a service were Kolokotronis, Aeolou, Ermou, Aghiou Markou and Adrianou; having as a draining receptor a waterstream in the area of Kerameikos.

Later in 1860, the waterstream which ran along Stadiou was covered and intubated into a duct of 2.00 x 2.10 meters. It was constructed by the French Mission of Public Works and had as extreme points Boukourestiou street and Omonoia square. Among other works on the drainage system, performed by this mission we must include the expansion of the network in other roads of Athens like, Chrysospiliotissis, Kirykiou, Bracheias, among other.

During the 1860’s the underground pipeline network of Stadiou was expanded towards Pireos, Zinonos and Deligiorgi, having still as an open receptor of the emptied sewage, the Kyklovorou torrent, at the intersection of current Marni and Karolou, two block away from Karaiskaki square.

During the 1880’s the aforementioned open water stream of Kyklovorou was covered and intubated with the construction of a 3 meters wide by 2.43 meters height stone duct.

This duct was constructed along Marni – Karolou – Odysseos and Achileos. It started at the Museum and ended in the area of Metaxourgeio. During the same time the duct of Ermou was linked through Salaminos, Achileos and Kabalas (today Athinon avenue) streets with the Profitis Daniil water stream were it emptied its waters.

Between 1880-1890 the first primary sewer network was completed with smaller diameter branches, mainly for local use, on various streets in the center of the city of Athens, with high population density. Until 1893 the total constructed combined network length was about 11,5 km while the urban development at that time required 90 km of sewer lines. The actual needs, in other words, were eight times more. Athens had only 12% coverage.

During the years 1893-1920, the Greek State successively invited different groups of experts from France, Germany and the USA to help finalize a strategy for solving the sewerage problem of Athens. One of the main issues considered was whether to proceed with the construction of a combined sewerage system or a separate one. The various proposals produced by the above experts, adopting the one or the other solution, only resulted in having the problem unsolved for many years.

Telecommunications and Lighting system:

In 1878 the Eastern Telegraph Company completed the underwater network between the Greek Islands as well as connecting the country more effectively with other countries. Until 1887 the telegraph and postal services operated separately but that year they merged into one single public service. Since 1859 when it first operated the telegraph service of Greece adopted the Morse system.

On August 21, 1879, Europe's first telephone exchange took place in London. In 1892 during Charilaos Trikoupis’ administration the first telephone lines are installed in Greece, having as first telephone centers those located in the Piraeus and Athens post offices. By 1896, the year of the first modern Olympic Games, there were just 90 telephone users in Piraeus and Athens.

At the turn of the century the number of users increased to 400 while the number of telegraph centers in the country increased to 232. By the end of the 1910 decade the number of telephone users was small, with just 2,000 users.

By the same time Spain has private companies, which give fairly good service to twenty thousand people. Roumania has half as many. Portugal has two small companies in Lisbon and Oporto. Turkey, which was a forbidden land under the regime of the old Sultan, the Young Turks are importing boxes of telephones and coils of copper wire.

In 1908 the first telephone operators of Athens, and Greece accordingly, were trained by a Swiss telephone operator.

As for the electric power and lighting system, the first street electric powered lamps in Athens were installed in 1889, relatively early keeping in mind that the first city to use electric street lights was Cleveland, Ohio, USA in 1879.

The first electric power station was located at the intersection of Panepistimiou and Boukourestiou, illuminating Syntagma and Omonoia squares as well as the house of the president of the electric company A. Melas.

Two years later a new power station was built between Aeolou and Aristeidou streets, increasing the production of electricity. So by 1891, the first building (after that of Melas) to be illuminated was the Royal Palace, but soon all the historic center would be covered.

By 1902 the population of Athens had increased as well as the spread of this new technology, so that year a new larger station was built in Neo Phaliro, thus supplying with electricity not only Athens but the port of Piraeus and other suburbs of the Athenian basin.

During the first decade of 20th century the urban railroad was electrified, the streets and squares lighting with electricity became sufficiently widespread and complemented that of the gas street lighting.

Also during this decade, the first multinational electric companies made investments in Greece. The American Thomson–Houston with the participation of the National Bank established the Hellenic Electric Company (Elliniki Ilektriki Etairia), which would expand the electricity supply network to other towns of Greece. By 1929 250 cities all around Greece with populations above the 5,000 would be served; while smaller towns would resort to private investors or other means for the construction of smaller power stations.

Transportation systems of Athens:

The Stockton and Darlington Railway in Great Britain, which opened in 1825, was the world's first permanent steam locomotive hauled public railway. The line was 40 km (26 mi) long, and was built between Darlington and Stockton-on-Tees and from Darlington to several collieries near Shildon in north-eastern England, United Kingdom. This line was initially built for freight purposes to connect inland coal mines to Stockton, where coal was to be loaded onto sea-going boats.

The Liverpool and Manchester Railway' was the world's first intercity passenger railway connecting the two British cities by a 116 kms (72 mi) line. The line opened on September 15, 1830 with termini at Liverpool Road, Manchester (now part of the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester) and Edge Hill, Liverpool.

Not long after the first line had opened in Britain it would be followed by other European countries, like France in 1832, Ireland in 1834, Germany in 1835, Poland in 1835, Austria in 1837, Russia in 1837, Italy in 1839 (in the then Kingdom of the Two Sicilies), Spain in 1848, Sweden in 1849, Norway in 1854, Serbia in 1856, Finland in 1862.

In Greece the first mentions about the construction of a railroad line happened in 1835 when the French Francis Ferald proposed the construction of a railway line from Athens to the nearby port of Piraeus, but the idea was rejected. Eight years later, in 1843, the poet and archeologis Alexandros Raghavis, made a similar proposal, but again it was rejected.

So it wouldn’t be until 1855, that the first serious steps toward the implementation of this transporation mean in Greece were made; when Prime Minister Alexandros Mavrokordatos issued a decree which ordered the planning of a new railroad for the connection of the main city of Athens with the Port of Piraeus, this same decree also granted the rights of operation to the company that would construct the line for a period of 55 years. Two years later this period was increased to 75 years.

In 1857, a contract for its construction was signed and the work commenced. It took four different companies and twelve years to lay the 8.8 kilometres of track, from the port of Piraeus to Thisseio. In 1867 a contract was signed with the British Edward Pickering, awarding him the construction of the railway, in November of the same year the works for the completion of the line started.

One year later, in 1868, Pickering transferred his obligations to a company established by a group of other companies with the name “Railway from Athens to Piraeus” (Sidirodromos Athinon Pireos, S.A.P. SA).

This company completed the construction of the line from Piraeus to Thisseion and the first test ride took place on February 17, 1869. The railway’s formal inauguration took place on February 27, 1869 and a a train with a steam engine and 6 small wagons covered the distance from Thisseio to Piraeus (8,8 kilometers) in 19 minutes. The inauguration took place in a festive atmosphere; since a dream of of over 14 years of struggle became true. Among the first passengers were Queen Olga, the Prime Minister Zaimis, ministers, military leaders, diplomats and other public figures.

The inauguration was one of the most important events of the last times. Both Athens and Piraeus, rivalled for the best decorated station. Both municipalities installed stands, the streets leading to the respective stations were decorated with flags and the audiences were big in both stations.

Thisseion was full of people who attended the event and started gathering from early in the morning, occupying all the area around the station, and buildings around it.

The Prime Minister arrived at the expected hour while the Queen arrived a little later. The archbishop of Athens, Theofilos, blessed the new railroad line. Following that the Minister of Justice, Petsalis made a speech, in which he mentioned the importance of this new service and added that it was just the beginning of a new era of other upcoming similar projects. The Queen and her companions, the ministers and their families boarded the first wagon; while the other wagons were boarded by the other guests and people who struggled to get a place in the train. The steam-engine, named after the Queen, which had been covered with decoratives and laurels, started moving and whistling accompanied by the acclamation of the crowd. 19 minutes later the train arrived in Piraeus where it was welcomed by the municipal authorities and a crowd of enthusiastic citizens. After the expected celebrations there it finally returned to Thisseio.

Nevertheless there was a violent episode between Skaltsounis, representative of the company and the son of other representative, Skouzes. This episode has been described by Nikos Kteniadis: “Because of the miscalculation of the available space in the station of Athens and the big number of guests who couldn’t afford a place in the stands there were some episodes. Meanwhile Skaltsounis and his companions arrived; but couldn’t find a place in the stand. He immediately blamed the son of Skouzes for this situation and confronted him. Skouzes went down the stand and punched Skaltsounis; causing a small conflict and the intervention of police officers and other people of the audience who separated them.”

On March 3, 1869 the local newspaper “Aion” wrote: “The railway line already provides periodic services since last Friday. The aflux of passengers is big. Everybody expressed satisfaction with the new service. We hope this short line represents just the beginning of a huge and complex network that will cover the whole country.”

Thus Greece entered in the railways world, relatively late compared with its neighbors; but Athens became the second city of the world to have an urban railroad (Metro) after London.

It was served by 8 daily services (9 on Sundays and Mondays).

In 1874 the Industrial Credit Bank, purchased S.A.P. for 60,000 English pounds. One of the first measures taken by the new owners was the implementation of fares based on the distances travelled.

The Industrial Credit Bank, looking for more profits, invested 4,000,000 drachmes in the construction of new 6 wheeled Greek wagons, thus replacing the imported 4 wheeled ones; it finished the construction of the Piraeus and Thisseion terminal buildings, served until then by smaller platform stations.

The social and economic structure of Greece towards the end of the 19th century was founded on a collection of small agricultural towns acting as marketplaces for the surrounding villages. There was little industry and few roads. The government hoped that the development of a railway system would go some way towards redressing this lack of internal and external communication, and in 1881 the Prime Minister, Alexandros Koumoundouros signed four contracts for the laying of standard gauge (1.435 metre) lines. The intention was to make Greece a pivotal point on the journey between Western and Southeastern Europe.

In the following year, 1882, Koumoundouros was replaced by Charilaos Trikoupis as Prime Minister, who cancelled the contracts, replacing them with four of his own. He had a different political vision for the railways, seeing them as a way of stimulating the internal growth of Greece, and proposed a 417 km narrow gauge (1.0 metre) system encircling the Northern Peloponnese, with a separate system in Thessaly linking the port of Volos with the town of Kalambaka on the other side of the Thessalian plain. There was also a line of 76 km to be laid from Athens to Lavrion, on the Peninsula to the South of Athens. Trikoupis preferred narrow gauge over standard gauge due to cheaper initial construction costs. The line linking Athens to Larissa, which was planned to eventually join with the European system, was constructed to standard gauge.

Back in Athens in 1882 the course of the Athens-Piraeus line changed slightly to include two new stations, in Moschato and Neo Phaliro. A telephone line was added along the railroad line. Until 1883 when the aforementioned new course was finished there was a branching of the line to Neo Phaliro; thus the line to Piraeus went parallel to Pireos street in a straight line. There were hourly services from Athens to Piraeus and in the intermidiate half of each hour a service to Phaliro. Finally in 1883 the current route was completed.

Between 1881 and 1884 four new steam engines imported from Britain were put in service as well as nine new wagons built in Greece. The engines were named “Xouthos”, “Ion”, “Phaliros”, “Thisevs” and “Kodros”.

It must be noted also that until 1887 lots of works took place in the area of Neo Phaliro an area that became a recreational area and the main seaside suburb of Athens. During these times S.A.P. made big investments in the area, expanding the hotel, installing electric lighting in the station and the main square, building a new theater.

The railway system endowed the citizens of Athens with the opportunity to visit the area of Phaliro by train and go to the theatre, visit a playground, the sea, A’ class restaurants, etc. There were no vehicles at that time in Athens and the railway was the only alternative for reaching Piraeus from Athens instead of covering this distance on foot or by using a carriage.

In 1888 commemorating the 25th anniversary of King Georgios I reign, a special royal wagon was built.

On May 5, 1889 the extension of the line towards Omonoia with an intermediate station in Monastiraki was aproved. The works would be performed by a new company owned by St. Psychas “The Athens-Piraeus Line Extension Company”. This second company owned the rights of this part of the line, nevertheless it was agreed that it would pay an annual amount of 37,000 drachmes to S.A.P.

The project planned the opening of a 450 meters ditch from Thesseion to Monastiraki and a 700 meters tunnel out of the total distance of 900 meters between Monastiraki and Omonoia. Totalling an extension of 1,425 meters of the line. It was constructed in double line.

From 1890 to 1893 the Thesseion-Piraeus one was transformed into a double track rail line. In 1893 the new promedade of Neo Phaliro is constructed by S.A.P. in the area of the Hotel Mega (which belonged to the same company). In the meanwhile the works of the ditch under the ancient agora and the tunnel under Athinas street are progressing quickly.

Finally the new stations were inaugurated on May 17, 1895. The station of Omonia was located at the intersection of Lykourgou and Athinas.

Athens “tasted” the experience of an underground railway.The comments of those days’ newspapers were lengthy and varying. It is worth mentioning some of them, which indicated the society’s reaction to a major innovation. “Oh dear, what can I tell you”, one of the guests was saying to another. “I think that they are going to lock us in the tunnel with the barbarians”. And bending to his interlocutor’s ear, asked him seriously.

- Have you drawn up your will?
- No.
- Did you at least confess your sins ?
- Neither.<BR>
- I didn’t have the courage, to come here unprepared. This tunnel seems to me as a guillotine.​

Initially the extension worked as a single track line until the works of the parallel were finished, so that’s why the route covering the trajectory from Thesseion to Omonia was done with leading and trailing steam engines, in order to make the way back.

In 1896 the company registered an increased passengers activity, mainly due to the thousands of visitors who came to Athens for the Olympic Games. Thousands of tourists arrived in Piraeus by boat and took the train to Athens.

On May 28, 1898 the fusion of S.A.P. and “The Athens-Piraeus Line Extension Company” into one single company was signed as well as the electrification of the line.

As for the electrification there were three proposals regarding the technology applied. One suggested the implementation of an aerial single phase DC current line; the second suggested a double aerial three-phase line and a third one a single-phase ground third DC rail.

Finally the third option, of a ground third rail of 550-600 V DC was chosen; the works took place between 1901 and 1903. The electrification of the line was done by the Hellenic Electricity Company and Thomson Houston de la Mediterranee; the latter having built recently a new electric power station in Neo Phaliro. Thomson Houston also provided the system with new rolling stock made up of 40 wagons for the new electric system.

On September 16, 1904 the new double electrified line Athens-Piraeus was inaugurated. The 3, 4 and 6 wagons trains used Multiple unit system; and they had a similar design with those used in the Metro of Paris.

Now, after the electrification of the line, the minimum frequency between trains was 6 minutes and the maximum 15 minutes.

When the railway was electrified, there were varied reactions as in the case of the underground tunnel; an article in the newspaper “The Times” mentioned:
- A ticket to Faliron, first class, please.
- Return ticket?
- No, one-way. I cannot be sure that I will arrive at Phaliron alive.​

In May 1882, the Greek State and the Hellenic Metallurgic Company of Lavrio (Elliniki Etairia Metallourgeion Lavriou, E.E.M.L.) signed an agreement for the construction of a new 76 kms 1-meter gauge railroad line between Athens and the port of Lavrio. From Lavrio Square, to the north of Omonia Square, to Iraklio (a northern suburb). It involved a section of street running, along the present 3rd September Street, from Lavrio Square to Attiki Square, beyond which it ran on a dedicated trackbed. At Iraklio, the line forked to form two suburban branches. One went further north via Maroussi to Kifissia with a freight only extension to Dionyssos marble quaries (Strofyli). The other branch ran eastwards to Vrilissia (at a point very near to the present Plakentias station) and then southwards to the villages Peania, Koropi, Marcopoulo, Kalyvia, Keratea, Kamariza and its terminus at the mining town of Lavrio.

In December 1882, a new company is founded, “The Attika Railways”, having as an exclusive stockholder Hellenic Metallurgic Company of Lavrio. In 1883 the construction of this new line started.

On February 4, 1885 it was inaugurated after a formal celebration in Attika station. The description given by a newspaper wrote: “The recently inaugurated Athens-Kifissia railroad line has a length of 14,808 meters. 78 infrastructural works took place all along the line under the supervision of N. Gazis. Nine bridges have to be crossed by the trains, of which the two most impressive ones are those of Podaradon and Kassabeti. The steam engines have been built by Tubize in Belgium, with a maximum drag power of 12 wagons, at a slope of 25 degrees, running at speed of 40 kms/h and transporting 300 passengers.”

On June 20, 1885 the second section of the line running from Neo Iraklio to Lavrio was inaugurated.

Due to the dense black smokes puffed by this train, the railway to Kifissia was coloquially known as the Monster “To Therio”. For years this line connected Athens with Kifissia with a trains frequency of an hour. It also provided two daily train frequencies to Lavrio.

In 1889 the Attika square-Kifissia/Lavrio line was was extended to Omonia through Agorakritou st., Kodrigtonos st., Rizou st. and Triti Septemvriou.

In 1901 after an agreement between the Greek State and “Attika Railways”; the company would perform several works in the area of Kifissia, including the development of a new electric street lighting system, the construction of a new park with restaurants, a theater, cafes, etc.

Finally in 1910 “Attika Railways” was acquired by the “Hellenic Electricity Company”, for the electrification of this railroad line.

Statewise, the Piraeus-Corinth railroad line was inaugurated; in Corinth it branched into two lines: the Corinth-Patra line (inaugurated in 1886) and the Corinth-Tripolis line.

At the beginning of the 20th century there was very limited trade between the scattered Greek villages and towns, a typical feature of pre-capitalist society, and the anticipated income to be obtained from the railways was never realised either to the benefit of the contracting companies or the Greek state. However, it did establish a base for future development.

By 1909, 1,606 kms of track had been laid, including the main standard gauge line to the then Greek - Turkish border at Papapouli, past the Tempi valley, some 400 km north of Athens. The first trains to run the full 506 kilometres from Athens to Thessaloniki on standard gauge track marked the completion of the line in 1918, which by then was running entirely on Greek liberated territory.

Old wooden train between Moschato and Faliro stations

Steam driven train Athens-Piraeus in 1891

Steam driven railway named Therion at Messogia in 1885

Old theater of EIS at Faliron

1907 - The old Faliron Station

The first works of SAP's construction in the 1860’s

Worksite of SAP's construction, near Thission Station in the 1860’s

Construction works along the Thissio-Omonia tunnel

Thissio station in 1880

Consstruction works of the tunnel from Thissio to Omonia


Starting in 1882 and during the 1880’s a network of horse-drawn tramways was developed in Athens, by the “Tramways Company of Athens-Piraeus-Suburbs” a Belgian capitals company.

The first trams were 16-seats light weighted cars during the winter and 20-seats open top trams during the summer months. The system counted with 800 horses.

The first lines linked the Athens center with the then suburbs of Patissia, Ambelokipi and Kolokinthou; as well as Omonia with Syntagma, Gazi and the Kerameikos Dypilon. From 1902 on Ippokratous st., Mitropoleos st. and Acharnon had their tram services too.

The first steam engined tram was inaugurated in 1887 and it covered the Athens-Phaliro route; starting from the Athens Academy and running through Panepistimiou, Amalias, Thiseos to Tzitzifies and from there thorugh the seaside road it finished its route in Neo Phaliro, which back in those days was a popular recreational seaside area for the Athenians.

On October 30, 1908 the first electric trams were put in service in order to replace the older horse drawn trams. By this time the network was served by 257 trams; 150 of which were locomotive.

The Belgian built trams had electric lighting, two special electric engines for the sloping streets of Athens, and a 30 passengers capacity, 16 seated and 14 standing. Such was the impression it caused to the citizens of Athens that many used to take it just for pleasure.

Horse drawn carriage for the repair of the tramway's pantograph

Horse drawn tramway

Athens suburbs:

With the increasing population many of the until mid 19th neighboring towns of the Athenian basin started merging each other and with Athens becoming suburbs of the Greek capital. Moreover, the new railroad and tramways lines boosted this phenomenon, thus Athens gave its first steps towards its transformation into a metropolis, which by the 1870’s was already the third largest in the Balkans.

In Athens, areas like Kolonaki, Exarcheia, Kypselli, Metaxourgeio and Petralona among others were slowly swallowed by the city of Athens, transforming them into mere suburbs of it.

The area of Metaxourgeio (the former hezolitharo, renamed after the silkmill established there) for instance, until 1854 was a suburban/semi-rural area of low density. By 1854, the orchard of the silkmill had been added. Millerou street constituted the first pole of dense urban settlement in the area, because the new layout at this point followed the earlier road axis.

So when “Wrampe & Co” decided to buy the complex and turn it into a silkmill (1852), the area had not yet been incorporated in the urban web. Obviously, the company chose the specific building because no buildings of analogous size, that were suitable for industrial uses, existed in Athens at this time. Moreover, the intended new use did not conflict with the still unformed character of the area, one with rather poor prospects on the outskirts of the city.

This second (conjunctural) intervention was to have a long-term impact on the area’s future, an impact of much greater longevity that the silkmill itself, since in reality it concurred with the long-tem trends that had already been inscribed in the city’s structure. These trends were reinforced by the establishment of the silkmill: they involved the area’s incorporation in the industrial zone of the capital and the crystallization of the city’s basic dichotomy –maintained to this day- between the high-standard bourgeois residential zones in the east and the popular neighbourhoods with housing and workplaces to the west.

The pace of this development was slow at first, but accelerated, together with the more general pace of urbanization, during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. In the first phase, the silkmill itself, which developed into a factory complex of diverse uses, stemmed the westward extension of the main city residential zone. In the early 1860s it was still outside the city; it constituted a marginal point of settlement on the 1862, when building had just begun to extend to the west of Omonoia Square. Even in 1875, when this part had been incorporated fully in the urban web, the silkmill complex with its orchard forms a kind of barrier, a limit on the west side.

During the interval of 1854 and 1862, two further events contributed decisively to crystallizing the area’s character. The first was the installation there of the Chatzikostas Orphanage in 1856, originally in the rented N. Kyklos residence (presumably abandoned) on Kerameikou street, and subsequently in the Vranis residence, which was conceded to it, at the corner of Millerou and Piraeus streets.

Following the philanthropists’ strategy for the “social integration of the poor children” the Orphanage set up workshops in which its inmates could learn a trade: at first tailoring and shoe-making, and later blacksmithing. The forge developed into a factory which was let to a businessmans and employed 50 workers in 1884. The second event was the installation of the gasworks, in 1859-1861, on the south side of the road junction mentioned above. The Gazi, as it became known, was the first step in transforming the Athens-Piraeus road into the major industrial axis it still was until recently, a road axis that nowadays is leaning its nature towards the world of arts and culture.

This complex, the axis of Millerou street with the silkmill and the Orphanage workshops on the one hand, and the gasworks on the other, constituted the first pole of attraction for the industrial activities on the west side of Athens. These were directed there through the process of successive lateral shifts that typifies the mobility and adaptability of land uses in the city. These actitivies were asphyxiating in their historic hearth which occupied the same site for centuries, since the Bazaar of the Ottoman era was established on the remains of the Roman agora and Hadrian’s Library. During the Ottoman era the shops and workshops of Athens developed in a south-north direction along the axis of present-day Panos street and radially along the vertical axes of Iphaistou, Pandrosou, and Adrianou streets. Iphaistou street in particular, extending (via Astingos and Leokoriou streets) as far as the Moria-Gate, was the focus of forges and saddlers, while on the east side of Pandrosou street were textile workshops (ambatzidika). So since the Ottoman period, the structure of the city was already characterized by a segregation of activities into “polite” and “polluting”, the latter located in its western sector.

When the streets Ermou, Aiolou, and Athinas were opened, the industrial zone was reconstituted upon these new axes. It should be noted here that, contrary to familiar stereotypes concerning its “parasitic” character, Athens was and remained an industrious city: but even in the industrial period it remained a city of small shops producing a wide range of consumer goods (from necessities to luxuries). Shops and workshops now developed mainly from east to west, with Ermou street as the central axis, eventually occupying the entire area between Monastiraki and the western edge of Adrianou street, the neighbourhood of Psyrri and the triangle bounded by Ermou – Athinas – Evripidou streets (today’s shopping centre), maintaining local enclaves of specialization.

But the expansion of the industrial zone northwards and eastwards was prevented by the “good” areas of Omonoia and Syntagma respectively. The eastern part of Ermou street hosted the best shops and coffee shops, terminating at the hotels, patisseries and mansions in Syntagma square. To the north, the Boukoura Theatre (1840), the Varvakeion High School (1857) and the head office of the National Bank delimited the ambit of Omonoia square.

Consequently the west side of the city was the only possible outlet for the industrial zone. On this side, where, as we have seen, the more important workshops were located, the old communication node was widening its scope. Aghion Asomaton square was now the terminus for carriages and all kinds of land transport arriving with ever increasing frequency from Piraeus; the installation of the railway station here in 1869 further burdened the node with the activities of loading and unloading.

The entire area from Aghiou Philippou square, the pitch of the Maltese porters, to the outskirts of Eleftherias (Koumoundourou) square, was filled with facilities serving transport needs: the older pack-saddle-makers, fodder-chandlers etc. and the newer carriage-makers’, carpenters’ and metal workshops.

It was these carriage-makers’ workshops that pioneered the expansion of the industrial zone to the west. Thew first to migrate to the west of Piraeus street, to open up next to the silkmill, was the “Greek carriage-shop of Mr Galliani”, the existence of which is attested from at least 1862. Three years later, in 1865, the newly-crowned George I visited to Dourouti silkmill and the carriage-shop “lying adjacent to it”, and awarded a medal to both owners. Ten years later, in 1875, most of the carriage makers (14 of the 15 recorded in a guide to Athens) were still crowded in Adrianou street, Asomaton square and Sarri street, while in the immediate vicinity of the silkmill a workshop for iron structures is recorded. In the meanwhile, a section of the silkmill itself, now in decline, was let to an independent businessman.

In 1875 the silkmill finally closed and its area was once more at a crossroads. However, there was now a pressing and mass demand for housing. The main city (without the suburbs and Piraeus) had entered the orbit of rapid expansion and its population soared: from 44.250 inhabitants in 1870, it reached 63.374 in 1879 (increase of 42%) and 107.251 in 1889 (increase of 69%). So within the decade 1875-1885 the entire area, as far as the outskirts of the gasworks to the south and Kyklovoros stream to the west, was settled and incorporated in the city. Its identity as a low-class area, as well as the nature of the new demand (mass migration on an unprecedented scale from the countryside and the provincial towns), contributed to the formation of a popular neighbourhood with humble houses for artisans, journeymen and all sorts of small tradesmen and manufacturers, mainly from the Peloponnese but also from the islands.

Even so this mass invasion of housing did not stall the penetration of productive activities in the area of the silkmill (Metaxourgeion). On the contrary, the character of the new incomers facilitated this mixture. Always with Millerou street as the principal pole and carriage-making as the dominant activity, workplaces began infiltrating the neighbourhood. By 1900 most of the carriage-shops had moved from Adrianou street westwards to Asomaton, Leokoriou and Sarri streets, while four had crossed Piraeus street to be installed in Millerou street. At least two of these, the carriage-shop of Rossi brothers and that of Loranzo Mamos, were large workshops employing several people and constructing all kinds of carriages and vehicles: indeed a contemporary guide mentions the “silkmill” as the address of the first.

In the same period metal workshops had also moved into the area. Two of the most important machine-shops in Athens, of the Konteka Bros (“Hephaistos”) and of “Vlachanis, Petropoulos & Co”, were located in Kolokynthous and Lenorman streets respectively. The second, at the corner of Konstantinoupoleos and Lenorman streets, where the Peloponesian railway track defined the new boundary of the city, developed into an important factory (BIO), which continued in existence until the 1960s. With these plants, and possibly other smaller ones not recorded in the guides of the period, the neighbourhood of Metaxourgeion had already formed by the turn of the 19th century the basic traits of its character, which its subsequent evolution was to reinforce: a popular-petit bourgeois neighbourhood with mixed uses (housing, trade and industry) diffused through its web.

This physiognomy is recorded clearly thirty years later, on the 1930’s, when all the industrial uses (primary and ancillary) in the area were delimited by Piraeus street, Iera Odos, Konstantinoupoleos, Lenorman, Achilleos and Deliyorgi streets. This area included some 1900 addresses (numbered entrances), about 680 of which belong to all other uses except residential (trade, industry, leisure services); that is, roughly one in three houses in the area were (or included in the ground floor) workshops or shops.

The census and mapping of these uses shows the basic characteristics of the neighbourhood. Firstly, its popular character; in comparison to what happens in the entire city, there are, for example, very few clothing-footwear shops in Metaxourgeion, but a high percentage of tailors, shoemakers, and alterations-repairs workshops; there is just one restaurant, yet a host of cook-shops and coffee shops. Secondly, the large number of shops and the variety of uses (among them health services, education and leisure) point to a neighbourhood which within the fifty or so years since it began to be settled had acquired a fully urban character.

Lastly, the different density of the various uses in individual parts of the neighbourhoods bears witness of the mechanisms of attraction-repulsion of like-opposite activities that create contexts and attribute identities to sectors of the urban web. For example, commercial and industrial uses are crowded in the central zone of the neighbourhood and on the peripheral axes, while in its interior and particularly its western part there are mainly residential pockets, from which however food shops are not missing, dispersed throughout the web on virtually every corner; northeast, on the outskirts of Omonia (beyond Kolokynthous street), a greater concentration of services and professions is observed.

However, the most important feature of the neighbourhood of Metaxourgeion, that which is of prime interest here, is the high concentration of industrial plants, and indeed of those which in a rudimentary classification could be designated “heavy”: metal workshops, timber yards, building materials and printers, 141 units in all.

Indeed particularly striking is the density of these units in Millerou street which, 75 years after the founding of the silkmill, remained the paramount street of workshops and small factories, while in contrast neighbouring Thermopylon street amassed more “light” workshops (clothing, footwear, box-making etc.).

Section of J.A.Kaupert’s map of Athens in 1875. Marked are the manufacturing zone of the city (on the basis of a contemporary guidebook), the Chatzikostas Orphanage and the silkmill, in the ‘vanguard’ of the westwards expansion of the zone.

Section of a French map of Metaxourgeion and Kolonos in 1896 (Guide Joannes, Hachette et Cie); marked are the zone of wheelwrights’ workshops in Asomaton, Lefkoriou and Sarri streets, and the four wheelwrights’ workshops in Millerou street.


The port of Athens already by the 1890’s had broken the 50,000 inhabitants level.

By the end of the century, all the necessary educational institutions had also been built (the High School, the Rallion Girls' College, the Lyceum - which began operating in 1862 - the elementary schools), many large churches, the Stock Exchange Building and, later, the Town Hall - the well known ROLOI or Clock Tower (1869-73) (which was located exactly where the Lions used to stand in medieval times), the Municipal Theatre (1884-95) and the old Post Office Building (1899-1901). Also, the city had gained its Central Market (1861-63), and with the help of donations from the region's benefactors, its Communal institutions which continue to operate today (the "Tzannion" Hospital, the "Zannion" Orphanage for boys, the Old People's Home, the "Hadjikyriakon" Orphanage for girls).

Through the services of the Mole Fund (1836-48) the Piraeus Quay-ways Committee (1848-61), and especially the Administration Committee (1861-1911), the port was essentially under the jursidiction of the Municiaplity, and a number of essential works had been, and were being, executed (dredging operations, construction of the Royal Landing, the Troumba Pier and the quay-ways up to the Customs House area, the commencement of construction work on the Outer Moles and the permanent dry-docks), not of such grandeur or importance as the later, more extensive harbour-works, but undoubtedly giving the port the ability to meet its traffic of that time which reached about 2,500 vessels with a total 1,500,000 tonnes of cargo per year.

The oil-lamps which had lit Piraeus until mid 19th century, were gradually replaced by petrol-lamps, then gas-lighting (1878) and finally, at the beginning of the 20th century, (1903- 1904), by electric lighting. In 1904 the steam-powered train "Athens-Piraeus" turned into electrical. The poverty and decay, the inexistence of economic activity, were followed by the "boom" and the establishment of the first factories in the area (the L. Rallis Silk Mills, ship-yards and engineering workshops of Vasiliades, John McDowel and Varvour, Perrakis, Kouppas' silver foundry, the Retsinas, Volanakis and Lyginos Textile Mills, the Dilaveris Tile Works, the Metaxas, Pouris and Barbaressos Distilleries, the Dimokas, Seferlis, Loumos and Panagiotopoulos flour mills, etc.) and the larger Merchant Trading firms.

At the dawn of the 20th century, which was to prove both stormy and creative, radically changing the ultimate course of its history, Piraeus had already and decisively won its battle for renaissance and success. It had become the leading port in Greece. Its future prospects had also greatly widened, and then followed its surprising evolution throughout the 20th century to the ulsent day.

The Greek shipowners' decisive and well-timed turn to steam-power which marked the beginning of a new era, coincided approximately with the beginning of the period of ascent for the Port of Piraeus - about the beginning of the ulsent century.

But, at this point, it must be admitted that, despite the care and effort of the municipal leaders, by 1900 the remarkable harbour works that had been carried out, such as those ulviously mentioned, were, in fact, very few. The most important of these were the two permanent dry-docks at Kremmydarou Bay, commenced in 1898 and completed in 1912. The plans for this project had been drawn up by Elias Angelopoulos and the work was undertaken by the firms L. Petitmermer and G. Raspini, at a total cost of approximately 5,500,000 Drachmes.

Apart from the few works executed, the whole system of management became bogged down. Then, by the end of the first decade of the 20th century, it had been acknowledged, by practical experience, that there was need for a change (Statutory Law G.F.A./1909 "On the Formation of the Piraeus Port Committee"). The first government headed by Eleftherios Venizelos, by its Royal Decree of January 1, 1911, put that Law into force and thus the Port Committee began operating as an autonomous Legal Entity, undertaking the management of the Port Fund and the studies for the construction, maintenance and exploitation of harbour works and installations.

The first modern Olympic Games of Athens 1896:

In 1850, an "Olympian Class" was begun at Much Wenlock in Shropshire, England. This was renamed "Wenlock Olympian Games" in 1859 and continues to this day as the Wenlock Olympian Society Annual Games. A national Olympic Games was organised by their founder, Dr William Penny Brookes, at Crystal Palace in London, in 1866.

Meanwhile, a wealthy Greek philanthropist called Evangelos Zappas sponsored the revival of the first modern international Olympic Games. The first was held in an Athens city square in 1859. Zappas paid for the refurbishment of the ancient Panathenian stadium that was first used for an Olympic Games in 1870 and then again in 1875. That same stadium was refurbished a second time and used for the Athens 1896 Games. The revival sponsored by Zappas was a dedicated Olympic Games with athletes that participated from two countries: Greece and the Ottoman Empire.

The interest in reviving the Olympics as an international event grew further when the ruins of ancient Olympia were uncovered by German archaeologists in the mid-nineteenth century. At the same time, Pierre de Coubertin was searching for a reason for the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871). He thought the reason was that the French had not received proper physical education, and sought to improve this. Coubertin also sought a way to bring nations closer together, to have the youth of the world compete in sports, rather than fight in war. In 1890 he attended a festival of the Wenlock Olympian Society, and decided that the recovery of the Olympic Games would achieve both of his goals.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin stood on the ideas of both Dr Brookes and the foundations of Evangelis Zappas to found the International Olympic Committee. In a congress at the Sorbonne University, in Paris, France, held from June 16 to June 23, 1894 he presented his ideas to an international audience. On the last day of the congress, it was decided that the first IOC Olympic Games would take place in 1896 in Athens, in the country of their birth. To organise the Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was established, with the Greek Demetrius Vikelas as its first president. The Panathenian stadium that was used for Olympic Games in 1870, and 1875 was refurbished and reused for the Olympic Games held in Athens in 1896.

Against all odds and despite bad weather, the Olympics were regarded as a great success.

The total number of athletes at the the first IOC Olympic Games, less than 250, seems small by modern standards, and altough many of the top athletes of the time did not take part, the games were the largest international sports event ever held until that time. The Greek officials and public were also very enthusiastic.

Panathinaiko Stadium, the first big stadium in the modern world (actually a refurbished ancient stadium), overflowed with the largest crowd ever to watch a sporting event. The highlight for the Greeks was the marathon victory by their compatriot Spiridon Louis. The most successful competitor was German wrestler and gymnast Carl Schuhmann, winning four gold medals.

After the Games, Coubertin and the IOC were petitioned by, among others, Greece's King George and some of the American competitors in Athens, to hold all the following Games in Athens. However, the 1900 Summer Olympics were already planned for Paris and, barring the Intercalated Games of 1906, the Olympics would not return to Greece until the 2004 Summer Olympics.

The news that the Olympic Games would return to Greece was received favorably by the Greek public, media, and the royal family. According to Coubertin, "the Crown Prince Constantine learned with great pleasure that the Games will be inaugurated in Athens." Coubertin assured that "the King and the Crown Prince will confer their patronage on the holding of these games." Constantine later conferred more than that; he eagerly assumed the presidency of the 1896 organizing committee.

However, the country had financial troubles and was in political turmoil, the job of prime minister alternating between Charilaos Trikoupis and Theodoros Deligiannis at a high frequency. Because of this financial and political instability, both prime minister Trikoupis and Stephanos Dragoumis, the president of the Zappas Olympic Committee, which had attempted to organize a series of national Olympiads, believed that Greece could not host the event. In late 1894, the organizing committee under Stephanos Skouloudis presented a report that the cost of the Games would be three times higher than originally estimated by Coubertin. They concluded the Games could not be held, and offered their resignation. The total cost of the Games was 3,740,000 drachmes (about US$448,000).

After the feverish efforts of Coubertin and Vikelas the arguments of the pro-Olympic movement prevailed, and on January 7, 1895, Vikelas announced that Constantine had assumed the presidency of the organizing committee. He added that the basic financial plan was to trust in the patriotism of the Greek people.

Constantine's enthusiasm sparked a wave of contributions from the Greek public, raising 330,000 drachmes. A special set of postage stamps raised a further 400,000, and ticket sales added 200,000 drachmes. At the request of Constantine, wealthy businessman George Averoff agreed to pay for the restoration of the Panathinaiko Stadium, donating about one million drachmes. As a tribute to his generosity, a statue of Averoff was constructed and unveiled on April 5, 1895 outside the stadium, where it still stands. The stadium had a straight running track of 232 meters, and very narrow curves, all covered with fine sand.

Some of the athletes would take part in the Games because they happened to be in Athens at the time the Games were held, either on vacation or for work (e.g., some of the British competitors worked for the British embassy). The concept of a designated Olympic Village for the athletes did not appear until the 1932 Summer Olympics; the athletes had to provide their own lodging.

According to the first regulation IOC voted in 1894, only amateur athletes were accepted in the Olympic Games. The various contests were thus held under amateur regulations with the exception of fencing matches. The rules and regulations were not uniform, so the Organizing Committee and Coubertin had to choose among the codes of the various national athletic associations. The jury, the referees and the game director bore the same names as in antiquity (Ephor, Helanodic and Alitarc). Prince George acted as final referee; according to Coubertin, "his presence gave weight and authority to the decisions of the ephors."

On April 6 (March 25 according to the Julian calendar), 1896; the games of the First Olympiad were officially opened; it was Easter Monday and the anniversary of the Greek War of Independence. The Panathinaiko Stadium was filled with an estimated 80,000 spectators, including King George I of Greece, his wife Olga, and their sons.

Most of the competing athletes were aligned on the infield, grouped by nation. After a speech by the president of the organizing committee, Crown Prince Constantine, his father officially opened the Games: “I declare the opening of the first international Olympic Games in Athens. Long live the Nation. Long live the Greek people.”

Afterwards, nine bands and 150 choir singers performed an Olympic Hymn, composed by Spyros Samaras, with words by poet Kostis Palamas. Thereafter, a variety of musical offerings provided the backgrounds to the Opening Ceremonies until 1960, since which time the Samaras/Palamas composition has become the official Olympic Anthem (decision taken by the IOC Session in 1958). Other elements of the current Olympic openings were initiated later: the Olympic flame was first lit in 1928, the first athletes' oath was sworn at the 1920 Olympic Games, and the first officials' oath was sworn at the 1972 Olympic Games

The concept of national teams was not a major part of the Olympic movement until the Intercalated Games 10 years later, though many sources list the nationality of competitors in 1896 and give medal counts. Sources conflict as to which nations competed. The International Olympic Committee gives a figure of 14, but no list. The following 14 are most likely the ones which the IOC figure includes. Some sources list 12, excluding Chile and Bulgaria; others list 13, including those two but excluding Italy. Egypt is also sometimes included because of Dionysios Kasdaglis' participation. Belgium and Russia had entered the names of competitors, but withdrew.

The participating countries are Australia (Despite Australia's lack of independence from the British Empire, the results of Teddy Flack are typically given with him listed as Australian), Austria (Austria was part of Austria-Hungary at the time, though the results of Austrian athletes are typically reported separately), Bulgaria (the Bulgarian Olympic Committee claims that gymnast Charles Champaud was competing as a Bulgarian. Champaud was a Swiss national living in Bulgaria. Mallon and de Wael both list Champaud as Swiss), Chile (the Chilean Olympic Committee claims to have had one athlete, Luis Subercaseaux, compete in the 100, 400, and 800 meter races in the athletics programme. No further details are given, and no mention is made of Subersaceaux in Mallon, de Wael, or the Official Report), Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland has historically maintained separate athletic organisations for each of its constituent countries. The major exception to this has been the Olympic Games, in which the country is considered as a single entity. However, it has conventionally used the name "Great Britain" at the Olympics rather than the more common shortening of the name to "the United Kingdom”), Greece (Greek results typically include the results of competitors from Cyprus and Smyrna. Some sources give Cypriot results separately, though most count Anastasios Andreou, a Greek-Cypriot and the only athlete from Cyprus, as Greek. Cyprus was a protectorate of the United Kingdom at the time), Hungary (Hungary is usually listed separately from Austria, despite the two being formally joined as Austria-Hungary at the time. However, Hungarian results are considered to include those of athletes from Vojvodina, now part of Serbia and Slovakia), Italy (the most prominent Italian involved with the games, Carlo Airoldi, was deemed a professional and excluded from competition. However, the shooter listed by name simply as Rivabella was also Italian and did compete), Sweden, Switzerland, United States.

Ten of the 14 participating nations earned medals, in addition to three medals won by mixed teams, i.e. teams made up of athletes from multiple nations. The United States won the most gold medals (11), while host nation Greece won the most medals overall (46) as well as the most silver (17) and bronze (19) medals, finishing with one less gold medal than the United States.

During these inaugural Olympics, winners were given a silver medal and an olive branch, while runner-ups received a bronze medal and a laurel branch. The IOC has retroactively assigned gold, silver and bronze medals to the three best placed athletes in each event to comport with more recent traditions.

Women were not allowed to compete at the 1896 Summer Olympics. One, named Stamata Revithi, the mother of a 17-month-old boy, ran the marathon course on April 11, 1896; the day after the men had run the official race. Although she was not allowed to enter the stadium at the end of her race, Revithi finished the marathon in about 5 hours and 30 minutes, and found witnesses to sign their names and verify the running time. Revithi intended to present this documentation to the Hellenic Olympic Committee, hoping that they would recognize her achievement. Neither her reports nor documents from the Hellenic Olympic Committee have been discovered to provide corroboration.

On the morning of Sunday April 12, 1896; King George organized a banquet for officials and athletes (even though some competitions were not to be held). During his speech, he made clear that, as far as he was concerned, the Olympics should be held in Athens permanently. The official closing ceremony was held the following Wednesday, after being postponed from Tuesday due to rain. Again the royal family attended the ceremony, which was opened by the national anthem of Greece and an ode composed in ancient Greek by George S. Robertson, a British athlete and scholar.

Afterwards, the king awarded prizes to the winners. Some winners also received additional prizes, such as Spiridon Louis, who received a cup from Michel Bréal, a friend of De Coubertin who had conceived the marathon event. Louis then led the medalists on a lap of honor through the stadium, while the Olympic Hymn was played again. The King then formally announced that the first Olympiad was at an end, and left the Stadium, the band playing the Greek national hymn, and the crowd cheering.

Like the Greek king, many others supported the idea of holding the next Games in Athens as well; most of the American competitors signed a letter to the Crown Prince expressing this wish. Coubertin, however, was heavily opposed to this idea, as he envisioned international rotation as one of the cornerstones of the modern Olympics. According to his wish, the next Games were held in Paris, although they would be subdued by the concurrently held Universal Exposition.

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Part VIII - Balkans and First World Wars – Interwar period (1912-1940)



Greek prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos was able to unite the Christian states of the Balkans against the Turkish oppressor when, in 1912, he founded an alliance between Greece, Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria. In the First Balkan War the Turks found themselves driven back to the walls of Constantinople. The immediate result for Greece was the liberation of Epirus and Macedonia and the large islands of the northern and eastern Aegean. When the Bulgarians, dissatisfied with their spoils, attacked their former allies in the Second Balkan War, further territorial gains were made in Western Thrace. The only event to sober the cheering crowds in Athens was the assassination of King George in Thessaloniki on 18th March 1913. Yet his successor, Constantine, seemed by his very name to some to forecast at last the realisation of the Great Idea.

When the First World War broke out, Greece outwardly seemed united as never before under a popular and successful king and a universally respected Prime minister. Within three years the nation's territory had more than doubled, its finances (unusually) were on a sound footing, industry was growing and the worst abuses of the past had been checked.

However, the war presented Greece with an unwelcome dilemma. If Greece joined the Allies, it would take on at once not only Germany and Austria-Hungary, but also adjacent Turkey and Bulgaria, each with hearty appetites for Greek territory. The Germans were quick to hint that if Greece stayed neutral and the Central Powers were triumphant, the Greeks might expect to receive parts of their still foreign occupied lands to the north. King Constantine, trained at the Berlin Kriegsakademie, brother-in-law, friend of the Kaiser and ardent Germanophile, certainly expected the armies of the Central Powers to prevail. Due To Greece's vulnerability to British and French naval action, he preferred a formal neutrality.

Moreover, he was prepared to intervene in support of his views. He told a Liberal deputy: “None of you [politicians] know anything about the military. And for this reason Ι put myself in charge of all the military matters, and don't give a word to anyone, not even to your Venizelos, and you go and tell him that I said this.”

Venizelos indicated his wish to assist the Allies. He had in Αpril 1914 learned from the Kaiser and Bethmann-Hollweg at their summer house, the Achilleion, on Corfu, that in any war with Turkey, Greece could not count upon any German support. Thus Greece would need to ensure the support of the old guaranteeing powers: Russia, France and Britain. Moreover, he understood that the new brand of Turkish nationalists could not co-exist with large non-Turkish minorities within the country, and that the support of the Allies would be necessary to protect the Christian minorities. In January 1914, the British offered territory to Greece on the coast of Asia Minor in return for Drama and Kavala if she would join in the Dardenelles campaign. Venizelos supported this if the Greeks could have Smyrna and its hinterland, with a Greek population of over 1,000,000. Metaxas protested and resigned. He felt that holding territory in Asia Minor would prove impracticable, and the danger of attack from Bulgaria was real. The king supported him rather than his prime minister, and dismissed Venizelos

Venizelos won a majority in elections in June, but his opponents kept him out of power until August on the grounds of the king's serious illness. Both sides agreed to mobilisation in September, following the mobilisation of the Bulgarian army; the king saw this as a defensive measure, Venizelos as enabling Greece to fulfil its treaty obligations to assist Serbia if it were attacked by Bulgaria. The terms of this agreement stipulated that Serbia would provide 150,000 troops; which it could not, because of the war. Venizelos suggested that the Western Allies could provide them instead. Instantly, the British and French argued that, as Greece's guarantors, Britain, France and Russia could send troops to Greece if they were all in agreement.

On October 4th, Bulgaria entered the war. Venizelos stated the intention of the government to honour its treaty obligations to go to the aid of Serbia. The king refused to accept this policy, saying: 'Ι do not wish us to help Serbia, because Germany is going to win and Ι do not wish to be beaten!' Venizelos resigned. On the same day, allied troops landed in Thessaloniki.

The new royalist government refused to allow re-equipped Serbian units to move from Corfu to Thessaloniki. Then on 23rd May 1916, Bulgarian forces appeared outside Fort Rupel, claiming that the Greek government had given its agreement to their occupying advance positions on the border, acquired at the insistence of Venizelos because of its strategic value as the key to eastern Macedonia to any Bulgarian advance, and recently renovated at great expense. The garrison inflicted damage on the attackers. But it was then ordered to evacuate the fort. This justifiably created the impression that the Greek king and government were cooperating actively with the Central Powers.

On 21st June, the Allies demanded the dissolution of the government, the demobilisation of the army, the surrender of half the Greek fleet and much of its artillery. They also imposed a strict blockade on Greece, which made prices skyrocket and increased both opposition to the Allies and the popularity of the king. The king undermined the forced demobilisation by organising a paramilitary 'League of Reservists' of former army men, whose main function seems to have been to intimidate the Venizelists.

In Macedonia, the Bulgarians took immediate advantage of the key strategic positions handed over to them to invade the east of the province. Only after they had committed atrocities against the population did the government in Athens protest. When the whole of eastern Macedonia had been abandoned to the invaders, who deported able-bodied men as slave labour to work in the Bulgarian mines and systematically starved the rest of the population, imposing a reign of terror, the wrath of many in Athens was aroused against the royal policy. A mass meeting of Liberals marched to Venizelos' house, where he addressed them from the balcony. Α deputation then went to the palace, but the king refused to see them. The king did authorise Mr. Zaimis to say that he would open negotiations with the Allies, but when he judged that indignation had died down, he did nothing about it. Even Zaimis resigned after German propaganda flooded the capital. He was succeeded by a prominent Germanophil, Mr. Kalegeropoulos. In the meantime, a revolutionary movement was set up in Thessaloniki. On 22nd September, the Prime minister announced that all those who joined this movement would be court-martialled.

Finally, on 25th September, Venizelos, together with admiral Koundouriotis, Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, and a large body of followers, left Phaleron for Crete. From there they sailed To Thessaloniki, where, on 9th October, Venizelos set up a provisional government. Greece was thus divided into two states: one formally neutral, but intriguing with the Central Powers, with its government in Athens; the other openly supporting the Allies, with its government in Thessaloniki.

This 'National Schism' was much more than a rift between those who supported the Central Powers or neutrality and those who supported the Allies. It was a rift between old and new Greece. The king and the established politicians and landowners of the old Greece of the Peloponnese and Sterea Ellada were threatened by the new-comers from Crete, Macedonia, Epirus and the eastern Aegean islands. It was also a gulf between conservatives and liberals, the 'haves' and 'have nots'.

In Athens Mr. Kalogeropoulos resigned, and was replaced by Mr. Lambros, a learned palaeographer who really just wanted to become a monk on Mount Athos. Foreign agents from all the Great Powers flooded into Greece, conspiring against each other in an effort to secure the country for their own side in the war. The Allies made a series of demands: that the royalist government surrender the Larissa Railway and certain warships, and disarm land batteries at Piraeus and Salamis. Later it was agreed that some artillery guns and other war materials would be handed over as a guarantee of neutrality, and in return for material surrendered to the enemy at Fort Rupel. Meanwhile, royalist propaganda in Athens concocted and publicised a totally fictitious massacre of royalists in southern Macedonia by Venizelists in order to inflame public opinion against Venizelos.

At daybreak on December 1st three battalions of French troops landed at Piraeus and marched on Athens to take possession of the arms, to be handed over as agreed. But preparations had been made by the government to resist. Greek patrols withdrew in front of the advance. The advancing French were ordered to occupy the Mouseion and Nympheion Hills. When firing broke out, the French were forced to retreat to Phaliro. Firing died down at midday, but began again at 4:30. Admiral Dartige sent a message to the vessels in Phaliro Bay to bombard Stadion Ηίll. During a two hour bombardment, the queen and other members of the royal family and place staff hid in the cellars. One shell struck the wall outside the king's study. Admiral Dartige ordered them to stop firing at seven. He wanted his government's authority to bombard the city, but representatives of foreign powers complained of the danger to their legations.

After an exchange of prisoners, the Allies withdrew during the night. Troops isolated at Zappeion left for Piraeus under escort. Allied controllers of ports, railway stations, telephone and post offices were withdrawn, as was the Franco-British secret police force. At least fifty-seven Allied soldiers had been killed and one hundred and fifty-four injured, while thirty-five Greeks had been killed, and fifty-six injured.

Burning for revenge, Admiral Dartige sent a telegram to Paris advising that the Greeks deserved a 'severe lesson', and that he was ready to carry it out. He wanted to occupy Piraeus and bombard Athens. In preparation, all Frenchwomen working in Greek homes were ordered to leave within twelve hours, or they would forfeit their passports. On December 8th he proclaimed a blockade of the city. Α few days later, he was formally deprived of his command and prematurely retired.

The blockade continued, however, and the adulteration of flour produced epidemics of dysentery, especially among the children and the old. Bread disappeared, and was replaced by carob beans and herbs. Lack of mothers' milk took too many infant deaths.

This 'victory' over the Allies emboldened the supporters of the king to initiate a violent pogrom against Venizelists throughout Athens. The houses of supporters of the former Prime minister were attacked by armed gangs, and the householders forced to flee to the Allies for protection. Many hundreds were arbitrarily arrested by the League of Reservists. Some were executed in cold blood on the banks of the Ilissos and in the military bases at Goudi and Pedeion tou Areos. The names of thirty-six victims are known, but there were probably many more. In an atavistic ceremony on December 26, 1916 the archbishop of Athens formally excommunicated the absent Venizelos, represented by a bull's head. The head was set on a stake at Pedeion tou Areos, cursed, and buried in a cairn of stones. Then the finely dressed ladies from Kolonaki crowded around to 'stone Venizelos.' As a consequence of these events, the Venizelists renounced any allegiance to the dynasty, and Venizelos' government in Thessaloniki was recognised by the Allies.

On January 29, 1917 the royalist Greek army in Athens was compelled to parade in front of the colours of the Allies and salute them in a ceremonial act of humiliation in front of the Zappeion building. The king was represented by his brother, Prince Andreas. Gradually, one by one, the islands began to declare for Venizelos. Α conference of Hellenic communities outside Greece met in Paris on May 1, 1917 and repudiated the king. On May 3, 1917 Mr Zaimis formed a new administration which he said was to try to overcome difficulties with the Allies. But the attempted murder of two British officers at Phaleron showed that he was not in control of the situation, although he did dismiss some actively pro-German officers.

On June 10, 1917 the Entente Powers demanded the abdication of King Constantine. He left the country to his brother, Alexander, without, however, making a formal act of abdication, and slipped out of the country from Oropos, making for Switzerland. Venizelos was installed in Athens as Prime minister. The civil service and the armed forces were purged of royalists, who were replaced with Venizelists. The royalists never forgot that the king had been forced out by a foreign power, and that Venizelos had been returned to power 'with the assistance of Senegalese bayonets.' The 'National Schism' was fatally set in amber.

Meanwhile, from 1916, the Turks had determined on the extermination of the entire Armenian population by the method of forced deportation, which, was interpreted as 'direction without destination.' Most were killed or died of starvation on the marches across the countryside. In consequence, a flood of Armenian refugees arrived in Greece. An orphanage was set up in the Zappeion building.

Although Greek forces entered the war late, their success in Macedonia against Turkey off from the Central Powers, threatened the security of Austria-Hungary, and was admitted by νon Hindenburg to have been one of the key factors that induced the Germans to sue for an armistice. Greek warships and troops participated in the triumphal entry of Allied forces into Constantinople.

Venizelos spent over a year in Paris at the peace conference, tirelessly arguing Greece's case. As a result, the Treaty of Sevres of August 1920 gave the Greece eastern Thrace as far as the Chatalja Lines, Northern Epirus, Imvros, Tenedos, and Smyrna and its hinterland (Ionia). This was everything they wanted to realise the Great Idea except the city of Constantinople itself, the Dodecanese and Cyprus.

The Italians had landed south of Smyrna in March 1919, thus before the treaty was even signed, Βritish, French and US warships had supervised the landing of Greek forces at Smyrna. This gave fresh impetus to Kemal's nationalist Turkish movement, already being supplied by the French. When Kemalist forces drove the British out of the Izmit Peninsula, the Greeks were authorised to clear Thrace and western Anatolia of Kemalist forces. When the Turkish nationalist forces in Eastern Thrace were defeated, their leader captured, and Adrianople liberated by Greek troops on July 26, 1919, there was general rejoicing.

In Athens flags were flown, a gun salute fired and a solemn doxology sung in the cathedral. Although few could have foreseen it, Greece was at the height of its fortunes, and from this point onwards everything would slide to catastrophe in what was to be called 'the terrible century

On the first stage of his return to Athens, two disaffected naval officers tried to kill Venizelos at the Gare du Lyon, in Paris. Then on October 25, King Alexander, who had been bitten by a pet monkey, died. His brother Paul refused the crown. As a result, the general election of November 14, 1920 became a referendum between Venizelos and Constantine. The royalists promised to reduce their commitments in Asia Minor and demobilise the army. This was a message with tremendous appeal to a population which had been in arms since 1912. The Allies warned that if Constantine were restored, they reserved the right to adjust their attitude towards Greece. Venizelos lost, left the country on a British yacht, and King Constantine returned.

The fortunes of Athens then began to turn upon events in Asia Minor, as had happened nearly seven hundred years before. Despite the changed attitude of the Allies, new royalist government decided to consolidate its position there by an advance against the forces of Kemal, and selected the new officers to lead the army on the basis of their loyalty to the crown, rather than for any skills they might have. The new commander, George Hatzanestisas, insisted on directing operations from Smyrna, four hundred kilometres from the front. The casualties on both sides were enormous, and the Greeks lines of communication became grossly overstretched through hostile territory when the army had advanced to the enemy defensive lines within sixty miles of Ankara. Lacking ammunition and food, after twenty-two days fighting, they were forced to seek a truce. Then the Turks began their prepared offensive. Hatzanestisas ignored the pleas for reinforcements from the front commanders thinking the Turkish attack a diversion. He was preoccupied with planning an expedition to liberate Constantinople. The Greek retreat turned into a disorganised flight. Many soldiers were taken captive, and tens of thousands lost their lives. The defeated and demoralized army took ship for Greece and abandoned the Greeks of Asia Minor, who swarmed into Smyrna for protection, from the vengeful Turks.

On September 9 the Turkish Army entered the port city. First they systematically hunted out and killed all the Armenians. Then they turned on the Greeks, their numbers swollen with some 400,000 Greek refugees from the interior. They seized bishop Chrysostom in his church, gauged out his eyes and dragged him through the streets by his beard, beating and kicking him, and cutting off his bands with a scimitar. Finally, he was hacked to pieces. The Turkish Army then set fire to the Greek and Armenian quarters of the city, driving all the inhabitants down to the quayside. George Horton, an eyewitness of the catastrophe, reported that the Turkish soldiers had systematically torched the city in order to wipe out the Christians in Asia Minor, so that they could never again return to their homes. He was convinced that, like the genocide of the Armenians, the massacre, looting and burning had clearly been planned in advance as systematic ethnic cleansing.

Desperate to board any ship out of Smyrna, most were turned away by crews who feared that their ships would capsize. US, British and French warships lying at anchor in the port deliberately refrained from extending any assistance to the desperate citizens, in order to comply with orders to avoid coming into conflict with the Turks. According to the most conservative estimates, the numbers of the slaughtered exceeded 100,000, while other estimates put the number of dead in the city and its surrounding territories as more than 250,000-300,000.

When the news of the burning of Smyrna reached Athens, flags were lowered to half mast and black drapes hung throughout the city. Crowds went down to Piraeus anxiously gazing out over the sea for any sign of escaping Greeks. In Piraeus Horton tried to get the Captain of the Winona to go to Smyrna to take off some of the distressed people, but the Captain said that he had a load of figs to deliver to New York.

On shore, by the fifteenth the city was already three-quarters rubble and the fires were dying down. The Turks resumed attacks upon the people on the quayside after concerts were held on the allied ships to drown out the sounds of massacre from the shore. An admiral had to apologise for being late for dinner on a nearby ship when a woman's body became entangled in the propeller of his launch.

Α private US citizen, Asa Jennings, located twenty transport ships and went to the by now impotent and hopeless royal government to ask permission to send them to rescue the Greeks on the quayside. The Prime Minister sent a request for guarantees from the Turks for the safety of the ships, and simply waited for a reply. Frustrated, at 4.00 pm on Saturday September 23, Jennings threatened that if he did not get a reply within two hours, he would publish an open letter saying that the Greek government was not prepared to permit Greek ships to sail to save Greek and Armenian refugees from certain death. The government capitulated and placed the entire Greek fleet under Jenning's command. At dawn the next morning ten ships left to take off refugees. Then they returned with seventeen. On the third day they were joined by a cargo fleet under British charter. By October 1, 180,000 people had been rescued.

In the midst of the general collapse of political authority, a group of Venizelist army officers on the eastern islands formed a Revolutionary Committee under Colonels Plastiras and Gonatas to take over the situation. On September 26, an aeroplane flew over Athens dropping leaflets demanding the abdication of King Constantine, the resignation of the government, the dissolution of the Parliament, and the reinforcement of the Thracian front. Prince Nicholas pleaded for a Greek warship to take the king and the royal family to safety, but received no reply. The British minister obtained a British warship for this purpose. Early in the evening, 20,000 soldiers from Chios and Mytilene landed at Lamon with Colonels Plastiras and Gonatas on the Lemnos. They gave the government an ultimatum to comply with their demands by a certain time. King Constantine, deserted by ministers, civil servants, and almost everyone else, formally abdicated, the crown technically passing to his son, Prince George.

On the morning of September 28, the soldiers from Lamon entered Athens, Colonels Plastiras and Gonatas and Captain Phokas assumed the role of government. Two days later, the discredited ex-king left Tatoi for Oropos, and slunk out of the country once more. He was to die, generally unmourned, at Palermo within a year. '

After an extraordinary parliamentary commission had reported, two former prime ministers, former ministers of foreign affairs, the interior, the economy, transport, and the navy; and a general formerly commanding the army, were taken before a court-martial and charged with high treason. Their trial lasted for two weeks. During this period, great pressure was put on Greece by Allied governments to avoid awarding the death penalty, and open threats were made. But on November 15 the judges announced that all were guilty, and while two received life sentences, the rest were sentenced to death. The executions of the six were carried out in Goudi at 11.30 am on the same day. Prince Andreas, father of Prince Philip the duke of Edinburgh, was banished for life for having disobeyed orders, and sent into exile on a British warship.

Representatives of foreign governments were outraged. The Dutch Ambassador expressed the reaction of most diplomats and politicians when he wrote: “The crime committed by the Greek Government is revolting and has aroused the indignation of every civilized person. Six ex-ministers, who made very serious mistakes but did not harm their country irreparably, were sentenced to death, it has caused the contempt of the civilized world powers.” The British Prime Minister, Bonar Law, declared that diplomatic relations with Greece would be severed for their 'barbaric action.' The US Government indefinitely postponed recognition of the Greek State.

It is worthy of note that while the plight of millions of Greeks and Armenians in Asia Minor, and the deaths of more than a million had provoked little response among the leaders of the Western world, the execution of six former-cabinet ministers responsible for the disaster roused the world leaders to a fury of indignation. The reason, of course, was that it was not in the interest of Western leaders to have the example of a people treating their leaders as responsible for their political actions so soon after the slaughter of the First World War. It might cause their own people to reflect upon what had happened, who was responsible, and how that responsibility should be paid for.

Following talks between the British consul and Kemal about oil rights, a conference was held at Mudanya. Kemal told the Grand National Assembly in Ankara on October 4: “We must clear our enemies from every part of our nation. But we may not need war to accomplish this. If they make the enemy leave Thrace, we will not be forced to resort to military operations.” Α mass exodus on foot of the Greek population from Eastern Thrace then began. The gendarmes confiscated all the livestock of the refugees. The plight of these people gave even the self-preoccupied Ernest Hemmingway pause to comment on their wretchedness.

In Athens, refugees camped everywhere where there was space: on the beaches of Phaliro, in the former royal palace, in the boxes of the opera house, in the Parthenon, on the banks of the Ilissos. During that first winter 'virtually every refugee was ill.' Pneumonia took a terrible toll. Among other Greeks being evacuated from the Pontus region, smallpox and typhus, were so virulent that no more were taken from that area.

Dr. Fridtjοf Nansen was delegated by the League of Nations to study ways and means of assisting the refugees. He suggested setting up a supervisory commission under the League, but the US government refused to work under League supervision. Congress did, however, vote $200,000 to assist destitute US citizens stranded in Greece. Α group of US feminists set up a quarantine station on the island of Makronissos, off the coast of Attica, for the treatment of Pontic refugees. The League of Nations floated a loan at the 'not especially charitable interest rate of 8.71%.'

Nansen proposed a general exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey, to be supervised by a League commission. From this point onwards, Muslims in Greece did not cultivate their lands, so that in areas of Western Thrace there would be no harvest. Finally, by a convention signed on January 30, 1923, it was agreed that the Greeks of Constantinople and the Muslims of Greek Thrace should be exempted from the exchange. Already more than a million Greeks had fled or been driven from Asia Minor, and only 150,000 remained, to be exchanged with 390,000 Muslims. Among the refugees were 100,000 Armenians, whom the Greek government ordered people to treat 'with the same consideration as Greeks.'

The tent cities all over Greece soon turned into shanty towns. Around Athens were Kaisariani, Neos Kosmos, and Vyronas. In a separate class was Nea Smyrni, settled on the whole by the wealthier refugees from Smyrna. Further ουt to the north were Nea lonia and Nea Erythreia. Around Piraeus were Nea Kokkinia, Drapetsona and Keratsini. In 1920 the population of Athens was 293,000, and Piraeus 133,000. This was just 5.9% of the population of the country as a whole. Following the exchange of peoples, the population of Piraeus jumped from just over 300,000 to almost 700,000 in a few months. Βy 1928, 28.4% of the population of the country lived in the Greater Athens area.

An immediate problem for the refugees was that many of the able-bodied men had been seized and not allowed to leave Turkey. An agreement had been signed on July 23 that they should be allowed to leave. Most were marched to Magnesia. On the road they were robbed of their clothes and casually killed at whim by local people. The system was the same as that which had been used with such effect upon much larger numbers of Armenians during 1917. The ill and laggards were bayoneted, and many were sold as slaves to local peasants. The small number of survivors were released only in January 1924.

An additional hardship for the refugees was that many among the native population resented their arrival, describing them as 'Turkish-born' or 'yoghurt-baptised'. There were some violent clashes in the greater Athens area between local people and refugees. Some of the refugees, known as Karamanlides (not to confuse with the political family which origins can be traced in Macedonia), had been deported from central Anatolia as Orthodox Christians even though they did not speak any Greek at all. Many of the refugees, particularly those from Smyrna, found the Greeks of the mainland unsophisticated and parochial.

Those refugees which settled in the countryside were comparatively fortunate, in that less money was assigned for urban settlers. Many had skills such as textile manufacturing, and cigarette rolling. They became a source of cheap labour to be exploited by the wealthy, leading to a period of heavy industrialisation of the country. Some were entrepreneurs or professional people. In the long term, the refugees were to benefit free Greece in many ways.

But it was not only the refugees who suffered under these conditions, many of the soldiers of the Greek army who had been in uniform since 1912 found themselves unemployed upon demobilisation. Needless to say, the tourist trade upon which Athens economy depended was ruined as the cruise ships avoided Greek ports, the value of the drachma fell.

In 1923, Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis called upon all the Orthodox churches to adopt a new calendar in line with that used in the rest of the world. Several agreed, including the Church of Greece, while others, including the monastic communities on Μουnt Athos, continued to adhere to the old calendar. The Greek Government, with the support of the Church authorities, introduced the reformed calendar in 1924. The 9th March, 1924 was immediately followed by the 23rd. This reform caused a schism within the Greek Church, for some believers, who came to be known as 'Old-Calendarists' refused to countenance the change.

The Royal Gardens became public property, and opened to the public in at the National Gardens in 1923. Their heyday was between that date and the Second World War, when they were well-protected and well-maintained. The monument for the Unknown Soldier was placed in position before the palace in 1932. The Senate moved into the old palace in 1934, and the Vouli or lower house of parliament moved there a year later.

Under the stresses which society was subjected to, it was inevitable that political instability would result. In June 1925 General Pangalos seized power and imposed censorship of the press. On January 5, 1926 he was declared Prime minister without elections. On August 22, 1926, he was imprisoned while in Crete by General Kondilis. Demonstrators marching down Vassilisis Sofias were fired upon from Rigilis Street. The leaders of the demonstration negotiated with the Prime minister and a confrontation was avoided. On March 1, 1925, a group of republican army officers tried to seize power to prevent the restoration of the monarchy. The instability only ended with the return of Venizelos to power in 1928.

Unfortunately, he was not to enjoy quiet times. In 1928 there was another influx of homeless people into Athens; this time from Corinth, where a massive earthquake had levelled almost every building. The Wall Street Crash and the subsequent depression inevitably had their effects in Greece. The Athens Stock Exchange closed in October 1929.

In late October 1930 some conspirators planned to overthrow the government of Venizelos while he was in Turkey effecting a historic rapprochement with Ataturk. Twenty-seven were arrested and tried. Βy 1931 the national finances had picked up. Athens became a port of call for civil aircraft. The Turkish premier Ismet Pasha and his foreign minister arrived in Athens on October 3, 1931, repaying a visit to Turkey by Venizelos. On June 6, 1933 Venizelos’ car was riddled with bullets when driving back to Athens from Kifissia. The attackers chased his car for three miles. His wife and chauffeur were wounded and a passenger killed.

After Venizelos lost an election in 1932, instability with attempted coups and assassinations returned. In 1935 a plebiscite on the return of the monarchy with a 98% voting for the restoration of the monarchy in the form of King George II. The vote was so blatantly rigged that it fooled no one, but King George returned anyway. The Republicans immediately won an election in 1936, in which the Communists held the balance of power. In the same year Eleftherios Venizelos and Panayiotis Tsaldaris, who best represented anti-Venizelism, both died.

Despite the refugee crises, the political chaos and the economic slump, there had been some remarkable developments during the 1920s and 1930s. In 1926 the Gennadeion was built to house the rare book and manuscript collection of John Gennadius. The Marathon Reservoir was completed in 1929-30, solving Athens' water problem.

Amidst all the poverty and desperation, the wealthy, as always, enjoyed themselves. The Inter-war years were the heyday of Kifissia. Osbert Lancaster later described it as a 'folk museum' of the more extravagant examples of twentieth century domestic architecture without rival in Europe. Among the styles he noted were Turkish Art Nouveau, Minoan Revival, Island Style, and especially Hellenistic Temple, Monte Carlo Casino and Swiss Chalet. He missed some. People of rival political persuasions patronised the different hotels. During the 1920s wealthy Athenians also began to use their new motor cars to drive out to Glyfada and Vοulίagmeni. Αt the same time, many suburbs were transformed into luxurious residential suburbs as in the case of Psihiko, Holargos, Filothei, Ilioupolis and Vοula.

On August 4, 1936,General Metaxas, a sympathiser with the Italian Fascists and the German Nazis, who believed that parliamentary politics would 'throw us into the embrace of Communism' was seized power with the approval of King George ΙΙ, and put the entire country under martial law.

He propounded the notion of a 'Third Hellenic Civilisation': the first being that of the city states of the fifth century and the Empire of the Hellenistic times; and the second the Byzantine Empire. He would found the third golden age of Hellenism. Attempting to be a populist leader, he styled himself 'First Peasant', 'First Worker', 'National father' and Duce. The new society would be achieved through discipline, as on the ancient Spartan model. Young people were pressured into joining the uniformed National Youth Organisation. His regime was quasi-fascist in its mix of nationalist populism and glorification of the state over the individual, but authoritarian and paternalistic, like many other regimes at that time in the Balkans, in its rallying call to traditional values of king, country, religion and family. Prison camps were set up on islands for political dissenters, and the leadership of the Communist Party quickly arrested.

The suburbs:

During this period Athens saw an exponential demographic growth that would push it even more towards its final transformation into a major metropolis.

As mentioned before, from the 1870’s it had already became the third largest urban area of the Balkans after Contantinople and Bucharest. However by the 1920’s after the extremely high influx of people from the lost Greek lands of Eastern Thrace and Ionia the city’s population skyrocketed Athens to the first place in the Balkans, even above Constantinople; which would not surpass Athens’ population until the 1980’s.

By 1921 the population of Athens and its closest suburbs started to show an urban continuum, marking the beginning of a sprawl that wouldn’t stop until our days; of course by these years the most distant suburbs from Athens, which by these days was already considered more as a city center, like Kifissia, Glyphada or Aghia Paraskevi to mention just a few, were still not part of this urban fusion; but it applied more to the suburbs of the first ring around Athens. For instance by the 20’s the urban sprawl to the west at the area of Kolokynthou reached the Kifissos. Thus a town like Peristeri was divided from the urban continuum of Athens by a semi-rural area that extended over from the river to Aghios Antonios, about 1.5 km to the west of Kolokynthou.

In 1921 the population of Athens with the suburbs included was of 473,000 by 1922 it would go up to 718,000 to reach the 763,000 by 1925.

However, this demographic explosion would lead to serious urban problems and necessities. The city neither was ready to support such a big numper of people nor had the infrastructure to provide them with the required basic amenities, so during the first years of the 20’s the image of Athens was far from idyllic. Actually it was a real chaos of confussion and urban improvisation.

Many of the of the neighboring towns were transformed from one day to the other into poor suburbs of Athens, full of shanties or poor structures that housed the Greeks refugees from E.Thrace, Ionia and the Pontus. During the early 20’s life was not easy for the inhabitants of these suburbs, due to the lack of amenities and infrastructure.

In 1923, the statistics department of the Ministry of Health, performed a census of the number of refugees in Athens. It showed that most of the Greeks coming from the lost historical territories of Greece live in temporarily in churches, schools, wharehouses and wooden shacks. So the Greek State established a new organism in order to solve immediately the housing problem of their compatriots; the Committee of Recovery of Refugees (Epitropi Apokatastasis Prosfygon, EAP). This committee managed to get a foreign loan in order to perform a series of works to solve the housing problems of the refugees, as well as opening new factories to decrease their high unemployment level.

The EAP and the Ministry of Social Provision built 12 main and 34 secondary housing complexes during this period; these housing projects result in a demarcation of the areas with a higher population of refugees. So the urban development follows two different directions that demark the two characters of a same city. One was that of the better off sectors of Athens, with an urban development of the northeastern suburbs; where many garden cities took shape during this period as in the case of Psychiko, Fhilothei, Ekali or Holargos among others. The other was that of the suburbs with a high number of Greek refugees like Byronas, Kaisariani, Nea Ionia, Peristeri, Kokkinia, Korydallos, Aigaleo, Nea Chalkidona which most of them where located at an average distance of 1-4 kms from the border of the urban web.

However the housing projects of the EAP were not completed; thus making impossible for this and other organizations to continue with the ordered and planned development of these suburbs, leaving a high number of these refugees with their housing problems unsolved. So these people had to find the solution for themselves, that leading to the unplanned and chaotic urban development of certain areas of the city.

At the beginning these people could only afford the possibility of living in wooden shacks that were so common in these suburbs until the ‘50’s. Life conditions in these shantytowns were really difficult due to the lack of infrastructure, water supply as well as the poor sanitary conditions, floods, garbage, stench, etc. Fires were not uncommon in these place also. In spite of all the aforementioned, these people struggled to solve their problems and slowly pull through.

Despite by 1927 the country has mostly got over, there are still many areas of Athens that do not follow this healing process at the same speed. So by this time we can find two cities in one Athens; that of the citizens who can afford all the required amenities of the times like a proper water supply, good sanitary conditions, organized urban areas, access to different public transportation means, etc.; and that of these poor suburbs where despite some progress can be seen, most of the above amenities are still considered as a luxury.

Noteworthy is the case of Nea Smyrni, settled on the whole by the wealthier refugees from Smyrna and representing an exception.

Nea Ionia was one of the benefitted, by the planned housing projects, suburbs. Until then the suburb was known as Podarades but when the first refugees from coming Sparti Pisidias settled there the area was known as Nea Pisidia. Later, with the organized development and the development of housing facilities, the area was mostly populated by people from the former Greek region of Ionia; resulting in a renaming of this suburb to “Nea Ionia”. Most of the settlers of Ionia were from cities like Smyrni, Aibali, Bourla, Tyateira and other towns of the Ionian hinterland, all of them thriving trading and industrial centers; so a great part of these Greek refugees had lots of commercial and technical abilities, thus recovering what they had lost, transforming this part of the city into a thriving textile industry center.

Nea Chalkidona was another one of the organized suburbs where the planned housing project of the then Ministry of Housing, Ministry of Social Provision and the Committee of Recovery of Refugees, was materialized. Before the arrival of the Greek refugees in this area, its residents were mostly occupied in rural activities. The first refugees to settle here came from Chalkidona, thereafter being renamed as Nea Chalkidona. Soon with the organization of the area and the construction of the new houses by the State other refugees settled here, most of them coming from Constantinople.

The area of Podoniftis entered also into the plans of the housing recovery for the refugees project. In 1923 a British-style garden city was developed in the area which was finished in 1927; and came to be known as “Nea Philadelphia”. Most of the houses were conferred to refugees who lived in a shantytown, that was destroyed after a fire, in the suburb of Ambelokipi. The houses where tile-roofed with small gardens. During the first years this suburb lacked of electricity, water supply, schools, roads, squares or public transportation services. The area was developed by the Committee of Recovery of Refugees on the expropriated lands of Panaghio Tafos, until then this part was named Donarades and consisted of a little rural town of 120 people, fields, olive groves and vineyards. The area of Kokkino Mylo (red apple), next to the Kyfisos was an area rich in apple trees. It was formaly renamed “Nea Philadelphia” in 1932 after the city of Philadelphia in Ionia. By 1931 it was linked with the center of Athens by a bus service.

In the case of Peristeri, today one of the most populated suburbs of Athens, before the arrival of the Greek refugees it was a small town which never changed its name, since it still retains the same name since 1592. The area was surrounded by olive grows, orchards and fields; an almost idyllic image that was to change in 1922. With the arrival of the refugees the State provided them with temporal wooden shacks, thus giving birth to “provisional” shantytowns that would keep existing for the next 30 years. The conditions here were mixed, with some developed and underdeveloped areas, unlike in the other suburbs mentioned before, Peristeri didn’t fall in the group of organized planning resulting in a slower process of recovery than in other parts of the city. Life was difficult in the shantytown formed in Evaggelistria which during the 20’s was also used as a landfill, another shantytown, known as “Dimotika” was formed to the left of current Megalou Alexandrou avenue.

These shantytowns were made up of wooden shacks built one next to the other, in square groups of about 100 shacks (10x10 on each side), separated by 3 meters alleys. Each of them had a room with a window and an entrance door. They were built by the State with cheap wood, since the idea was to made them a temporal solution to the housing needs of the refugees until they were relocated to their new houses; however this was not the case for thousands who remained in these “temporal” shacks for decades. They had dirt floors and the roofs were covered with bituminized paper. They had no bath at all, so they had to share public baths. By 1926 “new” shacks from Germany were brought and assembled in the shantytowns of Evaggelistria and Aghios Antonios; many of them would remain there until late 60’s when they were replaced by the public housing appartment buildings that stand now.

Since the help was not coming, some of the refugees of Peristeri, started to solve their problems without the help of the State. A group of Pontians built their own houses in an area that came to be known as the neighborhood of the Pontians “Pontiaka”. In 1927 a plot of land was conferred to the association of refugees known as “Chrissalis”, where they built their small houses. So if we are to consider these little neighborhoods, in addition to other isolated constructions here and there, plus the old town of Peristeri in the areas of “Ekato Dentra” and “Kolokynthou”, we can get an idea of what this puzzle, known as Peristeri in a whole, looked like.

It was just in 1929, that the first public housings were constructed in order to replace the rustic shacks. Unfortunately they were not that many and the few ones the State built were just for obligation, when groups of these precarious shacks were destroyed by a fire or the wind. Noteworthy is the fact that most of the refugees were widow women with their orphan children, since the Turks had killed thousands of Greek men during the mass killings of 1922. Out of over 25,000 only 2,000 were men in Peristeri.

In 1930 Peristeri still lacks of proper infrastructure, it has only one avenue (Panaghi Tsaldari), that connects the suburb through the Kifisou avenue with the urban area of Athens across the river. Some new semi-rural neighborhoods were springing to the northwest of Peristeri and the mountain as well as on areas by the bank of the river; some of these semi-rural neighborhoods include, Kounea, Nea Kolokynthou and Aghios Ioannis o Theologos-Burnazi. There was only one bus linking the area of Aghios Antonios with Athens, through the only existent avenue, Panaghi Tsaldari (which was the old road that connected the town with Athens since the old days).

Due to the large female population, some new industries opened in the area; worth of mention are the Lanaras brothers from Naussa, who opened a new textile factory in 1933. Until then the only factory in this suburb was the tapestry making one, of Papazoglou which was founded in 1925. However it later turned to textile industry opening a new factory by the bridge of Kolokynthou, known as “Ariston”.

By 1936 ¾ of the population of the suburb of Peristeri is made up of refugees. The connection to the electric network was optional and the water supply and draining system rudimentary, so water was transported from Athens. The lack of roads leads to serious problems to the few vehicles owners. So in 1937 new roads were laid to solve this problem. There are only four primary schools but no High Schools at all, so many children had to flunk out their studies at twelve. For the illiterates there was a night-school since 1936. By the late 30’s we can see some development taking place in Peristeri, including the first movie theater named “Mon Cine”.


At the end of the 30's the port had been modernised relative to installations and technical equipment, to the point where it was quite capable of meeting the demands of its traffic at that time. Moreover, during the period from 1900 to 1940, the city of Piraeus went through a remarkable evolution and, following the dramatic events of the period from 1912 to 1922 (the Balkan Wars, World War 1 and the Asia Minor Catastrophe) with which the life of the city had been so closely involved, it had grown into a giant.

Especially, after 1922, Piraeus experienced its greatest population explosion, with its population almost doubling to reach 251,659 in 1928 (133,482 in 1920) following the arrival of refugees and their rehabilitation in communities around the old city - today's municipalities of Nikaia, Keratsini, Drapetsona, etc. - The rehabilitation of these refugees naturally created acute problems (initially that of feeding, then housing, work, etc.) and marked the beginning of the gradual change in the make-up of the region's populace, but finally proving to be useful and productive because it strengthened the country's economy by the infusion of a remarkably volatile and valuable work-force whose contribution was apulciated as a positive factor not only of benefit to Piraeus but to the country as a whole.

Apart from the few works executed, the whole system of management became bogged down. Then, by the end of the first decade of the 20th century, it had been acknowledged, by practical experience, that there was need for a change (Statutory Law G.F.A./1909 "On the Formation of the Piraeus Port Committee"). The first government headed by Eleftherios Venizelos, by its Royal Decree of 20/1/1911, put that Law into force and thus the Port Committee began operating as an autonomous Legal Entity, undertaking the management of the Port Fund and the studies for the construction, maintenance and exploitation of harbour works and installations.

The Port Committee was made up of reulsentatives of the competent State services, within the cycle of port operations, and associate members of the productive classes dealing with and using the port. Upon establishment of the Port Committee, the port ceased to depend on the municipal authorities and thus gained its essentially managerial autonomy. However, following its establishment the PC. did not decisively deal with the exploitation of loading/discharge operations and other port works - a fact, indeed, which dictated the formation of the PPA., a few years later. In any case, it should be noted that the PC. did execute the construction of the first important (relative to our national renaissance) harbour- works at Piraeus, by which mainly the N.W. sector of the Central Harbour was formed. These works were instigated by the inspiration and initiative of Demetrios Kallimassiotis (1859- 1929), who was frequently appointed chairman of the PC. (1911-14. 1921-24, 1926-29). These works (2756 metres of quayways, the barge-dock, the harbour-wall at Keratsini, 5 storage sheds, some excavations, dredging,etc.) were executed between 1924 and 1931, at a total cost of 495 million Drachmes."

With the establishment of the Port of Piraeus Authority in 1930, the second decisive step was taken in the attempt to find a final solution to the problem of efficient management and exploitation of the port.

This step was dictated by the daily practicality itself which left no margin for delays. The Port of Piraeus at that time, despite the steady increase in traffic and the fact that the first extensive harbour-works were almost completed, was encountering serious prob- lems. The loading/discharge of cargoes was being carried out with the aid of primitive barges. Storage facilities were non-existent and, with the exploitation in the hands of third parties, disorder and insecurity were the order of the day at the country's leading port while, at the same time, the cost of port services was steadily rising. Three benefactors of the region's public life, Michael Rinopoulos, lawyer and later Mayor of Piraeus, Nicolaos Solo- nakis, Director of Piraeus Customs, and Georgios Sakalis, a Member of Parliament, brought to the attention of the then all-powerful prime-minister, Eleftherios Venizelos, these weak points and, with the support of the productive classes organisations, underlined the need to concentrate all responsibilities relative to organisation, management and exploitation under one body. These proposals were quickly acted upon and, by means of Law No 4748 of 15/ 5/1930, ratified by publication as the Royal Decree of 14/7/1930, the Port of Piraeus Authority was established, as a public entity, to take the place of the Port Committee relative to all its rights and obligations, but with far wider jurisdiction.

Especially, the PPA was charged (apart from all the ulvious PC's responsibilities) with the execution of loading/discharge operations, using its own means and labour force, the programming and supervision of the manner of execution of all port operations, by means of the issue of specific Regulations, the take-over of the Free Zone management and, finally, the PPA. was armed with the right to charge vessels, cargoes and passengers for the relative services and facilities offered.

The first chairman of the F~P~A. was Michael Rinopoulos (1879-1959) and the first General Manager was Theodoros Grigorakis, Adm. ret'd, of the Harbour-Master's Authority, both serving in their respective positions until 1933.

The establishment of the PPA., contributed decisively to the upward course of the Port of Pireaus and if, later, certain people observed some weaknesses in the organisation and exploitation systems as provided for by the establishment law, no-one could doubt the fact that the concentration of responsibilities covering management, and exploitation under one administrative body, thus ridding the port of its ulviously multi-headed form, was the beginning of the real progress and evolution that followed.

From its establishment in 1930 to the entry of Greece into the war (1940), the PPA. achieved the following:

  • Loading/discharge operations carried out by its own means and labour force (November 1931).
  • The establishment of the Piraeus Free Zone (Feb. 1932) which had initially operated as an autonomous public utility, under the first chairman Nicolaos Solonakis who again came later (1933) under the P.P.A. administration.
  • The installation and operation of the first two bridge-cranes (1932) Construction of the Silos (1937)
  • The execution of other port-works and building construction projects (including a 5-storey warehouse) and additions to technical equipment.

Ermou street in 1912

Panepistimiou in 1937

Stadiou in the 30’s

Stadiou in the 30’s

Omonia in the 30’s

Vasilissis Sophias in the 20’s

Syntagma in early 20th century

Syntagma in early 20th century

Syntagma in 1917

Urban infrastructure:

In the early 1900’s, Athens’ rapidly increasing population called for the city to grow and expand at a similar rate. This rapid development demanded that immediate action be taken regarding water supply. In 1922 with the huge influx of the Greek refugees from Eastern Thrace, Ionia and Pontus; Athens underwent a sharp increase in population that had a devastating effect on the city’s water supply. An American Company by the name ULEN Company was commissioned to renovate and increase the water supply capacity of the Hadrian Aqueduct system, as well as to construct a new water supply system for the Athens and Piraeus area.

Thus in 1925 a contract was signed between the Greek Government, the Bank of Athens and the American Firm ULEN for the financing and construction of the new water supply works. The result of the contract was the formation of a company with the name "The Greek Water Company S.A." (with the acronym EEY), whose sole purpose was to construct and operate water supply works for Athens.

The first major project was the construction of Marathon Dam (1926-1929), with a total height of 54 m. and a length of 285 m. Over 900 people were involved in the construction of the dam, which is considered unique because it is entirely paneled externally with Pentelikon white marble.

The Boyati Tunnel was constructed to transport water from the Marathon impounding reservoir to a new water treatment plant in Athens. The Marathon dam, the Boyati Tunnel, the Galatsi Water Treatment Plant and the new water distribution networks for the city of Athens and Piraeus represent the first modern attempt to provide a total solution to the city’s water supply needs.

Between 1880-1890 the first primary sewer network was completed with smaller diameter branches, mainly for local use, on various streets in the center of the city of Athens, with high population density. Until 1893 the total constructed combined network length was about 11,5 km while the urban development at that time required 90 km of sewer lines. The actual needs, in other words, were eight times more. Athens had only 12% coverage.

During the years 1893-1920, the Greek State successively invited different groups of experts from France, Germany and the USA to help finalize a strategy for solving the sewerage problem of Athens. One of the main issues considered was whether to proceed with the construction of a combined sewerage system or a separate one. The various proposals produced by the above experts, adopting the one or the other solution, only resulted in having the problem unsolved for many years.

In the meanwhile, due to the influx of refugees caused by the 1922 disaster, the need for the construction of wastewater projects became imperative. As the water supply distribution networks expanded, the total quantity of potable water consumption increased, resulting in the subsequent increase of sewage produced and conveyed to the existing wastewater network.

In 1929, the Italian Professor of Hydraulics Gaudecio Fantoli, was invited by the Greek Government to study the sewerage problem of Athens. Prof. Fantoli proposed the construction of a combined system for the Western part of the city (Kifissos River Catchment Basin) and a separate system for the Eastern part of the City (Ilissos River Catchment Basin), with outlet works of the Main Interceptor Sewer at Akrokeramos, the tip of the Piraeus Peninsula.

In 1931, the "Societe Anonyme for the Construction of Sewers in Athens and the Suburbs" was established, and despite the outbreak of World War II final designs for the construction of the basic sewerage network infrastructure, based on the preliminary studies by Fandoli, proceeded. One project was the design study for the Main Interceptor Sewer. Construction for this project began in 1954 and ended in 1959. Rainwater run-off and raw sewage collected by the combined system, was channeled to the Main Interceptor Sewer, running from the end of Patission Avenue to Akrokeramos, where the wastewater was finally discharge into the sea.

Lighting and electricity:

During the WWI, the electric street lighting system was available only in the center of Athens. In 1917 the streets of the suburbs took the electricity from the residences. Later electric light street lamps were installed in the streets and squares of the suburbs.

However due to the massive increase of population after 1922, the Neo Phaliro power station could not cover the needs of such a big population. Thus, lots of small private-owned power generation stations sprung up.

Then in 1926, the General Electricity Company built a new power station in Keratsini, which was inaugurated in 1929 complementing that of Neo Phaliro. This company also purchased the other smaller private owned power stations.

By 1929 250 cities all around Greece with populations above the 5,000 would be served; while smaller towns would resort to private investors or other means for the construction of smaller power stations.


In 1926 Athens was connected with other towns of Greece. In 1930 an agreement was signed with Siemens and Halske, for the installation of new lines in Athens as well as for connecting it with other cities.

In 1931, after the establishement of the Greek Telephony Company (AETE), some big steps were performed. The urban telephone network was also introduced in other towns of Greece, while from 1926 a new converter providing access to 1,200 users was installed in Thessaloniki. By 1941, Athens had 42,700 lines.

The history of radio in Greece began in the early 20th century, when “the Navy became the cradle of wireless communication.” In 1922 K. Petropoulos, lecturer of Physics at the University of Athens, performed a demostration of a complete system of wireless telegraph, which operated with valves. In 1924, Petropoulos began writing a number of articles in newspapers in which he described “the applications of wireless telephony” in western societies, which had then evolved into organized radio efforts.

Following the attempts made by the Department of Radiolectrology of the Ministry of Navy in 1923, the first successful radio broadcast was carried out by students of the school of Megareos in 1925. They resuited in the stringent control of the airwaves at the local/regional level as well as endless feuding among the British, American and German governments for the provision of a nationwide radio infrastructure. Thus, the weak efforts of the first radio amateurs – among whom S. Eleftheriou retains a prominent place, considered “the father of Greek radio” – to give a more permanent character to their experimental radio services were doomed to failure until 1938.

That year radio broadcasting commenced in Greece with the inauguration of the Athens Radio Station two years after the foundation of the Radio Broadcasting Service (YRE). Radio broadcasting started operating in Greece under German tutelage with the provision of radio infrastructure by Telefunken.

It was only after World War II that radio broadcasting started reaching mass audiences. This phenomenon was combined with the influx of amateurs specialised in the use of radio equipment during the War and the profesionalisation of national radio in the 1950s. The latter was also combined with the operation of radio broadcasting in the sphere of American control with the provision of technological infrastructure by General Electric and $1,000,000 aid for the reconstruction of radio services.

While the operation of YRE, now renamed EIR (Ethnikon Idryma Radiofonias – the National Radio Foundation), commenced upon the end of the German occupation, in 1945, the Second Programme (Deftero Programma) started broadcasting in 1952 by targeting the ascending Greek middle class with its music and entertainment output. The Third Programme (Trito Programma) was also introduced in 1954 by attempting to counteract the existing programme trends by introducing an elitist approach to the state radio output without any considerable success.

The inauguration of the central radio station of the Greek Armed Forces, which was directly related to the influential role of the latter in Greek political life since the 1930s, took place in 1948. At the same time, a network of thirteen local/regional radio stations belonging either to EIR or the Greek Army was set up until 1957.

The radio would play a major role during the German occupation.

Public Transportations:

In 1926, the companies S.A.P. S.A., the ATTICA RAILWAYS S.A. (the operating company of the railway from Athens – Attiki square - to Kifissia, known as the THERION of Kifissia), with a branch from N. Heraklion to Lavrion and the ATHENS – PIRAEUS TRAMWAYS S.A., the operating company of the trams, co-operated with the English Trust POWER. From this co-operation, two Companies arose:

I.E.M. S.A. (Electric Transportation Company) which operated the trams and the line of Kifissia and E.I.S. S.A (Hellenic Electric Railways S.A.), which operated the line from Athens to Piraeus.

E.I.S. S.A. undertook, both the obligation of the ex SAP’s S.A. operation and the improvement of the existing line, by extending it through an underground tunnel towards Attiki Station with double rail, in order to reach Kifissia, constructing an underground Station to Omonia Square.

In 1926 the terminal station of the Therion was moved from Omonia to Attiki, in order to start the works of the new underground stations of Omonia and Victoria squares as well of the underground tunnel running under Triti Septemvriou. There was a connection with the line “K” (after Kifissia) of the Tram in Attiki square for those who wanted to continue to Omonia.

In January 1928, construction works for the new underground Omonia station started. That same year the new Piraeus station was inaugurated; presenting an impressive arched roof inspired on the Milan Central Station. Also the new Kalithea station was inaugurated.

On July 21, 1930 the innovated station was inaugurated by the Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos. At the same time the new underground station of Victoria square was also completed as well as the new station of Neo Phaliro which now counted with three-platforms, an underground pedestrian crossway and a trains depot. The Omonia station started functioning, nevertheless the underground section of Omonia-Attiki was not working yet.

In 1931 the section of Aghii Anargyri-Neo Iraklio is connected, thus separating the Athens-Lavrio line from the urban line to Kifissia. After WWII the Lavrio line would be served by Diesel engines replacing the old steam-engines and thus decreasing the Athens-Lavrio journey duration to 1 hour 50 minutes.

During that year, a new system of automatic pneumatic doors was installed in the trains.

On July 20, 1936 the new 10 kms Tram line Piraeus-Perama was inaugurated. The line was served by 12 state-of-the-art Italian made trams (OM-CGE/BREDA). These Modern trams did not use a trolley wheel they dispenses with the trolley pole completely and had instead a pantograph. They also presented an automatic Scharfenberg wagons coupler system. This line was based on the Light Rail system for urban and interurban transit, of the Interwar period. The first 700 meters of the route, made use of the seaside double track line. From Aghio Dionysio to Perama and Naystathmo, at the end of the line, it made use of a single line of railway type with 7 stations.

In 1937 I.E.M. SA undertook the electrification of the Kifissia’s railway and on September 8, 1938 for the sake of construction works, the Therion was retired for good. About this on September 9, 1938 Timios Moraitinis wrote a colloquial article for the Ethnos newspaper: “After years of suffering, yesterday, Stamatis the famous handicapped of Kifissia, passed away. He was born 53 years ago in Athens. From the very first moment he practised a stoic philosophy, he used to shuffle along while whistling and chain-smoking. He had no family or friends and lived alone; a few days ago he first ran across electricity and without knowing what is it, he got electrocuted. At the end his final words were some swear words against electricity; but no one cared.” Kifissia should have to wait 19 years before the treturn of the train, but this time it would be an electric powered one.

The new line was designed to support an average speed of 30 kms/h; the 8 new trains had wagons with a maximum capacity for 200 passengers (seated and standing) as well as luggage racks. They also had phone connection with the stations and finally they were compatible with the lines of the Omonia-Piraeus section.

In the meantime, due to the 2nd World War the construction works stopped and so we reached 1950. During that year, a contract between the companies of E.I.S. and I.E.M., concerning the extension of the line from Attiki to Kifissia was ratified by Law and the line was finally completed up to Kifissia in August 1957. The railway connection from Piraeus to Kifissia became a reality.

Construction works along the Omonia-Attiki tunnel

Omonia's old Station in 1925

Royal Train at Piraeus Station in 1936

Steam driven train named "Therion" at Lavrion Square in 1920

Royal train at Piraeus in 1936

Ano Patissia station

1920 - Old Faliron Station

1926 - Piraeus Station construction

1926 - Piraeus Station construction

1926 - Piraeus Station construction

1920 - The train named Therion at 3rd September's str

1931 - The train named Therion, towards snowed Kifissia

Piraeus-Perama Tramway in 1936


In 1938 the Hellinikon Airport costruction started, in the Chasani area about 12-14 kms south of the center. It had a 1,800 meters long runway, which was constructed after expropriation of lands of Hellinikon and the then Komninos community. Nevertheless, due to World War II the construction works of the new airport stopped.

During the Italo-German occupation, the Germans performed some works on it for their own interests, but the allies air force hampered those works by a series of night bombardments; the bombardments were done by night in order to avoid killing any Greek worker employed on the construction of the airport by the Germans. However these bombardments cause major problems on neighboring residences.

Before the withdrawal, the Germans destroyed the runway. It was refurbished after the end of Worl War II and by 1950 a second 2,250 meters runway was constructed while the old one was also expanded to a length of 2,250 meter.

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Discussion Starter · #28 · (Edited)
Part IX - World War II, German occupation and Civil War (1940 – 1950)



Although Metaxas admired Mussolini and Hitler, he was a patriot. When, through the agency of his ambassador in Greece Mussolini demanded the right of Italian soldiers to enter Greek territory, his demand was firmly rejected, with the famous “No” (Oxi) of Metaxas on October 28, 1940.

Although the Italians bombed Piraeus on January 20, 1941 and many were killed, the invaders were soon pushed back into Albania. Churchill offered air and land support. Anxious not to provoke German intervention, accepted the former and refused the latter. When the dictator died on 29th January, 1941, he left behind an inept government unable to cope with the dangerous situation. His successor, Alexander Koryzis, invited in British troops, who started to arrive in March. Hitler, unwilling to expose the southern flank of his projected invasion of the Soviet union, launched a blitzkrieg on the Balkans.

Early on the morning of Sunday April 5, 1941, Germany declared war on Greece. Perhaps not surprisingly, Piraeus was their first target. The harbour was crowded with vessels discharging cargo, including the 12,000 ton Clan Fraser, with 250 tons of TNT in its hold and other ships nearby also loaded with explosives. Although several times during that day enemy planes flew over, no precautions were taken, such as towing the vessels containing the explosives outside the port for the night.

Under cover of darkness, waves of German planes dropped mines outside the harbour, blocking all vessels inside the port, then launched a heavy bombardment. The TNT in the hold of the Clan Fraser went up at about 3.15 a.m.. The shock of the blast was felt fifteen miles away in Athens, doors were blown in; while windows were shattered in Psihiko, a suburb to the north of the city. White hot debris detonated the ΤΝΤ in the other ships nearby, and set other ships, and buildings ashore, on fire. Dawn revealed that the port had been reduced to ruins, with ships and buildings still burning. The road between Piraeus and Athens was filled with refugees. Many camped in the railway stations and in Omonia Square, while others sought safety in the surrounding hills.

On April 18, 1941, Prime Minister Koryzis committed suicide, and on the next day there was an air battle over Athens between the Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force. General Tsolakogiou surrendered in Epiros, even offering his services to a collaborationist government. When the Germans advanced south, on Αpril 23, 1941 the Allies abandoned the capital, and the king and government fled to Crete.

The Bulgarians were to occupy Thrace and Eastern Macedonia, the Italians most of the rest of the country, and the Germans Athens, Piraeus and some of the islands.

On April 27, 1941, German troops entered Athens and made the Hotel Grande Bretagne their headquarters. They set up a puppet government under General Tsolakogiou. Using existing secret police reports drawn up by the Metaxas regime, the latter lost no time in rounding up communist sympathisers once more.

When German forces first entered the Greater Athens area, they were under strict orders to behave in a civilized and courteous manner, under instructions to treat the Greeks as though they had been 'liberated from British occupation.' But the Swastika flag, raised above the Acropolis, was soon stolen by two schoolboys. Then they soon came to be loathed as they imposed increasingly harsh measures on the population. Α curfew was enforced. All shutters had to be kept closed, especially irksome during the oppressive heat of the summer nights. It was forbidden to criticize German soldiers under any circumstances, even by so much as a glance -and the Germans themselves were the arbiters of what constituted a 'critical glance'.

The conquerors were afraid to sleep in camps for fear of bombardment by the Allies, so they appropriated private homes for their own use. They requisitioned all public and most private transport, so that citizens had to walk or use the home-made two-wheeled push-carts which were used as 'taxis'. Hospitals were emptied of the sick, including war casualties, to ensure that they would be available, if required, for German soldiers. The wounded victors of the campaign in Northern Epirus were turned out of their beds to be quartered in vacant warehouses, or were forced to wander the streets in pyjamas. Medicines were reserved for the use of the conquerors.

The Germans looted the country. German companies, such as I. G. Farben, appropriated the output of the mines. The tobacco, leather, cotton and silk crops were confiscated, or 'purchased' at pre-war prices with currency freshly minted by the Germans, which soon proved to be worthless. German soldiers would even stop passes by and casually rob them of their jewellery and watches. The same procedures were applied to food. Owners of livestock were required to hand over their flocks and herds. Within four months, over fourteen million animals had been sent to Germany. Much of the citrus fruit crop was appropriated by the Germans. The occupiers requisitioned food coming in from the countryside. Although most was taken by the occupying forces, or was exported, much of it found its way into the hands of profiteers, who sold it on the black market.

Although the British government had previously assured the Greek premier that in the event of the occupation of his country by the Axis Powers, Britain would permit 30,000 tons of grain per month to be imported for the use of the population, after the British forces had left this undertaking was not honoured. The justification given was the need to deny the occupying soldiers access to external sources of food. But it is clear that the effect of a total blockade would be to generate a full-scale famine. It seems inescapable that the real motive of the blockade was to drive the population to desperation, and so provoke them to rebellion against the occupying forces. To make matters worse, much of the country's grain supply had already been consumed by the British forces during their brief stay in the country.

Moreover, manpower in agriculture had been reduced by conscription, while the most fertile land, in the north, had been seized by Hitler's Bulgarian allies. Moreover, as normal transport broke down, country people grew increasingly reluctant to enter the towns to sell such produce as they had.

The hot dry summer of 1941 was followed by an unusually harsh and prolonged winter. Although Athens has a generally mild climate, with temperatures rarely falling below freezing, a harsh, penetrating wind from the north or northeast can quickly and thoroughly chill a city where the buildings are designed to keep out the heat of the sun, not to retain it. That winter, temperatures fell below zero and fuel was very hard to come by.

Famine became inevitable. The price of a loaf of bread rose to two million drachmes Ordinary meat, oil cheese and butter disappeared. All the animals in the greater Athens area were eaten Donkey meat was passed off as veal and cat as rabbit. People survived on scraps from the refuse of the conquerors, and on cabbage, grapes and acorns and wild greens; and even they were in short supply. Vitamin deficiency was commonplace: evident in the form of boils and tumours on hands, feet and faces. Malnutrition and the cold conspired to generate tuberculosis. Eyewitnesses recall the bloated stomachs of the children of the poor, most of whose hair fell out. Because of the malnutrition of the mothers, nine out of every ten babies died almost as soon as they were born. Others were abandoned by desperate mothers unable to feed them. Most medicines disappeared. Even aspirin required a certificate to obtain.

In time, many became tοο weak tο continue the search for food. They would sink tο the ground and die in the streets. An eye-witness wrote: 'Passers by, their clothes hanging limply away from their skeletal bodies, would sway and drop down dead. Their lifeless limbs sprawled out on the pavement, like those of a severed puppet, seemed unreal. We did not stop, nor did others who passed by, as it became such a usual sight - and then - there was nothing we could do.” The collaborationist government did nothing to assist the people during this period. Fortunately, EAM organized daily meals of soup made of dried beans in some areas, which saved many lives.

The effects of the famine were unevenly distributed. They were felt particularly severely by those on fixed incomes, and especially by industrial and service workers, whose wages had failed to keep pace with inflation. They bore most harshly and most implacably on the poor refugees of the industrial suburbs, who worked for long hours in terrible conditions in sweatshops owned by rich Greeks. Since much industrial plant was appropriated by the Germans, and raw materials were hard to come by, many lost both their jobs and the pitiful incomes which went with them.

Dυring that winter throughout the country as many as 450,000 people out of seven million either died of starvation or succumbed to ailments resulting from chronic malnutrition. In December, deaths in Athens were said to be a thousand a day. Many joined the resistance fighters with a sense of grievance against their own middle classes, who had watched their neighbours die and failed to help. They would exact a terrible revenge when the Germans left. Ironically, the health of the wealthy, forced to eat less, and reduced to eating some greens, improved considerably. At the end of winter, the British finally relented, and allowed in Red Cross supplies.

Graffiti recording resistance soon began to appear on walls. Many left the city and its crowded suburbs for the mountains and guerrilla resistance. On 28th October ίn 1942 and 1943 there were demonstrations. When, in February 1943 plans were made to deport Greeks to Germany for slave labour, there was widespread disorder. Archbishop Damaskinos threatened the Occupation Αuthοrities with a major rising, and they desisted. When nearly a hundred trams were destroyed in the Kallithea tram depot, only intervention by the archbishop prevented fifty hostages from being shot.

Jews were ordered to report to the authorities on a weekly basis. Archbishop Damaskinos protested. He instructed all monasteries to give sanctuary to Jews and organized the issue of false baptismal certificates. He used his limousine, exempt from searches, to get Rabbi Barzaiai out of the city to ELAS partisans and safety, while Police chief Evangelos Evert provided them with false identity papers. Some were taken out of the country by fishermen through the east-coast port of Rafina, although some of these were simply robbed and abandoned on deserted islets.

The Germans increasingly relied upon the collaborationist government to recruit Nazi sympathizers, mostly monarchists, former Metaxas supporters and other right-wingers, to form 'Security Battalions'. Their torture chambers in their headquarters in Stoumara Street were as notorious as those of the SS. Corpses of the victims killed there would be dumped on street comers. Other, less formal, groups of collaborators were created, such as the Panoliaskou Brothers in Keramikos, the Papageorgious band in Pangrati, and Colonel Griνas group known as 'Χ' in Thiseio.

In time, EAM/ELAS developed a well-organized resistance in Athens. Unlike the andartes of the countryside, they were young street fighters in ordinary civilian clothes with forged identity papers, based largely in the poorer refugee settlements which ringed the city centre. ELAS targeted collaborators, but respected the determination of the police to remain independent of the occupying forces. Resistance fighters caught in Athens were hung from trees in the streets, their bodies guarded by Security Battalionists to stop people from taking them down and giving them a proper burial.

As the Soviet steamroller moved inexorably westwards, the German occupying forces, sensing approaching defeat, began to grow increasingly desperate; while those Greeks who had actively collaborated with the Germans, grew ever more afraid, particularly of the working class refugees from Asia Minor, among whom the ELAS resistance movement was very active. The Germans determined upon a policy of collective guilt, in order to terrorize the people of those areas into acquiescence using the bloka. German forces would surround an area, usually very early in the morning, and round up all the men and holding them in the main square. Traitors would point out resistance fighters. These wοuld be executed, while others wοuld be taken to the SS Ρrisοn camp at Haidari as hostages. Once again, it was the poor refugees in the industrial suburbs, such as Kokkinia, Nea lonia, Vyronas, Dourgouti (now Neos Kosmos), Kallitheia, and Gyzi, who bore the brunt of their ferocity. As the occupying forces had calculated, the news of what was happening in one district would quickly spread across the entire Greater Athens area, and induce widespread terror.

The SS prison camp at Haidari was used as a transit camp to hold Jews and others before moving them out of the country; to house Greeks being held for interrogation at their Headquarters in Kolonaki; and tο keep hostages awaiting execution in reprisal for partisan activities. The buildings lacked proper accommodation and sanitation. Water had to be brought in by truck, and if the supply of petrol ran short, so did the water. Prisoners were forced to relieve themselves in the corridors and on the stairways. Food was limited to beans, bread and water. The only doctor in the camp had no dressings or medicines.

Early in 1944, after a German general was killed in the Peloponnese, two hundred hostages were selected for execution. Taken across the city to a firing range in a ravine on the side of Mount Hymettos, at Kaisariani, they decided, en masse that they would not undress, as victims were always required to do, but would go to their deaths fully clothed and with dignity. Families and friends gathered on the nearby hillsides and watched helplessly as the hostages were executed in batches of twenty This atrocity was followed by others. On May 10, 1944 ninety men and ten women, and on May 18, 1944 another hundred, went to their deaths; on September 5, 1944 fifty were executed in reprisal for the murder of a notorious collaborator, Apostolos Papageorgiou. On September 8, 1944, seventy-two were shot in the, ravine of Daphni. The villages of Attica were no less vulnerable. When, on July 22, 1944; two German officers were killed at Pikermi, fifty-six villagers were executed and the neighbouring village of Koropi burned down.

Βy late summer 1944, the Germans were preparing to pull out. Colonel Ρlytzanopοulοs, head of the Security Battalions, began claiming that he and his officers had always really supported the Greek Government-in-exile in Cairo. Members of the Security battalions visited ΕΑΜ leaders to suggest joint action against the withdrawing Germans, an offer which was contemptuously refused. By September 10, 1944; frequent gun battles between the two resumed.

On October 12, 1944, Athens and Piraeus were liberated by resistance fighters. By the time that the Germans pulled out, the economy and infrastructure of Greece was in ruins, and its currency worthless. The coming British had fought alongside the Greeks before pulling out, and were regarded by almost everyone, including the members of EAM, as welcome allies. But the wealthy, many of whom had made fortunes on the black market, and the collaborators, looked to them for protection against reprisals by EAM/ELAS. In an already polarised society, there could be no easy reconciliation.

In retrospect, it is clear that the leaders of the West, already anticipating the end of the war, had their eyes set upon a new confrontation between the capitalist and communist powers, and were engaged, while the war was still going on, in manoeuvring for advantage. Churchill, on a visit to Moscow, had proposed a secret share out of the Balkan states: with Rumania, Bulgaria and Hungary To fall within the Soviet sphere of influence, while Britain would control Greece. Stalin had accepted what became known as the 'Percentages Agreement'.

Churchill had no doubt that King George, when restored to his throne, would prove a reliable friend, i.e. an obedient puppet. But the communists, and the other patriots in ΕΑΜ and ELAS, together with the vast majority of the Greek people, did not want the restoration of a monarchy which before the war had connived in the establishment of an oppressive authoritarian dictatorship. Only the right wing, many of whom had actively collaborated with the Nazis during the Occupation, were royalist. The attitude of the British Government was soon evident when, as early as August 1944, Churchill had ordered the BBC not to give 'any credit of any kind' to the resistance fighters when reporting on developments in Greece.

Soon after the German army pulled out, the British army arrived under General Scobie, to be greeted by an enthusiastic welcome. They set up their headquarters in the former German quarters in the Hotel Grande Bretagne. On October 18, 1944; George Papandreu and the government in exile were brought in on a British warship. This was a government of national unity, in which the ΚΚΕ, ΕΑΜ and ELAS were represented. The ΚΚΕ placed the fighters of ELAS under British military authority.

The British brought in the Royalist Mountain Brigade, armed the collaborationist anti-left forces, and demanded the disarmament of ELAS. This would have left EAM-ELAS at the mercy of the collaborators, so ELAS refused to disarm unless the Mountain Brigade was removed from the city.

On the evening of Saturday, November 2, 1944 there was a meeting of the Greek cabinet in the building of the Foreign Ministry. The chief of the Athens police, Colonel Evert, informed the government that ΕΑΜ- ELAS was planning a demonstration on the coming Sunday and a general strike for the day after. The Prime Minster argued that it could not possibly go ahead at that time, since General Scobie, together with the British Ambassador, would be attending a reception at the Parnassos Club. Police chief Evert doubted whether EAM-ELAS would agree to postpone their demonstration for a social engagement for the British Ambassador, so Papandreu decided to forbid it altogether. The intention of the people to defy the ban soon became apparent.

At about 10:50, a small crowd several hundred strong, the vanguard of some 60,000 who were following some way behind, delayed by police road blocks, were fired upon from the police station by police and collaborators. Twenty-five were killed and nearly one hundred and fifty wounded. Prime Minister Papandreu tried to calm things down with a broadcast to the nation, but it was too late. He could not be heard, since by that time, the power had already been cut to most of the city. Extremists on both sides began to seek out their enemies and settle old scores incurred during the Occupation. ELAS began taking over police stations.

Αt first the partisans did not fire on British soldiers, but, Churchill ordered General Scobie to treat Athens 'as a captured city where a local rebellion is in progress.' Artillery shelled, and Spitfires strafed, the working class suburbs of Athens. After suffering the horrors of the Nazi occupation, the Athenians found themselves under fire from the very 'Allies' who had supposedly come to liberate them. Ironically, a city which had not been bombed during the war because of its historic associations came under fire from its own 'allies' when the common enemy had departed. Αt the same time, following their previous tactic of blockade, the British denied food to areas under ΕΑΜ control.

Contradicting those who chose to depict the fighting as a Soviet inspired attempted coup, the Soviet Military Mission took refuge in the Grande Bretagne, the British military Headquarters. Equally significantly, the defence perimeter established by the British was extended to include the wealthy area of Kolonaki. The British chose to participate in a class struggle against the mass of the working people. Churchill visited on December 26-28, 1944 in person.

Fighting was fiercest in the suburbs of Ambelokipoi and Kaisariani. Despite the surrender of the RAF headquarters in Κefalari, the British and security battalions forced the resistance fighters to evacuate Athens on January 6, 1945, but before they left the latter had conducted sporadic reprisals against collaborators.

Thousands were killed in what became known as the Dekemvriana. Paradoxically, more damage to buildings and infrastructure was done to Athens in three months of British “liberation” than less than four years of Nazi occupation. Moreover, small-scale conflict was to continue for some time.

On February 12, 1945, General Scobie signed a truce with the partisans at Varkiza, arranged by Archbishop Damaskinos, and fighting in and around Athens came to an end. ΕΑΜ agreed to disband ELAS, and in return there would be an amnesty for ELAS guerrillas, legalization of the ΚΚΕ and a referendum on the monarchy.

Although some collaborators were all arrested, only twenty-nine were executed. The police were much more interested in rounding up members of EAM and in persecuting the left. Many prominent collaborators held office in the army and police with impunity, while participation in the anti-fascist resistance during the Occupation came to be seen as evidence of being a danger to the state. Even in Central Athens, gunfire could be heard almost every night until December 1945 as the former collaborators took advantage of their position to settle scores with the resistance. By the end of 1945 about 50,000 members of EAM had been imprisoned. In the Army the Sacred Union of Greek Officers (LDΕΑ) ensured the sidelining or retirement of all army officers who were not monarchists. ΕΑΜ sympathizers were purged from the civil service. Under these conditions, ELAS refused to disarm.

The distribution of food relief sent by UNRRA was made by Greek officials, mostly former collaborators, and was characterized by gross corruption; most going to merchants friendly to the distributors to be resold on the black market to those who had the money to buy.

The British chose five prime ministers in succession, each of whom failed to gain any authority. In April 1946 elections were held in a show of democracy which was no more convincing than those held in Eastern European states under the shadow of the Soviet Union. Naturally, the conservative Peoples' Party won. In September 1946, under conditions of extreme duress and fraud, no one was surprised when the monarchy received the support of a majority in a rigged referendum. King George promptly returned to Greece, but died in March 1947, to be succeeded by King Paul.

It soon became clear to the left that the British were another occupying power, rather than liberators. They had no intention of allowing any regime in Greece except one which could be relied upon to be accommodating to themselves and hostile to their Soviet rivals. Greece was to be a pawn in the strategy of Cold War. The hold of the royalists and former Nazi collaborators on the forces of law and order was strengthened, enabling them to launch a sustained campaign of terror against the forces of the Left.

Arbitrary police searches of private houses were authorised, and courts martial set up to try people for security offences. Several thousand were executed, and tens of thousands sent to the reopened island prison camps of the Metaxas dictatorship. Some of these, such as that on the island of Makronisos, off the south-eastern coast of Attica, were as bad as anything the Germans had run. Arbitrary assassinations of Leftists were frequent. Since the police controlled the issuing of permits for anything from a driving licence to university entry to running a restaurant, they required the applicants to sign retractions of unacceptable opinions. The Trade Unions were emasculated by legal restraints and police persecution of members.

During this period the ΚΚΕ and ΕΑΜ lost much of its membership. Some had been alienated by the reprisals, others were afraid of losing aid, others reacted against the new discipline imposed upon the party by its leader, returned from the Soviet Union, Nikos Zachariadis; and others simply left the country. In response to their perception of the situation, and frequently as a matter of personal safety, many members of the Left nevertheless 'went to the mountain'. Α general civil war had begun. Most of the rebels support in Athens was unable to join them: they were dead, imprisoned, or under close police surveillance.

Early in 1947, the British government, finding itself overstretched and in dire straits, withdrew from three theatres of foreign affairs: India, Palestine and Greece, leaving behind intractable problems in each place. In Greece it was the end of a partial hegemony which had lasted since the 1820s. The USA rushed in to take its place. The Greek representative in Washington was summoned to the State Department and peremptorily ordered to 'request US aid'. In a speech full of the of Manichean dichotomies of Cold War propaganda on March 12, 1947; US President Truman vowed to defend Greece, and all other 'freedom loving peoples' attacked by 'totalitarian communism.'

Greece became a client state of the USA. Dwight Griswοld boasted: 'Ι have just to make up my mind what Ι think is best for Greece.' US control was systematically institutionalized. For example, from 1948 a US citizen had to be Governor of Social Security (IΚΑ). The Managing Director of the Department of Foreign Trade of the Ministry of the National Economy, who approved applications by individuals and companies to import and export goods was to be an American. The board of the Thessaloniki Radio Station had to have three Greek and three US members.

At the same time, the army, heavily controlled by former collaborators and monarchists, became 'a state within a state'. In 1949 General Papagos was empowered to determine the composition of the army, to create and dissolve units, and to decide upon operations without consulting ministers, whereas the ministers were bound by his decisions.

What US domination meant for the 'free peoples' they were 'defending' soon became evident. Four months after the declaration of the Truman Doctrine more than 36,000 people were arrested and imprisoned in concentration camps. Some 37,000 were given courts martial, and 20,000 convicted. During the next three years, nearly 8,000 were sentenced to death. 'Aid' largely took the form of hundreds of military advisers, military supplies such as bombers, and reconstruction of the infrastructure to enable the military to deploy around the country. For the next two years the civil war waged outside Athens was under the firm control of the Americans and their agents in Athens, who did not stop at chemical warfare. Napalm was supplied by the Americans to be dropped on northern villages. Torture, courts martial, firing squads, concentration camps if anything more brutal than those set up by the Nazis, and police supervision and harassment were the instruments of oppression, and felt no less in Athens than elsewhere. Such was Greece's fortune to be part of the 'democratic free world'.

In one sense, the civil war was a struggle between Athens and the rest of Greece, the Westernised capital and the traditional provinces. Athenians feared the traditional Greece of the villages. C.M. Woodhouse points out that “Almost no native Athenian, and certainly no Athenian politician, knows any more about life in the wilds of Greece than the inhabitants of Paris or London. The Greek provinces are to them as much a foreign country as Tibet. Those who ever did know anything of them do their best to forget it. Their slogan, consciously or unconsciously, (and often explicitly) is: ‘Athens is Greece’.'' There is every reason to suppose that at this time, the army tried to make this slogan a reality.

The army evacuated many mountain villages of their inhabitants, destroyed their homes, and forced them into the towns, including the greater Athens area, the better to supervise and control them. For those who could, emigration was obviously an attractive proposition. Many went to Australia, Canada and the USA.

About 15,000 children were forcibly evacuated from the area threatened by the rebels. When the rebels began to do the same thing, Karl Rankin called it 'a major psychological blunder' which could be employed as 'useful anti-communist propaganda.' The CIA spread the story that they were kidnapping children and having them indoctrinated in Communist countries, so that they could return and set up a Communist dictatorship.

Even though US propaganda asserted that Stalin actively supported the rebels, in fact he stood by the Percentages Agreement. Some 100,000 rebels escaped across the Albanian border.

By the end of the civil war, the countryside had been devastated. By 1948, over 60,000 had been killed, over 5,000 villages had been completely destroyed; two thirds of the country people suffered from malaria. Over a third of the country's forests had been razed. Habitable homes, seed, animals, and indeed food, was in very short supply.

Luftwaffe over Athens, April 1941. Photo courtesy The Simon Wiesenthal Center

New Zealand soldiers are farewelled by the people of Athens, April 1941

New Zealand Infantry in Athens. March 1941.

Welcoming the New Zealand Infantry in Athens. 1941

Athens from the Acropolis

The Aftermath of Dekemvriana. In December 1944.

Athens in 1950. Zacharoplasteio Zonar’s.

1,298 Posts
Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Part X - The reconstruction years (1950 – 1967)



After the end of the war Greece is economically destroyed and socially destroyed. Politically the largest party is Constantinos Tsaldaris' People's Party. There are also three parties of the center. The Liberals, led by Sophocles Venizelos, the son of Eleftherios Venizelos, the National Progressive Center Union, led by Nikolaos Plastiras, another Venizelist, and the Party of George Papandreou which is also a centerist party.

In March 1950 elections were held to demonstrate to the UN that Greece was a functioning democracy. Previously governments had effectively been appointed. Intimidation was not resorted to in the towns, with the result that the Liberal Party and the centre won the elections Plastiras became prime minister. This mattered less than it seemed, since the centres of real power lay in the American Embassy, CIA Headquarters, the royal palace at Tatoi and the Greek Pentagon. The forms of parliamentary democracy were a sham. The dominant figure in Greek politics, until his death in 1955, was General Papagos. In 1952 the Greek Ambassador insisted upon changes to the electoral system to enable Papagos and his Greek Rally to win the election, which he did in November 1952, when he became prime minister.

At the end of the civil war Greece could hardly claim to be an independent country. Between 1951 and 1957 Greece received $1,491,000,000 in aid, of which $1,150,000,000 was in military aid. Although corruption was rife, and there was no doubt some 'trickle down effect', little remained for any kind of aid which would directly benefit ordinary people. It is estimated that during the civil war had the American money instead of going towards weapons and military assistance they could have given every communist $8000 so they could have become capitalists.

From 1951 to 1960 almost 12% of the population has emigrated to Australia, Canada and Germany.

Relations with Turkey are improved and in 1952 they are both admitted to NATO. But in 1955 a political crisis in Cyprus leads to anti-Greek riots in Istanbul after the home of Attaturk is bombed in Thessalonki. Later it is discovered that the bomber was a member of the Turkish Secret service, but in the meantime the Turkish press exaggerate the incident and stoke the frenzy of the crowd against non-Muslims. For two days rioters destroy Christian churches, plunder Christian owned shops and invade homes in Greek and Armenian neighborhoods raping and killing. According to the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk in his excellent book 'Istanbul', it was later discovered that the rioters had the blessing of the city government which is why the troops that came in to stop them always arrived too late. The end result, probably the desired result, was the final exit from Constantinople of the last of the remaining Greeks. Istanbul which had a turn-of-the-century population that was half Greek was now almost entirely Muslim.

In 1955 Greece became a member of NATO. The Hellenic Raiding Force was set up as a crack commando unit.

To suppress any opposition, its officers were trained in the USA, and in many cases actually paid by the CIA. Tom Keramessines built up the CIA operations so that Athens became an American Government’s espionage hub for the entire Balkans and eastern Europe. Α Greek espionage agency, the ΚΥΡ, was set up and funded by the CIA. In addition to spying on Eastern bloc radio traffic, it was employed against the population, being used to detect “subversive elements” in Greece. Many of its members were also paid by the CIA. By 1961, when the ΚΥΡ had files on 20% of the population, the CIA kindly provided computer facilities to enable better handling of their 'intelligence' - no doubt the better to preserve their 'freedom.'

In 1953 foreign companies and wealthy Greek ship-owners were given extraordinary tax exemptions. Police control ensured low wages and industrial peace. This 'crony capitalism' ensured that wealth came to be even more concentrated in the hands of a few businessmen.

Greece participated in the economic recovery which followed the Second World War, and having entered later from a lower position, the results seemed more impressive. Roads were built, the water supply improved, etc. Some of these 'improvements', such as the replacement of trams with buses, were not. Mass tourism made its reappearance during the 1950s. The area on the north side of the Acropolis was landscaped. Glyfada was developed as a tourist resort. In the area around the centre, apartment blocks began to replace houses.

Meanwhile in Cyprus, the Greek Cypriots who are 80% of the population of the island want enosis, union with Greece. The Turks want partition.

The person most associated with this 'economic miracle' was the Macedonian politician, Constantine Karamanlis. Α hitherto obscure Macedonian politician, he was promoted above senior colleagues at the insistence of Alan Dulles, US Secretary of State. Andreas Papandreou described him as 'an American product.' From 1952-55 he was Minister of Public Works, and on the death of General Papagos became Prime Minister. Refoundίng Papagos' Greek Rally as the National Radical Union, he held power until 1963. His style was autocratic, and in general he bypassed parliamentary forms.

However, the benefit to Greece of the 'economic miracle' was limited. It was designed to snit the needs of the often foreign entrepreneurs, and not the long term development of the country. Significant profits were confined to a few very wealthy people and their dependants. Much of it was exploitative, by companies which, like the wealthy Greek ship-owners, promptly moved their profits abroad. Education was under funded, and based upon rote learning to foster uncritical acceptance of authority. There was rise in the standard of living, but after war, occupation and civil war, that was only to be expected.

Once again, Athens benefited proportionally more than the rest of the country. Between 1951 and 1961 net immigration was nearly 331,000. Not only was ίt the seat of the highly centralized bureaucracy, industry, banking and shipping, but the services were far superior to anything outside the capital. In 1961, 70% of all students in higher education studied in Athens, while the Greater Athens area held 85% of the medical specialists of the entire country.

During this period the government made great attempts to ensure that all those traces of the traditional Greece which were still to be found in Athens were eradicated, and in doing so, they destroyed something of the traditional life of the city. In 1961 the milkmen of Athens were forbidden to hold their usual festival at the Temple of Olympian Zeus. In 1964 the traditional carnival figure of the gaitanaki was banned from the streets. At the same time, Athenians were forbidden to fly kites on Clean Monday on the Mouseion Hill. Perhaps such manifestations of popular culture reminded the ruling class too much of that other Greece which was being so assiduously suppressed.

In 1957, Max Merton, the administrator of Thessaloniki during the German occupation returns to Greece to testify in a trial and despite assurances by the Greek government that this would not happen, is arrested and charged with war crimes during the period of deportation of the Jews. During the trial he testifies that members of the Karamanlis government, including people who were very close to the prime-minister were his contacts and in fact collaborators. This was an embarrassment for Karamanlis especially since he was in negotiations to get Greece into the Common Market. A deal was made and in return for Merton's release after the trial, Germany would support Greece's application for membership.

In 1958 Archbishop Markarios the spiritual leader of the Greek Cypriots, in exile in Athens, agrees to consider the possibility of independence for Cyprus instead of enosis. The island becomes an independent republic within the British Commonwealth, with British, Greek and Turkish forces being co-guarantors of the island's sovereignty. The constitution guarantees the Turkish minority, which is under 20% of the population, 30% of the seats in parliament. Karamanlis is accused for betraying Greece in the interest of NATO and the Americans. But with the problem of Cyprus out of the way, or at least swept under the rug for now, he has the opportunity to focus on improving the fortune of Greece. In 1961 he negotiates an agreement with the European Economic Community that will pave the way to full membership.

In 1961 the CIA and army officers conducted extensive enqυiries about voting intentions, and when they had digested the results, they put into operation the ironically-named 'Pericles Plan' to ensure a conservative victory. They located the key marginal constituencies, and organised the systematic intimidation of the voters. The leader of this plot, General Dovas, was then appointed by the king caretaker Prime minister during the voting to ensure fair play. They were assisted in their work by TOΕΑ, a group of right-wing officers, mostly former Nazi collaborators, who regarded all non-conservatism as communism. Support for the Karamanlis' right-wing National Radical Union (ERE) in the election was exactly 100% in the army, while 200,000 fictional voters were conjured into existence to support the right in Athens. Some polling stations did not have voting papers with the names of non-ERE candidates on them. In one village in Crete the ERE candidate received more votes than there were citizens eligible to vote. It is hardly surprising that on October 29, 1961, the ERE won a clear majority of seats in the parliament

The plan backfired. Both centre and left rejected the legitimacy of the resulting government, and criticised the right's subservience to the US government, its favouritism towards big capitalists, its support for social inequalities, employment of wartime collaborators and repression of dissent.

In 1963 Queen Frederika visited to London. Although the civil war had ended fourteen years before, there were still almost a thousand political prisoners in jail, and nearly a thousand languishing in internal exile. The Welsh wife of prisoner Antonios Ambatielos led demonstrations against her. The 'doughty' Frederika was reduced to bolting into a citizen's house to call the police to rescue her. When Mrs. Ambatielos' cause was taken up by Piraeus ΜΡ Dr. Gregory Lambrakis, back in the safety of Athens, the humiliated Frederika demanded that someone do something about him. Lieutenant General Μίtsου arranged that when Lambrakis was in Thessaloniki for a Nuclear Disarmament rally, a bunch of thugs would attack him and the police would see nothing. Lambrakis was killed, but embarrassingly, some of his supporters caught one of his attackers. The funeral in Athens was attended by over 100,000 people. Α Thessaloniki magistrate, Christos Sartzetakis, later president, tried to get at the truth but he was impeded by the authorities, while several key witnesses 'died in mysterious circumstances.' The major significance of this affair was that it demonstrated to anyone with an open mind that behind the forms of democracy there existed an extreme right-wing 'parastate' of former Νazi collaborators who were prepared to use illegal means, including murder, against all those who threatened the dominance of the court, the army officers and the US Government. It revealed the Greek democracy as a Mafia state. It also inspired the foundation of the Lambrakis youth movement under Mikis Theodorakis.

King Paul and Queen Frederika unwisely decided to return to the UK in 1963, against the advice of Prime Minister Karamanlis. Frustrated at the endless interference of the royal family, Karamanlis resigned and went into exile. Not unexpectedly, the royal visitors were harassed by demonstrators everywhere they went. The leader and deputy leader of the Labour Party boycotted the state dinner in their honour and joined the demonstrators. This convinced many lower rank army officers that while the monarchy was a useful symbol, this weak king and his interfering mother were a liability.

Greece is a country of extreme right and extreme left and in the middle are a majority of people who are just trying to survive in a climate of nepotism and corruption.

But in 1963 things begin to change and the people find a voice in George Papandreou and his Center Union party who has been leading his Anendotos (unyielding fight) since the fraudulent 1961 elections. The Anendotos is Papandreou's plan to have honest and fair elections, create a properly functioning democracy, restrict the King to his constitutional role and neutralize the military which has become overly political through the indoctrination by the right-wing establishment.

Elections in November 1963 were not generally rigged, and Papandreu got 53% of the votes and won the largest number of Parliament seats. In February 1964, after a new election, he won a majority. The normal US Government interference had been reined in by a new ambassador appointed by President Kennedy, Henry Labouisse. He soon transferred CIA station chief Laughlin Campbell out of Greece. When approached by a group of generals asking how he would react to a coup to prevent a Papandreu government, he replied that he was against it. This new 'hands off' approach did not last long.

At Christmas 1963 communal fighting had broken out between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The British had spying facilities in the Troodos Mountains, and were unwilling to see them threatened. The Johnson administration proposed partition, rejected by Greece on behalf of the majority Greek population. In mid-1964 a proposal was made that Greece give up Kastellorizo. When the Greek ambassador said that the Greek parliament and constitution had not authorised to him to give away parts of his country, President Johnson let the customary cover of diplomacy slip, revealing the realities of US Government power politics, and yelled: '**** your parliament and your constitution. America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. Greece is a flea. If these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked good. We pay a lot of good American dollars to the Greeks, Mr. Ambassador. If your Prime Minister gives me talk about democracy, parliament and constitution, he, his parliament and his constitution may not last long. Don’t forget to tell old Papa-what's-his-name what Ι told you.' When Athens complained, Johnson rang up the ambassador and threatened him: 'You had no call putting in all the words Ι used on you. Watch your step.'

King Paul died in 1964, and was replaced by his son, Constantine II. The accession of the young, impressionable king increased the real influence and power of his mother, Queen Frederika. An arrogant woman who was a grand-daughter of the Kaiser and a member of the Hitler Youth, she tended to believe whatever was in her own interests, such as that the Greek royal family was descended from the emperors of Byzantium. Already criticised for her administration of tax money for her own 'charitable purposes' without any public accounting, i.e. as a source of patronage, she was clearly quite deficient in her understanding of the role of a constitutional monarch in a modern state, and managed to pass this disability on to her son.

Early in 1965 a military report on the subversion of the 1961 elections revealed the Pericles Plan, and the part played in the election by army officers. The king accused Papandreu of aiding the communists and sought the dismissal of the investigating officers. As a diversionary tactic, a counter-accusation was launched that there was a conspiratorial left-wing group of army officers, known as Aspida, which sought to take over the country for the communists. The claim was made by right-wing Nazi collaborator General George Grivas, supported by allegations and manufactured evidence from a certain Colonel Papadopoulos. An investigation into the Aspida affair by members of IDΕΑ led to the arrest of twenty-eight officers, including the officer who had led the investigation into the Pericles affair.

The final breach between Papandreu and the king centred upon the desire of George Papandreu to dismiss General Gennimatas. The king was stiffened by his mother and CIA station chief Jack Maury. He insisted that he, and not the elected Ρrime minister, decide who should control the Ministry of Defence and the anned forces. This left the Prime minister with no option but to resign. The king replaced him with George Novas without calling for elections.

The streets of Athens resounded to mass protests, known as the 'July Days'. Hundreds were injured and dozens killed, as the disturbances continued. Some Centre Union politicians, including Constantine Mitsotakis, moved over to the king to give Novas' government a slim vote of confidence, but that did not help secure legitimacy. In February 1966, 700,000 people demonstrated in support of George Papandreu.

In March 1967 fifteen of the accused in the Aspida trial were given prison sentences. An army officer who called it 'a witch hunt' was promptly dismissed. The defence lawyer was later murdered.

Pressure for elections proved overwhelming, and they were set for the next spring. Everyone expected an overwhelming victory for George Papandreu. The key marginal constituencies were identified, as had happened in the Pericles Plan, and a scheme drawn up by CIA station chief Maury for the character assassination of Andreas Papandreu, and the funding of politicians opposed to him. Ambassador Talbot was against such interference in the democratic process. Historian Peter Murtagh has shown that when Talbot reported to Washington on the preparations, he had originally stated that a Centre Union victory would be preferable to a coup, but Maury had secured the removal of this passage.

The CIA knew that the generals had no intention of allowing elections to go forward and had long been planning a coup. The chief of the General Staff, Spandidakis, had decided to ask the king to implement a ΝΑΤΟ plan to seize power, but the king vacillated. They wavered only about the date. The 16th April had been chosen to coincide with a left-wing rally, but it was cancelled. The 24th May was then chosen, but postponed on 20th April. Α cabal of middle-ranking army officers led by CIA employee Colonel George Ρapadopοulοs, Nicholas Makarezos and Βrigadίer Stylianos Pattakos, decided to go anyway, acquiring the patronage of Spandidakis, and implementing the ΝΑΤΟ Prometheus Plan, officially originally devised to counter 'communist insurgency'.

In the early hours of the morning of April 21, 1967; they seized control of the state. The CIA trained Hellenic Raiding Force took over the Pentagon in Holargos, and Colonel Pattakos' tanks left Goudi barracks for central Athens. The cover of democratic forms was to be removed. This was the first time that a Western country in Europe had fallen to a dictatorship since the Second World War.

Urban development of Athens:

During the 50’s Athens urban sprawl was reinforced by the massive influx of immigrants from the countryside looking for job and a better opportunity in the big city; most of them coming from Epirus, Peloponnese and the Cyclades.

By the first decade of this period the already existing slow process of fusion between the suburbs and the main city of Athens (which by mid century had its urban network continuum sprawled beyond the first ring, reaching the Kifissos to the west) got a decisive boost that accelerated it to levels that wouldn’t slow down until our days; and that eventually would transform Athens into one of the five largest metropolis in Europe.

Indeed the separation between the boundaries of the suburbs and the main city and between each other, was really small by this time, at least in the area that goes from current Maroussi at the north side, to the area of Alimos to the south, Aigaleo mountain to the west, Imittos to the east and Piraeus to the southwest; the latter being almost merged with Athens by the 50’s, specially along the metro line 1 (known as Athens-Piraeus electric line at the time) and Pireos avenue.

But soon the remaining, already small, semi-rural buffer zones would disappear.

Greece developed rapidly between 1950 and 1960, initially with the help of the U.S. Marshall Plans' grants and loans and later through growth in the tourism sector. The sharp increase in the construction of new buildings was fuelled by a huge wave of immigrants into Athens at a time when large numbers were emigrating abroad to Australia and the Federal Republic of Germany.

Masses of people from the countryside arrived in Athens which made the city’s population increase from 1.124.000 people in 1940 to 1,800,000 in 1961; and to 2.540.000 in 1971. Large numbers of these new residents settled in areas outside the city centre. In 1940, 42% of the population still lived within the boundaries of the Athens Dimos. By 1971, this percentage had been reduced to 34% and it was further reduced in the following years. In 1940, the population of Athens was 15% of the population of Greece as a whole while by 1971, it had doubled to 30% of the total population.

Unfortunately, the settlement of immigrants and the expansion of the city took place without any form of government planning, which resulted in uncontrolled and unauthorized building activity. Particularly important in the construction process was the so called “Antiparochi” system; which consisted on a system whereby many old detached houses were demolished and gave way to apartment blocks through an agreement between the former house owners, the builders and the buyers of the apartments. The owner offered his building plot in exchange for some apartments in the new block and the buyers gave the builders the capital necessary for construction.

During the 60’s and 70’s the percentage of the share given to the plot owners was about 20%-30%; by the 80’s it was increased to 30%-40% and nowadays it is around the 50% or 60% in some extreme cases. That means, if a land owner gives her/his plot to build a 4-story appartment building, 2 appartments go to the land owner and the other 2 go to the investor.

Athens developed at an extremely fast pace, sometimes faster than the citty’s infrastructure could cope with. An example is the transport problem. In a period when very few Athenians owned a car, the 1960’s roads in Athens did not guarantee a regular flow of traffic.

Nonetheless, it must be noted that during the first years of the recostruction period, more precisely from 1950-1962, the architects of the first appartment buildings “polykatikies” of the period, made extensive use of marble on external surfaces, parapets as well as presenting impressive entrances. Actually the real massive, uncontrolled, chaotic and characterless construction of these “modern” polykatikies, happened between 1962-1980; reaching its zenith during the early 70’s. Unfortunately, lots of historic pieces of art were demolished to give way to “modernism” represented by these characterless buildings.

Some areas like Kypseli which until the 50’s was considered an aristocratic neighborhood of Athens, rivaling with Kolonaki in aesthetics and elegant style; during the 30’s the area was mostly covered by elegant houses, neoclassical buildings or Bauhauss and Art Deco appartment buildings (the first ones in Athens). But after the big influx of immigrants from the countryside and the implementation of the “antiparochi” system, hundreds of appartment blocks sprung up throughout the neighborhood. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be fair not to mention that some areas of Kypseli still retain much of their past elegance and glamour, such as the area around Fokionos Negri street or the adjacent to the Areos Park areas.

Despite common beliefs, not everything was destroyed by the Antiparochi system, as Athens presents a vast number of Classical architecture gems all around the city, furthermore it has more neoclassical buildings than many other cities of Europe, it happens that despite the revitalization process taking place nowadays, there are still hundreds of forgotten examples that remain hidden under a disguise of abandonment, unnoticed by the passer-by Athenians and visitors as well. Gems that could easily stand out if the appropriate facelifts are performed, and that has been proven by the lots of other old buildings, that until restored were unnoticed too.

So, despite common beliefs, lots of areas outside Plaka or the historic center went untouched by the “destructive” process of modernization of this period. Neighborhoods that give an opportunity of showing the world that Athens’ historic center as well as many of its suburbs have lots of architectural gems to show off.

Among the areas most affected by the “Antiparochi” system we can include the following suburbs:

Ano Patissia, Kato Patissia, Kypseli, Ambelokipi, Galatsi, Zografou, Pangrati, Peristeri, Neos Kosmos, Kalithea, Petralona, Tavros, Perissos, Pefkakia, Nea Philadelphia, Nea Ionia and Moschato. It is note worthy that the most affected areas are located more or less within a radius of 7 kms from Athens center; which is not that significant if we take into consideration the fact that Athens is a huge metropolis with a S-N distance length of 55 kms and a SW-NE of 35 kms.

However it wouldn’t be fair to generalize the situation, as lots of pieces of art were also built during this period.

For example:

  • The Archeological Society building in Panepistimiou, 22: Built in 1958, it replaced an older neoclassical building. It follows the design of Ioannis Antoniadis, who chose a simple classicist style. However, after the works had commenced the managers of the Archeological Society decided that some additional classic elements would help, so pilasters and ornamentations were added.
  • The Commercial Bank building in Aiolou 8 and Sofokleous 11: Built between 1955 and 1959, and designed by Kostas Kitsikis, a graduate of the Berlin-Charlottenburg academy; it follows a functionalist classicism.
  • The OTE administration building located in Patission 85. Built in 1950 under the design of Kostas Kitsikis, this building follows his usual functionalist classicist style.

The first skyscrapers also started to appear during this period, it is worth of mention, that paradoxically despite the scarce number of skyscrapers built in Athens, around 50, and compared to other European cities; where a real construction of highrises is taking place; Athens was one of the pioneering cities in Europe to build this kind of structures.

It is also a paradox the fact that there were no restrictions for the unplanned, chaotic and characterless building of 6-8 floors appartment buildings “polykatikies”, while during the early 80’s a new restriction was implemented on the maximum height available for buildings, a restriction that limits architects’ creativity to 27 meters of height; a restriction that reminds more the injustice lived in medieval times when inquisitors blamed for all the bad of society to peasants, poor people and other scapegoats in order to cover their own faults. In this case a mere fifty buildings represent the cause of all the so-called “urban problems”; just fifty buildings immersed in a jungle of thousands of polykatikies.

What the politicians cannot grasp and accordingly are not able to implement is what their ancient ancestors had as a recipe for long, happy life: "Pan Metron Ariston" roughly translated: all good things in moderation. Architectural moderation is what could not be applied during this period; so they think that such a maximum height restriction would mean filling the city with thousands of characterless highrise “polykatikies” all around the city.
But they are wrong on where the implement this law, way wrong, as a matter of fact. Actually, there should be indeed a restriction, but not on the building heights but on the styles, function and areas; as it is done in other European cities.

For instance, a restriction that allows building highrises only for commercial/financial uses (a.k.a. office buildings), another restrictions that allows the construction of this kind of structures in certain areas of the city laid out exclusively for commercial/financial functions.

But this height-restriction is actually useless, since having thousands of 25 meters residential blocks scattered all around the city (which is too high for residential buildings if the area covered by them is large), is far worse than restricting the construction of “polykatikies” or commieblocks (a kind of architecture that fortunately never was so popular in Greece) everywhere, lowering the maximum allowed height restriction for residential areas to 10-15 meters, within a radius of 10 kms from the city center and 10 meters beyond the 10 kms; and allow the construction of highrises for commercial uses in certain areas of the city like Maroussi or Elaionas. After all two or three small clusters of skyscrapers, built in properly planned areas, surrounded by vast expanses of greenery; could solve the problem caused by hundreds of characterless 8-story buildings (some of them appartment buildings used as offices), built one next to each other and covering thousands of hectares of cement.

For more information about skyscrapers in Athens you should check the following webpage where Grigorios Maloukos made one of the most informative guides on the subject that you can find both online and offline.


Among the first skyscrapers built in Athens worth of mention are:

  • The Hilton Hotel, located in Vasilissis Sophias 46 and built between 1958-1963. Designed by Emmanouil Vourekas, Prokopis Vasileiadis and Spiros Staikou. It is the first skyscraper built in Athens, and could be considered as a symbol of the economic growth of the times as well as a sign of the touristic boom experienced. But as it is normal each time such a work takes place, there were lots of reaction against its construction by large sectors of society, including of architects; that would require a separate whole chapter.
  • The OTE building of Tritis Septemvriou 102-104. Built between 1961-1965 by Kostas Kitsikis, who had also designed previously, the OTE administration building of Patission 85.

In the suburbs the environment started changing really, from the late 50’s and the new, more urban, character was taking shape during the 60’s to finally seal its urban atmosphere in the 70’s. This change was more obvious in closer to the center suburbs, within a radius of 10 kms from Syntagma. During the 70’s in certain areas of Athens, beyond that distance, one could still perceive that village atmosphere that nowadays exists, of course in the villages and little towns, that fill Greece.

These suburbs received a large influx of immigrants from the countryside. Each day waves of economic refugees from the impoverished, by a decade of wars, provinces, arrived to the capital; they settled in the buffer unzoned sectors located between the suburbs thus creating new neighborhoods which finally completed the long process of centuries, of connecting one suburb to the other (towns in past centuries) and to the main city resulting in the urban continuum we have today.

Lots of illegal houses where constructed, many of them during the night; so in some cases people went to having an image of their neighborhood and woke up with a different one; where new improvised houses sprang up here and there. That was not an uncommon image during the first years of the 50’s, and could be seen in lots of suburbs of Athens, especially in the western working class ones.

During the first years of the period these parts of the city lived serious difficulties, as the city, again as in past decades, was unable to fulfill all the required needs of these new citizens, who didn’t stop arriving.

Some areas like Peristeri or Egaleo experienced a population growth during 1950-1960 of over 120%.

These areas were in extreme need of new roads, for the newly urbanized zones; roads that had to follow the improvised layout of these self-created neighborhoods, instead of the inverse process where land plots follow the layout demarked by organized and well planned streets of an urbanization project.

So, unlike the ’22, when some organized process was followed; during the early years of this period, the solution to their housing problems was on the hands of the refugees. So this situation could be considered as the base of the anarchic, confussing and sometimes labyrinthic scheme of certain neighborhoods of the city, especially to the west.

Water supply of course in these improvised parts of the city was non existent as well as any kind of sewerage services.

They would have to wait many years, before any serious works took place and thus all their necessities covered properly. Things started to change in the 60s when all these improvised sectors of the city one after the other, were fully urbanized with roads and beautification projects as well as being linked to the water supply and sewerage networks and other required amenities. The process was completed by the mid 70s.

The last few remaining shacks of the old shantytowns disappeared in the early 70s, and they belonged to those who couldn’t manage a workaround to their economic difficulties until then. Most of those few shantytowns demolished in the 70s were replaced by the few public housings or commiblocks existing in Athens nowadays; including those of the complex of public housing in Tavros, the two one of Peristeri in the areas of Aghios Antonios and Evaggelistria; the cluster in Neos Kosmos and two in Piraeus.


The nation’s war-time adventures (1940-1944) left their corresponding marks on both the city and the port. Especially, the latter suffered unparalleled set-backs to its, till then, steady progress. Wartime events such as the bombing, by German Stukas, resulting in the blowing up of the SS "Clan Fraser" (6/4/41), the heavy bombing of Piraeus by "allied" aircraft (11/1/44) and the blowing up of port installations by the Germans during their withdrawal (12/10/44), resulted in the almost total destruction of the port with damage which, according to relative estimates of that time, amounted to about 325 million Drachmes at their ul-war value.

This fact obliged the Piraeus Port Authority management to devote the first 5 years following liberation to the repair and replacement of war damage (repairs to the silos, dry-docks, warehouses, sheds, quayways, and replacement of mechanical means and equipment, etc.) for the port to recover, by the early 50's, its ul-1940 form.

Simultaneously, in 1950, in an effort to re-articulate the PPA’s administration, the Emergency Law 1559/1950 was published and later ratified by Law 1630/1951, thus amending the Law of Establishment and re-arranging, on a new basis, the relative matters of organization and operation of the PPA. and its Services. This law, later supplemented by various statutes and decrees, remains in force today and forms the basic frame-work of the PPA regime.

Important projects aimed at developing and modernising the port began only after 1955 with the stage by stage application of plans drawn up by Demosthenes Pippas, Professor of Port and Harbour Engineering at the National Metsovian Polytechnic. Naturally, such works continue today. A number of alterations to, and deviations from, the initial plans were made up to 1982, these being dictated by technological evolution and new conditions arising from the development of new methods of sea-transportation and the revolutionary changes in cargo-handling techniques following the advent of containers. From the year 1982 onwards, the initial"plan" was abandoned and the Port's Administration reviewed its port-related policy in the period expanding from 1981 to 1988. The implementation of such a policy resulted in the ulparation of two 5-year development programmes - those of 1982 and 1987 - which originate from a new concept and cope with the issue of both extending and modernising the port in conjunction with the way of life and the problems of the "surrounding area" in other words, of the city and - in a wider sense - of the area of "Greater" Piraeus.

Indicatively, the following are some of the works or projects executed since 1955:

The re-articulation of the S.E. sector of the Central Port, with the constructon of 4593 metres of quay-ways, the formation of Hercules Port at Keratsini Bay, and the construction of a series of new storage facilities, sheds and passenger-stations -including the main such station at St. Nicholas - the extension of the Silos, thus doubling their capacity, the construction of the harbours of Zea-Freattis and Phaleron Delta, the Drapetsona Harbour-wall and the petroleum products pier, the creation of the Perama Repair-base and the installation there of two floating docks, the reformation of the Vasiliadis Coast sector to form a modern Container Terminal, and the commencement of construction work on the large new Container Terminal at the Neon Ikonion Sector, the recent layout of the passenger harbour with environmental beautification work, the transformation of the St. Nicholas Passenger Station as a prototype exhibition centre, the construction of the split-level road junction at the Xaverios Sector, etc., as well as the supplementation of technical equipment with three new bridge-cranes and a number of container stacking vehicles, cranes, fork-lift vehicles, floating means, etc. The beginning of the development of the new, modern Container Terminal, at Ikonion, which was - quite correctly -given the name of Eleftherios Venizelos - to pay homage to one of the most important politiciana in later Greek history who also founded the Port of Piraeus Authority - this being beyond any question the most important work in the recent historical course of the port. This work was completed in the year 1991, while a part thereof has been operational since 1989.

Fortunately, from the objective point of view, most of the P.P.A's Administrations have not failed to take great care and to show great interest in the port's progress.

Monastiraki in the 1950’s. A Mercedes Type W120 180D taxi.

Omonia square in the 1950’s

Omonia in 1955

Urban infrastructure:

Water supply:

In the years that followed the WWII, during the 1950’s Athens population increased day by day almost exponentially and the need for additional sources of water once again became pressing. Yliki Lake in the nearby prefecture of Viotia had a significant amount of available water, however, it required the construction of pumping facilities in order to transport the raw water to Athens. The Yliki pumping station and the aqueduct system began operation in 1959 and today has a nominal supply of 750.000 cubic meters/day.

With Athens continuing need to increase raw water supplies, a new project was proposed which involved the damming of the Mornos River (approximately 200 km. from Athens). The dam’s construction began in 1969, but operation of the Mornos dam and new Mornos aqueduct officially began in 1981. The Mornos dam is one of the highest earth gravity dams in Europe with a height of 126 m. The Mornos impoundment reservoir has a storage capacity of 780 million cubic meters of water. The Mornos aqueduct that transports water from the Mornos reservoir to Athens is the second longest aqueduct in Europe with a total length of 192 km.

Sewerage system:

As mentioned before in the 1950s, Athens population began to expand exponentially. It was evident that the existing networks were insufficient. At the same time it became necessary to revise existing design studies because new areas were continuously being added to the city, and each new area included within the city zones required adequate network infrastructure.

The severe need for the planning and construction of large wastewater projects resulted in the establishment of the Athens Sewerage Organization with the enactment of Law 1475/50. The Athens Sewerage Organization was the first company who undertook the design, construction, maintenance, operation and exploitation of the City’s wastewater and storm water drainage networks and managed successfully to set up strong and long-term foundations for the infrastructure of the Athens sewerage system

Besides the operation and maintenance of the networks, the Athens Sewerage Organization established the fundamental standards for the short term and the long term planning of Athens future needs in wastewater and storm water drainage networks. Thus, in 1950, the preliminary design of the Athens Sewerage System began covering an area of 20.000 hectares. This study was finalized in 1963. The preliminary design was used as a basis for development of the city’s networks during the 1960s’ and 1970s. In 1977 the Ministry of Public Works commissioned the English firm, "Watson Company", to investigate an alternative proposal for the disposal of Athens liquid wastes.

In the 1980s, the Supplementary Main Interceptor Sewer, another large diameter main collector, was added to the existing sewerage network of Athens. This collector main was constructed by the Ministry of Environment, Urban Planning and Public Works and begins at a junction with the Main Interceptor Sewage Main, running through the Rendis Area, to discharge at the Akrokeramos location.

One year after the end of the civil war, the Telecommunications Organization of Greece OTE was founded. The private owned AETE which was founded in 1926 was replaced by OTE. AETE transferred its capital of U$S 23 millions and its 1,700 workers to OTE.

OTE gave its first steps under difficult circumstances, since during the German occupation a big part of the telecommunications network was destroyed and during the civil war it was not possible to be restored. It is estimated that when OTE acquired the telecommunications obligations of Greece there were around 60,000 automatic telephone devices, that is about 1 connections per 100 persons.

Thanks to the Marshall plan, whereby the USA provided OTE with U$S 9 millions, by the late 50’s the network size was almost tripled, reaching to a ratio of 2.88 connections per 100 persons. In the 60’s started the development of international telecommunications through underwater connections and the automatization of the interurban network which until then functioned through operators.

In the meanwhile OTE installed new underground lines in all the cities of Greece, in order to interconnect all the citizens of the country. During the works, in the dirt roads neighborhoods the situation is really difficult since the dust had covered all the houses, and during the rainy days everything became muddy. The complains towards OTE came at thousands; while others impatients are still waiting for their new lines. But in the end, this was the period in which Greece achieved one of the most important public development feats that countries all around the world were struggling for; connecting all the country to the telephone network.

During the 70’s the first satellite retransmitter is installed (Thermopyles), being the 6th one installed in Europe.

During the early 70’s also lots of infrastructure and modernization works were performed in this field. During this period also the construction of the new OTE headquarters started; a 17-story building in the Athenian suburb of Maroussi. Also during these years OTE became a member of the transnational organization of telecommunications Inmarsat.


In Greece, television appeared in 1966, surprisingly late compared to Spain (1956), Ireland (1960) and Portugal (1955), three of the European countries with whom Greece had a more or less equal standard of living in this period and a few other social affinities.

The first national network was EPT, a state monopoly which owned the three national radio stations. A second network (YENEA) was created in 1968 and operated under military control. Since Greece was under a junta regime from 1967 to 1974, this second network served as the official organ of the military government. During this first period, the two channels offered a program of about seven hours a day, beginning about 5:00 or 6:00 P.M. with rather inexpensive American children's shows, usually cartoons.

The program schedule continued with "family shows" (Denis The Menace, Hazel) which normally had been hits in the United States during the late 1950s and early 1960s and belonged to the kiddy hour. For the first three or four years the networks were supplied with popular, if somewhat old, American sitcoms (such as I Love Lucy), series (such as Peyton Place, Combat, Bonanza, Mannix, Hawaii 5-0, The Fugitive), and crooner shows (Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Andy Williams, Diahann Carroll). This description of television hardly changed radically in the following years. In the late 1960s and early 1970s Greece was lived under American influence (it did not become a member of the Common Market until May 1979). Nevertheless, around 1970 Greek series started to be made and were shown with enormous success. Perhaps the most successful ever were the bluntly propagandistic Unknown War---a purely military product, financed by the army--and The Strange Voyager, a pompous pseudo-noir series with an incongruous plot.

The booming Greek movie industry, which had reached its peak in the 1967-68 season (118 films and four million movie-goers), started to decline soon after. Some 50% of the moviehouses closed in only five years and the local movie moguls (notably Philopoimin Finos, Spentzos and Zervos) provided the networks with countless innocuous old movies which became a considerable part of the program. From 1966 to 1974 Greek comedies (mostly farces but also comedies of manners), "urban" tear-jerkers, bucolic tear-jerkers and heroic war adventures were sold to the networks and shown in prime time. (The most popular of these movies were shown on Saturday evenings, the traditional movie time for Greeks.) In 1969 and 1970 a "new" movie genre emerged, a kind of grotesquely tasteless musical (in color), which made its way to the small screen. Thus, in the early 1970s, Greek cinema production and audiences tended to shrink pathetically while both networks thrived despite heavy censorship, poor taste and a low technical level.
Although the technical know-how was, not amazingly, deficient, early Greek television was not short of stars. People who had worked successfully for the radio and the stage revue excelled as television hosts although they grossly imitated their American counterparts and were too willing to collaborate with the military authorities. Nikos Mastorakis was the TV personality sine qua non of the dictatorship years.

The main income of EPT came from the so-called contribution of the citizens which was (and still is) incorporated into the bi-monthly bill of the AEH (the National Electricity Company). This method of financing the state monopoly seems unique worldwide: the "contribution" is added automatically to the bill even if one does not possess a TV set. A supplementary income came from commercials but TV advertisement was by no means the colossal business it is today. Spots in the actual meaning of the term were unthinkable. Programs were never interrupted for the sake of a commercial, rather they just preceded programs in very modest quantities. Besides 70 to 90% of the TV commercials were imported, as were the products they promoted.

There were a few differences between the two networks: for example, YENEA was better managed, had a very "populist" program, and its general expenses were covered by the Department of Defence; it also had higher ratings (two-thirds of the viewers) attracting the biggest portion of commercials. EPT was disorderly--the epitome of bureaucracy in the public sector--and its program was high-brow and pretentious: 80% of its income (10% of which came from commercials) hardly covered its general expenses (which included a sluggish crowd of civil servants mostly appointed in a debauch of favoritism). Only 10% of the income was conveyed to the program which was more or less a random matter.

Another emblematic feature of early Greek television was its fondness of sports which soon enough turned to an obsession. The junta years were clearly marked by a soccer-mania of Latin American style, a fact that television nurtured and exploited to the extreme. It took only six years for television to displace cinema (in the 1972-73 season only 60 Greek movies were shot and there was a 30% decrease in the box-office sales) and to raise soccer to a matter of national pride.


At the end of World War II, as was the case in most of Europe, the public transportation system of Athens was in ruins. The central area of Athens was served by the remnants of a worn out tramway system that was sorely in need of rehabilitation or replacement. A single Metro line extended from the port of Piraeus north through Omonia Square -- the heart of the central business district of Athens -- to Attiki Square. Prior to the war, the Metro connected in Attiki Square with a now-abandoned one-meter gauge steam railway with the northern suburb of Kifissia; all that was left of this line was a disused right-of-way. Bus lines and taxi services that operated before the war were virtually non-existent, most of their vehicles having been confiscated by the occupying forces or destroyed. Harking back to ancient times, walking had once again become the most common form of transportation in Athens.

Faced with this situation, the Greek Government invited interested individuals to invest in acquiring buses and, alone or with partners, provide public transportation services on lines of their choice. The owner of a bus, who very often also was its driver, was responsible for its operation and maintenance on a day-to-day basis. Entrepreneurs responded and, in those early post-war days, the investment in a bus had a high rate of return.

This "simple" style of operating could not and did not last very long. As people flocked to Athens looking for better employment opportunities than those that existed in their villages, the demand for public transportation services started to increase sharply. So did the squabbles among the bus owner-operators, each one of whom wanted to see his bus running in one of the lucrative high demand corridors and, in particular, on a route where the topography resulted in the lowest possible fuel consumption and the least "fatigue" on the vehicle in order to minimise operating and maintenance costs.

The problems associated with unrestricted free enterprise led to the formation of the "KTEL" system for managing and coordinating bus services. This acronym is made up of the initials of the words in the Greek language for "Common Treasury for Buses." The system was somewhat more complicated than implied by its name, but it addressed the problems of the past rather successfully. Now everybody's buses were scheduled by the Operating Office of the KTEL which was responsible for rotating them from line to line so that over a cycle period each owner-operator had an equal share of the fare revenue and each bus would be exposed to all road conditions, good or bad, and thus had similar costs for fuel and maintenance. The KTEL system, though a little cumbersome, worked well and provided reasonable bus services in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1965, public transportation usage in Athens hit its all time height of 973 million passengers on all modes.

Other significant changes in the urban transit network occurred during this period. Electric trolley buses were introduced in Piraeus in 1949 and in Athens in 1953. By 1961, all local tram lines in Athens and Piraeus had been replaced by electric or internal combustion powered buses; suburban trams connecting Piraeus with Perama continued to operate until 1977 when they too were replaced by diesel buses.

In the meantime, a start was made on developing a Metro System for the Greater Athens Area. The existing line connecting Piraeus with Athens had its origins in Greece's first steam railway, placed in service in 1869. This line was extended from Thissio through Monastiraki to Omonia in 1894, electrified and converted into one of Europe's first metropolitan railways in 1904, and extended from Omonia through Victoria to Attiki Square in 1926. Three decades later, the Metro was extended via the right-of-way of an abandoned one-meter gauge steam railway, reaching Nea Ionia in 1956 and its present northern terminal in Kifissia in 1957. Although ambitious proposals were announced for additional Metro lines, the funds needed to construct them were not available.

Those were the days when urban transit services with a low fare structure could easily cover their operating costs and leave significant profits for their owners or operators. This was not to last much longer. While the population of the Greater Athens Area was increasing at a significant rate (3.5 percent per annum in the 1961-1971 period and 1.75 percent per annum in the 1971-1981 period), the much greater rate of increase in privately owned automobile ownership became the most significant factor affecting usage of public transportation services. In 1961, 39,000 automobiles were in circulation. By 1971 this number had grown to 170,000, representing a phenomenal rate of growth of 15.8 percent per annum.

As for the metro line 1, in 1951 I.E.M. and E.I.S. acquired the rights for the completion of the electrification and later utilization rights of the line Attiki-Kifissia. Also that same year the first project of extending the metro system of Athens is proposed. Also that year the new metal frame SIEMENS-MAN trains from the then Western Germany are put in service. These new wagons, some of which included even luggage racks, came to be known as the 5th delivery trains, and they had a similar design to those used by the metro system of Berlin. The older wooden wagon were also modernized in order to fit the new technical improvements performed in the system.

In 1954 the new station of Petralona was inaugurated. In 1955 the Perama tram recorded 8,237,000 passengers, coinciding with the great construction boom of the area. Also the same year the new E.I.S. bus line Piraeus – Zappeion and Piraeus – Perama is inaugurated, making use of 24 new green CHAUSSON buses made in France. Finally this year the works of extension of the metro line from Attiki to Kifissia started.

In February 1956 the line was extended to Ano Patissia, one month later it reached Nea Ionia. During peak hours the trains frequency is 3.5 minutes.

In 1957 the N. Iraklion stations enters into functionality, while the Athens-Lavrio service is put out of service. Finally on August 10, 1957 the dream became a reality, the electric line reached Kifissia. On September 1 the Maroussi station is inauguarated. Thus the extension of the line to the north was finished, it is considered as one of the major transportations works performed in Athens during this period, resulting in the great development of the areas it served. The line was also connected with the Piraeus-Attiki line, making one single 25 kms line connecting this northern suburb with the port of Athens.

Also that year two new metro lines are proposed by two French specialists, Αguzοu and Devillers as well by A.Lebesi, director of the Ministry of Transportation.

In 1960 a branching of the metro line to Gerakas is suggested as well as an extension northward to Nea Erythraia, through Strofyli and Dionysos, however it never was constructed.

In 1961 the number of passengers recorded was 71,216,000. That same year the new Aghios Eleytherios station is inaugurated.

In 1963 another project for 3 new metro lines is proposed by the technical service of E.I.S. The lines suggested were:

  • Line 2: Patissia – Syggrou
  • Line 3: Peristeri – Larissa Station – Omonia – Syntagma – V. Sofias – Ambelokipi / Chalandri
  • Line 4: Alexandras avenue line.

In 1964 following the example of other European cities, the new automatic vending machines are installed.


After the end of the Civil War in 1950, a second new 2,250 m runway was constructed in the Airport of Hellinikon. The first runway was also expanded to the same length. In 1958 the main runway was expanded again to 3,000 meters. In 1969 the new Eastern Terminal designed by the Finnish architect Eero Sarinen (who also designed the TWA terminal in New York City JFK airport) was inaugurated. During the 70’s the main runway was expanded again to 3,500 meters.

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
The Dictatorship of the Military Junta (1967 - 1974)


During the night of April 21, 1967, soldiers arrested leading politicians, including Prime Minister Kannelopoulos in Kolonaki, George Papandreu in Kastri and Andreas Papandreu in Paleio Psychiko. Some 10,000 people were arrested before dawn on the orders of Colonel Yannis Ladas, director of Military Police in what he later called 'a simple, diabolical plan.'

Citizens of Athens awoke to the rumble of tanks in the streets. From the radio came a stream of orders, proclaiming a 'revolution', forbidding people to leave their houses, threatening to shoot any civilian seen on the streets, announcing that all homes could be searched with impunity, outlawing strikes and meetings. The telephones were out of action. The explanation was that the king had requested the army to intervene to 'protect' the state from imminent danger. The newspapers of that day appeared with identical headlines, leading articles and commentaries supplied by the military press service. Over the first night and the next few days, some six thousand people were arrested and interned in prisons and concentration camps.

The King was initially alarmed. The US Defence attache called on him at Tatoi and was told: 'lncredibly stupid ultra-right wing bastards, having gained control of tanks, have brought disaster to Greece.' He asked for a helicopter invasion of US marines from the Sixth Fleet to crush the Junta, but the State Department merely told Talbot that if the matter was raised again, he was To 'disabuse him of any hope on that score.' The king calmed down as his own arrest appeared increasingly unlikely. Soon the US embassy was able to reassure the State Department that the coup leaders 'declare themselves one thousand per cent pro-American.' The king duly swore in the ministers of the new government.

Blame for this turn of events has been scattered widely. C. M. Woodhouse, probably representing the 'official' British point of view, claimed that it was due to the 'irascible character and impetuosity of George Papandreu, exacerbated by the wrong judgments of the King.' It has also been attributed to the inept management of the political class, and to strains set up by the Civil War.

The issue about US involvement in the coup is not whether the US Government was involved, but only how deeply and how intimately it was involved. Although the CIA probably did not actually organize and direct the overthrow of democracy, the plotters used American weapons and a plan which had been devised by ΝΑΤΟ To ensure US control of Greece, and the coup leader, a former member of the Security Battalions, had been in receipt of CIA pay since 1952, and was chief liaison officer between the Greek ΚΥΡ and the CIA. Moreover, the CIA knew of the plots of both the king and the generals and of the colonels a month beforehand. Moreover, they were in close contact with the colonels. In fact, Greece's most decorated soldier, General George Koumanakos, had been approached as early as 1965 by a senior official of the US embassy why he was not 'coming in with us?' It looks as though the CIA wished to pre-empt a royalist coup by people under British influence with their own coup organized by people on their own payroll. lnitially, the Colonels found few respectable politicians prepared to collaborate with them, but they did find a compliant king to swear their government into office.

C. Μ. Woodhouse wrote in “The Spectator” (June 28, 1969): “One of the distinctive things about the coup of April 1967 was that it was launched by officers below the highest rank. Another distinctive thing about them was that they had almost no experience as fighting soldiers. Most of the generals whom they displaced had fought with distinction: in Albania, in the Greek Army of the Middle East, in the Civil War against the communists, in Korea. The ex-colonels had a different sort of career: one in the military police, another in the security battalions (which the Germans formed to counter the resistance), and so on. To most of my Greek friends it is discreditable that not one of them took any part in the resistance during the German occupation (when they were all in their twenties): To the ex-colonels themselves it is a matter of congratulation.”

Ιt was claimed that the coup had taken place 'to ward off the imminent danger of a communist seizure of power.' Needless To say, no such plot has ever been uncovered, nor did anyone really expect that it would. Later, seeking legitimacy, the junta sought to present revolutionary credentials, referring to their coup as 'the Glorious Revolution'. Ιt was suggested, ludicrously, that the army acted on the mandate of the people, and were about the business of preparing the way for a new, “healthy” democracy in the future.

The slogan 'Greece of the Christian Greeks' embodied their ostensible claims to represent nationalism and Orthodoxy. Paradoxically, 'the Colonels', as they came to be known, regarded themselves as the guardians of the traditional values of Greek Christianity. They condemned long hair and short skirts, cutting the hair of male tourists whose locks were deemed long enough to offend Christian sensibility. Flag raising ceremonies were enforced in schools, with church parades on Sundays. Yet the real purpose of the Junta was the systematic subordination of Greece to the US Government interests. Greece quickly became a spy headquarters for the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans.

Although the dictatorship of the Colonels had an absurd aspect, it was a genuine tyranny. The press was censored, many books and songs, such as the works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripedes and Aristophanes, film Zorba the Greek, and the music of Mikis Theodorakis, were banned. Α powerful secret police under military control spied on citizens and thousands were arrested as 'Communists' and many imprisoned in concentration camps on islands.

Torture became commonplace. Prisoners were beaten, hung suspended from their wrists. There was jumping on the stomach, pulling out finger nails, use of electric shock. In addition there was psychological torture. Prisoners were threatened with being maimed, raped and killed, and there were mock executions. People who had been tortured were told that it would be repeated at a certain time. Among the most feared places were the Security Police headquarters, conveniently within hearing of the US embassy, and military hospital 401, where doctors continued the torture. Many more people simply lost their jobs, or their pensions were revoked.

Of course, those arrested included those arrested during the civil war. If they were old, the same people may have been arrested under the Metaxas dictatorship, the German Occupation, the Civil War and the dictatorship. Often their 'crime' was to have demanded of their government a minimum of social justice.

Foreign companies were allowed to operate in Greece free of all company taxation, their employees in Greece were immune from all Greek income tax. No audits were required for foreign companies operating in Greece, and there were no exchange controls on registered mail. Staff of foreign companies were allowed to import cars and furniture duty-free. US companies like Union Carbide and Ford rushed to take advantage of these conditions. Very soon, the same conditions were applied to Greek shipping companies if the owners were very rich, like Aristotle Onassis and Stavros Niarchos. The profits of all of them could be moved outside the country at will.

There was a mild show of disapproval by foreign governments. The US Government, anxious to distance itself in public from the military junta, suspended arms sales for a while, and asked for vague reassurances that democracy would at some point be re-established. Βυt they recognized the regime, and.- resumed arms sales. The U.S. vice-president visited Greece to express solidarity. Only the Scandinavian governments resolutely refused to countenance the overthrow of the facade of democracy in its original home. In December 1969 Greece was expelled from the Council of Europe

Ηistοrian C. Μ. Woodhouse records that “It was almost impossible to name any Greek of international reputation who did not regard them with contempt.” The first internal opposition was organized on the day following the coup. Α group of about fifty young foreign educated academics and professionals gathered in Kolonaki under Vassilis Filias to form Democratic Defence. Βy December 1967, even the king was finding it difficult to work with the junta, and Planing a counter-coup. He announced to the US ambassador “I have decided to take control of the nation.”

Then he flew from Tatoi to Kavala, where he checked in at a hotel. Local transmitters at Kavala and Larissa called for a counter-coup, but the US did not relay the message via the Voice of America, so few heard it. The broadcast was certainly not heard in Athens. There was little enthusiasm for the king in the armed forces, and what there was melted away at the first sign of opposition. The junta, who were aware of his every move, simply broadcast that the attempt had failed. The king fled into exile, a regent was appointed, and Papadopoulos made himself Prime Minister.

In June 1968, Andreas Papandreu, freed and exiled in Stockholm, founded the Panhellenic Liberation Movement (ΡΑΚ), but in a strange echo of the behaviour of the anti-Nazi resistance, immediately set about undermining all resistance movements other than his own.

The US wanted Archbishop Makarios ουt of Cyprus, since under his government Cyprus was pursuing a course of non-alignment, even occasionally voting on issues in the U.N. with the Soviet Union. Such unwelcome independence earned him the title 'Castro of the Mediterranean' in Washington circles. One of the first acts of the junta was dutifully to withdraw the Greek soldiers from Cyprus which were there to guarantee the security of the Greek community, leaving the country open to invasion from Turkey. On March 8, 1970, the Junta tried to assassinate Archbishop Makarios but failed. They then began to infiltrate Cypriοt society in preparation for a coup.

When the Junta cancelled the routine deferments of eighty-eight students, and forcibly conscripted them into the army, students and staff occupied the Law School in protest. Outsiders provided the students with food and drink. After two days, police brutally suppressed the sit-in, chasing and beating students in nearby Solonos, Sinas, Akademias and Massalias streets. Public signs of opposition to the Colonels began to grow. On the third anniversary of the death of George Papandreu, vast crowds assembled at the First Cemetery in what was clearly a political demonstration.

In summer 1973 units of the Greek Navy mutinied and sailed to Italy. Papadopoulos proclaimed a republic and was 'elected' president. It was an ίnglοriοus but fitting end to an imported dynasty which had shown itself over and over again contemptuous of both constitutional law, basic human rights and the interests of the Greek people.

In the seventies the Junta's efforts to protect the Greek youth from the ills of western culture begins to fall apart.

Because tourism is such an important part of the Greek economy, the bans on mini-skirts, long hair and other symbols of decadence are not enforced. Two new record stores, Pop 11 and Blow-up are importing cool albums from the UK, and there are more underground radio stations than ever, almost all of them owned by young people and playing hard rock like Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, Free and other British groups. Places like Paradise Beach in Mykonos and Matala, Crete become hippy colonies, made up mostly of foreigners and a handful of adventurous young Greeks. The island of Ios is just starting to become known as a center for young people and sleeping on the beach if not actually legal, is common. There are cheap pensions and even in Athens you can sleep on the roof of a hotel for a few drachmes. It is these young people who flock to the islands for sun and sea and cheap prices despite the dictatorship, who return with their families decades later, turning Greece into one of the world's most popular tourist destinations.

While any kind of student protest is forbidden in the Greek schools, in 1971 a group of Greek-Americans at the American high school stage a protest and close down the school for a day making demands on the administration which are unrealistic to say the least, mostly having to do with being allowed to smoke on campus, non-mandatory class attendance, and the one demand which might be considered vaguely revolutionary, having free use of the school's mimeograph machine, though for what purpose we can only guess . The US military influenced school board responds by firing a favorite teacher, Jack Marlowe. When asked why the students did it they shrugged their shoulders and admitted they had read Abbie Hoffman's Revolution for the Hell of It and it seemed like a cool thing to do. Had this happened in one of the Greek high schools one can only wonder what the response would have been.

In Plaka there were several hip clubs that had found a place among the restaurants, bouzoukia clubs and discos. One was The Odyssey, also known as 'the Trip' which played contemporary danceable rock like Santana, Led Zeppelin, and the endless Ina-gadda-davida by Iron Butterfly. Two blocks away, anchoring the corner of the Plaka that borders the ancient Athenian Agora were two other clubs. Folk 17 was a small Greenwich Village style live folk club where musicians, performed The Needle and the Damage Done or any of a number of Cat Stevens songs. The other club was the Golden Key, a tiny place which played the hippest music in Athens and was notorious for being a hangout for drug users, meaning young people who smoked hashish or took LSD.

The clubs made little money. Most people were already stoned when they got there and would sit all night with one drink. The street and steps between these two clubs was a gathering place for young Greeks and foreigners, kids from the American high school, airmen from the American base, sailors from the 6th fleet, and hippies from all over the world. Though the mood was generally happy and effusive, each night a police car made its way up the small street and stoped in front of the club and waited. The music stoped as police officers went into the club and checked identification, often leaving with two or three young Greeks, rarely foreigners. If you had an American passport, especially a diplomatic one, your eyes could be rolling around like loose marbles and they still would leave you alone. After the police went away the music began and everyone wondered what the people arrested had done, what would happen to them and if they would ever come back?

Drug penalties were harsh. The concept of 'recreational use' did not exist. If someone was busted unless he/she was very well connected that person could get 10 years or longer in prison. The idea of kids just partying was meaningless. When the Greek police arrested a handful of young people with a piece of hashish, in their view they had broken up a 'notorious gang of drug users'. This is what it was like to be young and hip under a military dictatorship.

In the autumn of 1973, large-scale student demonstrations, provoked by repression in the universities and a drastic increase in inflation, openly defied the regime's ban on public meetings. In November, students began a 'sit-in' in the Polytechnic University, and transmitted clandestine radio broadcasts calling upon the people to rise up against the tyranny. On the night of November 16-17, 1973 tanks were sent in. They bulldozed the locked gates and, covered by sniper fire from buildings opposite, armed police swarmed into the grounds behind them. The students' radio station broadcast appeals for doctors and priests, but none turned up. At least twenty students were killed.

For the next two days crowds attempting to gather in central Athens were broken up by police and soldiers who were everywhere. Tanks were parked in squares around the city and surrounding the Parliament building. The rebellion at the Polytechnic was over and the country was put under martial law for the next week.

Groups larger than four people were not permitted to gather and there was a curfew between 7pm and 5am. Former politicians George Mavros, Panayiotis Kannelopoulos and Ioannis Zigdis and a number of professors were arrested. There were still small demonstrations around the city and a number of people were shot during this week, some for breaking the curfew.

In a meeting at the pentagon President Markazenis congratulated the army on their "timely and bloodless intervention". 28 student organizations around the country were dissolved and their assets confiscated. On the night the curfew was lifted.

Ironically, these events led to a worse state than before. Senior officers decided that Papadopoulos was incompetent, so the blame for the Polytechnic massacre was laid on him, and he was removed from power in what amounted to a second coup. He was replaced by the sinister Βrigadier Ioannidis, head of the military security police, yet another CIA agent, who arrested Papadopoulos and installed a puppet of his own in his place. Under his leadership, repression increased in efficiency and ruthlessness.

Ioannidis wanted rapid action on Cyprus. He decided on a coup in which Archbishop Makarios would be assassinated and replaced by journalist Nikos Sampson, who would proclaim the υηίon of Cyprus with Greece. The US knew about the plan, Ioannidis had made ίt clear to his CIA contacts, but for his own purposes Henry Kissinger wanted nothing done. To prevent it, so he received a very mild half-warning not to go ahead, and a wink. Makarios escaped, but this gave the Turks the pretext to invade the island Kissinger was looking for, to carve out the north for themselves and appropriate twenty-five per cent of the island.

In the aftermath of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus there were 4000 dead, 1619 missing, and 200,000 people displaced. The 40% of the island which the Turks took contain 70% of the industry and mineral wealth, 80% of the tourist attractions and 65% of the cultivated land.

The Turkish invasion spelled the end for the junta in Athens. When the Greek government ordered mobilization, the result was a shambles. It was clear that the army commanders could not even organise their own forces efficiently. Three days after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Ioannidis allowed himself to be sidelined as President Gizikis and senior officers of all three branches of the armed forces, appalled at the national disaster which the junta had brought upon Greece, invited Constantine Karamanlis to return to restore the rule of law and democracy. The French President, Giscard d'Estaing, placed a plane at his disposal, and he flew into Athens, landing at Athens Airport at 2.00 am on July 24, 1974.

Among the lasting effects of this episode was a deep, widespread scepticism in Greece about US Government claims to moral leadership of the Free World. The police, as agents of the junta, were also discredited. This led to a strengthening of traditional Greek dislike for the authorities and lack of respect for the law.

1,298 Posts
Discussion Starter · #31 · (Edited)
PART XI - Back to Democracy – The social and political reorganization (1974 - 1993)



The first of Constantine Karamanlis actions after assuming power was to form a government of national unity with members of all the parties, except for the left. He arrested junta members, disbanded the Military Police (ESA) and sent their torturers to jail while freeing all political prisoners, declaring amnesty for all political crimes and legalizing the communist party.

In October, 1974 he dissolved his ERE party and formed the New Democracy party, leading them to victory in November, 1974 elections, one year after the student demonstrations that had been the beginning of the end for the dictatorship.

In December 1974 a national referendum was held that got rid of the monarchy officially once and for all.

Two years after the fall of the Junta, Andreas Papandreou returned and formed PASOK (Pan Hellenic Socialist Party) which quickly gained popularity, virtually doubling their support with each election.

In 1975 the televised trials of the members of the Junta took place with Papadopoulos, Pattakos and Markarezos all receiving death sentences which were quickly commuted to life in prison. Head the secons junta and the secret police Ioannidiss received life sentence too.

In the meantime relations with Turkey were at an all-time low following the 1974 invasion of Cyprus. The island remained divided with Archbishop Makarios back as the President of the Greek-Cypriots until his death in 1977 of a heart attack.

When the Turkish survey ship Sismik I sailed into disputed waters to search for oil Papandreou called on Karamanlis' government to sink it, probably not the best way to handle the incident, actually the worst, but he may not have seriously meant it.

In the meantime the tension between Greece and Turkey was playing right into the hands of the US arms dealers as each country was forced to keep up with purchases by the other. The most important foreign policy move which had the biggest impact on Greek domestic life came in May of 1979 when Greece signed the treaty that would make the country a full member in the European Community, beginning in January 1981.

Realizing that PASOK is destined to be the ruling party more sooner than later, Karamanlis had changed the constitution to give the president more power. Then he ran for that office and was elected president in 1980.

When Papandreou won the election for Prime Minister in 1981, the two popular and charismatic leaders shared power and despite the personal and political differences between the two men, things went fairly well. Ties were improved between Greece and the Third World as well as the US which still mistrusted Papandreou.

The Papandreou government in a policy of National Reconciliation gave compensation to the resistance fighters who had fought against the Nazis and the government in the Civil War and allowed those who had gone into exile in the eastern block countries to return. He promoted equal rights for women and passed laws that make life easier for farmers and workers. He also enforced the ban on plate-smashing in tavernas which had originally been outlawed by the Junta but not enforced.

Civil marriage though vigorously opposed by the church was introduced and so was divorce, while adultery was de-criminalized. A national health care service was introduced and clinics and hospitals were built in rural areas which increased PASOK's support in the countryside.

Though Papandreou had been against Greece's entry to the EU, in reality the agricultural subsidies received by the farmers were an economic boost to the rural population that served to make PASOK more popular.

Papandreou called for a nuclear-free Balkan peninsula and urged NATO to delay plans to put cruise and Pershing missiles in Europe. Papandreou was pro-Sandinista, pro-Allende and a supporter of Yasser Arafat's PLO.

In 1988 the agreement for the US military bases in Greece expired and from this point on the American military presence in Greece diminished. The large Air Force base at Hellenikon, home to the 7206th Support Group closed, leaving behind a few metal huts and a softball field which became home to the Greek baseball and softball leagues founded by Tom Mazarakis in the nineties.

In 1984 Constantine Mitsotakis, a former member of George Papandreou's Center Union and one of the Apostates who had defected and caused the fall of that government in the sixties, was chosen to lead New Democracy. This was to awaken a bitter rivalry between he and Andrea's Papandreou who viewed Mitsotakis as a traitor and a cause in the series of events which had led to the dictatorship. That being said, Mitsotakis is more of a centrist than a right-winger in the liberal style of his uncle Eleftherios Venizelos.

In 1985 Papandreou withdrew support for Karmanlis as president while at the same time transferred much of the power of that offices to himself. Supreme Court Judge Christos Sartzetakis who had been the prosecutor in the Lambrakis murder (and the hero of the movie Z) was elected president.

Papandreou softened his anti-American stance, improving relations with them and with NATO. PASOK won their second term with a smaller margin but some changes to the electoral law by Papandreou assured that even with a smaller margin of victory, and without a majority of the votes they still had a working majority in the parliament.

In 1976 Alexander Panagoulis, the man who had attempted to assassinate George Papadopoulos and was later elected to parliament was killed by political enemies in an ambush made to look like an auto accident. Within months of his death, Oriana Fallaci begins work on the book she would dedicate to him, her most important work, A Man.

This period is also the beginning of the exploits of the terrorist group November 17th. Their first murder was of the CIA Station chief Richard Welch in 1975. They remained the most elusive and successful terrorist group through the eighties and nineties killing over two dozen CIA agents, diplomats, businessmen and policemen, including Pavlos Bakoyiannis, the son-in-law of Constantine Mitsotakis and husband of Dora who later would becomes mayor of Athens and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

One of the most tragic of November 17's victims is Thanos Axarlian who on July 14th 1992 was killed when an attack on the Greek Finance minister fails. The rocket ricocheted off the armored car and hit a building, collapsing part of it, killing Axarlian. The sad irony is that he had been a university student in Sarajevo who had come to Athens to escape the war.

In 1988 a No-War agreement was signed at Davos between Greece and Turkey with the creation of a hot-line between the leaders of the two countries. This led to a lifting of restrictions in Turkey against Greek property owners and in increase in Greek visitors, though before long tensions arise again.

This same year a massive fraud and embezzlement scandal involving the Bank of Crete and allegedly members of parliament including Papandreou shook the country. This is known as the Koskotas Scandal, named for the Greek-American financier who was able to buy the bank of Crete, using the bank's own money.

Along with this and a phone-tapping scandal and the appearance that members of the government are enriching themselves while calling for austerity from the people, contributes to a loss in popularity for PASOK.

Most of PASOK's support came from the countryside and working class areas of the city but by now even some of these people were losing their enthusiasm for Papandreou.

The 1990 campaign was one of numerous political rallies by all parties attended by millions. New Democracy rallies included ex Poll pop-star Robert Williams and his band doing concerts which ended with the theme song for the party with its refrain "Long live Greece, long live Religion, long live New Democracy".

Party rallies included showing the film Eleni from Nicholas Gage's book of the same name about communist atrocities in northern Greece during the civil war.

Meanwhile the PASOK rallies appeared just as large though they were accused of bussing in paid Yugoslavians and giving them blue and white Greek flags and green PASOK flags and telling them to cheer wildly. A story circulated of one woman who was watching a rally on television and to her shock saw her dead husband cheering in the front row. Supposedly they had used film footage of a well attended PASOK rally from four years before.

In 1989 a the country faces a short political crisis after a series of elections in which no party secured a substantial percentage of popular vote, nor was willing to take part in a coalition. So on November 23, 1989 Xenophon Zolotas agreed to serve as interim non-party Prime Minister, until fresh elections can be held.

Mitsotakis conservative New Democracy party won the elections though without a majority. New elections were called for April 11, 1990 in which they won a very slim majority.

Constantine Karamanlis was again elected president and the country begins a period of austerity and the selling off of public companies which led to strikes by workers.

In 1992 the breakup of Yugoslavia created an identity problem for the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. On July 3, 1992 the adoption of a flag incorporating the Vergina Sun by FYROM, increased tensions between the two countries. In the meantime ND's foreign minister Antonis Samaras, left the party over a disagreement in the handling of the issue and started his own party called Political Spring. This meant that ND no longer had a majority and had to call new elections on October 10, 1993, which Papandreou, won.

On February 16, 1994 Greece imposes an embargo on FYROM. Two years later on January 15, 1996 an ailing Papandreou resigned as prime minister and was replaced by Kostas Simitis, an economist and former minister of industry. Papandreou died on June 23, 1996. Two years later Constantine Karmanlis passed away and an era comes to an end.

Greece achieved high rates of growth from the 1950s through the early 1970s due to large foreign investments. After the end of the Greek Civil War in 1949 and for more than two decades Greece achieved the second highest economic growth rate in the world after Japan, resulting in a dramatic improvement of living standards (the "Greek economic miracle"). In the mid-1970s, Greece suffered declines in its GDP growth rate, ratio of investment to GDP, and productivity, and real labor costs and oil prices rose. In 1981, protective barriers were removed when Greece joined the European Community on January 1, 1981 and cohesion funds contributed considerably to the country's fast economic development in the 1980s. By 1989 Greece belonged to a group of 23 "advanced economies".

The government pursued expansionary policies, which fueled inflation and caused balance-of-payment difficulties. Growing public sector deficits were financed by borrowing. In October 1985, supported by a 1.7 billion European Currency Unit (ECU) loan from the European Union (EU), the government implemented a two-year "stabilization" program with limited success. Public sector inefficiency and excessive spending caused government borrowing to increase; by the end of 1992, general government debt exceeded 100% of GDP.

Urban development:

During this period Athens population continued to grow, though a slow down of the growth rate is experienced. By the 80’s the city of Athens had already over 3,000,000 inhabitants and its urban networkd covered all the extent of the Athenian basin. The size of the city was 430 sq kms, exactly the same size of the basin. Now the urban borders of the city were limited by the natural ones of the valley; that is the surrounding mountains of Egaleo to the west, Parnitha to the north, Penteli to the northeast and Imittos to the east; and the Saronikos gulf to the southwest.

But the city’s spralw wouldn’t stop there, during the 90’s it would cause pressure and thus break its natural limits through the mountain pass between Penteli and Imittos, thus slowly absorbing the westernmost suburbs of the Messoghia region, to the east of Imittos.

Also by this period the “Greater Athens” title held during early 20th century by the suburbs of the Athenian basin, now was held by the whole “Nomos” of Attika, as the city and its suburbs had merged into one single urban entity.

Another phenomenon worth of mention about this period is the real population of Athens. Due to the high number of immigrants from the interior; mainly Epirus, Western Sterea, Peloponesse and the Cyclades; each time a census is performed the real population of Athens is not accounted, since these immigrants are still registered in their hometown, thus leaving Athens each time a demographic census is performed or in times of elections.

In 1971 the estimated population of Athens was 2.540.000, 10 years later it is estimated that the real population of the city was 3,100,000.

By 1991 the official numbers of the census gave a figure of 3,444,358; however it is estimated that about 450,000 residents of Athens left the city during the demographic assessment for their towns. Thus that would put the real population of Athens in 1991 at about 3,900,000 inhabitants.

Urban Infrastructure:

Water supply:

With Athens continuing need to increase raw water supplies, a new project was proposed which involved the damming of the Mornos River (approximately 200 km. from Athens). The dam’s construction began in 1969, but operation of the Mornos dam and new Mornos aqueduct officially began in 1981. The Mornos dam is one of the highest earth gravity dams in Europe with a height of 126 m. The Mornos impoundment reservoir has a storage capacity of 780 million cubic meters of water. The Mornos aqueduct that transports water from the Mornos reservoir to Athens is the second longest aqueduct in Europe with a total length of 192 km.

Another major project, which has provided Athens with additional water, is the Evinos River diversion to the Mornos Impounding Reservoir. The project consists of the Evinos Dam and a diversion tunnel. Work began on the Evinos project in 1992. The diversion tunnel was completed in just two years, which is considered to be a significant achievement given the project scale. The tunnel has a length of 29.4 km and transports approximately 100 million cubic meters of water per year.

The Mornos and Yliki Aqueducts are joined by a system of interconnecting aqueducts that provide alternative supply schemes for the maintenance and repair needs of the works. The network of interconnecting aqueducts also offers EYDAP greater overall control and water resource management capability.

Via the Mornos, Yliki and other interconnecting aqueducts (total combined length of 500 km.), raw water is transported from various sources to the four drinking water treatment plants in the Athens area: Galatsi, Polydendri, Acharnon, and Aspropirgos. The four water treatment facilities have a combined capacity of 1.9 million cubic meters of water per day. The treatment of raw water involves the processes of coagulation, sedimentation, sand filtration and finally disinfection with chlorination.

Athens’ drinking water is of excellent quality and is considered to be one of the best in Europe. Drinking water is transported from the four treatment plants to the 50 storage reservoirs and tanks throughout the city. From the storage reservoirs, water reaches the consumers through an extensive distribution network with an estimated total length of 7,55 million meters, which is constantly expanding and being refurbished.

Sewerage system:

In 1977 the Ministry of Public Works commissioned the English firm, "Watson Company", to investigate an alternative proposal for the disposal of Athens liquid wastes.

In the 1980s, the Supplementary Main Interceptor Sewer, another large diameter main collector, was added to the existing sewerage network of Athens. This collector main was constructed by the Ministry of Environment, Urban Planning and Public Works and begins at a junction with the Main Interceptor Sewage Main, running through the Rendis Area, to discharge at the Akrokeramos location.

In 1980, the responsibilities of Athens Sewerage Organization were transferred to a new company established for the handling of water supply and sewerage needs of the greater Athens area, called EYDAP. In the sewage sector, this new organization undertook the collection and discharge of urban wastewater and industrial waste, as well as the expansion of the existing sewerage networks in co-operation with the local Municipalities. Its duty was also to monitor the wastewater treatment procedure and the final disposal of treated effluent into the sea.

In the years that followed, EYDAP expanded the primary sewerage collector network of Athens. The Municipalities, in turn, undertook the construction of the secondary sewer network, consisting of the smaller diameter pipes. The Municipalities also carried out the construction of the house connections to the local network (branches).

The local secondary networks constructed by the Municipalities become part of the network owned and controlled by EYDAP, after an official asset transfer procedure.

Apart from constructing the primary network, EYDAP also deals with the thorough and efficient operation of the overall sewerage system, providing regular maintenance and immediate repair in cases of failures. EYDAP uses state-of-the-art monitoring and control systems, such as CCTV cameras for the monitoring of the sewage pipes. With the use of advanced technology, EYDAP administers an aggressive preventive maintenance program that quickly traces areas of future damage and efficiently implements repairs.

The Wastewater Treatment Plants in Psyttalia and Metamorphosis constitute the final stage of the sewerage administration cycle in Athens. For decades, wastewater from the Athens Basin flowed to Akrokeramos, into Saronikos Gulf, without any treatment, thus polluting the Gulf and degrading its ecological balance. Since 1994, the first phase in Psittalia Waste Water Treatment Center has been in operation. This means that Athens wastewater is initially collected, pretreated in large sedimentation tanks, where 40% of its polluting load is removed, and then it is conveyed, through three underwater pipelines, it is discharged into the Gulf of Saronikos.

Another Wastewater Treatment Plant that has been operating since 1985 is the Metamorphosis Plant. Biological treatment wastewater is carried out at this facility, producing treated water 90-95% clean. This water after chlorination is discharged into the Kifissos River.

The future planning for the sewerage sector encompasses the expansion of the water supply and sewerage networks in the northern suburbs of the City as well as expansion of the wastewater collectors in the southern areas of Attica. At the same time, for the environment protection of the coastal areas surrounding Attica, there is a master plan for the design and construction of new Wastewater Treatment Plants in different locations around Attica. Already the construction of the Thriassion Pedion Wastewater Treatment Plant is in the tender phase.


In July 1974 after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, the Greek Junta collapsed. It was a time of jubilation. Greek life teemed with new plans and promises, and with new faces too, as many exiled intellectuals came back home carrying a European aura. For several years political discourses seemed to prevail; there was time and space for little else. Modern Greece was a country that had never enjoyed basic civil rights and it plunged into politics fervently. The TV networks were more or less delivered to the center-right wing government, elected by an unprecedented landslide in November 1974. Nevertheless an equally phenomenal procedure of modernization was undertaken. Roviro Manthoulis, a Greek filmmaker who lived in France was the main figure of this effort concerning EPT. As an executive manager of EPT he tried to alter structures and improve programs, in spite of state interventions, continual internal crisis and bad publicity from the ultra-conservative press.

From 1974 to 1981 (the year when the Social Democrats came into power), Greek television came of age. Although Roviros Manthoulis resigned in January 1977, he left a very useful legacy of honesty and competence. During this period the correlation between EPT and YENEA changed dramatically: in the last semester of 1974 YENEA lost millions of viewers while the ratings of EPT increased by 40%, which seems like a world record in the history of the media. In the mid-1970s there were six million viewers (in a total population of nine million). 2.4 million watched EPT in December 1975, while in April 1976 they reached 3.3 million. On the other hand, the ratings of YENEA fell by 25% partly because it obviously lagged behind in terms of modernization, partly because it was connected to the hateful colonels (a fact that had not prevented it from blossoming as it did throughout the junta years).

A tacit war--which at times became very explicit--broke out between the two networks. The military management of YENEA accused EPT of illicit rivalry but the charge evaporated in a special meeting of both managements with the Prime Minister. This rivalry resulted in a palpable improvement of both channels although too many projects (the co-production of movies according to the French and British patter, the shooting of 50 educational documentaries), were abandoned for reasons of idleness and indifference.

In October 1981 Andreas Papaandreou and the Social Democrats (PASOK) came to power and for a short spell Greeks enjoyed good will politics which were also applied to the television. Color television drew new young audiences who had been brought up with color movies, and video sales skyrocketed. The old black-and-white programs became an anachronism rerun in early afternoons. YENEA was renamed EPT2 and together with the ex-EPT (now EPT1) formed the so-called Hellenic Television (ET); although they still were autonomous channels they became barely distinguishable. It was a period of frantic television production: Greek series prevailed, ranging from downright trashy to first rate (as were the Melody of the Dawn and the Lemon-tree Wood) they were usually adapted from popular Greek novels. The sitcoms and soap-operas persisted but they became chiefly Greek whereas the first early afternoon program Good Afternoon succeeded in securing unexpected ratings, making way for numerous early afternoon "live" programs. By 1987 several filmmakers and screenwriters (practically jobless, since only 10 to 15 films were made annually) worked on television. Also, the channels started to participate in the production of movies financed mainly by the Hellenic Film Center, a state organization founded in 1981

It can be argued that from 1974 to 1987 Greek television tried to follow the television model of the rest of Europe. In 1987, although the state monopoly was reaffirmed, it seemed threatened by the foundation of the first free radio station (the station of the City of Athens) which broke new ground and heralded the numerous private stations that eventually reduced the audience of the state stations. In 1988 the first local Thessaloniki-based television network was founded (ET3), a development that did little to save the national television industry from near -bankruptcy and public dissatisfaction. At the same time, satellite television was made available through the industrial galaxy Matra, Ariane, Thomson. Yet its impact was short-lived as the foreign language programs appealed to the meager minority familiar with European languages. Traditionally this minority watches little television, satellite or not. Thus, in the beginning, before the Greek networks came to look more like the satellite ones, large audiences went zapping through REL (which showed soft porn and love strip-tease live shows), RAI (with its typical glamorous and flashy shows), MTV (which remains wildly popular among the young), and Junior (which has a sizable audience of preschoolers). The French TV5, although relatively more interesting than the rest, attracted only the French-speaking part of the Greek intelligentsia as well as journalists who use it as an additional source of political comment. As for CNN, it used to be reasonably favoured among satellite channels but after the rush of the private national networks it was almost forgotten.

In 1988, the Social Democrat government was accused of corruption. ET1, ET2, and ET3 were savagely criticized and the private channels flourished abruptly, almost overnight. They simply appeared, without soliciting any licence whatsoever. The first was Mega Channel, which belonged to the group "Teletypos," an association of Athenian newspapers. The New Channel followed, hardly threatening Mega's supremacy. Despite the existing legislation, they both obtained a "temporary permit". In 1990 there were already seven private networks: Antenna TV (associated with a group of private investors), Kanali 29 (of the Press group Kouris, an unreserved advocate of the Social Democrats), Tele City, TV Plus (Pireus based), and TV100 (Thessaloniki based). Before long the confusion evoked the "Italian anarchy" of the 1970s; the legislation of 1989 did not define clearly the organization of the Greek televisual landscape. The National Council for Radio-Television, created in 1989 in order to supervise this new industry and formulate opinions on the issuing of licenses, is not independent (as one would assume) from the Department of Communications.

In 1991 the national networks reached their nadir. They employed more than 6,300 civil servants while there was an undefinable number of people who worked at the EPT1 and EPT2 "under contract." The deficit reached 4 billion drachmas ($172 million U.S.) and the national networks lost the bulk of their viewers; ratings fell under 5% before the sudden prosperity of Mega and Antenna TV. In the same year, a promising new channel bean to operate. Seven X was a youth-oriented network that showed choice films, hilarious no-nonsense series (avant-garde American and British) and video-clips (French initially, American later on). For several months it was the alternative to quiz shows, disruptive commercials and action movies; but it soon became heavily indebted and for the last two years it has been showing the same programs endlessly hoping that some entrepreneur will take over. On the other side of the spectrum, several petty political channels sprang up, half ludicrous, half exasperating (like Teletora held by a group of royalists). Nonetheless, in the framework of restraining the galloping television chaos, 26 channels which operated illegally were prosecuted.

Mega Channel and Atenna TV which control 33% and 30% of the market respectively, have imitated the dubious aesthetics of the Italian RAI Uno and RAI Due regarding the "live" everyday programs (that is gaudy song, chorus line dance, and chat shows with some audience "participation.") They have also undertaken a huge production of soap-operas of the Dynasty and The Bold and the Beautiful style, but have added more sex and violence. Despite their slight differences, these two dominant channels, as well as the two younger ones, Sky and Superstar, materialized quite a few changes that had been brewing in the Greek society for a while. They fomented an outrageously sensationalist sort of journalism which had already dominated the tabloids since 1981.

They managed to impose sexy and bloody shows (films, reportages, etc.), as well as racy language on a traditionally prudish spectatorship. It should be noted that private channels show hard-core porn late at night (though not very late), and that Greek soap-operas involve, inevitably, nudity, sex deviances, violence and, also inevitably, a deluge of four letter words. They also imposed an enormous number of commercials that take up more than 30% of television time (time which has also become extravagantly overpriced). They fashioned a new generation of TV stars--talk-show hosts, news reporters of the alleged muck-raker type, voluptuous quiz-show hostesses--who rose to sex-symbol and/or jet-set status. As a result, an increasing number of young people aspire to media careers. They provided the viewers with a large amount of movies, which caused a slump in video rentals and led to limited success of the cable TV network (Filmnet) which offers a variety of mainstream American movies which can be seen on video with a delay of two or three months. They contributed greatly to relatively new behavior patterns which are also introduced by the glossy magazines of the Face, Max, Penthouse, Marie Claire, Top Models generation, attracting large young audiences with lots of pocket money to spend. Peyton Place ethics have been replaced by Melrose Place gloss and a Beverly Hills image of affluence.

They turned to markets other than U.S. and Western Europe, buying soap-operas from South America and Australia (usually weepies). They established 24 hour television, responding to an apparently keen, long-standing demand. They multiplied and expanded lavish quiz-shows which have become an obsession among lower-middle class audiences. They fueled a profusion of TV and gossip magazines. They established morning programs, such as The Morning Coffee, which replaced morning radio zones. They applied high technology, particularly sophisticated computer technology extensively, if not abusively.

On the other hand, the state networks were compelled to polish their public image (which they have yet to do), and to improve their programs (which they have done to some extent) in order to increase their portion of the market, which now stands at about 12.5%, and preserve whatever remains of their prestige. Although they dwell on out-of-date structures they have begun to show signs of recovery. This is partly due to a kind of satiation and weariness caused by the private networks. As a result, total television audiences diminished by 250,000 in 1994 and show a fairly downward tendency.

Public Transportation:

Although the growth rate declined gradually to 11.2 percent per annum in the 1972-1981 decade and to 6.7 percent in the 1982-91 decade, the number of automobiles in use in Athens increased to 492,000 in 1981 and to 943,000 in 1991. In addition, over 16,000 taxis had been licensed by 1991.

The very high ownership and usage of automobiles and taxis had a significant depressing effect on the ridership of urban transit services. Public transportation trips per year dropped from the record figure of 973 million passengers in 1965 to a spiralling 510 million passengers in 1983. The attendant loss of revenue, coupled with spiralling operating costs, made urban transit services unprofitable.

Recognising the importance to the public welfare of public transportation services, the Government began to supplement the revenues collected by the operators with subsidies to offset their losses. Concerned about the decreasing level and quality of service being provided by the urban transit system, the Government made several attempts to reorganise it. After considerable study and debate, the following major changes in its organisational structure took place in the 1970s:

  • The private-owned Electric Transport Company, operator of the trolley bus lines in Athens and Piraeus, was dissolved in 1971 and replaced by the Government-owned Athens - Piraeus and Suburbs Electric Bus Company.
  • The privately-owned Hellenic Electric Railway Company, operator of the Metro line and the Piraeus - Perama tram line, was dissolved in 1976 and replaced by the Government-owned Athens - Piraeus Electric Railway.
  • The diesel bus lines operated by the Common Treasury for Buses were taken over by the Government-owned Urban Transport Company in 1978.

The Greek Electric Railways continued operating as a private company until 1976, to become then a property of the Greek State under the name of ISAP (Athens – Piraeus Electric Railways). Due to the fare collection policy, compatible with the cost of living, the EHS succeeded in becoming a profitable company without resorting to State’s aids or subsidies, and ensured continuous extensions of the network through reinvestment of the company’s profits deriving from its network’s operation.

Under the 107 years of its operation as a private company, Line 1 played a significant role in the life of the citizens of Athens and Piraeus and was considered to be one of the most effective and innovating companies at that time. The properly defined personnel ranking, the salary hierarchy, the different regulations for “blue collar” workers and “white collar” employees, continuous training, etc., are some of the company’s main characteristics.

ISAP, being under the control of the Public State since 1976, have invested significant amounts of money for their total renovation; they acquired new, modern rolling stock (175 new vehicles), applied their own DC system, Traffic Control System, a new interlocking system, a fare collection system, etc.

Recognising the need for proper planning, programming and budgeting of urban transit services, the Government established the Urban Transport Organisation in 1978 as an independent publicly-owned company with the mandate to co-ordinate and support the three operating companies. ATTIKO METRO commenced the Metro Development Study, a complete transport design of Attica transport systems in early 1995, to ensure the best possible cooperation with the other transport systems operating today in Attica Prefecture or that will operate in the future.

In the post-war years the lowest ridership figure, 510 million passengers, occurred in 1983. Ever since, this figure is increasing at a standard rate. In 1989 ridership reached the figure of 644 million, showing, in other words, a 26.3% in six years.

The future of urban transit services in Athens looks brighter today than it has at any time during the post World War II period. A turnkey contract for the construction of the initial segments of two new Metro Lines, totalling 18 kilometres in length, was awarded by the Government in 1991 to a consortium of 22 German, French and Greek firms.

In summer 1991 Law 1955 establishes "ATTIKO METRO”, the Societe Anonyme whose purpose is the design, construction, organization, administration, operation, running and development of the Metro network in the area of Attica Prefecture and, thus, at the end of 1992 the construction of two new Metro Lines initiated.
At the end of 1993 the Societe Anonyme entitled “Organization of Urban Transport of Athens (O.A.S.A S.A.)” was established as a Legal Entity of Private Law; O.A.S.A. became the general successor of O.A.S. along with its responsibilities.

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Discussion Starter · #32 · (Edited)
Athens the capital of a new economic power – Financial and commercial capital of the Balkans (1993 - 2008)


Picture by Demetrio Rizzo - Athens 21st century

Sociopolitical history during the 1993-2008 period:

On October 13, 1993 Andreas Papandreou's PASOK wins the general elections. But Papandreou's fragile health kept him from exercising firm political leadership. His wife became increasingly influential and it was alleged that she was preventing him from retiring.

March 6, 1994 is marked as a sad day for Athens and Greece in general, when actress, singer, and political activist Melina Mercouri died. She was a member of the Hellenic Parliament, and in 1981 she became the first female Minister for Culture in Greece. She is known for films like the 1955 “Stella”, the 1960 “Never on Sunday” for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, Illya Darling, for which she received a Tony Award nomination, she went on to star in such films as the 1962 Phaedra, the 1964 Topkapi, and the 1969 Gaily.

During the period of U.S.-backed military dictatorship in Greece from 1967 to 1974, Mercouri lived in France. When the dictatorship revoked her Greek citizenship, she said, "I was born a Greek and I will die a Greek. Mr. Pattakos was born a fascist and he will die a fascist." During those years she recorded four records in France, one with Greek lyrics and the other three with French lyrics, all created by Greek musicians. They were highly popular, and since being remastered and reissued, are still critically acclaimed. Her husky and unusual voice made her the perfect performer of some great Greek songs which are known classics and performed by hundreds of singers.

When democracy returned, she returned, and became first a member of Parliament for PASOK. She later became the first female Minister of Culture in Greece in 1981, and served in that position for two terms until 1989. She took this office again in 1993, and served until 1994. In 1971, she wrote her autobiography, “I Was Born Greek.”

As Minister of Culture, she proposed the Cultural Capital of Europe ideal within the framework of cultural policy of the European Community. Athens inaugurated this institution in 1985. She advocated the return of the Parthenon Marbles, now a part of the British Museum collection, that Lord Elgin removed from the Acropolis (for more information check the Ottoman period chapter).

Melina Mercouri died in a New York hospital at the age of 73 from lung cancer. She had been a heavy smoker and when she died, hundreds of Greek citizens left her favourite brand of cigarettes as a memorial at her shrine.

Her body was returned to Athens. She received a state funeral, at the Proto Nekrotafeio (First Cemetery) equivalent to that of a Prime Minister. Thousands of Greeks attended the funeral.

On November 1995 Greece lifts the embargo that had imposed on FYROM, after the later's decision to change its flag, its banknotes and controversial articles of its constitution. On the 20th of that same month, Papandreou was hospitalised with advanced heart disease and kidney failure in November 1995, and finally retired from office on January 16, 1996. He died on June 23, 1996. His funeral procession produced the greatest outpouring of public emotion ever seen in modern Greece.

On January 18, 1996 on the resignation of Papandreou through ill-health Simitis was elected Prime Minister. Simitis took office on January 22. However Papandreou remained leader of PASOK for the next several months, until his death, just before a party conference would select the party's vice-president; after Papandreou's death, the conference would elect the new Party President. Simitis was elected leader of PASOK on June 30, 1996.

On September 7, 1999 at 2:56:50 pm local time, Athens was hit by an earthquake, registering a moment magnitude of 5.9, it lasted for approximately 15 seconds. The tremor was epicentered between the suburbs of Ano Liossia and Acharnes, just 18 km northwest from the downtown.

The earthquake resulted in widespread structural damage, mainly to the suburbs of Ano Liossia, Acharnes, Fyli and Thrakomakedones as well as to the suburbs of Kifissia, Metamorfosi, Kamatero and Nea Philadelphia. More than 100 buildings (including three major factories) across those areas collapsed trapping scores of victims under their rubble while dozens more were severely damaged. Overall, 143 people lost their lives and more than 2,000 were treated for injuries in what eventually became Greece's deadliest natural disaster in almost half a century. This event took Greek seismologists by surprise as it came from a previously unknown fault, originating in an area that was for a long time considered of a particularly low seismicity.

This quake also featured a very shallow hypocenter combined with unusually high ground accelerations. The tangible loss was estimated at about 3 billion US dollars.

No significant structural damage was reported to the center, the southern and eastern suburbs of the city. The Acropolis of Athens and the rest of the city's famous ancient monuments escaped the disaster either totally unharmed or suffering only minor damage. A landslide as well as several fissures were reported along the road leading to the peak of Mount Parnitha. Minor damage was also reported to water and waste networks close to the epicenter.

National elections were held on April 9, 2000; Simitis won the elections, though narrowly this time. He took a 43.79% of the votes to the 42.74% of his Nea Dimokratia opponent, Konstantinos Karamanlis.

In 2000 also, Simitis was embroiled in a dispute with the Archbishop of the influential Greek Orthodox Church, Christodoulos, when the Greek government sought to remove the "Religion" field from the national ID cards carried by Greek citizens, after a decision of the Greek Commission for the Protection of Citizens' Private Data. Christodoulos opposed the decision, claiming that it had been "put forward by neo-intellectuals who want to attack us like rabid dogs and tear at our flesh". He organised two demonstrations in Athens and Thessaloniki, alongside a majority of bishops of the Church of Greece. The attitude of Simitis arose few supporters within his party, further fewer among other opposition parties. The then-opposition leader signed a petition, organized by Church of Greece, calling for a referendum on the matter. However, the inclusion of religious beliefs on ID cards, even on a voluntary basis, as the Church had asked, was subsequently deemed unconstitutional by Greek courts and the issue has been sidelined.

On May 4, 2001 Pope John Paul II visited Athens and made apologies for the sins of the Crusader attack on Constantinople in 1204.

On October 20, 2002, Dora Bakogianni is electer mayor of Athens. She is the first woman to become mayor of the city. Later in December 2005 she would be honored with the award of “World Mayor of 2005.” In December 2002 the was an assassination attempt against her.

On January 7, 2004 Simitis announced that he would resign as party president and would not be a candidate for prime minister in the next elections. He had been Prime Minister of Greece for 8 consecutive years, more than anyone else in modern Greek political history. On January 8 he called elections for the position of party president to be held on February 8. Simitis was succeeded as PASOK leader by then-Minister of Foreign Affairs George Papandreou.

During January, 2004 New Democracy was leading PASOK in opinion polls by 7%. But Papandreou's election to the party leadership allowed PASOK to regain ground. During February Papandreou campaigned on "the need for change" in Greece, hoping to neutralise the strong sentiment for a change of government. By late February New Democracy's lead in the opinion polls had been cut to 3%.

The electoral campaign concluded on in the traditional manner, with huge televised mass rallies in the centre of Athens by each of the major parties. On the evening of March 4, 2004 Karamanlis addressed an estimated 200,000 at the ND's concluding rally. PASOK claimed that twice that number attended their rally on March 6, but these numbers cannot be independently verified. At the ND rally, Karamanlis said that PASOK had been in power too long and had grown lazy and corrupt. At the PASOK rally, Papandreou evoked the memory of his father but said that he would lead a government dedicated to reform and change, as well as action against corruption.

Since publication of opinion polls is banned in the last two weeks of Greek election campaigns, it was not possible to predict the outcome of the election, except to say that ND appeared to have been leading when the last polls were published, and that most commentators expected the result in terms of votes to be close. Greek electoral law ensures, through a complex algorithm of parliamentary seat redistribution, that a party polling a plurality of the vote (that is, more than any other party) is practically guaranteed a majority in Parliament.

A "threshold" of 3% of the total popular vote is also required by law for a party to be eligible for representation in Parliament. This provision kept all but the four top-polling parties from securing parliamentary seats.

The result of the election was not as close as observers expected. It appears that ND regained its earlier lead over PASOK in the two weeks after the last opinion polls, and that the election of George Papandreou as PASOK leader was not sufficient to overcome the desire of the electorate for a change after a long period of PASOK rule. Karamanlis got 45.4% of the votes to 40.5% of Papandreu.

On April 24, 2004 Greek Cypriots reject the Annan Plan in a Referendum. Just a few days later on May 1, 2004 Cyprus became a full member of the EU.

From August 13 to August 29, 2004 the XXVIII Olympic Games were held in Athens. 10,625 athletes competed, some 600 more than expected, accompanied by 5,501 team officials from 201 countries. Athens 2004 marked the first time since the 1996 Summer Olympics that all countries with a National Olympic Committee were in attendance.

By late March 2004, some Olympic projects were still behind schedule, and Greek authorities announced that a roof it had initially proposed as an optional, non-vital addition to the Aquatics Center would no longer be built. The main Olympic Stadium, the designated facility for the opening and closing ceremonies, was completed only two months before the games opened, with the sliding over of a futuristic glass roof designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The same architect also designed the Velodrome and other facilities.

On August 14, 2005 after fears that it could crash in Athens' center, Helios Airways Flight 522 crashed in Grammatiko, killing all 121 people on board. This was the deadliest aviation accident in the history of Greece.

The New Democracy government under Karamanlis, elected on April of that year, decided to conduct a Financial Audit of the Greek economy, before sending revised data to Eurostat. The audit concluded that the PASOK administration and prime minister Costas Simitis had falsified Greece's macroeconomic statistics, on the basis of which the European institutions accepted Greece to join the Eurozone. PASOK contested the accusations and claimed that 2006 Eurostat changes to the system of defense expenditure calculation legitimized the practices of the Costas Simitis government. New Democracy responded that the defense expenditures covered by those changes constituted only a small part of much more substantial expenditures that were fraudulently concealed by the previous PASOK government.

Rising unemployment and the threat of inflation undermined Karamanlis' promises to kick-start the economy and sparked strikes, especially one in 2006 by rubbish collectors, causing severe disruption in the economy - particularly the one in July 2005 at the height of the tourist season.

In early 2006, it was revealed that the cellular phone of Costas Karamanlis, as well as those of several other members of the government and officials of the armed forces, had been tapped for several months during and after the 2004 Athens Olympics. The investigation into this matter by the Greek organization for communications privacy is closed with the argument that if this investigation would carry on, the information revealed would be dangerous for the national security of Greece.

The government has undertaken a 210 million euro program to bolster broadband internet connectivity in provincial Greece, which was approved by the European Commission in 2006 with the commendation that it constituted "the most ambitious broadband development program that any EU member has ever undertaken".

In matters of social policy, Karamanlis's government has followed a largely liberal policy. In the spring of 2006, the Ministry of Education repealed a law continuously in effect from 1936 (including 20 years of socialist rule), which required approval by the local Orthodox Christian Metropolitan for the building of non-Orthodox houses of worship.

At the outset of the year, prime minister Karamanlis announced the initiative of his government for a new amendement to the Constitution. He stated that one of the central issues of this amendment will be the legalisation of private universities in Greece, operating on a non-profit basis. Greece has for years experienced a mass exodus of "educational immigrants" to other countries' Higher Education institutions, where they move to study; this creates a chronic problem for Greece, in terms of loss of capital as well as human resources, since many of those students opt to seek employment in the countries they studied, after getting their degrees (it is characteristic Greece is by far the leading country in the world in terms of students abroad as a percentage of the general population, with 5250 students per million, compared to second Malaysia's 1780 students per million inhabitants). Proponents of non-state owned Universities claim that the State's constitutionally mandated monopoly on Higher Education is responsible for these problems.

Attempted changes in Greek higher education have encountered fierce opposition from the other parties, as well as from the majority of the academic community, both professors and students. An attempt to pass several changes concerning the operation of Greek universities resulted in large-scale demonstrations, mounting to tens of thousands protesters, and, finally, the closure of most institutions by protesting students in the summer of 2006. The semester's exam period was lost and postponed for the fall, while the government shelved the changes and claimed that no bill would be put to a parliamentary vote before a more extensive dialogue has been held with students. However, without any further dialogue, the legislation passed in 2007.

According to a March 2006 poll, Karamanlis was preferred as prime minister by 48% of the Greek public.

During the summer of 2007 a series of massive forest fires broke out in several areas. The most destructive and lethal infernos broke out on August 23, 2007; expanding rapidly and raging out of control until August 27, 2007; until they were put out in early September. The fires mainly affected western and southern Peloponnese as well as southern Euboea. The death toll in August alone stood at 67 people. In total 84 people lost their lives to the fires including fire fighters.

Some of these firestorms are believed to be the result of arsons while others were indeed the result of mere negligence. Hot temperatures, that included three consecutive heat waves of over 40 °C (105 °F), and severe drought rendered the 2007 summer unprecedented in modern Greek history. From the end of June to early September, over 3,000 forest fires were recorded across the nation. Nine more people were killed in blazes in June and July.

A total of 2,700 square kilometers (670,000 acres) of forest, olive groves and farmland were destroyed in the fires, which was the worst fire season on record in the past 50 years. Of the total of 2,700 square kms, 1,500 (370,000 acres) were burnt forests in Southern Greece alone. Many buildings were also destroyed in the blaze. The fire destroyed 1,000 houses and 1,100 other buildings, and damaged hundreds more.

The first major fire of the summer of 2007 was started on June 28, 2007. It is perceived to have been started by either an exploding electrical pylon or by arsonists. Significant parts of the Parnitha National Park were destroyed, and in total, the fire burnt 15,723 acres (63.6 square kms) of the core of the national forest in a matter of days. Overall the mountain of Parnitha suffered a burnt area of 38,000 acres (153.8 square kms), making it one of the worst recorded wildfires in Attica since the Penteli fire of July 1995.

Fires continued, on August 17, 2007 they started to burn on the outskirts of Athens. The fire started from Mt. Penteli and started burning down towards the suburbs. More than sixty fire engines, nineteen planes and helicopters, and hundreds of firefighters as well as locals attempted to hold back the fire. Melisia, Vrilisia, and Penteli were affected in the blaze that was put out, once winds calmed down.

On August 24, 2007, fires broke out in Peloponnese, Attica and Euboea. In Peloponnese, the fire burnt many villages and accounted for 60 deaths. Six people were reported to have been killed in the town of Areopoli. In Zacharo, one of the worst hit areas, at least 30 people were found dead by firefighters while searching burning cars and homes.

Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis declared a state of emergency for the whole country and requested help from fellow members of the European Union. Multiple countries responded to the call and sent help. Additionally, 500 Greek soldiers were sent in the affected areas. Another 500 Greek soldiers were called up bringing the total to 1,000 military personnel involved in the fire fighting.

On August 25, 2007, fires broke out on Mount Hymettus and in the suburb of Filothei in Athens. Officials said these fires were the result of arson, as the firefighters found many bottles with gasoline in affected areas. Arson is also suspected for the fires in Peloponnese, as more than 20 fires started at about the same time.[18] Two fires broke out in Keratea and one in Markopoulo Mesogaias in East Attica on August 25, 2007. The first fire was not under control until the following day, while the second was put out quickly. The Keratea fire had a length of 12 kilometres (7 mi) and a man was hospitalised with second degree burns.

The fires continued to burn into early September. On September 1, 2007, firefighters were still suppressing a strong blaze in Peloponnese. Three blazes remained, with the fires destructive path continuing in Arcadia and Mt. Parnon in Laconia. Then, on September 3, 2007 a lightning strike started a new fire on Mt. Vermion, which was soon brought under control by firefighters. On September 5 the death toll reached 67, and on September 21 reached 68.

The government called early elections in September 2007 (normal elections would have been March 2008), and New Democracy again was the majority party in the Parliament. As a result of that defeat, PASOK undertook a party election for a new leader. In that contest, George Papandreou was reelected as the head of the Socialist party in Greece.

A new economic power – Athens the capital of Southeastern Europe:

After decades of political conflicts the country’s economy had been severely affected. But, after the 1974 restitution of Democracy, over three decades of political stability followed; that leading to a more or less economic growth during the 35 years. But especially we should focus on the last 15 years that put Greece in a privileged position among European nations regarding its economic growth.

A series of economic reforms, the promotion of the country thanks to a major international event like the Olympic Games, the modernization of the nation infrastructure (which should be attributed in a big proportion to the celebration of the games), the boom of construction sector, the increase of foreign investments, the ever-growing tourist industry, the steady growth of the industrial and services sectors, the strong Greek shipping industry, the growth of the exportations, the high number of Greek multinational companies with headquartered in Athens, the Greek investments in neighboring countries of the Balkans, the exploitation of its vast natural resources, the cultural heritage of the nation which never quit drawing the attention of people around the world and the transformation of Greece into an energy, telecommunications and transportation strategic country, key for the development of this part of Europe; skyrocketed its economy as well as the standard of living of its citizens to levels never imagined before.

The traditional Greek poor economy based mainly on agriculture, today has been replaced by new economic policies that cover all the flanks on different sectors making of Greece as of 2008 a medium to strong country; with a GDP well above the U$S 300 billions and a GDP per capita of over U$S 30,000.

To all the above it should be added the benefits gained by Athens, a metropolis with a population of around 5,000,000; which day by day is preparing itself to face its new privileged position as the regional economical, political, financial, touristical, transportations, telecommunications and cultural capital.

To face this new status a series of major works are being performed especially in the mass transportation system of the city. Only 9 years ago the city had just one 25 kms metro line; today it has a network of three lines with a coverage of about 80 kms (four lines and 110 kms actually, if we add the proastiakos line from the Airport to the Port); and it is in a constant process of expansion with the construction of new lines and further extensions of current lines already in progress and other more being projected. And by 2018 it is expected that the total size of the metro network of Athens will surpass the 160 kms.

A new international airport has been inaugurated in 2001, with 2 terminals both covering a total of 201,000 sq m. And a new expansion is projected to start by 2009 to push its passengers capacity to 25 millions. The airport has a projected expansion potential to cover the needs of 55 millions passengers per year.

A new roads network has been developed during the last years, and much more is to come also since the expansion works are expected to begin by 2009.

Economic growth of the last decades:

Considered a poor country until 1974. The per capita of Greece was 65% that of France in 1850, 56% in 1890, 62% in 1938, 40% in 1949, 75% in 1980 and 90% in 2007.

Greece achieved high rates of growth from the 1950s through the early 1970s due to large foreign investments. After the end of the Greek Civil War in 1949 and for more than two decades Greece achieved the second highest economic growth rate in the world after Japan, resulting in a dramatic improvement of living standards, a phenomenon known as the "Greek economic miracle".

The term Greek economic miracle has been used to describe the impressive rate of economic and social development in Greece from the early 1950s to the mid-1970s. Between 1950 and 1973, the country had an average rate of economic growth of 7%, second in the World only to Japan’s during the same period. Growth rates were highest during the 1950s, often exceeding 10%, close to those of a modern "tiger economy" (industrial production grew annually by 10% as well, for several years, mostly in the 1960s). The term "miracle", though, is relatively little used, at least in Greece. The reason is connected with the Greek society itself: the post-war era until the mid-1970s was a time of deep political divisions that culminated in the Greek military junta of 1967-1974 (see the specific chapters of these two periods for more information), and is difficult for Greeks to see any "positive" aspect of this quarter-century period. Moreover, growth (at least initially) widened the economic gap between rich and poor, only intensifying political divisions.

From 1941 to 1944, Axis occupation of Greece and the fierce fighting with Greek Resistance groups had unprecedented devastating effects on the infrastructure and the economy. Moreover, the Civil War that followed until 1949 caused further disasters.

In 1950 the relative position of the Greek economy had dramatically deteriorated. According to Angus Maddison (Monitoring the World Economy 1820-1992, OECD 1995), the Greek Income per Capita in Purchasing Power Terms fell in comparative levels from 62% that of France in 1938 (just before World War II) to about 40% in 1949.

The rapid recovery of the Greek economy was facilitated from a number of measures, including (in addition to the stimulation, as in other European countries, connected with the Marshall Plan) a drastic devaluation of the Greek drachma, attraction of foreign investments, significant development of the Chemical Industry, development of tourism and the services sector in general and, last but not least, a massive construction activity connected with huge infrastructure projects and rebuilding in the Greek cities.

In the mid-1970s, Greece suffered declines in its GDP growth rate, ratio of investment to GDP, and productivity, and real labor costs and oil prices rose. In 1981, protective barriers were removed when Greece joined the European Community on January 1, 1981 and cohesion funds contributed considerably to the country's fast economic development in the 1980s. By 1989 Greece belonged to a group of 23 "advanced economies".

The government pursued expansionary policies, which fueled inflation and caused balance-of-payment difficulties. Growing public sector deficits were financed by borrowing. In October 1985, supported by a 1.7 billion European Currency Unit (ECU) loan from the European Union (EU), the government implemented a two-year "stabilization" program with limited success. Public sector inefficiency and excessive spending caused government borrowing to increase; by the end of 1992, general government debt exceeded 100% of GDP.

Greece continued to rely on foreign borrowing to finance its deficits. Public sector external debt was $32 billion at the end of 1998, only ¼ of the total. The general government debt was $119 billion at the end of 1998, or 105.5% of GDP. Greece, as a member of the European Union, strived to reduce its budget deficit and inflation rate in order to meet the prerequisites for the Economic and Monetary Union. Although growth remained above the convergence program guidelines, high budget deficits and deficient infrastructure continued to dampen the economy's long-term potential growth rate.

In May 1994, the Bank of Greece successfully managed a currency crisis triggered by the lifting of currency restrictions on short-term capital movements. The bank contained speculative attacks on the drachma by tightening its monetary policy and raising interest rates dramatically: For a few days, interest rates pushed as high as 180%. In less than 2 months, with speculation on the drachma no longer a threat, interest rates returned to normal levels. A similar wave of speculation was beaten back in the fall of 1997, following the Asian financial crisis.

One of the successes of recent Greek economic policy has been the reduction of inflation rates. For more than 20 years, inflation hovered in the double digits, it reached 23% in late 1990. But a combination of fiscal consolidation, wage restraint, and strong drachma policies resulted in lowered inflation. Inflation fell to 2.0% by mid-1999. High interest rates have been historically a significant problem. The government's strong drachma policy and Public Sector Borrowing Requirement (PSBR) made the lowering of interest rates difficult, but progress was made in 1997-99 and rates gradually declined in line with inflation and the rest of the Eurozone.

In 2001 Greece joined the Economic and Monetary Union (eurozone). Interest rate policy is now in the hands of the European Central Bank.

Due to the more stable macroeconomic framework and lower interest rates, growth has picked up significantly. The Greek Economy has been growing continuously since 1994 and above the EU25 average since 1996. In 2004 the Greek economy grew at an estimated rate of 4.7%, the fastest in the EU15. A part of this has been sustained by the investment in infrastructure in the run up to the Summer Olympic Games 2004 that were held in Athens. As a result, real incomes have risen from 85% of EU27 average in 1997 to 100% in 2007 according to the revised data of Eurostat of April 21, 2007).

In 2004, Eurostat, the statistical arm of the European Commission (after an audit performed by the New Democracy government) revealed that the budgetary statistics, on the basis of which Greece joined the European monetary union, had been massively underreported by the previous Greek government (mostly by not recording a large share of military expenses). However, even according to the revised numbers calculated according to the methodology in force at the time of Greece's application for entry into the Eurozone, the criteria for entry had been met.

Recent economic performance has been satisfying. However, there are two challenges for policymakers: a)to avoid an economic slump after the enthusiasm of the Games has gone and the EU farm subsidies get cut in 2006 and b) to proceed with structural economic reforms, especially in the areas of social insurance, welfare, and the labour market which will encourage further investments, lower the country's unemployment and promote growth and economic stability. The first step was taken on the 30 June 2005 with substantial reforms of the insurance system for bank employees against fierce opposition from the unions and the main opposition political party PASOK with laws liberalising working hours in retail trade and employment and providing for public/private financing initiatives of public works and services to follow over the summer.

During the third quarter of 2006, Greece experienced a strong 4.4% growth rate, while in the same period of the previous year, the growth rate was 3.8%. This is among the highest rates in the EU and the Eurozone, where the average growth rates for these periods were estimated to stand as 2.7% and 1.7% respectively. Current challenges include the further reduction of unemployment which as of February 2008 stood at 8.0%, the reform of the social security system, the further privatization of the public sector, the overhauling of the tax system and the further reduction of certain bureaucratic inefficiencies.

Reduction of the fiscal deficit to the Eurozone target of 3% of GDP had also become a key issue. Under a negotiated agreement, the EU had given Greece a two year deadline (budgets of 2005 and 2006) in order to bring the deficit in line with the criteria of the EU's stability pact, namely below 3%. In 2005, the deficit stood at 5.5% of GDP, while in 2006 the deficit fell below 3%, standing at 2.6% (figure approved by Eurostat in April 2007). Based on this figure and forecasts for the following years, EU's Excessive Deficit Procedure for Greece officially ended on June 5, 2007.

Following European Union rules, Greece revised its GDP in October 2007 upwards by 9.6% (a much smaller revision than the one originally planned in 2006). In contrast to other member states, Greece had not revised its base of measuring its GDP for several years.

Athens, in terms of the relative cost of living, ranked 47 between 131 cities included in a survey of Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). According to a survey by the Economist, the cost of living in Athens is close to 90% of the costs in New York.

The cost of living is higher in suburban and tourist areas of the country. In non-tourist areas the cost is reduced because of agricultural products, lower rents and reduced travel.

Greeks are the second most working people in the world, following South Korea. Groningen Growth & Development Centre made a poll that revealed that between 1995 - 2005, Greece was the country with the largest work/hour ratio among European nations; Greeks worked an average of 1,900 hours per year, followed by Spanish (average of 1,800 hours/year).

As of February 2008 Athens was the financial capital not only of the Balkan but of Eastern Europe only second after Moscow. In February 2008, HELEX, the Athens stock exchange market had a capitalization of the share market value of U$S 230 billions the second largest of eastern Europe after Moscow.

Let see a list of the 20 largest stock markets in Europe in market capitalization as of Feb 2008 (in millions U$S):

1. Paris Euronext: U$S 3,794,947.6
2. London Stock Exchange: US$ 3,478,172.4
3. Frankfurt Deutsche Borse: U$S 1,893,965.6
4. BME Madrid: U$S 1,695,969.7
5. Zurich Swiss SE: U$S 1,235,425.1
6. Stockholm OMX (joint Swedish-Finnish SE): U$S 1,179,769.5
7. Milan Borsa Italiana: U$S 978,450.1
8. Moscow MICEX: U$S 965,000.0
9. Amsterdam AEX: U$S 844,960,000.0
10. Oslo Bors: U$S 318,579.3
11. Athens HELEX: U$S 227,649.2 (U$S 234,000.0 as of July 2008)
12. Wien Wiener Borse: U$S 219,886.1
13. Warsaw SE: U$S 191,657.9
14. Istambul SE : U$S 173,223.3
15. Luxembourg SE: U$S 159,406.8
16. Dublin Irish SE: U$S 139,691.2
17. Budapest SE: U$S 41,713.1
18. Ljbljana SE: U$S 26,678.0
19. Nicosia Cyprus SE: U$S 22,506.4
20. Malta SE: 5,539.8​

In July 2007 the Greek parliament made the appropriate agreement that will allow ASE (Athens Stock Exchange) to enter the European stock exchange market, and join the benefits of other major stock exchanges of the European union.

Greece today is the largest investor country in the Balkans. Athens also is the headquarter of hundreds of multinational companies that are listed among the largest investing enterprices of the region. Some of these companies include:

  • The telecommunications monster OTE ranks, stock wise, among the 500 largest organizations globally and among the 10 largest telecommunications organizations in Europe. Apart from serving as a full service telecommunications group in the Greek telecoms market, during the last decade OTE Group has expanded its geographical footprint throughout South East Europe, acquiring stakes in the incumbent telecommunications companies of Romania and the Republic of Serbia and establishing mobile operations in Albania, Bulgaria, the FYROM and Romania. OTE is among the five largest listed companies with respect to capitalization in the Athens Stock Exchange and also trades on New York (NYSE) and London (LSE) Stock Exchanges.
  • Another one is The National Bank of Greece. It boasts a dynamic profile internationally, particularly in Southeastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. It owns subsidiaries in over 18 countries, including Bulgaria, Cyprus, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Turkey among others.
  • The Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company is an anchor bottler in the Coca-Cola System and the second largest bottler outside the United States. It is the bottler in 28 countries, primarially in eastern Europe, with a population totaling 540 million. The company's stock is 30% owned by the Coca-Cola Company and the remaining interest trades on the New York Stock Exchange, Australian Stock Exchange [ASX] and the Athens Stock Exchange. The company's headquarters is in Athens, Greece. The company is the bottler of Coca-Cola and its other soft drink products in most formerly communist countries. It controls Coca-Cola distribution in all of the former Soviet Union except the central Asian republics and all of the former communist nations of eastern Europe except Albania and eastern Germany. It is also the bottler in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland as well as Greece, Austria, Switzerland, Nigeria and the northern two-thirds of Italy. The company in 2003 produced 1.3 billion equilivant unit cases of soft drinks. A unit case represents 24 standard servings.
  • Vivartia is a food production conglomerate brand in Greece. It is the 35th largest European company and led by businessman Dimitris Daskalopoulos. The major shareholder was the Daskalopoulos Family until a 76.89% share was sold to the Marfin Investment Group. It has 27 facilities, 13,500 employees, a commercial presence in 30 states and an estimated turnover of 1.3 billion euros for 2006. In December 2007 Vivartia was found guilty of colluding with other milk producers to fix milk prices in Greece to the disadvantage of the consumer.
  • Piraeus Bank Group has a constantly expanding network with more than 300 branches in Greece, 14 branches in New York,1 in the UK, 80 branches in Romania, 72 in Bulgaria, 38 in Albania, 38 in Serbia and 40 in Egypt. Piraeus Bank Group has recently completed the acquisition of a Ukrainian Bank that has 133 points of presence. In addition, a representative office of Piraeus Bank operates in Moscow.
  • Cosmote is the largest mobile network operator in Greece, headquartered in Athens. Although it began its commercial operations five years after its local competitors, Cosmote changed the status radically and dominated the mobile telecommunications in Greece. It is the only company of its sector in the world, which entered the market third and yet managed to become number one in only 3.5 years. Cosmote is member of OTE, the national telecommunications provider of Greece and it has more than 5 million costumers in the country with the leading position and also has presence in four other Balkan countries, AMC in Albania, GLOBUL in Bulgaria, Cosmofon in FYROM and Cosmote Romania in Romania. In 2007, the mobile operators' customer base exceeded 12.2 millions, a 38.3% increase from 2006, and is well on target to exceed 15 million customers in 2009.

As of 2007 Greece’s nominal GDP was U$S 360,031 millions while the GDP per capita U$S 32,166.

As of February 2008 the unemployment level %8.0.

The GDP per sectors as of 2006: agriculture (5.1%), industry (20.6%), services (74.4%) – 2006.​

Athens urban development in the 1993-2008 period:

The 2001 census gave a total population for Athens of 3,892,519. Later a 2007 study increased this figure to 4,032,456 (all of them Greek citizens).

However due to the high number of immigrants from the interior; mainly Epirus, Western Sterea, Peloponesse and the Cyclades; each time a census is performed the real population of Athens is not accounted, since these immigrants are still registered in their hometown, thus leaving Athens each time a demographic census is performed or in times of elections.

By 2001 it was estimated that about 500,000 residents of Athens left the city during the demographic assessment for their towns. Thus that would put the real population of Athens in by 2007 at roughly 4,532,000 inhabitants.

Furthermore, in the above figures there are not included the about 450,000 legal immigrants (non Greeks) holding resident laboral cards; that puts the real population of Athens roughly at 5,000,000.

By 2008 the land area of the urbanized continuum covers an area of 540 sq kms, well beyond the 430 sq kms of the Athenian basin (the natural border of the city) which represented also the land area covered by the urbanized sector of the city.

So as of 2008 the land area of the city of Athens was 540 square kilometers. The Greater Athens area (or Metropolitan area), also known as “Attika prefecture” covers a land area of 3,808 square kilometers.

Socio-politically the city of Athens proper, comprises 72 suburbs. It is divided into 6 zones: Athens Demos (Zone 1), the Northeastern suburbs (Zone 2), the Southeastern suburbs (Zone 3), the Western suburbs (Zone 4), Piraeus A’ (Zone 5) and Piraeus B’ (Zone 6).

Public Transportation - Metro:

This will remain in history as the period of the modernization of the public transportation of Athens. In just 15 years the city’s transportation system has been transformed from a dull inefficient one to one of the most modern in Europe. An the process of development continues.

In summer 1991 Law 1955 establishes "ATTIKO METRO”, the Societe Anonyme whose purpose is the design, construction, organization, administration, operation, running and development of the Metro network in the area of Attica Prefecture and, thus, at the end of 1992 the construction of two new Metro Lines initiated.

Here is a timeline of the expansion works of the Athens Metro Sytem:

• July-92 Commencement of archaeological surveys
• November-92 Commencement of main construction activities at LARISSA Station
• June-93 Taking delivery of the first Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM)
• December-93 Taking delivery of second Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM)
• April-94 Commencement of operation of the first TBM at LARISSA Station
• August-94 Commencement of operation of the first TBM at KATEHAKI Station
• June-96 Line 3 - Arrival of TBM 2 at SYNTAGMA Station
• March-97 Due to the non-contractual behavior exhibited by the Contractor, which was contrary to the pertinent legislation, a resolution was made to delete the Civil Works for the tunnel section Syntagma-Keramikos-Iakhou Shaft, the respective Electromechanical Works, as well as KERAMIKOS Station from the Contract, so that the tunnel passage underneath the Keramikos archaeological site results in no risk for the project
• May-97 Resuming of TBM 1 operation in the area of Karaiskaki Square (Metaxourghio - Omonia tunnel section)
• December-97 Arrival of TBM 1 at SYNTAGMA Station
• April-98 Transfer of TBM 2 from Nikis Street (Syntagma) - without its head - to DAFNI Station and placement of an order for the open face shield for the boring of DAFNI - AGIOS IOANNIS Section
• June-98 Delivery of the first train in Athens
• December-98 Arrival of TBM 1 at AGIOS IOANNIS Station (completion of the boring activities using TBM 1)
• March-99 Completion of the boring activities in DAFNI - AGIOS IOANNIS Tunnel Section using the Open Face Shield - Completion of Line 2 Tunnels’ constructionCompletion of the boring activities in DAFNI - AGIOS IOANNIS Tunnel Section using the Open Face Shield - Completion of Line 2 Tunnels’ construction
• April-99 Power Supply of Line 3 and commencement of tests for the first train
• May-99 Commencement of tunnel boring from SYNTAGMA towards MONASTIRAKI using conventional methods
• July-99 Completion of the track laying related works for SYNTAGMA - SEPOLIA and SYNTAGMA - ETHNIKI AMYNA sections (Partial Opening 1) of the System
• August-99 Taking delivery of the 28th Train
• November-99 Completion of the track laying related works for SYNTAGMA - DAFNI section (Partial Opening II) of the System
• January-00 Commencement of Metro Operation: Partial Opening I of the System (SYNTAGMA - SEPOLIA and SYNTAGMA - ETHNIKI AMYNA sections), commissioning of 14 stations in total, i.e. 7 stations in Line 2 and 7 stations in Line 3
• May-00 Tests for the Energization of the Line for SYNTAGMA - DAFNI section (Partial Opening II) of the System
• November-00 Partial Opening II of the System (SYNTAGMA - DAFNI section): commissioning of 5 additional Stations of Line 2
• September-01 Completion of tests in SYNTAGMA - MONASTIRAKI Tunnel Section
• December-01 Completion of excavation works in the main MONASTIRAKI Station
• April-03 Partial Opening III of the System (SYNTAGMA - MONASTIRAKI): Commencement of operation of MONASTIRAKI Station, i.e. the last Station of Line 3


• December-00 Commencement of Works at HALANDRI Station
• Αugust-01 Signing of the Contract regarding the Civil Works for the Extension towards Doukissis Plakentias
• Οctober-01 Completion of excavation works at HALANDRI Station
• Νovember-01 Arrival of TBM at HALANDRI Station
• January-02 Commencement of TBM operation from HALANDRI Station towards ETHNIKI AMYNA Station
• February-02 Signing of the Contract regarding the construction of the Depot in Doukissis Plakentias area
• May-02 Arrival of the Tunnel Boring Machine at Agia Paraskevi Shaft
• September-02 Arrival of the Tunnel Boring Machine at Nomismatokopio Shaft
• September-02 Worksite Installation of the Contractor at HOLARGOS and NOMISMATOKOPIO Stations
• October-02 Commencement of architectural works at HALANDRI Station
• Decemeber-02 Commencement of E/M Works at HALANDRI and DOUKISSIS PLAKENTIAS Stations; commencement of E/M and Trackwork in the tunnel
• December-02 Completion of concreting works at HALANDRI Station
• February-03 Completion of tunnel boring activities using TBM (ATHINA) from HALANDRI Station up to Xanthou Shaft - 3.5 km. long
• June-03 Completion of concreting works at DOUKISSIS PLAKENTIAS Station
• July-03 Completion of structural works in all tunnels of the Extension
• September-03 Signing of the Contract regarding the architectural finishes works of DOUKISSIS PLAKENTIAS Station
• February-04 Energization of Traction Power throughout the Extension
• March-04 Completion of Stavros Depot construction (in Doukissis Plakentias area)
• June-04 Commencement of tests on the dual voltage trains in ETHNIKI AMYNA - HALANDRI Section
• July-04 Commencement of tests in DOUKISSIS PLAKENTIAS - Airport Section
• July-04 Completion of all system integration tests, initiation of the trial run of the Extension towards DOUKISSIS PLAKENTIAS and its connection with the Airport
• July-04 Commissioning of the extension


• Αpril-01 Commencement of works in the Extension
• January-02 Completion of the excavation of AGIOS DIMITRIOS / ALEXANDROS PANAGOULIS Station
• January-02 Signing of the Contract regarding the Civil Works of the Extension towards AGIOS DIMITRIOS
• December-02 Completion of concreting works at AGIOS DIMITRIOS / ALEXANDROS PANAGOULIS Station
• February-03 Commencement of E/M Works at AGIOS DIMITRIOS / ALEXANDROS PANAGOULIS Station and commencement of trackwork and E/M Works in the tunnel
• March-03 Completion of structural works in the Extension tunnel towards AGIOS DIMITRIOS
• January-04 Energization of Traction Power throughout the Extension
• April-04 Completion of all system integration tests and initiation of the trial run of the Extension towards AGIOS DIMITRIOS
• June-04 Commissioning of the Extension towards AGIOS DIMITRIOS


• July-00 Signing of the Contract for the works pertaining to the construction of the Extension tunnel from Sepolia to Peristeri
• Μarch-01 Signing of the Contract for the construction of AGIOS ANTONIOS Station
• Οctober-01 Arrival of Open Face Shield (OFS) at Anapafseos Shaft
• February-02 Commencement of construction works at AGIOS ANTONIOS Station
• March-02 Commencement of operation of the OFS from Anapafseos Shaft towards AGIOS ANTONIOS Station
• Αugust-02 Completion of the tunnel boring in SEPOLIA - AGIOS ANTONIOS Section
• December-03 Completion of the excavation and concreting works at AGIOS ANTONIOS Station
• January-04 Commencement of E/M Works at AGIOS ANTONIOS Station
• March-04 Completion of the structural works in the tunnel of the Extension towards AGIOS ANTONIOS
• June-04 Energization of Traction Power throughout the Extension
• August-04 Completion of all system integration tests and initiation of the trial run of the Extension towards AGIOS ANTONIOS
• August-04 Commissioning of SEPOLIA - AGIOS ANTONIOS Extension


• December-01 Signing of the contract for the Extension to Egaleo
• Μay-02 VOTANIKOS Station worksite occupation
• April-04 Completion of the excavation works in EGALEO Station
• November-04 Completion of the excavation and concreting works in VOTANIKOS Station
• January-05 Completion of the excavation works in ELEONAS Station
• June-05 Completion of the tunnel boring works from ELEONAS Station to EGALEO Station and up to the end of Extension
• July-05 Completion of the tunnel boring works from VOTANIKOS Station to Assomaton Shaft and integration thereof in the existing network
• January-06 Commencement of trackwork activities in Assomaton – Votanikos and Alsos - Egaleo tunnel sections and commencement of the E/M works in VOTANIKOS Station
• April-06 Commencement of trackwork activities in Votanikos– Geoponiki tunnel section.
• June-06 Commencement of trackwork activities in Geoponiki – Eleonas tunnel section and commencement of the E/M works in EGALEO Station.
• August-06 Commencement of E/M works in ELEONAS Station
• November-06 Completion of 70% of the E/M works in shafts, 95% of the E/M works in VOTANIKOS Station, 70% in EGALEO Station and 50% in ELEONAS Station
• January-07 Commencement of testing of the E/M systems and energization of the Metro third rail
• May-07 Commissioning of the Extension​



The initial invitation to tender for Line 2 extension to Helliniko provided for the construction of a bridge along the central island of Vouliagmenis Avenue, which would create significant sound and visual disturbance. Following a decision made by the Ministry of PEHODE, the said tender procedure was discontinued and ATTIKO METRO S.A. called for a new tender based on which the entire Line would be constructed below surface. A thorough examination of the construction method proved that the Line could be underground with a slight difference in the cost estimate of the project and in the time needed for the construction of the project.

The contract related to the extension to ELLINIKO was signed on March 8th 2006. The extension will be 5,5 km long in total and includes 4 new stations: ILIOUPOLI, ALIMOS, ARGYROUPOLI and ELLINIKO, as well as an underground area for the stabling of eight trains. The construction of the Project commenced in April 2006 and it is anticipated to be handed over at the end of 2009.

Each one of the new stations will be 110m long, it shall consist in three levels and there will be entrances/exits on either side of Vouliagmenis Avenue. The tunnel will be bored using a TΒΜ-ΕΡΒ boring machine, whose cutter head will be 9,5m in diameter. The stations, the ventilation and E/M shafts, as well as the train stabling area will be constructed using the C/C method.

This Line extension will provide transportation services to the wider area along the axis of Vouliagmenis Avenue, i.e. the areas of the municipalities of Aghios Dimitrios, Ilioupoli, Argyroupoli, Alimos and Elliniko. In particular, with the addition of the said extension to the Metro network, the daily ridership is anticipated to be increased by 80,000 passengers. On the contrary, daily trips by car will be reduced by 50,000. In addition, the restructuring and the extension of the local urban transport system, with the development of Transfer Stations to and from the Bus Lines, as well as the creation of Car Parks at the New Stations are anticipated to serve the southern municipalities, such as the ones of Glyfada, Voula etc. It is worth mentioning that the distance from ELLINIKO to the city center (SYNTAGMA Station) will be covered in only 14 minutes, while by car in rush hour it takes more than 45 minutes!


On February 20th 2006, the Contract was signed for further extending Line 3 by 1.5km and constructing one new Station in Haidari area and one depot in Eleonas area. Through this project, Line 3 of the Athens Metro is further extended to the western suburbs, thus reaching the areas of Haidari and to Aghia Varvara. The Metro extension to HAIDARI is a very important project given that it will serve the needs of the citizens of the western suburbs of Athens. Upon commissioning of the said extension, it will only take 8 minutes to reach the city centre (SYNTAGMA), while it will be possible to reach directly ELEFTHERIOS VENIZELOS Airport comfortably and in a safe and reliable manner in 40 minutes!

In particular, it is anticipated that this extension will contribute to the upgrading of the areas, which, until the present time, have not been within easy reach of the city centre, such as the wider area of Egaleo, Haidari and Aghia Varvara. It will also serve specific destinations such as the Hospital for Infectious Diseases, the 'Dromokaitio' Hospital, the Attiko Hospital and the commercial area.

It is estimated that HAIDARI Station will serve over 30,000 passengers on a daily basis.


The procurement of Line 2 extension from Aghios Antonios to Anthoupoli, 1,5 km long, including two new Stations: PERISTERI and ANTHOUPOLI (former THIVON) was completed on April 11th 2006 and the pertinent activities for the construction of the Project commenced in September 2006.

In this way, the most densely populated municipality of the western suburbs, the Municipality of Peristeri, will be served by three Metro stations (AGHIOS ANTONIOS, PERISTERI, ANTHOUPOLI) designed to serve 75,000 passengers on a daily basis.

It is worth mentioning that it will take only 11 minutes by Metro to cover the distance between Anthoupoli and Syntagma, while for the same itinerary 45 minutes are needed at least in rush hour by car.

Holargos, Nomismatokopio, Aghia Paraskevi:

The contract for the completion of HOLARGOS and NOMISMATOKOPIO Stations, as well as for the construction of AGHIA PARASKEVI Station of Line 3 was signed on 16.03.2007.

Due to the fact that no construction works has been executed at AGHIA PARASKEVI Station, in autumn 2008 it will be required to interrupt Line 3 operation for an approximate six-month period of time.

The construction of all three stations commenced in May 2007. NOMISMATOKOPIO Station will be commissioned in the beginning, while the other two stations will follow. These three stations are of major importance – in terms of transport – since they will serve approximately 60,000 passengers on a daily basis, reducing thus, dramatically the time needed for transfers, e.g. it will take only 12 minutes to cover the distance between Ag. Paraskevi and Syntagma when using the metro, while now it takes 45 minutes to cover the same distance by car in rush hours.

In particular, in the area of NOMISMATOKOPIO Station, which is the first Metro Station on Messogion Avenue encountered by the passengers coming from Agia Paraskevi, Messogia and the Eastern Attica coastline, a Transfer Station will be constructed to/from the bus lines, as well as an underground car park of an overall capacity of 470 spaces.


On June 7th 2006, ATTIKO METRO S.A. announced a tender (budget: EURO 570,000,000.00) for the construction of the further extension of the Metro Line 3, which will commence from HAIDARI Station and terminate in Piraeus; it will have 6 new Metro stations and be 7.5 km long in total. This extension will serve the western suburbs of Attica Basin (Aghia Varvara, Nikaia, Korydallos) and Piraeus area, which will now have 3 modern Metro Stations

It is worth mentioning that upon implementation of this extension, the Athens Metro Line 3 (Evangelistria – Eleftherios Venizelos Airport) will be 49 km long in total (out of which 28,4 km will be underground), while it is anticipated that this extension will serve more than 160,000 passengers on a daily basis.

Line 4:

According to the Metro Development Study (1995 - 1999), the approved Athens Metro Development Plan provided for the construction of two new Extensions, which would, in essence, be branches of the existing Lines, namely: Line 2 branch (Panepistimio-Exarhia-Alexandras-Dikastiria-Kypseli-Galatsi-Alsos Veikou) and Line 3 branch (Panormou-Faros-Sidera-OAKA-Paradissos-Maroussi). During the preparation of the Preliminary Designs of the aforementioned Projects, it turned out that due to technical reasons the said extensions could not be branches of the existing Lines, since this scenario would have important construction and operational deficiencies (interruption of line operation, complex construction, high cost, frequency of trips, etc.).

In this framework, ATTIKO METRO S.A. proceeded with the interconnection of the said extensions and their development as a new autonomous U-shaped Line 4, which shall include the two aforementioned branches (towards Galatsi and Maroussi) and a central section connecting 8 new Metro stations: Panepistimio, Kolonaki, Evangelismos, Pangrati/Kaissariani, Ano Ilissia, Zografou, Goudi, Katehaki, intersecting the existing Line 2 (at Panepistimio Station) and Line 3 (at Evangelismos & Katehaki Stations).

This new Metro Line, the orange Line 4 (Alsos Veikou - Panepistimio - Katehaki - Maroussi) is 20.9 km long, with 20 stations and its cost estimate rises to approximately 2.1 billion euros, while it is anticipated to alter dramatically the transportation map of Athens, and to upgrade life in Attica Basin.

Public Transportation - Proastiakos:

Proastiakos could be considered as the Athenian version of the Parisian RER. It currently connects Larissa station (Athens Central Railway Station) with Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport and Kiato (via Corinth). There are plans to extend the Proastiakos to Thiva and Chalkida northwards, Rafina and Lavrio. This new rail system is operated by OSE (Organismós Sidirodrómon Elládos – Hellenic Railways Organisation), the state railway organization.

The suburban railway connects with the rest (urban) railway network of Athens in the following stations:

Piraeus: connection with the metro (line 1)
Larissa station: connection with the metro (line 2)
Nerantziotissa: connection with the metro (line 1)
Plakentias: connection with the metro (line 3)
Pallini: shared station with the metro (line 3)
Paiania–Kantza: shared station with the metro (line 3)
Koropi: shared station with the metro (line 3)
Airport: shared station with the metro (line 3)​

The route of the line was first marked out in 1994. In 1997, bridges were constructed. During the construction of the route 6 of the Attiki Odos in the late 1990s, space was left between the main carriageways for the Proastiakos line. After two years of construction, the Proastiakos stretch to Eleftherios Venizelos opened in 2004.

On 27 September 2005, the Proastiakos reached Corinth (the station is near southern Corinthian suburb of Examilia). Apart from the new Proastiakos station in Corinth, four new stations became fully operational on the same day, namely: Nea Peramos, Megara, Kinetta and Agioi Theodoroi. From December 2005 almost all the passenger trains of OSE to Peloponnese (Patras, Kalamata etc.) depart from the new Peloponesian terminus (where passengers change to or from the suburban railway).

On 18 July 2006, 3 new stations were inaugurated: Ano Liosia, Aspropyrgos and Magoula. On 4 June 2007 the line was extended from Athens to the port of Piraeus with 3 intermediate stations at Lefka, Rentis and Rouf. This gives a direct rail link between the airport and the port of Athens, where most ferry services to the Greek Islands depart from. On 9 July 2007, the Proastiakos is now accessible from Kiato, Corinthia.

Athens Airport:

The airport was opened in 2001 to replace the now-closed Athens (Ellinikon) International Airport. The airport is located between the towns of Markopoulo, Koropi, Spata and Loutsa, about 20 km (12 mi) to the east of central Athens (30 km (19 mi) by road, due to intervening hills). The airport is named after Elefthérios Venizélos, the prominent Cretan political figure and Prime Minister of Greece, who made an outstanding contribution in the Cretan rising against the Ottoman occupation of Crete in 1896.

The airport currently has two terminals: the Main Terminal, and the Satellite Terminal accessible by a foot-tunnel from the Main Terminal. It has two runways that are each approximately 4 km (2 mi) in length. The airport was developed by public-private partnership with Greece holding 55% of the shares. The airport was awarded "European Airport of the Year" in 2004, within the framework of the annual Institute of Transport Management (ITM) Awards, for its innovative entrepreneurial scheme and the airport's successful operation and achievements.

The airport is designed to be upgraded over the ensuing years in order to accommodate the increase in air travel, and its upgrades are planned in a six-phase framework. The first (current) phase allows the airport to accommodate 16 million passengers a year; the sixth phase will allow the airport to accommodate as many as 55 million passengers a year. In 2007, the airport handled 16,538,645 passengers, 9.7% more than in 2006.

It is also an airport that has received approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration for take-offs and landings of the biggest passenger jet worldwide, the Airbus A380.

Attiki Odos:

The Attiki Odos is a pioneer project, which was executed by the Concession Contract method and constitutes one of the greatest co-financed road projects in Europe. It belongs to the first generation of co-financed projects awarded in Greece during the ‘90s and it essentially paved the road and laid the foundation for the execution of future successful concession contracts, both in Greece as well as on a European scale.

The Attiki Odos is a modern motorway, extending along 65 km. It constitutes the ring road of the greater metropolitan area of Athens and the backbone of the road network of the entire Attica region. It is an urban-periurban motorway, with 3 traffic lanes in either direction and an emergency lane. In the centre, it has a special traffic island, reserved for the operation of the suburban railway. It constitutes a unique infrastructure project, even in European terms, since it is essentially a closed toll motorway, within a metropolitan capital, where the problem of traffic congestion is really acute.

The need for the construction of a motorway, which would constitute the peripheral road of Athens, became apparent in the ‘60s. Since then, the main objectives were to ease traffic in the road network of the Athens greater area and enhance the environmental features of the district. At first, the project was called "Elefsina - Stavros Motorway". In the ‘80s, however, when "Eleftherios Venizelos" Airport was being planned in Spata, the motorway was renamed "Elefsina - Stavros - Spata Motorway" (ESSM).

Later on, in the ‘90s, the Imittos Western Peripheral Motorway (IWPM) was incorporated to the peripheral road. The two aforementioned motorways were united in one uniform project, called "Attiki Odos".

The magnitude of the project and its special construction aspects, as well as, the fact that the Attiki Odos was to go through residential areas and regions of great historical importance, made the execution of the project seem like a complex puzzle. Nevertheless, in the mid nineties, this "project on paper" took the form of a complete and integrated plan and the project was, therefore, able to move on to the execution phase. During the construction phase of the Attiki Odos, the competent Public authorities realised that further, additional works would have to be executed. Although these works were not directly linked to the operation of the Attiki Odos, the Greek State deemed their execution necessary along with the construction of the motorway, for facilitation, as well as, economy purposes.

Construction of the project began in 1996. The motorway was opened along with the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport to which it connects. The motorway ran from the Gerakas Street interchange but did not have direct access to Keratea until 2003, nor a northbound interchange to Athens from Agia Marina, Athens until 2002.

During May 2001, an interchange 20B (now K2) opened for Koropi North and serves mainly a local road; construction from Kifissou Avenue to Gerakas continued while the western part began construction. The Hymettus ring was at this stage under construction.

More interchanges were opened later, including the Paiania-Spata Road. In September 2002, the high-speed railway began construction, and the central part of the main section began paving. From early-2003, Attiki Odos was now operated from Kifissou Avenue to Eleftherios Venizelos Airport; the Hymettus Ring was almost paved by this phase, but tunnels were already complete.

In late-2003, the Hymettus Ring became fully accessible with a toll booth at the northbound lanes near Katechaki Avenue. This part of the motorway has many tunnels; it runs in the northern part of the Hymettus and became the road to bypass Mesogeion Avenue and link to Kifissou Avenue and its suburbs, and the Airport along with the eastern suburbs of Athens.

In 2004, the western section along with a tunnel opened from the junction with GR-8 to Kifissou Avenue. It has seven interchanges in total, and runs between the mountain ranges of Aigaleo and Parnitha. The Egaleo Ring is still under construction. The high-speed railway was complete and ready for opening in 2004.

On October 21, 2005 a new extension plan was proposed. 76 km of motorway will be constructed, bringing the total length to 141 km. Extensions will be constructed towards Rafina, Lavrio and Vouliagmeni. The Hymettus Ring will also be extended southwards to Vouliagmeni. Construction is estimated to start in 2009, as the final plans were announced to be complete in late May 2008.

Attiki Odos is considered one of the safest motorways in Europe. It was designed under strict safety-related technical specifications, including updated hard shoulders in either direction and high quality skid-resistant asphalt pavement, dense lighting and fencing. Attiki Odos features hundreds of CCTV cameras connected to the Traffic Management Centre (TMC), which detects any incidents occurring on the motorway and informs the intervention and maintenance patrol units to provide assistance.

The 2004 Olympic Games:

Athens was chosen as the host city during the 106th IOC Session held in Lausanne in September 5, 1997, after surprisingly losing the bid to organize the 1996 Summer Olympics to Atlanta nearly seven years before, on September 18, 1990, during the 96th IOC Session in Tokyo. Athens, under the direction of Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, pursued another bid, this time for the right to organize the 2004 games. The success of Athens in securing the 2004 Games was based largely on Athens' appeal to Olympic history and the emphasis that it placed on the pivotal role that Greece and Athens played in the promotion of the Olympic Movement. After leading all voting rounds, Athens easily defeated Rome in the 5th and final vote. Cape Town, Stockholm, and Buenos Aires, the three other cities that made the IOC shortlist, were eliminated in prior rounds of voting. Six other cities submitted applications, but their bids were dropped by the IOC in 1996. These cities were Istanbul, Lille, Rio de Janeiro, San Juan, Seville, and Saint Petersburg

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, concerns about terrorism were much higher. Greece increased the budget for security at the Olympics to €970 million (US$1.2 billion). Approximately 70,000 police officers patrolled Athens and the Olympic venues during the Olympics. NATO and the European Union also provided minor support, after Athens asked for co-operation.

When the International Olympic Committee expressed its concern over the progress of construction work of the new Olympic venues, a new Organizing Committee was formed in 2000 under President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. In the years leading up to the Games, Athens was transformed into a city that uses state-of-the-art technology in transportation and urban development. Some of the most modern sporting venues in the world at the time were built to host the 2004 Olympic Games.

The general cost of the games were estimated in $ 7.202 billion euros.

By late March 2004, some Olympic projects were still behind schedule, and Greek authorities announced that a roof it had initially proposed as an optional, non-vital addition to the Aquatics Center would no longer be built. The main Olympic Stadium, the designated facility for the opening and closing ceremonies, was completed only two months before the games opened, with the sliding over of a futuristic glass roof designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The same architect also designed the Velodrome and other facilities.

Other facilities, such as the streetcar line linking venues in southern Athens with the city proper, were considerably behind schedule just two months before the games. The subsequent pace of preparation, however, made the rush to finish the Athens venues one of the tightest in Olympics history. By July/August 2004, all venues were delivered: in August, the Olympic Stadium was officially completed and opened, joined or preceded by the official completion and openings of other venues within the Athens Olympic Sports Complex (OAKA), and the sports complexes in Faliro and Helliniko.

Late July and early August witnessed the Athens Tram and Light Rail become operational, and these two systems finally connected the downtown with its waterfront suburbs along the Saronic Gulf, such as Piraeus, Agios Kosmas (site of the sailing venue), Helliniko (the site of the old international airport which now contained the fencing venue, the canoe/kayak slalom course, the 14,500-seater indoor basketball arena, and the softball and baseball stadia), and Faliro (site of the taekwondo, handball, indoor volleyball, and beach volleyball venues, as well as the newly-reconstructed Karaiskaki Stadium for football). The upgrades to the Athens Ring Road were also delivered just in time, as were the expressway upgrades connecting Athens proper with peripheral areas such as Markopoulo (site of the shooting and equestrian venues), the newly constructed Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, Schinias (site of the rowing venue), Maroussi (site of the OAKA), Parnitha (site of the Olympic Village), Galatsi (site of the rhythmic gymnastics and table tennis venue), and Vouliagmeni (site of the triathlon venue). The upgrades to the Athens Metro were also completed, and the new lines became operational by mid-summer.

The lighting ceremony of the Olympic flame took place on March 25 in Ancient Olympia. For the first time ever, the flame travelled around the world in a relay to former Olympic cities and other large cities, before returning to Greece.

EMI released Unity, the official pop album of the Athens Olympics, in the leadup to the Olympics. It features contributions from Sting, Lenny Kravitz, Moby, Destiny's Child, Hikaru Utada and Avril Lavigne. EMI has pledged to donate US$180,000 from the album to UNICEF's HIV/AIDS program in Sub-Saharan Africa.

At least 14 people died during the work on the facilities. Most of these people were not from Greece.

Before the games, Greek hotel staff staged a series of one-day strikes over wage disputes. They had been asking for a significant raise for the period covering the event being staged. Paramedics and ambulance drivers had also been protesting, as they wanted the same Olympic bonuses promised to their security force counterparts

For the first time, major broadcasters were allowed to serve video coverage of the Olympics over the Internet, provided that they restricted this service geographically, to protect broadcasting contracts in other areas. For instance, the BBC made their complete live coverage available to UK high-speed Internet customers for free; customers in the U.S. were only able to receive delayed excerpts.

The International Olympic Committee forbade Olympic athletes, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from setting up specialized weblogs and/or other websites for covering their personal perspective of the games. They were not allowed to post audio, video, or photos that they had taken. An exception was made if an athlete already has a personal website that was not set up specifically for the Games.

NBC launched its own Olympic website, Focusing on the television coverage of the games, it did provide video clips, medal standings, live results. Its main purpose, however, was to provide a schedule of what sports were on the many stations of NBC Universal. The games were on TV 24 hours a day on one network or another.

As with any enterprise, the Organizing Committee and everyone involved with it rely heavily on technology in order to deliver a successful event. ATHOC maintained two separate data networks, one for the preparation of the Games (known as the Administrative network) and one for the Games themselves (Games Network). The technical infrastructure involved more than 11,000 computers, over 600 servers, 2,000 printers, 23,000 fixed-line telephone devices, 9,000 mobile phones, 12,000 TETRA devices, 16,000 TV and video devices and 17 Video Walls interconnected by more than 6,000 kilometers of cabling (both optical fiber and twisted pair).

This infrastructure was created and maintained to serve directly more than 150,000 ATHOC Staff, Volunteers, Olympic family members (IOC, NOCs, Federations), Partners & Sponsors and Media. It also kept the information flowing for all spectators, TV viewers, Website visitors and news readers around the world, prior and during the Games. Between June and August 2004, the technology staff worked in the Technology Operations Center (TOC) from where it could centrally monitor and manage all the devices and flow of information, as well as handle any problems that occurred during the Games. The TOC was organized in teams (e.g. Systems, Telecommunications, Information Security, Data Network, Staffing, etc.) under a TOC Director and corresponding team leaders (Shift Managers). The TOC operated on a 24x7 basis with personnel organized into 12-hour shifts.

The widely praised Opening Ceremony by avant garde choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou held on August 13, 2004 began with a twenty eight (the number of the Olympiads up to then) second countdown paced by the sounds of an amplified heartbeat. As the countdown was completed, fireworks rumbled and illuminated the skies overhead. After a drum corp and bouzouki players joined in an opening march, the video screen showed images of flight, crossing southwest from Athens over the Greek countryside to ancient Olympia.

Then, a single drummer in the ancient stadium joined in a drum duel with a single drummer in the main stadium in Athens, joining the original ancient Olympic games with the modern ones in symbolism. At the end of the drum duet, a single flaming arrow was launched from the video screen (symbolically from ancient Olympia) and into the reflecting pool, which resulted in fire erupting in the middle of the stadium creating a burning image of the Olympic rings rising from the pool. The Opening Ceremony was a pageant of traditional Greek culture and history hearkening back to its mythological beginnings.

The program began as a young Greek boy sailed into the stadium on a 'paper-ship' waving the host nation's flag to haunting music by Hadjidakis and then a centaur appeared, followed by a gigantic head of a cycladic figurine which eventually broke into many pieces symbolising the Greek islands. Underneath the cycladic head was a Hellenistic representation of the human body, reflecting the concept and belief in perfection reflected in Greek art. A man was seen balancing on a hovering cube symbolising man's eternal 'split' between passion and reason followed by a couple of young lovers playfully chasing each other while the god Eros was hovering above them. There followed a very colourful float parade chronicling Greek history from the ancient Minoan civilization to modern times.

Although the National Broadcasting Company in the United States presented the entire opening ceremony from start to finish, a topless Minoan priestess was shown only briefly, the breasts having been pixelated digitally in order to avoid potential fines by the Federal Communications Commission (and because the "Janet Jackson" incident was still in recent memory). Also, lower frontal nudity of men dressed as ancient Greek statues was shown in such a way that the area below the waist was cut off by the bottom of the screen. In most other countries presenting the broadcast, there was no censorship of the ceremony.

Following the artistic performances, a parade of nations entered the stadium with over 10,500 athletes walking under the banners of 201 nations. The nations were arranged according to Greek alphabet making Finland, the Philippines, and Hong Kong among the last to enter the stadium. Based on audience reaction, the emotional high point of the parade was the entrance of the delegation from Afghanistan which had been absent from the Olympics and had female competitors for the first time. The Iraqi delegation also stirred emotions. Also recognized was the symbolic unified march of athletes from North Korea and South Korea under the Korean Unification Flag. The country of Kiribati made a debut appearance at these games and East Timor made a debut appearance under its own flag. After the Parade of Nations, during which the Dutch DJ Tiësto provided the music, the Icelandic singer Björk performed the song Oceania, written specially for the event by her and the poet Sjón. On this occasion, in observance of the tradition that the delegation of Greece opens the parade and the host nation closes it, the Greek flag bearer opened the parade and all the Greek delegation closed the parade.

The Opening Ceremony culminated in the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron by 1996 Gold Medalist Windsurfer Nikolaos Kaklamanakis. The gigantic cauldron, which was styled after the Athens 2004 Olympic Torch, pivoted down to be lit by the 35 year-old, before slowly swinging up and lifting the flame high above the stadium. Kaklamanakis would later win his silver medal in the men's mistral behind Israeli windsurfer Gal Fridman. Following this, the stadium found itself at the centre of a rousing fireworks spectacular.

Closing ceremony:

The Games were concluded on August 29, 2004. The closing ceremony was held at the Athens Olympic Stadium, where the Games had been opened 16 days earlier. Around 70,000 people gathered in the stadium to watch the ceremony.

The initial part of the ceremony interspersed the performances of various Greek singers, and featured traditional Greek dance performances from various regions of Greece (Crete, Pontos, Thessaly, etc). The event was meant to highlight the pride of the Greeks in their culture and country for the world to see.

A significant part of the closing ceremony was the exchange of the Olympic flag of the Antwerp games between the mayor of Athens and the mayor of Beijing, host city of the next Olympic games. After the flag exchange a presentation from the Beijing delegation presented a glimpse into Chinese culture for the world to see. Beijing University students (who were at first incorrectly cited as the Twelve Girls Band) sang Mo Li Hua (Jasmine Flower) and the medal ceremony for the last event of the Olympiad, the men's marathon, was conducted, with Stefano Baldini from Italy as the winner.

A flag-bearer from each nation's delegation then entered along the stage, followed by the competitors en masse on the floor.

Short speeches were presented by Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, President of the Organising Committee, and by President Dr. Jacques Rogge of the IOC, in which he described the Athens Olympics as "unforgettable, dream Games".

It should be noted that Dr. Rogge had previously declared he would be breaking with tradition in his closing speech as President of the IOC and that he would never use the words of his predecessor Juan Antonio Samaranch, who used to always say 'these were the best ever games'. Dr. Rogge had described Salt Lake City 2002 as "superb games" and in turn would continue after Athens 2004 and describe Turin 2006 as "truly magnificent games".

The national anthems of Greece and China were played in a handover ceremony as both nations' flags were raised. The Mayor of Athens, Dora Bakoyianni, passed the Olympic Flag to the Mayor of Beijing, Wang Qishan. After a short cultural performance by Chinese actors, dancers, and musicians directed by eminent Chinese director Zhang Yimou, Rogge declared the 2004 Olympic Games closed.

A young Greek girl, Fotini Papaleonidopoulou, lit a symbolic lantern with the Olympic Flame and passed it on to other children before "extinguishing" the flame in the cauldron by blowing a puff of air. The ceremony ended with a variety of musical performances by Greek singers, including George Dalaras, Haris Alexiou, Anna Vissi, Sakis Rouvas, Eleftheria Arvanitaki, Alkistis Protopsalti, Marinella and Dimitra Galani, as thousands of athletes carried out symbolic displays on the stadium floor.

The sports featured at the 2004 Summer Olympics were 28. Sports as swimming, diving, synchronised swimming and water polo are classified by the IOC as disciplines within the sport of aquatics, and wheelchair racing was a demonstration sport. For the first time, the wrestling category featured women's wrestling and in the fencing competition women competed in the sabre. American Kristin Heaston, who led off the qualifying round of women's shotput became the first woman to compete at the ancient site of Olympia but Cuban Yumileidi Cumba became the first woman to win a gold medal there.

The demonstration sport of wheelchair racing was a joint Olympic/Paralympic event, allowing a Paralympic event to occur within the Olympics, and for the future, opening up the wheelchair race to the able-bodied. The 2004 Summer Paralympics were also held in Athens, from September 20 to 28.

All National Olympic Committees (NOCs) participated in the Athens Games, as was the case in 1996. Two new NOCs had been created since 1996, and made their debut at these Games (Kiribati, and Timor-Leste), therefore along with the re-appearance of Afghanistan (missing the 2000 Summer Olympics) the total number of participating nations increased from 199 to 202. Yugoslavia competed in 2004 as Serbia and Montenegro (code changed from YUG to SCG) and Hong Kong as Hong Kong, China.


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Discussion Starter · #33 ·


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The Jedi Will Rise Again
12,976 Posts
I recommend that this thread is stickied so that it will permanently remain to the attention of any newcomer as well as regular visitor here. It is a pity and shame that sometimes I don't have words to describe such an effort other that a big ΤΗΑΝΚ YOU for this excellent and much needed contribution.

Athens can be a city that ROCKS and believe you me, in 2015 it will probably have everything that's needed to accomplish this goal, if its inhabitants honor its existence with their actions, decisions and behavior.

Congratulations synonomate, this is a heck of a job!!!!

18,001 Posts
Did you do it yourself? This is incredibly long and well documented. A riveting tale of the unfortunate decadence of Athens after Antiquity.

I just noticed one thing that needs to be corrected:
since Paris in the 1850’s had a population of 900,000 and Athens during the 1830’s between 10,000 and 20,000
In fact in the 1850s Paris had already 1.5 million inhabitants. Paris reached 900,000 in the early 1830s. The one million mark was passed in 1835. Paris reached 2 million in 1863, 3 million around 1885.

As for Athens, if you're curious to know, according to the excellent book from where I took the above urban area figures, the urban area of Athens had 181,000 inhabitants in 1900, and 1,339,000 inhabitants in 1950. The urban area of Athens reached 2 million in the early 1960s, and 3 million around 1980.

991 Posts
AMAZING work! :eek2: Excellent! It must surely get sticked, so any newcomer can read the history of this city... Again many thanks for this great work :)
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