Athenian Trilogy

Athenian Trilogy

One of the most famous main streets of Athens, Panepistimiou, stands out due to the important and remarkable history of buildings located there.

3 of these buildings, known as the "Athenian Trilogy", are the propylaea of the University of Athens, the National Library, and the Academy of Athens.

The buildings are located approximately in the middle of the Panepistimiou Street and create a distinct impression and admiration to those who see them - mainly due to their imposing nature.

Building of the University of Athens

A part of the trilogy is the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, which, founded in 1837, was the first university in Greece and the Balkans. It is a group of buildings that form a double "T" with 2 historic courtyards with external statues which are characterized by strict lines. Today, it operates as the foundation of the University, housing the Rectorate, the Senate, and the Great Hall of Funerals.

The idea for the founding of the University of Athens belonged to Ioannis Kapodistrias and its implementation to King Otto. It was founded by royal decree on April 14th, 1837, and inaugurated on May 3rd of the same year. It was first housed in the residence of the architect Stamatis Cleanthis on the northeastern side of the Acropolis. Furthermore, it was the first university, not only of the newly formed Greek State but also of the entire Eastern Mediterranean.

The Othonion University, as it was called before taking its current name National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, consisted of 4 faculties: Theology, Law, Medicine, and Arts. In 1904, the School of Arts split into 2 schools: the School of Arts and the School of Science, the latter of which included the new Schools of Physics, Mathematics, and Pharmacy. In 1919, the Department of Chemistry was added and, in 1922, the School of Pharmacy stood out as a department. Another change was made when the Department of Dentistry was added to the Medical School.

With Konstantinos Schinas as its first dean, the university initially had 33 full-time and part-time professors, 52 students, and 75 non-registered auditors - mostly senior uniformed (φουστανελοφόρους) fighters of '21, civil servants, and high school students.

Building of the National Library

The building of the National Library was established with the donations of the expatriate businessmen brothers Panagi, Marinos, and Andreas Vallianos - based on designs by the architect Theophilus Hansen. Its location in this position was foreseen as early as 1842, next to the University and the (future) Academy, forming what was called the "Athenian Trilogy" of Neoclassicism. The (also called "Vallinios") Library was finally founded in 1887 and was completed only in 1902. The composition of the building follows the Doric style, combined with Renaissance stairs, and is made of Pentelic marble based on Piraeus stone (like the Academy). On the facade was placed the statue of Panagi Vallianos and on the foreground, those of his brothers - works of the sculptor Georgios Bonanos.

The library operates as a national bibliographic and information center of Greece with its main mission to publish the retrospective and current Greek Bibliography, in which the Editorial Production of Greece is officially recorded and at the same time, to provide the public with information related to the sciences and culture connected with the country, through the collection and organization but also the proper preservation of these valuable and rare items. In addition, it aims to provide information and information to its users, to support their research processes through services and sources of information it provides, to cooperate with other organizations and individuals at home and abroad as well as to represent Greece abroad on issues related to its objectives.

Building of the Athens Academy

The building of the Academy of Athens was created by the donations of the expatriate businessman from Vienna Baron Simon Sina and, after his death, his wife Iphigenia. It was based on designs by the architect Theophilus Hansen, and overseen by the then-newcomer Ernst Ziller, whose further stay in Greece was to be decisive for the course of modern Greek architecture. The (also called "Sinai") Academy was founded in 1859 and was completed only in 1885. The composition of the building follows the Ionic style and is made of Pentelic marble based on Piraeus stone. On 2 high Ionic columns on both sides were placed the statues of Athena and Apollo - works of the Greek-Bavarian sculptor Leonidas Drossis, who also designed the seated statues of Plato and Aristotle above the external scale (which, however, were made after his death).

Despite the completion of the eponymous building, the question of the institution of the Academy was to remain pending for another 40 years, until its founding in 1926, during the dictatorship of Pangalos. In the meantime, the building remained largely unused, with the exception of housing in some areas of the Numismatic Museum and the General State Archives (the latter continued to be housed there for most of the 20th Century), and there was thought (in 1888) to be used as a guest house of distinguished visitors.

In review, the Athenian Trilogy presents an interesting point of contradiction. The phenomenal network is a neoclassical oasis in the center of a busy metropolis. Although its buildings are world-renowned is also one of the most frequently overlooked attractions. We suggest that visitors take the time to view its grand structures during their trip to Athens.