Conservatory of Athens

Conservatory of Athens

Also known as the "Odeion Athinon", it is the oldest educational institution for performing arts in modern Greece and was established in 1871. Some of the most internationally renowned Greek musical personalities have graduated from the Athens Conservatory.

The Athens Conservatory, situated at the junction of Rigillis Street and Vasileos Konstantinou Avenue, stands as a testament to architectural brilliance, spanning 160 meters along its facade and encompassing 13,000 square meters of space. A jewel in Greece's modern movement, it epitomizes the Bauhaus school's principles, crafted by Ioannis Despotopoulos, known as Jan Despo, the sole Greek apprentice of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius. Commissioned in 1959 as part of an expansive cultural complex, the Conservatory emerged as the sole completed segment, earning Despotopoulos the era's top architectural accolades.

Despite its grand vision, the project encountered financial hurdles, halting construction in 1976. The Greek state assumed responsibility in 1980, trading ownership of the Conservatory's former site for completion costs. Despotopoulos envisioned a comprehensive Athens Cultural Center, spanning 150,000 square meters from Vasilissis Sofias Avenue to the National Gallery, incorporating an opera house, theaters, museums, and more, as detailed in archives at the Benaki Museum.

Transitioning into a beacon of contemporary culture, the Athens Conservatory's underground levels housed the National Museum of Contemporary Art from 2008 to 2015. Resuming its cultural legacy in 2013, renovations revitalized the space, notably with Polihoros Ω2, a refurbished area sponsored by NEON Organisation. Hosting diverse cultural events, it embodies the Conservatory's renewed vitality.

The venue played a pivotal role in the documenta 14 art exhibition in 2017, spotlighting international artists and transforming its spaces, including the subterranean Amphitheatre, echoing ancient Greek design. Renovations continued with the Aris Garoufalis Concert Hall's refurbishment in December 2017, thanks to philanthropic support, enhancing its architectural and acoustic qualities for music performances and cultural gatherings.

The Athens Conservatory's evolution persists with a comprehensive modernization project initiated in 2020, slated for completion by spring 2022. Envisioned enhancements include an expansive underground Amphitheater, a versatile black-box stage, spaces for conferences and exhibitions, cutting-edge sound technology studios, and a public café-restaurant, promising a renaissance of cultural engagement for generations to come.