Polytechnic University of Athens

Polytechnic University of Athens

This historic neoclassical building began housing the National (Metsovian) Polytechnic University in 1871. It is among the oldest higher education institutions in Greece and the most prestigious among engineering schools. The original University was actually founded in 1937 around the same time that the Modern Greek State was being formed.

Instituted by a royal decree "on education in architecture", a Technical School was established, which initially operated only on Sundays and holidays, offering courses to those who wished to be taught in architecture. The move to the emblematic Polytechnic on 28th October Street (Patision) was due to the overflow of demand and was an expansion upon the needs of engineering students' limited capacity of the house of G. Vlachoutsis, on Pireos Avenue (where the Athens Conservatory was later housed). The latter simply did not allow for the fulfillment of the ambitious goals of the School.

Thus, in 1871, the relocation of the NTUA to the new facilities on Patision Street began. The historic buildings that were first envisioned by Nikolaos Stournaris ("with the rest of the money of my status", he wrote in 1852 in his will, "to be built in Athens into a brilliant Polytechnic"), leading his relatives and fellow citizens from Metsovo, Michael Tositsa, Eleni Tositsa, and Georgios Averoff, to embrace his idea and follow his example to fruition.

The National Technical University of Athens - an outstanding creation by the humanist architect Lysandros Kaftantzoglou (1811–1885) - is one of the archetypes of Athens' architectural traditions. It was the city's 2nd massive edifice on a large expanse after the legendary Athens Trilogy. The definitive resolution developed by Kaftantzoglou for the NTUA complex comprised the main building and 2 T-shaped buildings on Patission Street at the intersections with Tositsas and Stournari Streets. Notably, at the same time, provision was made for another 2 buildings on Bouboulinas Street, which were finally not built.

Polytechnic, November 1973: A symbol of democracy

The NTUA is well-known for playing a major role in an important event in the history of Greece. The youth uprising in November 1973 and the shocking events that unfolded in the courtyards and classrooms of the Polytechnic was the culmination of the student movement, a mature and massive political conflict with the dictatorship and its supporters.

On the 14, 15, and 16th of November, 1973, the students were barricaded inside the institute and started broadcasting a pirate radio transmission, calling the people of Athens to rebel. On the evening of November 17th however, a military tank smashed the main gate and charged inside, after receiving orders from the dictators. About 23 people were killed. Apart from its historical dimension and its role in the consolidation of the Republic, the uprising of the Polytechnic inspired and mobilized the whole society in the claim of common demands and brought a new ethic to the social and political life of the place.

And today, the Polytechnic, honoring its history and tradition, continues to live and lead the way in the social struggles for essential Education, the right of students in the future, and Democracy.