During my visit to Athens, I made sure to explore the historic University of Athens, an institution founded in 1837.
As the first university in Southeastern Europe and the second academic institution in Greece, the University of Athens boasts a rich history that piqued my interest.
The original university building, initially designed to accommodate the institution’s needs, soon proved to be too small. Danish architect Christian Hansen was commissioned to design a new, neoclassical building, which he did with an H-shape and semi-enclosed Ionic porticoes. The construction began in 1839, and the front wing, known as the “Propylaea,” was completed by 1843. The building is adorned with large-scale statues of important figures, including Patriarch Gregory V and poet Regas Feraios, sculpted by Ioannis Kossos.
The colorful frescoes with classical themes, designed by Bavarian artist K. Rahl, caught my eye as I explored the university grounds. The building’s courtyard houses a beautiful fountain, and a unique circular staircase adds to the charm of the campus. It’s evident that the University of Athens is not only an institution for learning but also a testament to the beauty of neoclassical architecture.
The university building is part of the “Athenian neoclassical trilogy,” accompanied by the buildings of the Academy of Athens and the original National Library of Greece. After undergoing a few name changes, the university was eventually renamed the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in honor of Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first head of state of the independent modern Greek state.
In conclusion, my visit to the University of Athens was a memorable experience that allowed me to appreciate the institution’s history, architecture, and cultural significance. If you have an interest in architecture, history, or higher education, I highly recommend taking the time to explore this remarkable university during your stay in Athens.
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