My friend Eleni took me to an area of Athens called Akadimia so she could show me her university. On the way, we passed up St. Dionysios Catholic Cathedral, which was completed in 1865, and the headquarters of the Bank of Greece, built in 1938.
Next, we saw the beautiful neoclassical building of the Academy of Athens. It was established in 1926 and is the country’s most important research center. The building opened in 1861 and served as a museum until it was turned over to the newly-formed university in 1926.
Eleni’s university sits next to the Academy. The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (or simply the University of Athens), was founded in 1837 and is the oldest institution of higher education in modern Greece. The name might sound strange; it was created after the merger of two universities in 1932, the National University and the Kapodistrian University (named after 19th century Greek politician Ioannis Kapodistrias).
The building was designed by Christian Hansen, brother of Theophil, and built between 1839 and 1864. It features statues of Greek scholar Adamantios Koraes and Ecumenical Patriarch Gregory V. The Patriarch was executed in Constantinople on Easter Sunday in 1821 by Ottoman Sultan Mahmut II in retaliation for the Greek uprising against the Ottomans. His body was hung from the main gate of the Patriarchate then handed over to the Jews of the city who dragged his body through the streets and threw it into the Golden Horn. The gate was welded shut and has remained closed in his memory ever since.
On the other side of the university is another beautiful building, the National Library. It was designed by Theophil Hansen with construction supervised by Ziller. It opened in 1902, although the library was established in 1832.
I had no thought of wandering into this area, but I’m glad Eleni brought me because I was able to see some of the most impressive buildings in Athens. Thank you, Eleni, for helping me with my paperwork and for showing me around Athens!