A landmark of Athens, Syntagma square is located right at the heart of the city in front of the Greek Parliament. The square’s historical value for Athens and Greece in general is huge. It was called Palace Square until 1843, since the Greek Parliament building used to be the palace of King Otto. The square is named after the Constitution (‘Syntagma’ meaning ‘constitution’ in the Greek language) that Otto, the first King of Greece, was obliged to grant after an uprising on 3 September 1843 led by the Greek Revolution fighter Makrygiannis.
On the square’s eastern side, you will find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a monument representing the burial site of all the unknown soldiers who gave their lives during the different wars in Greek history. The square’s attraction is the Change of the Guards by members of the Presidential Guard, names Evzones, in front of the Monument of the Unknown Soldier every one hour following a strict set of orchestrated moves.
Starting from Syntagma Sq and moving towards Omonia Sq, a visitor to Athens has the chance to admire many historical buildings along Panepistimiou Str:
National Library of Greece
Since 1903, the National Library of Greece has been housed at the emblematic Vallianeio Mansion on Panepistimiou Str in Athens. The Library is the custodian of Greek literary heritage with documents currently amounting to approximately 2.000.000. Its collection of 5.400 handwritten codices, dating from the 9th to the 19th centuries, is one of the largest ones in the world. The building displays characteristics of the Doric rhythm and the Renaissance mode and is made with pentelic marble on Pireaus stone. On its main entrance you will find the statue of Panages Vallianos and further in those of his brothers, all made by the sculptor Georgios Bonanos.
Iliou Melathron, also known as the Schliemann Mansion, was built in 1878-1879 as the residence of Heinrich Schliemann. It was named after the ancient city of Troy discovered by Schliemann and was the richest private building of Athens and one of the most important works by Ernst Ziller. Today, the building houses the Numismatic Museum of Athens.
Bank of Greece
The building of the Bank of Greece is a clasiified building by the Ministry of Culture. It was built beτween 1933 and 1938, after the Second World War, and used to cover the whole building block until the 1970s.
The Academy of Athens
A characteristic sample of neoclassical architecture and the best work by Theophil Hansen in Greece. The Academy of Athens or Sina’s Academy was constructed with the donations of the expatriate businessman from Vienna baron Simon Sinas. The building’s architectures has a lot of similarities with the Acropolis Erectheion. It is famous for its statues of Socrates and Plato, goddess Athena and god Apolla, by the sculptor Leonidas Drosis, found at its exterior, as well as for the pediment on its entrance depicting a representation of the birth of Athena and displaying characteristics of the Ionian rhythm.
University of Athens
The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens was the first university of Greece and of the Balkans. It consists of a group of buildings forming a double T, with two exterior courtyards with statues. Today, it houses the Rectorate, the Senate and the University’s large ceremonial hall.
Arsakeio School for Girls
One of the most imposing buildings on Panepistimiou St, on the corner with Pesmazoglou St, is the mansion of the Arsakeion, built between 1846-1856 on behalf of the Society for the Promotion of Education and Learning. It was completed thanks to a donation by the expatriate Apostolos Arsakis and was named after him. Stones from the rock of the Acropolis were used in its construction while it adorns a characteristic main entrance decorated with Doric semicolumns and a pediment decorated with the head of goddess Athena. Historians consider it as ‘the most authentic expression of Hellenic neoclassicism’. Today, the building houses the Council of State.