Athens is a well-known destination for those interested in discovering the birthplace of Western civilization. Its ancient monuments have been the model for innumerable buildings and works of art all over the Western world. However, the reality of modern Athens is much more complicated: the ancient monuments and neo-classical buildings are interlaced with winding streets, Byzantine churches, mosques, and an oriental bazaar. These juxtapositions require explanation.
This book explores the development of the city of Athens after the beginning of Greek independence in 1830. It presents the process of creation of a neo-classical capital, in the place of a pre-existing town with the remains of a long history. An array of chapters examine the treatment of the pre-revolutionary town; its connection with the neo-classical city; the position of old churches in this antiquity-centred capital; and the factors that influenced the implementation of the projects for the new capital and their consequences for the city’s evolution. All this will be placed in its European context, explaining how the construction of modern Athens relates heavily to the influence of the ‘great’ European capitals.
This is valuable reading for students and researchers interested in urban design, urban geography, and modern Greek history.
Table of Contents
Introduction Part I: Ideology: the revival of ancient glory 1. The ideological background of the creation of neo-classical Athens: the different priorities between idealism and rationalism in establishing a European capital, and the importance of cultural institutions 2. The relationship of the neo-classical city with the antiquities Part II: The treatment of the pre-revolutionary town 3. The connection of the new neo-classical city with the old one: the treatment of Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches and pre-revolutionary houses 4. Housing a European capital in a small Ottoman town: the use of the pre-revolutionary buildings of Athens for housing the official functions of the new capital Part III: Creation of the new city: the actual circumstances 5. The role of land availability 6. Functionalism in the creation of the new city 7. The role of official functions in the evolution of the city of Athens 8. Public space and monumental architecture: from the grandiose plans of a European metropolis to a peripheral capital between East and West
Denis Roubien is Assistant Professor at the Department of Civil Engineering in the Technological Educational Institute of Western Greece. His research field is the architecture and urban planning of the nineteenth and the early twentieth century in Greece, as well as the restoration of historical buildings and revival of historical centres. He has written several articles and a chapter in a book on these subjects.