Photographer's Note

A night view of the Hellenic Parliament (old palace) and the memorial to the unknown soldier in front of it. It is located right across Syntagma square and next to the National Gardens in downtown Athens.

This photo is part of a theme called My Night/Sunset photos.

In May of 1832 in London, the "Three Protecting Powers" - Great Britain, France and Russia - signed their agreement on the election of underage Prince of Bavaria Otto as King of Greece. That same year, in Constantinople, a treaty was signed, mapping out the borders of the Greek State. On June 29th, 1833, a royal decree was issued, making Athens the capital of the newly established state. The move from Nauplio to Athens created a pressing need for the housing of the services, of the ministries and for the new home of King Otto.

The choice of the location and the construction of the palace were assigned to the architect Gaertner (1792-1847), who was the director of the Fine Arts Academy of Munich and the official architect of the Nation. It is with this capacity that in 1835he accompanied the King of Bavaria Ludovic to Greece.

The area around the Boubounistra hill, at the highest point of the Eastern city limits, with a relatively even ground, was the location that Gaertner chose. The main criterion in the selection of the area was to underline the presence of the building in the city, thereby accentuating the weight of the Bavarian power in Greece. A secondary criterion was the good climate of that particular location.

It is noteworthy that the previous proposals for the erection site of the palace which were rejected, were those of the architects Kleanthis and Shaubert, who suggested the area of Otto Square (which is known today as Omonia Square) and the Saint Athanassios hill in Thissio suggested by Klenze. Schinkel's suggestion to erect the palace in the Acropolis area was never taken into serious consideration.

The building
Gaertner respected the archeological heritage of Athens when he prepared the plans. He designed a simple, massive, square neoclassical building of 6994m², with four exterior wings, each with three floors, a middle wing with two floors and two courtyards - the Meridian courtyard and the North courtyard - without any superfluous decorative elements. The foundation stone was placed on January 25th/February 6th, 1836. The total cost of the project amounted to 5.450.000 gold drachmas.

Each floor or wing catered to the housing needs of the different operations of the building. The storage areas were in the basement. On the ground floor were co-housed the Secretariat and the Palace Cashier with their auxiliary areas, the palace chapel, the vault and the kitchens. On the first floor were located, the reception areas and the chambers of the royals, which successively communicated with one another, and were the most luxurious areas of the building. On the second floor were housed the areas of residence of the heirs, of the chamberlain, and of the palace personnel.

The building was designed so as to allow access from all its sides. Each entrance served a different purpose. The communication between the floors was achieved through a respectable number of staircases, which were set in every wing of the building.

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Additional Photos by Stella Leivadi (stelli) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 618 W: 92 N: 420] (3009)
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