The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
The University of Athens was founded in 1837. Ιt was originally housed in the former residence of architects Stamatios Kleanthis and Eduard Schaubert, in Plaka, the historic neighborhood of Athens. It was the first university in Southeast Europe and the second academic institution of Greece, following the Ionian Academy.
It's first name was Othonian University after King Othon of Greece. The original building was too small to serve the expanding needs of the University, so Danish architect Christian Hansen was commissioned to design a new one. Hansen followed a neoclassical approach, "combining the monument's magnificence with a human scale simplicity" and gave the building its H-shape. Its principal façade forms half-closed propylaea of ionic order.
Construction began in 1839. Its front wing, also known as the "Propylaea", was completed in 1842-1843. Before the façade in the two angles, large-scale statues one of Patriarch Gregory V and another of the poet-symbol of the War of Independence Regas Pheraios, both works of the sculptor John Cossos. On the top of the external stairs, the statue of the great Hellenist and patriot Adamandios Korais, by the sculptor G. Vroutos. In the small garden, the great statesman of England Gladstone by the sculptor Vitalis and close to that, a Pillar in memory of the young students who were fallen for the country.
The rest of the wings' construction, supervised at first by Greek architect Lyssandros Kaftantzoglou and later by his colleague Anastasios Theofilas, was completed in 1864.
Worth seeing are the fountain in the court, the circular stairway and the multi-colored murals with classical themes (designed by the Bavarian K. Rahl), decorating the walls, located behind the columns on the balcony.
The building is part of the "Athenian Neoclassical Trilogy", along with the buildings of the Athens Academy and the original National Library of Greece that were built afterwards flanking to the left and the right of the university. The Othonian University was renamed to National University in 1862, following events that forced King Othon to leave the country. It was later renamed to "National and Kapodistrian University of Athens" to honor the Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first head of state of the independent modern Greek state.
The first seat (1837-1841) of the University of Athens of the independent Greek State, formerly the house of architect Stamatios Kleanthis, in Plaka.
An historic photograph of the "Athenian Trilogy" at the turn of the 20th century by Odysseas Fokas.
The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.