Greece invites the public into its mansions (Part one)
The Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and the Cultural Heritage, as part of its participation in the celebration of “European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018” and in cooperation with the pan-European link European Historic Houses Association, the organization which is dedicated to the protection, maintaining and promoting of the European artistic, cultural and architectural heritage, organizes the participation of Greece in the pan-European awareness festival “Private Heritage Week”.
The national heritage shapes the identity and everyday life of all of the country’s citizens by being an indivisible part of the cities, landscapes and archaeological sites in Europe. Accordingly, the “European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018” aims to encourage more people to discover and embrace the cultural heritage and reinforce the sense of belonging to a common Europe. Its motto is “Our Heritage: where the past meets the future”.
Every year for a few days, owners of historic homes in the continent, open their houses to the general public to experience from within this important part of their national heritage. This year, however, the importance of the project is special, because the “European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018″ wants to remind the importance of the wider cultural legacy, meaning the one of smaller architectural heritage.
For the first time, in 13 cities of Greece, 39 owners will allow access to their aesthetically notable mansions, inviting the public to visit and experience their cultural value, from the 24th to the 27th of May.
The smaller scale architecture in Greece is steeped in the long Greek history and the events that unfolded in the various regions of the country. Moreover, it is a reminder that high culture and quality of popular and traditional architecture were constantly connected to the local environment and cultural traditions. So, although most houses involved in this action are privately owned, they are still an inextricable part of the collective identity of the country.
The goal of this action is for the public to better understand the cultural and social value of these mansions and understand in greater depth the challenges faced by the owners of those historic homes, due to their preservation and maintenance.
Some of the Greek houses involved are:
It is a notable residential building with a garden and it is also a typical example of Plaka’s architecture, from the early period of neoclassicism (1830-1860). Today, the building houses the Ministry of Culture services. It is located on Kipselis 1 & Lisiou and can be visited on May 25, from 10 am to 2 pm.
Aegenian Mansion-Hotel, in Aegina
It had initially been built in 1700 and was expanded in the early 1900s. It was the family home of Zenobia, which is mentioned in the song “Hunchback Andreas’ boat” by Theodorakis and Varnalis. Today, it operates as a hotel, but the family living room with ceiling paintings and relics has been preserved as it was in the past. It is located on St. Nicholas & Thomaidis 1.
Public Library in Ano Poli Mansion, in Thessaloniki
This two-storey house is a distinguished example of the Balkan architecture and has neoclassic style architectural elements in the front, which are characterized by absolute symmetry. It had been constructed, in the period of 1897-1905, as the residence of an Ottoman military commander and after the Balkan Wars, came into the possession of Mufti. In the fire of 1917, it hosted fire victims and, later, Thracian refugees, while occasionally it also hosted public schools. It was purchased by the Municipality of Thessaloniki and was restored in 1999. Today, it houses the Municipal Library of Ano Poli. It is located on Krispou 7, Ano Poli and can be visited on May 25, from 11 am to 1 pm.
Vergoulis Mansion (Hotel & Exhibition Center), in Kastoria
Near the southern beach of the lake, stand two fortified buildings that were built in the 19th century. The first is now used as a hotel unit of a private operator and the second belongs to the municipality of Kastoria and is used as an exhibition space, hosting various events of high exhibition level. Both buildings are preserved and retain their original architectural form. It is located on Ayditras 12-14 and can be visited on May 25, 26 and 27 from 11 am to 1 pm.
Kapodistrian Museum, in Corfu
Corfu’s Kapodistrian Museum, which is housed in the summer residence of the first governor of Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias, was built by the characterized architectural example of a Corfu country cottage, in the 18th century. It took its final form in the interwar, in an idyllic location a few kilometers outside of Corfu town. In 1995, it was declared a Historical Monument, because combined with its surroundings it creates a perfect union of natural and human beauty. It is located on Koukouritsa, Eyropouli and can be visited on May 25, 26 and 17 from 10 am to 4 pm.
Mansion in Plomari, in Lesvos
It is a neoclassical mansion with an elaborate front. It is located on the banks of Sedountas and can be visited on May 26 and 27, from 6 pm to 2 pm.