Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Zappeion Exhibition Hall, Athens

The Zappeion is one of the most important buildings of Athens, located in central Athens, close to the Greek Parliamnet. Its construction was financed by Evangelos Zappas, therefore it was named after him. The neoclassical mansion is inherent with the modern history of Greece and now is used for public and private exhibitions and ceremonies.
In 1869 the Greek government donated 80,000 square meters of public land for the building of Zapeion in the area between the palace, the gardens and the ancient Temple of Zeus. The Greek Parliament also passed a legislation on 30th of November 1869 specifically for the construction of buildings for the Olympic Games in 1896, the Zappeion was the world's first building that was built exclusively for the Olympic Games.

Zappas instructed the design of the building to the Danish architect T. Hansen. After many delays the building was ready on the 20th of November 1874. The official inauguration took place with festivities on the 20th of October 1888.
The architecture of the building follows the neoclassical style, with its propylaea build in Corinthian style. The building in conjunction with the Stone Bridge of Ilissos, also sponsored by Evangelos Zappas, and the surrounding gardens, were the picture of Athens in the early 20th century. Unfortunately, Evangelos Zappas, did not live long enough to see the building in its final form. In his will, he left his cousin Konstantinos Zappas responsible for continuation and finalisation of the charitable work.

The Zappeion has about 25 rooms. The initial use of the building and the courtyard space was for an agricultural, industrial and technical exhibition set to take place every four years. Zappeion was also used by the National Institute of Radio EIR from 1938. The building was used in the Olympic Games in 1896 for the fencing championships, while during the Olympics of 2004 it was a press and events centre. Many historical events took place in the Zappeion, such as the historic signing of the Treaty of Accession to the European Union (then EEC) of Greece, 1st of January 1981, by the Greek Prime Minister K. Karamanlis. Zappeion is the press centre in all General Elections of Greece where the leaders of the major political parties give an interview to the mass media after the end of the elections. The Zappeion used to be called the "small parliament" due to the fact that around its premises was the meeting point of many elderly Athenians who were discussing the hot political subjects of the day.

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