Friday, December 11, 2015

The Saxon Architect Ernst Ziller as Greek Archaeologist

The German architect Ernst Ziller (1837-1923) is noted for designing over 500 buildings in Athens, Piraeus and elsewhere in Greece. He first came to Greece in 1859 to assist the Danish architect Theophilos Hansen on the Academy of Athens building project financed by Baron Sinas. As with others from northern Europe he quickly fell under the aura of “Classical Greece”. In the course of his long career in Greece from 1869 onward his buildings were the catalyst for the formation of the “Neoclassical Style” in later 19th- and earlier 20th-century Greek architecture.

Ziller was an excellent draftsman and artist. He visited ancient sites (the Akropolis, the Classical Agora, the choragic monument of Lysikrates, the temple at Aphaia on Aigina) to make detailed architectural drawings in order to understand ancient Greek architecture. To learn even more he also conducted excavations. In order to reconstruct the Panathenaic Stadium on the Ilissos river bank he excavated the hollow there between 1862 and 1864. In the theater of Dionysios Eleutherios he also worked in order to determine its architectural form.

The Archive of the National Art Gallery has the architectural drawings of Ziller. Dr. Marilena Kassimati a well-known researcher at the National Art Gallery will give a lecture on Monday, December 14th entitled, «Ο Σάξων αρχιτέκτων Ερνέστος Τσίλλερ ως "αρχαιολόγος" της πρώτης ώρας στην Αθήνα». Ziller’s interest in antiquity was not sterile and pedantic, or indifferent to his era’s requirements, but, on the contrary, exceeded his conventional role as an architect and approached antiquity to gain tangible results. Dr. Kassimati’s lecture based on the Ziller Archives will explore most of his research projects in archaeology. The Botosakis Foundation is sponsoring the videotaping of this fascinating lecture.

For this lecture sponsored by the Syllogos Filon tou Istorikou Archeiou tis Archaiologikis Yperesias the venue will be the National Archive of Monuments’ Amphitheater at the corner of Ay. Asomaton 21 and Psaromylingou 21 on the cusp of the Kerameikos and the Psyrri Districts. The Theseio train station is the closest stop on the Metro system. The public is most welcome!

David Rupp

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