Friday, December 9, 2016

An Athenianographer's Delight

The modern city of Athens is probably best known to the readers of this blog as the geographical location of the urban core of the ancient city-state of Athens which encompassed all of the region of Attica. The Akropolis, the Agora, the Kerameikos, the Pynx, the Mouseion, the Roman Agora, the Library of Hadrian, as well as the other areas and monuments are what epitomize this city for the visitor at least. However, as one moves away from the ancient nucleus the “archaeologies” become fewer and less densely packed in the modern city that has sprawled around since Athens became the capital of the new state in 1834. At some point there are no discernable antiquities to be seen.

For many, this modern urbanscape is simply something to move through quickly and endure while wanting to do something else. The fact that modern Athens has not just expanded but has evolved and changed in major episodes through the past 180 years or so is mostly lost on the unreflective individual. One of the seminal periods for the creation of the present urbanscape was the famous Mesopolemos era or Interwar period from around 1920 to the start of WW II in 1940. The Balkan Wars, the Asia Minor catastrophe, the influx of large numbers of refugees, the political conflicts between the royalists and the Venezelists, the dictatorship of Metaxas among other phenomena set the stage for a meteoric transformation of the city.

On Monday, December 12th Prof. Dimitris N. Karidis, Professor Emeritus of the History of Architecture at the National Metsovian Technical University of Athens will give the third lecture in the 2016-2017 Lecture Program of the Σύλλογος Φίλων του Ιστορικού Αρχείου της Αρχαιολογικής Υπηρεσίας, entitled, «Τα χέρια πάνω από την πόλη. Μοντερνισμός και εκσυγχρονισμός στην Αθήνα του μεσοπολέμου».

Using various archival sources, architectural theses and manifestos, planning documents, archaeological discoveries, infrastructure projects, apartment building construction and contemporary socioeconomic developments Prof. Kardis, as an architect and urban historian, will examine the roles of “modernism” and “modernization” in the context of a resurgent traditionalism in the architectural transformation of the city during these two decades. So for all of you out there who consider themselves at least amateur “Athenianographers” and not simply topographers of ancient Athens this lecture will expand your knowledge of a significant part of the central core of the city that is still standing, after the relentless demolition and apartment building construction from the late 1950s to the earlier 2000s.

The Lecture will take place in the Library of the Canadian Institute in Greece starting at 19:00. The public is welcome.

NB A milestone reached

In the past five years since the advent of this blog I have written, if my count is correct, now 200 blogs! This milestone of communications is a remarkable accomplishment I may add (in all modesty, of course)!

Kales Yiortes
David Rupp

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