Discover the Intellectual Heart of Greece
As the birthplace of democracy and the heart of ancient Greek civilization, Athens has much to offer to travellers seeking to immerse themselves in the wonders of the past. Among its many treasures, the Athenian Trilogy stands as a testament to the intellectual and philosophical legacy of this remarkable city.
The Athenian Trilogy, comprised of the Academy, University, and Library, is a trio of iconic landmarks that holds immense historical and cultural significance. These three institutions have left an indelible mark on Athens, shaping not only the city's intellectual fabric but also influencing the course of Western education and knowledge.
The Academy of Athens
The Modern Academy of Athens is a prestigious institution that has been shaping the realms of Sciences, Humanities, Fine Arts, Ethics, and Political Sciences since its establishment in 1926. Located in one of the most remarkable buildings in Athens, the Academy stands as a magnificent example of Neoclassical architecture, capturing the essence of the city's rich cultural heritage.
The Academy's building, designed by the renowned architect Theophilus Hansen, is considered his most significant masterpiece. As you approach the magnificent structure, you'll be struck by its grandeur and elegance. Many architects and historians even argue that it is the most beautiful neoclassical building in the world—a true architectural gem awaiting your discovery.
Resembling an ancient temple, the Academy's marble facade is adorned with a multitude of sculptures, paying homage to the great thinkers and deities of Greek history. Among the captivating sculptures, you'll find depictions of Socrates, Plato, Athena, and Apollon, evoking a sense of awe and reverence. The exterior of the building is a testament to the Academy's dedication to preserving the wisdom and ideals of ancient Greece.
While the interior of the building is not accessible to visitors, the significance of the Modern Academy of Athens lies in its members and their contributions to their respective fields. These distinguished individuals shape the academic landscape and propel forward the frontiers of knowledge, making the Academy a revered institution in Athens and beyond.
Divided into three sections—Sciences, Literature and Fine Arts, and Ethics and Political Sciences—the Modern Academy of Athens serves as the central scientific institution in the city. It plays a vital role in promoting non-university scientific research, fostering innovation, and nurturing intellectual pursuits. The Academy's influence extends far beyond its walls, reaching scholars, researchers, and artists who are committed to advancing their respective fields.
As you explore the Athenian landscape, take a moment to appreciate the grandeur of the Modern Academy of Athens. While you may not be able to venture inside, the external beauty of the building and its symbolic significance will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression. The Academy stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of ancient Greece and the continuous pursuit of knowledge and excellence in the modern world.
The University of Athens
Just a short distance away from the Academy is the University of Athens, an esteemed institution that has been a pioneer in education since its establishment in 1837. As you approach the university's magnificent buildings, prepare to be captivated by the seamless blend of neoclassical and modern architectural elements.
Stepping onto the campus, you'll find yourself enveloped in an atmosphere brimming with intellectual curiosity and academic excellence. For centuries, the University of Athens has served as a nurturing ground for countless scholars, scientists, and thinkers who have shaped the trajectory of Greek and global knowledge.
Conveniently located close to the "Panepistimio" metro station, the University of Athens forms an integral part of the famed "Athenian Trilogy". Established in 1837 during the reign of King Otto, the University of Athens holds the distinction of being the oldest university in modern Greece and the first contemporary university in the Balkan Peninsula and the Eastern Mediterranean region. Originally housed in Plaka, the institution moved to its current location on Panepistimiou Street in 1841. In 1932, it was renamed the "National and Kapodistrian University of Athens," signifying its pivotal role in Greek higher education.
The University of Athens encompasses a range of schools, including the School of Health Sciences, School of Science, School of Law, School of Economics and Political Sciences, School of Philosophy, and more. It operates as a public institution, ensuring that tuition is free for all students. While the university's facilities are spread across different parts of Athens, including Panepistimioupoli in Zografou and Exarxeia, the main building on Panepistimiou Street serves as the ceremonial hall and rectory.
Designed by Christian Hansen, the neoclassical architecture of the university's main building commands attention. Upon entry, an impressive atrium adorned with columns reminiscent of the Acropolis greets visitors. Adorning the entrance are sculptures and statues of prominent Greek politicians, adding an air of grandeur and historical significance. While exploring the university's exterior is a treat for the eyes, access to the interior is unfortunately not possible for visitors.
The National Library of Athens
Completing the magnificent Athenian Trilogy is the National Library of Greece, a haven for bookworms and a gateway to the vast intellectual treasures of Greek literature. Its origins can be traced back to 1829 when it was established as the Royal Library, and today it stands as a testament to the country's rich literary heritage. As you step into the library, you'll be greeted by the intoxicating scent of aged paper and the gentle whispers of knowledge, beckoning you to explore its literary wonders.
Designed by Theophil Freiherr von Hansen, under the supervision of Ernst Ziller, the National Library is also known as the "Vallianeio Megaron" due to the generous sponsorship of the Vallianos family. The architectural vision of the library, completed in the 1880s, draws inspiration from a former temple in the Agora, infusing the building with a timeless charm.
While the library was initially housed in the Vallianeio Megaron, the increasing number of books and advancements in technology necessitated a move to a larger and more modern facility. In 2018, the National Library found its new home in the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, a magnificent complex in the suburb of Kallithea. However, a small part of its book collection remains at the Vallianeio Megaron, serving as a reminder of its historical significance.
The National Library of Greece holds the distinction of being the first public library in the country and is also the largest. Inside its hallowed halls, you'll encounter an awe-inspiring staircase that graces the marble facade. As you venture further, you'll be mesmerized by the elegance of the interior, adorned with majestic Ionic columns and an artistically designed coffered ceiling. The library offers a glimpse into the splendour of Greek architecture while serving as a gateway to the vast literary treasures held within.
Visitors are in for a treat as they are granted access to explore the interior of the old national library, presenting a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the history and grandeur of this esteemed institution. Simply present your identity card, and you'll be welcomed into a world of books, manuscripts, and intellectual marvels.
The National Library of Greece is a haven for literature enthusiasts and a pilgrimage site for those seeking to discover the cultural significance of Greek literature. From ancient manuscripts to contemporary works, the library's vast collection offers a glimpse into the evolution of Greek thought and storytelling throughout the ages. As you wander through its halls, allow the magic of literature to envelop you, transporting you to worlds created by the imaginations of Greek literary giants.
Map of the Athenian Trilogy
Below you will find a map which shows the location of the Athens Trilogy. Click on the map image below to load the Google map.
The Athens Trilogy
The Athenian Trilogy is located on Panepistimiou Street in Athens. The nearest Metro station is Panepistimiou.
Top Sights in Athens
- Ancient Agora
- Areopagus (Hill of Ares)
- Athenian Trilogy
- Filopappou Hill
- First Cemetery of Athens
- Hadrian's Arch
- Hadrian's Library
- Hill of the Nymphs
- Kerameikos Cemetery
- Lycabettus Hill
- Lysicrates Monument
- National Gardens
- Panathenaic Stadium
- Roman Agora
- Syntagma Square
- Temple of Olympian Zeus
- Tower of the Winds