Old Athens Photos Kotzia Square, Athinas street.

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Kotzia Square.


Kotzia Square is one of the most big and famous squares in Athens. It has a long and important history. Today has lost its past glory. It is downgraded and a little dangerous for tourists after midnight.
It is the square with the most name changes. In 1831 the president of Greece Kapodistrias visited Athens. With the architects Kleanthis and the prussian Eduard Schaubert began the first steps for Athen’s city plan. Athens was a small town then with four thousands inhabitants. One of the first streets was the Athinas street. Kleanthis owned an area near the Omonoia square and decided to create “O kipos tou Laou” (The garden of the public in english). A little later in this area was created “Laou Square” (The square of the public in english) That was the first name of Kotzia square. In 1859 due the new Municipal’s Theater  plan of the Athens the square was renamed “Neou Theatrou Square” (The new theater’s square in english).
In 1873 the construction of the Municipal Theater began but a little later the name of the square was changed again “ Loudomikou A’ Square (Ludwig 1st Sqaure in english). The king Ludwig the 1st (1786-1868) of Bavaria was the father of the first king Otto of the modern Greece. He loved ancient Greece and helped a lot to the country.  In 1889 the square was paved with marble slabs. in 1971 during dictatorship (1967 -1974) after the death of the mayor Kotzias the square for another time took the name “Kotzia square”. After the end of the dictatorship the square is renamed again as “Ethnikis Antistaseos Sqaure” (The Square of the public resistance in english). However until today the name “Kotzia square” is used by most people. The 90’s began archaeological excavations and the works for an underground parking and the . The same period the statue of Theseus the founder of Athens was put in the middle of square. It is a modern art statue and very a few visitors realize what it depicts.  In 2001 six busts of greek ancient philosophers and historians were putted but a few years later were removed.


Prominent buildings in Kotzia Square.


Municipal Theater of Athens.

One of the most important building of Kotzia square was the Municipal Theater of Athens. Its construction began in 1857 and was designed by the french architect Francois F. Boulanger. It was the first big theater in Athens after the inferior Boukoura theater.
The construction faced many political and economic problems and the progress of works was halted. In 1871 the german architect Ernst Ziller changed the theater’s design but the works were stopped again. In 1886 with the intervention of the great entrepreneur Andreas Sygros works started for good. The theater was ready for performances in 1888. During 1922-1927 it suffered great damages from the refuges of Minor Asia who stayed there temporarily. The repairs began in 1928 but the cost was enormous. That was fatal for the theater’s future. The repairs were never completed and in 1939 its demolition was decided by the mayor Andrea Kotzia during the dictatorship of Metaxa.


National Bank of Greece building.

Before the construction of the bank two different buildings existed on the site which were built during 1840. The Domnado’s mansion at the left and the Aglia Hotel (England Hotel in english) to the right site.
In 1845 Georgios Stavrou the founder of the national bank of Greece bought the mansion and transformed to a bank. In 1855 he also bought the Anglia Hotel in order to extent his bank’s. The two buildings had many architectural similarities and in 1899 they were easily joined into one by the french architect Eugene Troumpe. Today the facade of the building is the insignia of the greek national bank. During the latest greek economic crisis and the bankruptcy of all greek banks some say that this building is the biggest asset of the greek national bank.


Melas Mansion

It was built in 1874 and designed by the german Ernst Ziller. First it was Grand Hotel d' Athènes but it never really operated as a hotel. After 1881 and for a few years it was used as a stock exchange. In 1897 it was burned partially.
in 1899 it was repaired from the fire damages. In 1909 an new floor was added. From 1900 to 1973 it was used as the main building of the national postal, telegraphic service. That really save it from demolition. It was vastly restored during 1982 - 1988 and the extra floor was removed in order to preserve its original design. After 1989 it is used by the greek national bank. For its time, it was the by far the biggest building in a city of fifty thousands citizens. Its construction cost was enormous. One million drachmas when the greek budget was less then forty millions drachmas.


Athens City Hall.

In 1871 the Athens Mayor Kyriakou decided to create a city hall in Kotzia square. The greek greek architect Panagiotis Kalkos designed the building.
The city hall was ready in 1874. It was a neoclassical building with ground floor and 1st floor. During the dictatorship of Metaxa one more floor was added. The period of 1994-1995 it was fully renovated.



 

Old photos of Kotzia square, Municipal Theater of Athens, National Bank of Greece building, Melas Mansion and Athens City Hall.

1905 Kotzia Square Melas Mansion

1900 Athens Kotzia Square National Bank Building

1924 Athens Kotzia Square Municipal Theater

1931 Athens Kotzia Square National Bank Carnival poster

1930 Kotzia Square Municipal Theater

1949 Athens Kotzia Square

1950 Athens Kotzia Square Melas Mansion Post-officers with motorbikes

1967 Athens Kotzia square National Bank of Greece

1981 Athens Kotzia Square Klaoudatos shop fire

Athens Kotzia Square