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The Zappeion is strongly connected with the olympic games and the first big exhibitions in Greece. Its was funded by the greek benevolent from Roumania Evangelos Zappas. He was a supporter for the rival of olympic games. After the first wenlock olympian games in England in 1850, the first precursor of olympic games, he decided to revive them at the country they originate.

In 1856 he sent a memorandum to king Otto about his will to fund the olympic games event. The greek parliament wasn’t favorable about the event and instead wanted industrial and agricultural expositions. Finally a comprise was reached which served both sides. The olympics would coincide with industrial and agricultural expositions. An idea that was used in the first international Olympic Games. Two major projects were needed. First the renovation of the Panathenaic stadium and second the creation of a big building to support the exhibitions and the olympic games. Due to delays both projects weren’t even started during the first Zappas Olympics in 1859. The games appealed to the crowd but the organization was horrible. They weren’t staged in Panathenaic stadium and a few could watch them. 

Evangelos Zappas died in 1865. A part of his fortune was spent for the realization of the Zappas Olympics infrastructure. The marble Panathenaic stadium and an Exhibition Hall. His cousin Konstantinos Zappas became the administrator of that task. In 1869 the greek government assign eighty thousands square meters for the construction of Zappeion Hall and its gardens. The area of Zappeion was between the national garden and the Olympieion archaeological site. Due to usual delays the project wasn’t ready. The olympics of 1870 staged in the Panathenaic stadium. The stadium was renovated with wooden benches contrary to the Zappas’s wish for a marble one. Also a big stone bridge above Ilisos river was built by Zappas in front of the Panathenaic stadium. The stadium could hold 30.000 viewers. However the games became so successful that it wasn’t big enough. The Zappas Olympics wasn’t really international. The athletes came from many countries but they originated from greece. The games appealed tremendously to the crowd. The greek royal family supported the games and the event became famous all over Europe. The first talks for the creation of  an International Olympic Committee and international olympics games began soon afterwards. The third Zappas Olympics occurred in 1875. The Zappeion Hall hadn’t been completed yet. The games lacked proper organization and infrastructure.

Finally in 1888 the Zappeion Hall was inaugurated. At the beginning it was designed by the french architect François Boulangerς who also designed the old parliament and the metropolitan cathedral church of Athens. Later the danish architect Theophilus Hansen who designed the Academy , Library of Athens and the Austrian Parliament changed the first plans. Actually Zappeion has many similarities to the Austrian Parliament. Also it had a dual purpose as an exhibition center and as an Olympic center. It has 25 room of various dimensions. The fourth Zappas Olympics of 1888 were postponed to 1889. Konstantinos Zappas died in 1892 and they were the last Zappas olympics. The building was used for the “Nea Olympia” exhibition during the last Zappas Olympics. Preparations for the creation of the  International Olympic Committee in 1894 and the first International Olympic games in 1896 began.

During the first modern olympics in 1896, Zappeion was used for the fencing games. In 1906 interlaced olympic games, it became the first olympic village. The first radio station in Greece was created in 1936 and its studios were in Zappeion. In 1940 during the Greek-Italian war, it was converted into hospital. In 1960 it was fully restored. in 1979 in its atrium it was signed the entrance of Greece into the European Economic Community. In 2000 some minor renovation happened due to the 2004 Olympics of Athens. In the 2004 Olympics Zappeion was one of the press centers. Inside it the night after every greek parliamentary election, there is a press conference with the presidents of the major political parties.

In 1904 at the right side of Zappeion the coffee shop “Aegli” (Luster in english) was constructed. It is one of the oldest coffee shops in Athens still open. Most of the customers are locals who enjoy the view and the peacefulness in the center of Athens.

In 1910 at the right side of Zapeion one of the first open air cinemas was built. It operates until today under the management of the multinational Village cinemas. It is surrounded by trees and is equipped with the latest technology.

Zappeion Exhibition Hall and Zappas Olympics.

1903 Athens Zappeion Internation Exhibition

1903 Athens Zappeion Internation Exhibition 03

1903 Athens Zappeion Internation Exhibition

1910 Athens Zappeion Aigli Coffee Shop

1910 Athens Zappeion Aigli Coffee Shop

1930 Athens Zappeion Aigli Coffee Shop

1922 Athens Zappeion Anthestiria spring celebration

1924 Athens Zappeion Anthestiria Celebrations

1900 Athens Zappeion Gardens