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History (1)

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Architecture of recent Sparta. A brief history.

1834. Sparta is reborn. The Greeks aim at creating a new city in the place of olive oils and reeds. The area is surveyed by Yohmous, a resident of Magoula. There are no other ancient remains but the Tomb of Leonidas, the shuttles of the theatre, the Roman Baths. The governor Kapodistrias had disagreed with recreating the city claiming that any excavations would only uncover more ancient ruins. But Othon signed the recreation enactment based on Schtaufert's plans. It was an ambitious idea, since the city was supposed to have 100.000 people while today there are 20.000. Nevertheless, it was a noble idea: a Hippodamian system, wide avenues, spacious squares, public buildings, shopping centers and commercial areas.
1837. Authorities are situated in Sparta and it becomes the capital with Meletopoulos as its first Mayor. The Residency has already been built on the upper square and simple, provincial buildings are starting to fill the space around it. The new buildings are of pure Greek architecture, roofed verandah to the south and a fireplace in the winteroom. This presented a problem for the gentry who prefer high - ceiling houses with symmetrical windows, little decorated balconies and trimmings under the roof like those of Mistras.
1840. The city becomes alive as Douroutis builds a silk factory, the first of many, a very demanding and expensive task. Unfortunately, nothing is left of those first constructions.
1860. The city is expanding. Shops are built on the upper square with high roofs and arches and a second floor to the south where the craftshops are. The money to finance new buildings comes from the division of the central square. What's left today are the buildings on Palaiologou Street.
1870. The city is acculturated. The Ionic Museum is made of marble, which will later be substituted, with cement. The construction of the Cathedral starts at the top of the hill. The model is neoclassic like Athens, except for the artificial decorative elements of course.
1890. The city is growing both upwards towards the acropolis and downwards towards the Palace. The cost of this expansion will be the constant uncovering of ancient ruins, just like Kapodistrias had foreseen.
1900. Neoclassicism is peeking influencing buildings that were of a different style. It is the completion of the City Hall, the Gallery and many other houses of the gentry.
1930. The Bauhaus movement is beginning to simplify buildings. As a result the noblemen now prefer an equally dominating but simpler way of expression. K. Panagiotakos builds the High School for boys. Silk is becoming more rare. Gortsolagos is responsible for the water supply of Sparta.
1940. The war breaks out. 118 fall victim to German troops at Monothendri.
1950. The need of work draws villagers to Sparta. It is the beginning of peripheral construction. The houses are simple, rectangular with a traditional roof. As time goes by and with the help of mechanics, they become more complicated but not necessarily more beautiful. As far as beauty is concerned, the Xenia Hotel is built kindly requesting our tending. As far as innovation is concerned, a house by T. Zenetos is built opposite the 3rd Elementary School. Even today, the prominence of that house is notable.
1970. Cement is everywhere and so are blocks of flats. The School of Professions is pulled down as well as neoclassic buildings. The picturesque arches of the square are vanishing. Cars fill the streets and the image of the old, calm city is fading away.
1997. The palm trees of Palaiologou Street are still there. The houses of craftsmen on Pirsogianni Street are still there. All remaining neoclassic buildings are renovated. The pedestrian zone is alive and the parks are full of people again. The State is transforming the square aiming at highlighting ancient Sparta and turning the FIX building by T. Zenetos into a museum. The word is that a walk on the Evrotas banks will be possible. The fragrance of the Spartan orange trees is still in the air every Easter.

George Giaxoglou, ed.
This text is cited Apr 2003 from the Municipality of Sparti URL below.


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