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by Archaeology Newsroom

Friedrich von Gaertner and the building of the royal palace of Athens

Professor Alexandros Papageorgiou-Venetas has written this article on the occasion of the two hundred years from the birth of the German architect Friedrich von Gaertner (1792-1847), director of the Academy of Arts of Munich. The author, on the basis of unpublished archive material kept in various cultural institutions of Munich, attempts a concise but thorough critical presentation of the old royal palace of Athens (built between 1836-1843), the only important work by Gaertner outside Germany. First, the procedure of choosing the proper location for the palace, as well as the various phases of its erection are presented, while plenty of information is supplied regarding the technical means, the cost of construction and the collaborators of this work. Then, a critical analysis is attempted of the prevailing compositional principles in the conception of the project.There is also a comparison of Gaertner’s notions with the morphological views of his contemporaries Schinkel and Klenze, the celebrated German architects of classicism. A thorough description follows of the morphological and constructive choices of the compositional scheme of the palace and in addition the particular virtues and weaknesses of the work are brought into focus.

The article ends with the critical presentation of the incorporation of the palace into the town-planning web of the city of Athens with a concise reference to the question of the formation of the surrounding environment, the creation of the Royal Gardens, as well as later interventions on this significant building, which for one hundred fifty years after its erection has remained the symbol par excellence of modern Athens.