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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Eye-Hospital of Athens

The great number of Greek captives that Governor Capodistrias brought back from the labor markets of Egypt, in combination with the bad hygiene conditions prevailing in the first years after the liberation of Greece from the Turks, created a fertile environment for the contagion and spreading of trachoma. Thus, as a large segment of the population was threatened with blindness, an emergency situation was created for the foundation of a hospital, specialized in ophthalmologic diseases.

Thus, a special committee was established in 1843 with main objective the erection of the hospital and, therefore, the necessary fund-raising. The plans of the building, which stands today on the junction of Panepistimiou Avenue with Sina Street, were commissioned to the Danish architect Christian Hansen: he produced two different series of drawings, one in Neoclassic style, the other, to be finally realized, according to the wishes of Ludwig of Bavaria, in Neobyzantine style. The official inauguration ceremony of the hospital took place on June 14th, 1854.

The increasing need of space led to the addition of a storey to the Eye-Hospital in 1860 and to the erection of a new building at the back of the existing one in 1914. The hospital was functioning effectively for a few years, when in 1930 the then assistant Professor Charamis declared that the building would not be able to meet for long the constantly rising demand. This viewpoint was supported in the post-war years by professor Kosmetatos, who also proposed the selling of the edifice. However, the issue remained in suspense, and thus the small, elegant building of Panepistimiou Avenue stands even today in place. A new function, suitable to its dimensions and space layout, can preserve it for many years to come.