Museum of the University of Athens08-06-2013 13:29The Athens University History Museum is located in one of the oldest residential buildings still standing in Athens today. The building dated back in the period when Greece was still under Ottoman rule. It is situated literally on the slopes of the Acropolis Hill in the district of Plaka, on 5th Tholou Street.
It is also known as the ‘Old University’, since, from 1837 and for four years, it functioned as the first University of the independent Greek state. It is also known as the “Kleanthis House” since the architect Stamatios Kleanthis and Eduard Schaubert, purchased this building to function as their architectural office.
The original core of the building with its fortified walls and vaulted cellars dates back from the Ottoman period, at least from the 17th century. Stamatios Kleanthis and Eduard Schaubert bought the building by its previous owner an Ottoman landlady named Sante Khanum and then they proceeded to extensive restoration and repairs or built a new building on the remnants of the older, embedding it in the new one. In any case, the enclosed balcony of the first floor on the north side, the loggia overlooking the courtyard to the south, the domes, the wells, the overall asymmetry of the axes they all give a charm and reflect elements of traditional Athenian architecture.
The building was rented in 1834 to the Department of Public Education, initially to house the first gymnasium in Athens and then to accommodate the newly founded University. In order to meet the needs of the university teaching, Cleanthes added in 1837 three classrooms and an anatomy auditorium was constructed by Danish architect Hans Christian Hansen. After the establishment of the University in its final seat in 1841, the Cleanthi’s House remained rented by the Secretariat of Public Education, housing the College of Education and the Experimental School until 1850. Then it was rented by the War Department and was used as barracks.
In 1858 was sold and the new owner bequeathed it to the Holy Sepulchre, and in 1907 was purchased at auction by Dimitrios Chairetis. In 1868 the building had hosted refugees of the Cretan Revolution until 1887 and the 1922 to 1923 hosted refugees from Asia Minor. After the war a tavern was housed on the ground floor being called the "Old University". It was expropriated in 1962 by the Archaeological Service and in 1963 it was declared a protected monument, while three years later in 1967 it was granted to the University in exchange for the Lassani house. Between the years 1975-1985 extensive works of maintenance took place and since then it houses the Museum of History of the University of Athens.
Today it houses a collection of rare editions of books, scientific decrees, newspapers, and other documents relating to university life and courses that were taught at the time as well as scientific instruments related to physics, chemistry, medicine and pharmacology.
From May until October, the Museum’s courtyards are suitable for holding theatrical and musical performances under the rock of the Acropolis with a panoramic view of Plaka, the Ancient Agora, the Athens Observatory and the Lycabbetus Hill. The admission to the Museum is free and it is open for visitors Monday to Friday 09.30 - 14.30.
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