Even though today, Athens looks nothing like it did thousands of years ago, when its first sculptures and statues were built, the capital of Greece still has a plethora of ancient and modern monuments that reflect its rich cultural heritage and unique art.
If someone took a walk around Athens today, they would see numerous columns, busts, statues, and other masterpieces made of marble and other materials, of various styles and movements, such as classicism, neo-classicism and romanticism.
As people used to believe in the ancient world, each sculpture carries its own story and is a way of communicating with those who came before.
Statues were erected in honour of important events, great personalities, national benefactors, and people of the sciences and arts, that made a big impact in the country.
Architectural compositions adorn the city’s parks, squares and sidewalks, and connect the past to the present, through ancient art that converses with a modern urban landscape.
Here are the 10 most beautiful sculptures that you can visit and see in Athens today:
1. Athena and Apollo, Academy of Athens (Αθηνά και Απόλλων, Ακαδημία Αθηνών)
The statues of Athena and Apollo are located on the right side of the main building of the Academy of Athens, and they both stand on Ionic style columns, which are 10 meters high.
Goddess Athena holds a spear and a shield, which are made of brass, while Apollo, God of music and the sun, holds a lyre in his left hand. Both sculptures are made by Leonidas Drosis.
2. Rigas Feraios, University Propylaea (Ρήγας Φεραiος, Προπύλαια Πανεπιστημίου)
Outside the area of the Propylaea stands the statue of Rigas Feraios, one of the heroes of the 1821 Greek Revolution.
The figure of Rigas Feraios has his one arm outstretched, while his gaze is directed forward and far away, capturing his bright vision for Greece and its freedom.
It is worth noting that this statue was created by Ioannis Kossos in 1869, and was the first to be erected in the city after the proclamation of Athens as the capital of the Greek state.
3. Theodoros Kolokotronis, Kolokotroni Square (Θεόδωρος Κολοκοτρώνης, Πλατεία Κολοκοτρώνη)
The leading figure of the Greek Revolution, Theodoros Kolokotronis (also known as “Geros tou Moria”), is seen riding a horse, outstretching his right index finger, pointing in a certain direction, and giving the overall picture of the battle against the enemy.
The statue of the Greek general is located in front of the National Historical Museum of Athens and was created by Lazaros Sohos, who carefully studied the memoirs of the hero, his costume and his armament.
4. Eros Archer, Zappeion Garden (Έρωτας Τοξοθραύστης, Κήπος Ζαππείου)
Eros Archer has been standing silently in Zappeion since 1924. The God of Love is depicted naked, sitting on a rock, while he tries to break his bow.
The statue was crafted by Georgios Vroutos at the end of the 19th century and went on to win numerous international awards.
5. Charilaos Trikoupis, Old Parliament (Χαρίλαος Τρικούπης Παλαιά Βουλή)
Τα δέκα ωραιότερα γλυπτά της Αθήνας | LiFO
In the courtyard of the Old Parliament, there is the statue of Charilaos Trikoupis, former Prime Minister of Greece, which was made by Thomas Thomopoulos in 1920.
The politician is depicted in a proud posture, standing, with his hands behind his back and his left foot in projection. Additionally, at the bottom of the monument, there is a naked winged angel, who symbolizes “glory”.
6. Wood-chopper, Zappeion Garden (Ξυλοθραύστης, Ζάππειο)
The Wood-chopper is a work of the sculptor Dimitrios Philippotis, and represents a naked man, who puts all his strength in his hands in order to break a piece of wood.
What is interesting is the realistic rendering of the full statue, in the anatomy of the body, the muscles and veins, but also in the facial expression, which demonstrates the great effort made by the Wood-chopper.
7. Theseus Savior of Hippodameian, Victoria Square (Θησεύς Σώζων την Ιπποδάμειαν, Πλατεία Βικτωρίας)
This particular sculpture in Victoria Square depicts ancient Greek hero Theseus rescuing Hippodameia from the Centaur Evrytion, a mythical beast.
The Centaur is seen holding a stone in his right hand, with which he prepares to hit Theseus. Respectively, Theseus holds the head of the Centaur and his foot, as he is trying to liberate Hippodameia.
The sculpture was completed in 1906 by Johannes Pfuhl, a German sculptor, and once adorned Syntagma Square, but was transferred to its current position in 1938.
8. Runner, Queen Sofia Avenue (Δρομέας, Βασιλίσσης Σοφίας)
Everyone who lives in Athens has passed at least one time in front of the Runner, which is located opposite the Hilton Hotel. The Runner is a well-known, one-piece sculpture by Kostas Varotsos, which belongs to contemporary Greek art, and is made of glass.
The Runner is seen in motion, while his sharp edges symbolize speed, momentum and strength.
9. Sleeping Female Figure, A’ Cemetery (Κοιμωμένη, Α' Νεκροταφείο)
The most famous work of the leading Greek sculptor, Yannoulis Chalepas, is undoubtedly the Sleeping Female Figure, which is placed on the tomb of Sofia Afentaki, in the First Cemetery of Athens.
The statue has a long and deep story, and it was crafted by the distinguished sculptor, after the girl’s family asked him to represent Sofia in white marble, following her tragic death, when she was just 18 years old.
10. Tomb of Michalis Tositsas, A’ Cemetery (Τάφος Μιχάλη Τοσίτσα, Α' Νεκροταφείο)
The burial monument of the Greek national benefactor Michael Tositsas is a majestic tomb and one of the largest burial monuments in Greece. It consists of a wide semicircular platform, in the centre of which stands a column, where the statue of Michael Tositsas is seated.
The monument is heavily inspired by Egyptian culture, with two all-around solid sphinxes with a female head and a lion-shaped winged body standing on either side of the monument.
These symbolize Tositsa's life in Egypt, as he was the first consul general of Greece in Alexandria.
Finally, the design belongs to Tositsas's friend, Lysandros Kavtatzoglou, and was built by the sculptors Fitalides in 1860.
All photos by LIFO Magazine