Greekislands.com - Greekhotel.com
Greece holiday, Greece accommodation, Villa greece and Greek island cruise
Advertising Info
Hotel & Travel Guide for your holidays in Attica-Greece. The site where Hotel Owners and Agents in Attica meet their Guests!
Greece » Sterea » Attica » Athens » Athens History » The period of kingship of king Georges I (1863–1913)
Greek version availableEnglish version available
Attica on Google Maps
Attica Travel Agencies
Attica Car Rental
Attica Beaches
Attica Photo Gallery
Attica Panoramas
Attica Wallpapers
 Attica Video Clip
 Attica PDF guide: En | Gr
Attica Slide Show
Attica Virtual Tour
Hotels in Attica by area: 
 
Attica info by area: 
Hotels in Athens Center
Athens Center on Google Maps
Athens Center Photo Gallery
Athens Center Panoramas
Athens History
Athens Center Slide Show
Back to Athens History

The period of kingship of king Georges I (1863-1913)

Following the revolt of October 1862 and the dethronement of Otto, the government was given to a temporary revolutionary committee under D. Voulgaris; the committee aimed at governing the state according to the Constitution of 1844 until the convocation of the National Assembly which had been scheduled for December 1862. The convocation of the Assembly was followed by a long political crisis which ended only when the Great Powers elected the 18 years old Danish prince William George for the throne of Greece; the prince became George I, the king of Greeks and arrived to the country in October 1863.

A few months later, in March 1864, the Ionian islands were given to Greece by Great Britain and were incorporated to the Greek state; in October of the same year, the Assembly established the Constitution of 1864, according to which Greece would be a constitutional monarchy. The first elections after the establishment of the new constitution took place in May 1865. However, political crisis went on as the interventions both of the king and of the great powers to the government were more than frequent. This situation didn’t stop until 1866 when a new revolt against the Ottomans broke out in Crete. The revolt kept on successfully for a couple of years, but finally the Ottoman troops achieved to put it down. One of the most characteristic events of this revolt was the sacrifice of Greeks in the monastery of Arkadi which took place in November 1866; this episode had greatly impressed both Athens and the rest of Europe.

Click on any image to enlarge
click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge

Meanwhile, in May 1866, the Athenians were informed by the press that their king had been engaged to Olga, a 16- years-old Russian princess; a few months later, in October 1866 the couple got married. Both the engagement and the wedding were solemnized in Moscow; the couple returned to Greece in November and was received triumphantly in Athens. Their first son and successor of the throne, was born in June 1868 and was given the name Constantinos, the name of the last Byzantine emperor. The royal couple had given birth to seven children.

In spring 1870 the Athenians and the politicians of the state were shocked by the atrocious murder of the British nobles Muncaster and their friends at Dilessi; the couple and their company were captured and assassinated by the brothers Arvanitakis and their band. The foreign visitors who desired to see Marathon had departed from Athens along with a few policemen who accompanied them; they spend the night at Pikermi, in an inn, still working today as a tavern, and set off early in the morning. On their way to Marathon the bandits attacked and kidnapped them, intending to obtain a good sum of ransom from the Greek government. Several soldiers and policemen came after them and achieved to block them at Dilessi in Boeotia; as the bandits had no way out they slaughtered their victims before being seized or killed by the police. Forced by the international outcry that was raised, the government of Zaimis fell.

In 1871 Greece celebrated the 50th anniversary of the War of Independence in 1821; one of the most important events of this celebration was the transport of the bones of Patriarch Gregorios V, from Odessa to Athens; the sacred relics were placed in the newly constructed Cathedral of Athens, where they are still found nowadays. In 1872 the king bought the estate of Tatoi from the Greek landlord Soutsos, in order to settle there the royal summer residence. In the same year it was constructed the City Hall of Athens at Athenas Street, in which today the official receptions of the Municipality of Athens take place. Athens was embellished with many nice buildings in this period: eminent architects as Ernst Ziller and others designed wonderful mansions and public buildings: the Polytechnic School was build in 1880, the Academy in 1887; there were also constructed the National Archaeological Museum in Patission Street, the residence of Heinrich Schliemann in Panepistimiou Street, now housing the Numismatic Museum, as well as several other buildings that do not survive today.

click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge

New quarters appeared in the city, as Metz at the hillside of Ardettos; the place was named after a pub run by a Bavarian, who had given to it this name to commemorate the victory of the Prussians over French in 1870, near the town of Metz. New quarters were also established in Piraeus as Kastella, Terpsithea and Passalimani. Greek benefactors sponsored the construction of nice buildings and public foundations. The brothers Zappa sponsored the Zappeion; Andreas Syngros the Municipal Theater at the City Hall square, a building demolished in 1938 for unknown reasons. Syngros also financed the construction of the boulevard leading to Phaliro which still keeps his name. Queen Olga was also engaged in philanthropic activities and played a leading part in the establishment of the hospital “Evangelismos” and of the Municipal Orphanage, at Pireos Street, where today it is housed the Municipal Gallery of Athens.

During the last three decades of the 19th century the political scene of Greece is dominated by Harilaos Trikoupis and Theodoros Diligiannis who took turns in power. Harilaos Trikoupis initiated reforms which encouraged development. One of the most important works associated with him is the railway connecting Athens with Peloponnese and Thessaly. The railway connecting Athens with Lavrio had already been constructed to facilitate the mines of Lavrio; the actual suburban railway which is planned to extend up to Lavrio has been designed to follow the route of the old railway.

click to enlarge   click to enlarge   click to enlarge   click to enlarge   click to enlarge

The last years of the century were also marked by a raise in violence, partly due to the increase of internal migration and to the encouragement of politicians who maintained and protected the bands of gangsters, as they would help them to gain votes. Thus, by the end of the century, Trikoupis appointed the colonel Demetrios Bairaktaris as chief of the police in Athens, in order to rid the city of the groups of gangsters and of the so-called “koutsavaki” who terrorized people. In fact Bairaktaris succeeded in his task and achieved to chase them of their lair at Heroon square, known also as Psyrri square.

Several public works were done in this period, as the water supply network and the Municipal Market at Athenas Street, where today it is housed the central meat and fish market of Athens. In 1884 the old open market at Mitropoleos Street, was destroyed by fire; thus it had to move at Monastiraki, at the place of the actual flea market. The collapse of the old market, which the Athenians of the epoch called “Gioussouroum”, left space for the construction of a new station of the then steam driven railway that connected Athens with Piraeus; the station was inaugurated in 1895. The construction of the new station made also possible the excavation of the site of Agora, which brought to light numerous finds of great importance. The bourgeoisie of Athens had also taken care of the dead people. Thus it was constructed the 1st Cemetery of Athens, an ambitious work which aspired to become the new Kerameikos of Athens; soon the cemetery was filled with rich tombs which indicated the power, the richness and the importance of the dead people they housed.

click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge

Apart from the mine industry of Lavrio, new industries were established mainly in Piraeus but also in Athens. A tramway was also constructed, horse driven at the beginning and steam driven after a while. In 1890 the area of Phaliro was connected with the steam driven tram; as the ticket was pretty cheap, the suburb became a favorite destination for the Athenians, who would go there for a short week end excursion, or just for a night out. A bit earlier, in 1885, another summer resort close to Athens, Kifissia, had been connected with the steam railway of the Lavrio line. Several stories were told about this line whose train was called “the beast” by the Athenians of the epoch, for its noisy and bulky steam engine. Thanks to the good connection, Kifissia became more attractive to the Athenians, especially the more wealthy ones, who constructed new nice buildings, as the Melas’ Hotel in 1871 and several private villas.

Extensive excavations kept on in the city, especially at the site of Kerameikos; however, the most important work of the time is undoubtedly the reconstruction of the Panathenaic Stadium that was financed by the wealthy Greek tradesman Georgios Averof. White marble from Pendeli was used for the reconstruction, following the way of the first renovation of it in the times of Herod Atticus. The Stadium was ready in 1896, just on time to house the first Olympic Games of modern times that took place in April of 1896. The revival of Olympic Games is the work of two men: the French baron Pierre de Coubertin and the Greek writer Demetrios Vikelas who became the first president of the International Olympic Committee. Thanks to the Olympic Games Athens, not only gained in prestige and in international fame, but was also enriched with considerable works of infrastructure as the extension of the tramway, the construction of new hotels and stadiums as the cycling track at Neo Phaliro, the actual football ground of Olympiakos; also, the city center obtained a new system of lights with gas lamps and a network of telephones, which for the epoch was the peak of technology. But above all, Athens gained on the moral level thanks to the great number of medals awarded to Greek athletes, the most important of which is certainly the gold medal to the Marathon race that gained Spyros Louis, a totally unknown water seller from Marousi. The Olympic Games was a pretty successful event and a source of pride for the Athenians; it is quite striking that during the games even the pickpockets and the thieves had suspended their... “activities” so that they would not spoil the good atmosphere of the event!

click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge

But soon enough the happy times were gone for ever. A new revolt against Ottomans broke out in Crete, which soon was followed by a similar one in Macedonia. Greece was dragged in a rash, venturous and unsuccessful war against the Ottomans which, although kept intact its territory, had a considerable negative impact to the pride of the nation and the moral of the people. Athens suffered several times of disorder and political convulsions in this period. In 1901 a group of conservative university students manifested against the idea of translating the Gospel in Modern Greek, favored by Queen Olga; the manifestations resulted in riots in Athens which were crashed by the government of Theotokis, resulting in eight dead people and considerable material loss.

The year 1899 marks the introduction of the motor car in the life of the Athenians. The first car that made its appearance in the streets of Athens belonged to a wealthy tradesman and the second one to Constantinos, the successor to the throne. This latter had already been married to the German princess Sophia, the sister of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Modernization continued in the first years of the 20th century and several public works were then constructed: in 1907 the railway of the line Athens – Piraeus and the tramway to Phaliro became electric, the cinema Panorama opened its doors in the same year and several streets of the city center obtained electric light. Also it is in this period that the Municipality of Athens established the garbage collection service.

Mean time, in 1906, the unofficial Olympic Games had taken place in the Panathenaic Stadium; Greek athletes had again won in several games, the most important among them being the gold medal of Tofalos in weight lifting; ever since the name of Tofalos became synonymous of weight and bulk.

In August 1909 a group of junior and medium officers led by colonel Zorbas, all of them members of the so-called Military League, revolted against the government, claiming for modifications in the army and for the change of the government. The government, yielding to the demands of the rebels, called in Athens the Cretan politician Eleftherios Venizelos to take power. Once in Athens, Venizelos founded the Liberal Party on the head of which he triumphed in the elections of 1910 and 1912. Venizelos reorganized the state on the economic, diplomatic and military ground and prepared it for the national campaign of 1912-1913 which almost doubled the territory and population of Greece, as during this period the country obtained Macedonia, Epirus, several Aegean islands and Crete. With smart manoeuvres in the interior and an amazing diplomatic flexibility on the international ground he achieved to make Greece capable of undertaking this task. He also insisted in modernizing the army and stressed attention on the improvement of the navy. He appointed Constantinos as commander in chief of the army, pretty efficient in the army, although he was to blame for the defeat of 1897; in this way he appeased the concerns about the future of the throne. Also, he recalled to active duty admiral Kountouriotis, to whom he entrusted the duty of liberating the Aegean and totally defeat the Ottoman navy, in order to ensure quick and efficient movements of troops and supplies in Macedonia. Finally, Venizelos signed separate treaties with all countries of the Balkans. And, once he thought everything was ready, early in the morning of the 5th of October 1912, the Greek fleet, led by admiral Kountouriotis aboard the legendary battleship “Averof”, set off. Greece and its allies, Serbia, Bulgaria and Montenegro, had declared war against the Ottoman Empire.
Back to Attica   Greekislands.com Home Page   View hotels in: