History walk: The 97 tombs of the fighters of 1821 in the 1st cemetery of Athens

History walk: The 97 tombs of the fighters of 1821 in the 1st cemetery of Athens

A different walk of history and self-knowledge took place today in the First Cemetery of Athens with the art historians Zetta Antonopoulou and Michalis Giochalas.

At the end of the anniversary year for the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution, the two researchers, along with a group of citizens who had timely declared their participation in the action, toured the burial monuments of the 1821 fighters who are preserved in the cemetery.

“The graves of the fighters we have located – because there were obviously others, but have been lost over time – are around 97. They are a large number and are really scattered in the A ‘cemetery, where as you know is the largest sculpture gallery in Greece , but also a pantheon of Hellenism, of modern Greek history “says the art historian Zetta Antonopoulou in APE-MPE, adding that” among all the personalities who have been buried there – politicians, scientists, artists – there are graves of its fighters 1821. Some are very obvious, that is, by observing the epigrams or the depicted persons, one can easily identify them. “Others found it difficult to find them and recognize them, because their form has changed a lot, or it may be an inscription on a plaque only and then other family names follow.”

The tour of the First Cemetery is part of the action “Athenian Book Routes” organized by the Athens Culture Net of the Municipality of Athens, and the research on which this route was based, concerns the tombs of both Revolutionary fighters and writers, and is co-financed by Greece and the European Union through the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, while the academic responsible is the art historian Dimitris Pavlopoulos. The approach of the burial monuments by a group of researchers, not from the point of view of the sculptural art, but of the historical figures of a specific period, is original. “So far we see that the approach to the first cemetery is mainly about sculpture,” explains Ms. Antonopoulou, “that is, most walks talk about burial monuments only in terms of art history and less in terms of the people themselves. We decided to follow another path, to follow the faces and then to look at the shape of each monument and what it has to tell us. I hope it will also function as a model, so that personalities with other qualities can be identified in the A ‘cemetery “. A similar tour will follow immediately regarding the writers, whose monuments are in the A ‘cemetery.

In fact, in some cases of revolution fighters, the opposite answer was given, namely the location of the burial monuments for which there was incomplete information. “There may have been information that someone died in Athens, but we have cases where we have bone transplants to and from the A ‘cemetery and from the A’ cemetery to elsewhere. For example, the tomb of Odysseus Androutsos is a cenotaph, as his bones have been transferred to Preveza. Nevertheless, his burial monument remains in the First Cemetery. Respectively, the bones of Kolokotronis have been transferred to Tripoli. “But the grave there is a family grave, where the whole family is gathered and in fact it is a special case” notes the art historian. As she explains, “the most important thing is to locate these graves and these persons, that is, to compile a list that will be published soon, in order to have a picture of which graves of the fighters are preserved today in the First Cemetery. “So we have a whole and it’s interesting and that’s exactly: that is, who these personalities are, for some we have data, for some very little, for some we are still looking.” Ms. Antonopoulou hopes that the compilation of the list will pave the way for more information to be found about the persons themselves, whose monuments have been located so far.

“Of course we are also interested in the form of the burial monument, ie what we see today, whether or not it corresponds to the original form of the tomb, as long as it is possible to discover it, if we have important sculptors, such as the Fitali brothers, famous sculptors of the 19th century who created monuments. We are interested in examining how they are depicted, if the fighters of 1821 are depicted, if we have this connection with antiquity, which burial sculpture follows anyway. “Burial art draws a lot from Romanticism and Classicism, so we have this turn in the ancient past and many burial monuments are neoclassical, as observed throughout the cemetery,” explains the art historian. “Most of the surviving monuments today have this connection to the ancient past, but this is generally part of the field of burial art,” he added. As she points out, we must imagine the cemetery in the 19th century as “a place of work of sculpture and marble sculpture, which of course drew a lot from the excavations that took place in the city at that time (it was then that the excavation for Kerameikos took place ), but also with the very development of sculpture in Greece, which, when it began to be taught at the Polytechnic, the first teachers were from the West. “So there is this alternation of motifs and influences from both Western art and classicism but also from Greek antiquity.” This observation is confirmed “in many monuments of fighters, and especially fighters who also had political or diplomatic action. “On the other hand, we see graves that are very humble, that is, simple tombstones, which I think goes back more to the early form that graves should have,” said Ms. Antonopoulou. However, “everyone brings their importance and emotion” he emphasizes.

Alexandros Mavrokordatos, Kosmas Kokkidis, Georgios Kozakis Typadlos, Andreas Metaxas, Andreas Zaimis, Niki Tzavela, wife of Kitsos Tzavelas are buried, among many others, in the A ‘cemetery of Athens, where her family is also buried. Captain Domna Visvizi and her husband, Antonis. It is noteworthy that this year, on March 25, several citizens visited the First Cemetery in order to locate the graves of fighters of 1821: space, either in paintings, in engravings, in drawings. It is difficult to think that one can visit the burial monuments of the fighters and this is very important for the cemetery itself. The cemetery area is multifaceted, one can see and feel many things there. I think one is connected with his past there, with the history of Greece “concludes the art historian.

The next tour that will take place in the context of the Athenian Routes action, will take place at the City Hall of Athens on Saturday, December 11 at 11:00. The tour will examine the monumental murals of Fotis Kontoglou and George Gounaropoulos, the collection of micro sculptures and portraits of the mayors of the city, stained glass and mosaics.

Citizens who are interested in attending it, are invited to register in the association

https://www.eventora.com/en/Events/AthinaikesDiadromesVivliou-ksenagisi-sto-dimarxio-tis-Athinas while those in charge of the program, ask for their timely information in case of cancellation, as places are limited. Participation is free and is provided upon presentation of a COVID vaccination certificate and police ID, while the use of a mask is mandatory throughout the tour.

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