CULTURE

Fight to stop relics of modern Greek history being moved

People strolling through the center of Athens by night swear that they can see the statue of Theodoros Kolokotronis rise up on the bronze horse made by the sculptor Sochos. As a leading figure in the liberation struggle of 1821, Kolokotronis has every reason to be concerned that there are plans to move the National Historical Museum collection away from the Old Parliament building, where the museum has had an ideal site since 1962. In 1950-60, Orlandros did the study for the restoration of the Old Parliament’s exterior as well as refurbishing the interior for the purpose of exhibiting the museum’s collection there. He brought the statue of Kolokotronis to the square to guard the history of modern Greece. A visit to the museum, with its genuine, priceless relics of the liberation struggle of 1821 – the flags, weapons, portraits and armor of the fighters, and the plaster death masks made in the years before photography – teaches visitors who the people were who fought for freedom and made history. The museum is open from 8.30 a.m.- 2.30 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday. Four schools visit the museum every day, General Secretary Yiannis Mazarakis-Ainian told Helbi. The school groups come to learn about modern history and its roots. Helbi asked whether foreigners and leaders of foreign countries on official trips visit the museum. Yes, many important visitors in politics, diplomacy and culture are brought here by the ambassadors of their countries. As for the leaders of foreign states, they rarely come. Whoever is planning the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin in December should keep in mind that Putin is interested in history, and the bullet-proof vest of Kolokotronis will impress him. As for the projected move, Parliamentary Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis wants the National Historical Museum to move to 50 Stadiou St. Kaklamanis has asked for the move, which the museum authorities oppose, so that the Parliamentary Library can go to the Old Parliament building. The library is temporarily housed at the Kapnergostasio, the old tobacco factory. Helbi visited the museum with Kathimerini’s photographer so as to record something of the unique atmosphere emanating from its collection of relics of modern Greek history. For the Olympic Games of 1896, Harilaos Trikoupis made two rooms at the National Technical University available for the museum’s exhibits. Now, in view of the 2004 Games, which Premier Costas Simitis and Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki insist will still be held in Athens despite the delays, it would be a good idea to leave the museum where it is. Lots of foreign visitors will want to learn about modern Greece’s history, and far fewer will be interested in seeing the Parliamentary Library. And Kolokotronis, whose statue has recently been beautified with the help of EU funds, won’t want a new location for the museum he guards. The combination of National Bank with Alpha, Greece’s two largest banks, will dominate the local market with a market share of more than 50 percent in loans and deposits. The 10-billion-euro ($8.85-billion) all-share deal was announced on November 1.