A grand gateway into the architecture of Ernst Ziller

A newly released photography album, «Ernst Ziller, 1837-1923: Art of the Classical,» depicting work by the 19th century German architect, provides great charm from a previous world, one that feels both familiar and distant, Greek and international. Written and compiled by Maro Kardamitsi-Adami (Melissa Publishers, 70 euros), an architect, this anthology presents 50 works by Ziller – an architect often described as the most Greek of 19th century Germans – with accompanying photographs by Giorgis Gerolympos. A productive, charismatic individual, who loved antiquity and was well connected among the Athenian society of his time, Ziller elevated Greek neo-classicism to its peak, ahead of its ultimate demise. The architect, who is credited with over 500 projects around Greece, among them theaters, mansions, city buildings, churches and public buildings, spearheaded the neo-classical movement, which was infused with elements from the Romantic, Renaissance and Pompeian periods. Kardamitsi-Adami’s research for this publication also led to official recognition of three Athenian structures as being the works of Ziller. These are the «Palataki» (Little Palace), as it is referred to, in Haidari; the Mela Hotel in Kifissia, northern Athens, and the Stathopoulos residential building in Psyrri, downtown Athens. Compiled in a fashion that assures pleasant reading, the album, which is aimed at the general public, offers precious information and directs the reader toward understanding of a cultural heritage that remains unknown to most. «It would be gratifying for me if this publication makes some people look up and remark, ‘There’s another Ziller,’» said Kardamitsi-Adami at the title’s recent presentation. «There’s such an abundance of Ziller’s work, both in Germany and Greece, that I will occupy myself with him again,» the architect added. Born on the outskirts of Dresden, Ziller, who arrived in Greece as a young assistant to Theofilos Hansen, designed some of the most notable mansions in Athens and numerous other Greek cities. Projects by the architect in Athens include the Iliou Melathron, formerly the residence of the philhellene German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann which houses the Numismatic Museum today, the national theater, the Mela Mansion, and the Italian and Egyptian embassies. Ziller is also partially credited for certain projects, either via collaboration or completion of work initiated by others. These include the Archaeological Museum, the National Library and Zappeion Hall. The German architect also designed residential mansions on the outskirts of Athens – at that time – in Kifissia and in Kastella, the hill in Piraeus. Works by Ziller beyond Athens include Syros Town Hall and the theater in Patras, western Greece. The images by Gerolympos for this publication, which show increasing maturity and control by the photographer in the domain of architectural photography, blend effectively with the writer’s fresh, thorough and knowledgeable text that depicts true appreciation of Ziller’s work. This is a high-quality publication in every respect. It could be likened to passing through a grand gateway leading to Ziller’s world, or a regrouping for a new attempt at shedding further light on this man’s work.

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