The story of a building

The National Gallery was originally housed in the main building of the National Technical University of Athens, where it remained until 1940 when war came. Its unification in 1954 with the legacy of Alexandros Soutzos significantly boosted the gallery’s development, but the gallery still did not have a real home. In 1956 an architectural competition attracted the architectural elite of Greece. The younger generation (Milonas and Fatouros) won. The winning entry, to which Nikos Moutsopoulos had also contributed, was a five-story building in the brutalist style. What is not generally known is that the original competition was for the gallery to be located on a plot of land next to the Byzantine Museum. Eventually the new building was erected on the triangle formed by Vassileos Constantinou and Megalou Alexandrou avenues and Michalakopoulou Street, opposite the Hilton Hotel. The study took 13 years till 1970, with the foundation stone being laid in 1964. Only the basic idea was retained from the original study. The building was lowered by two floors to create the long, narrow, two-story parallelogram of the main building and the single-story cube of the Alexandros Soutzos Museum, joined by a bridge to make an asymmetrical H shape. It was opened in 1976. The missing third floor, which is to be added now, became the subject of rumor. Gossips claimed that the management of the Hilton at that time took steps because it didn’t want its own view impeded.

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