Greek Parliament

Location: Syntagma   

The Greek Parliament House in Athens: North of Syntagma square, in the center of Athens, there is an austere Neoclassical building that now houses the Parliament of Greece. This three-floor building has two entrances, one of the west side which is used for the entering of the MPs in the building, and another on the front side, facing the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Right next to the Parliament House, there are the National Gardens and Zappeion Megaron.

The construction of this building lasted from 1836 till 1842 and it was designed by the German architect Friedrich von Gartner. Originally, it served as the Royal Palace for the Greek kings. It was inhabited by King Otto and his queen Amalia and later by King George I and his family. However, in 1909, a fire caused great damage to the building and restoration works started. When the monarchy was abolished from Greece in 1924 after a referendum, the building was used as a museum and a hospital.

In November 1929, the government decided to move the Parliament House in this building. Till then, the Parliament was housed in the current Old Parliament House in Stadiou st, where today is the Historical Museum. Although in the same year, the monarchy was restored in Greece, the Parliament has ever since been housed there and the royal family moved to the current Presidential House.

The main Chamber of Parliament is housed in the ground floor, in the once Ball Room. It is amphitheatrical in layout and a stained glass room provides natural light in the daytime. The seating of the MPs is arranged in five circular sectors. A balcony above the Chamber is used as the visitor's gallery. An almost identical, a smaller chamber was built on the second floor for the use of the Senate, but since the Senate was abolished, this chamber is used today for party meetings.

In front of the Parliament House, there is a Monument guarded by an infantry unit of the Greek army, the Evzones. This is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, honoring all the unknown soldiers who died or bled for their country. The monument was inaugurated on March 25th, 1932, the National Day when the Greeks celebrate the declaration of their War of Independence against the Turks. Evzones wear traditional Greek uniforms and their most distinctive part is foustanela, a kilt-like skirt. The changing of the guards takes place every hour. During their service, the Evzones are not allowed to talk or move at all.

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