The University of Athens: The University of Athens is located between Panepistimiou Street and Academias Avenue, very close to the Panepistimio Metro Station. In fact, panepistimio is the Greek word for university, which explains the name of the station. Along with the Academy of Athens on its right side and the National Library on its left side, the three constitute the so-called “Athenian Trilogy”.
The University of Athens is the oldest university of Modern Greece and probably the most prominent one. Also, it is the first contemporary university in the Balkan Peninsula and the Eastern Mediterranean region. It was founded in 1837 during the reign of King Otto and was initially housed in a building in Plaka. In 1841, the institution was relocated to the building on Panepistimiou Street, while in 1932 it was renamed “National and Kapodostrian Univerisity of Athens”.
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It is a public institution and tuition is free for all students. There are different types of schools within the University such as the Faculty of Health Sciences, the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences, the Faculty of Philosophy and others. Of course, its premises are in different parts of the Greek Capital - Panepistimioupoli (the university campus in the neighborhood of Zografou), Exarchia, and more.
The building on Panepistimiou Street serves as a ceremony hall and rectory. It was built by Christian Hansen and is of Neoclassical design.
The University of Athens has been continuously operating since 1837.
The first decree for its establishment was issued in January of 1837, claiming that the university would begin its operation on the third day of Easter 1837. It also stipulated that its name would be the University of Otto or Othonio University, named after the then King of Greece, and would have four faculties - General Sciences (Mathematics, Science, Philosophy, etc.), Medicine, Law and Political Sciences, and Theology.
A second degree signed by King Otto in April of 1837 confirmed the establishment of the institution. After that, the University of Otto was officially the first university institution in the Eastern Mediterranean.
At first, the university was housed in the residence of the Greek architect Stamatis Kleanthis in Plaka. However, in late 1841, it moved to the jaw-dropping neoclassical structure that stands on Panepistimiou Street.
Concerning its denomination, Othonio University was retained up until 1862, when the king left the country. The institution's name was changed to National University on October 20th, 1862.
Its present name was established in 1911. Ioannis Dombolis, a wealthy benefactor from Epirus who lived in Russia, decided to donate his property to the Greek State, under one condition; that the sum of its estate would be used for the founding and operating of a university in Athens or Ioannina. The university should also be called Kapodisitrian University, in honor of the first governor of Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias. As the University wanted to inherit Dombolis's large property, it was divided into two independent legal entities - the National University, to which the science departments appertained, and the Kapodistrian University, which included the theoretical faculties. The two merged again in 1932 and the institution established the name that it holds to this day, i.e. National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.
Several eminent personalities of modern Greek history graduated from the University of Athens. Some major names include:
• Former Prime Ministers of the Hellenic Republic
- Charilaos Trikoupis
- Eleftherios Venizelos
- Dimitrios Gounaris
- Xenophon Zolotas
- Andreas Papandreou
- Georgios Papanikolaou (Physician and Biologist)
- Dimitris Nanopoulos (Physicist)
- Panagiotis Varotsos (Physicist)
- Helene Glyatzi - Ahrweiler (Historian / Byzantinologist)
- Kostis Palamas
- Odysseas Elytis
- Manos Hadjidakis
- Dimitris Liantinis
- Cornelius Castoriadis
Architecture and Design
The main building of the University of Athens is a neoclassical building designed by the Danish architect Christian Hansen. The most impressive part of its decoration is the fresco on its inner façade. The mural was assigned to Karl Rahl (Austrian painter) but due to financial issues, it was completed after his death.
The fresco presents King Otto seated on a throne, surrounded by the Sciences. The Sciences are depicted as Renaissance female figures. On the left and right, the spectator can see the history of the ancient world, beginning with Prometheus. A series of figures from the ancient Greek world follow, and the scene concludes with the depiction of the Apostle Paul, which symbolizes the nation's transition from the worship of the Olympian gods (idolatry) to Christianity.
Statues of leading figures of modern Greek history were also placed successively on the facade of the building. More specifically, visitors can admire the statues of Rigas Feraios (Writer, Scholar and National Hero of the Greek War of Independence), Adamantios Korais (Scholar and Fundamental Figure in the Greek Enlightment), Gregory V of Constantinople (Former Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople), William Ewart Gladstone (Philhellene Former Prime Minister of the UK) and Ioannis Kapodistrias (First Governor of Greece).
How to get there
There are many ways to reach the University of Athens from any location in Athens.
Private transfers: We recommend using an online pre-booked transfer service, which provides transfer by taxi, minibus, or private VIP car and arranging a pickup directly from the port, airport, or your hotel. Alternatively, there’s the option of arranging a pickup by a local driver directly at the following numbers: (0030) 18288, (0030) 18222, (0030) 18180. You can also book your taxi online.
Car rental: There is the option of renting a car and picking it up directly from the airport, port, or your hotel. Using a rental car allows visitors to discover the University of Athens and many other places of interest in Athens at their own pace.
On foot: As the University is located in a central area of Athens, it can be easily reached on foot from Syntagma Square in approximately 7 minutes.
By metro: The closest metro station is Panepistimio (Red Line). The University is located outside the metro station. Get a map of the metro here.
By bus/trolleybus: The closest bus stop is "Akadimia". Check the routes and the official timetables on OASA Telematics.