President, Elliniki Etairia – Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage
Dear visitor, strolling along or rushing around, please pause to consider the history of this street.
Two hundred years ago, the philhellene after whom this street is named, alongside many other philhellenes from many different countries from Europe and America, came to Greece to help Greeks to regain their freedom.
Philhellenes fought on the side of Greeks for many years – some even sacrificed their lives.
Offspring of the Romantic movement, they were inspired by the ideals of the ancient Greek civilisation, interest in which was rekindled in the 18th century – the Age of Enlightenment and a time of great revolutions: the American and the French.
This fascination with the ancient Greek spirit was first felt in intellectual circles, soon to attract an ever-wider public. This fascination soon morphed into an interest in modern Greeks and sympathy for their cause. The cultural appeal of ancient Athens, transplanted to Alexandria, Egypt, where it gained new momentum, was enthusiastically adopted by the Romans and went on to flourish by amalgamating with Christianity, giving shape to the Byzantine civilisation.
The Fall of Constantinople was followed by 400 years of slavery and dissolution under Ottoman rule.
Yet the hope of freedom never faded. Each generation launched its own uprising, which was stifled in blood.
The War of 1821 coincided with the emergence of nationalism around the world. European nations longed to turn their countries from monarchies to nation states, with liberal governments and egalitarian and, ultimately, democratic visions.
In the Greek War of Independence, many European citizens saw hope for their own countries.
They abandoned the safety of their homelands and came – from England, France, German-speaking regions, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, America – to fight on the side of Greeks and contribute to the establishment of the independent state of Greece.
Their contribution was enormous.
Walking with the Philhellenes, a project by ELLINIKI ETAIRIA – Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage in cooperation with the Municipality of Athens, seeks to help preserve the memory of those who sacrificed themselves for the liberty of Greece.
Our gratitude for their support and dedication will be handed down from one generation to the next.
We will not forget!
We extend our sincere thanks to Voula Didoni, architect and ELLET member, who had the original idea for this project, and to Christina Angelopoulou, Secretary General of ELLET, who was responsible for the implementation of this project.
We are grateful to the pre-eminent historians who supported this initiative by contributing original texts: Thanos Veremis, Maria Efthymiou, Antonis Klapsis, Andreas Koukos, Manolis Koumas, Iacovos Michaelides, George Mylonas, Konstantinos Papanikolaou and Evanthis Hatzivassiliou.
We would like to thank the Gennadius Library – American School of Classical Studies at Athens, the National Observatory of Athens, the National Historical Museum, "Diexodos" Cultural Centre, and Hill School, for kindly loaning digital archives.
Finally, Walking with the Philhellenes would not have been possible without the generous support of AEGEAS non-profit organisation, the Embassies of the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States in Athens, as well as Charles Pictet, Katerina Kairis, and Ileana Sioris.
We convey our warm thanks to all of them!