The heart of present day Athens is fashionable Plateia Syntagmatos which lies below the imposing mass of the Old Royal Palace. Plateia Syntagmatos, which translated means Constitution Square, commemorates the constitution granted by Othon I in a proclamation from the balcony of the Palace on the night of 3rd September 1843.
The OLD ROYAL PALACE, which since 1935 has housed the Parliament, was designed as the residence of King Othon, at his own and his father’s expense, by the Bavarian architect Friedrich Garther and built between 1834 and 1842.
At the foot of the west facade of the Old Palace is a large square bounded on three sides by walls on which, in evocation of the ancient custom of hanging the victor’s shield in the temple, are set bronze shields flanked by the names of the many victories won by Hellenic arms since National Independence. Built into the center of the retaining wall is the TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER, a relief impressive in its simplicity, which depicts a dying hoplite. This work is by the sculptors Constantinos Demetriades (1881-1943) and Phokion Rok (1886-1942), and was unveiled on 25th March (National Independence Day) 1932.
South of Plateia Syntagmatos lies Leophoros Amalias, which is so called after King Othon’s consort, who, with the horticulturist Friedrich Schmiedt, created the delectable retreat adjoining the Old Royal Palace that we know today as the NATIONAL GARDEN. The National Garden is open daily from sunrise to sunset and the shade of its multitudinous trees provides a cool and peaceful oasis in the heart of the city.
On the east side of the Garden are the busts of Capodistrias and Jean-Gabriel Eynard, a great Swiss philhellene who donated large sums of money to the cause of Greek Independence. Both these busts are the work of the famous Pelopennesian loannis Kossos. Other busts in the National Garden are those of three leading Greek poets of the 19th century: Dionysius Solomos of Zante, who is considered the national poet; Aristotle Valaoritis, also a native of the Ionian Islands, and Jean Moreas, which was the nom-de-plume of loannis Papadiamantopoulos, an Athenian who lived the greater part of his life in Paris.
Contiguous to the National Garden is a large public park called ZAPPEION after the brothers Evangelos and Constantinos Zappas of Epirus, who donated it with its splendid exhibition hall to the Nation. On either side of the entrance to the exhibition hall stand statues of the donors, that of Evangelos by loannis Kossos; that of Constantinos by Georgios Vroutos. Among the many pieces of statuary by famous sculptors is the bust of loannis Varvakis by the master Leonidas Drossis. Varvakis is best known as the founder of the renowned boys’ school, the Lykeion Varvakeion, for the endowment of which he bequeathed his huge fortune. Other busts include those of Constantinos Paparrighopoulos, the greatest historian of Modern Greece, of Stephan Dragoumis, the most prominent political personality during the Macedonian struggle (1903-1909), and of George Souris, the leading satirical poet of his times.
A short distance from Plateia Syntagmatos, on the right of Odhos Panepistimiou, we come to a Renaissance edifice of Italian inspiration. This is the NUMISMATIC MUSEUM, which contains a rich collection of Greek, Roman and Byzantine coins, cameos and seal-stones. Built by the noted architect Erst Ziller in 1878, it was the private residence of the illustrious archaeologist Henry Schliemann.
Still keeping on the right-hand side we come to a five-storeyed building situated at the corner of this street and Odhos Omirou. Here are the premises of the ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY, built entirely in marble. The classical motif of the magnificent bronze door with its richly painted and gilded surround and the ceiling coffered in a delicate blue and gold deserve the greatest admiration. Besides creating the first National Archaeological Museum the Society, which was founded in 1837, has excavated sites all over the country.
Immediately after the Archaeological Society’s premises stands the ROMAN CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL. As the Latin inscription shows, the cathedral was begun in 1853, completed in 1887, and dedicated to St. Dionysius Areopagite. It is a three-naved basilica designed by Leo von Klenze (1784-1864), Bavarian Court architect and master-plan ner of modern Athens, and built under the direction of Lysander Kaftanzoglou (1811-1885), the outstanding Greek architect of the period.
Adjoining this edifice is the OPHTHALMIC HOSPITAL, a Byzantine-style construction designed by Theophil Hansen (1813-1891, the younger of two Danish brothers, both distinguished architects), in 1847, and completed by Lysander Kaftanzoglou four years later.
Just beyond the Ophthalmic Hospital is an ensemble of neo-Classical buildings: on the right the Academy, in the middle the University, and on the left the National Library. All three were gifts to the Nation from wealthy patriots; they are the most sumptuous monuments of Modern Greece.
The HELLENIC ACADEMY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES, a meticulously accurate reproduction of an edifice of the Classical period erected in the graceful Ionic order by Theophil Hansen at the expense of Baron Georgios Sinas, was begun in 1859 and completed in 1875.
The nine sculptured pediments and all the statues before the Academy are the work of the Athenian master Leonidas Drossis. The relief in the central pediment, which portrays The Birth of Athena, and the two gigantic statues of Apollo (right) and Athena (left) standing on tall columns, one on either side of the principal facade, are particularly impressive. The seated figures flanking the short flight of steps leading to the portico represent the philosophers Socrates (right) and Plato (left).
The portico consists of a double row of columns. The coffered ceiling is painted in bright blue and gold and the door opening into the vestibule has a surround of classical inspiration executed in brilliant color and gilding. A statue of the donor Baron Sinas stands on the right of the vestibule, while the interior of the Academy Hall is decorated with eight superb panels by the Oldenburg painter Christian Griepenkerl (1839-1916), depicting scenes from the Myth of Prometheus.
Visitors to the University will be surprised to see a statue of William Ewart Gladstone, standing on the right of the lawn surrounding the forecourt. The dedication on the plinth of this statue immortalizes the prominent part played by the great British statesman in the deliverance of Epirus and Thessaly from Turkish oppression, and their return to the Motherland in 1881.
The statues at the top of the steps leading to the entrance commemorate the great philologist Korais (1748-1833), ardent patriot and “father” of the Modern Greek literary language (right), and Capodistrias (1776-1831), first Head of State (1827-1831) and one of the major architects of modern Greece.
The UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS was founded in 1836, and was initially established in a large house which Schaubert and Cleanthes had built in Plaka (the old quarter of Athens) when they first came to Athens in 1831. This building, at the corner of Odhos Prytaneiou and Odhos Tholou, is still standing and is converted into a museum devoted to the earlier history of the University. The present University buildings were designed by Christian Hansen and the foundation stone laid by King Othon in 1839. The central building was ready for use in 1842, but owing to lack of funds, the buildings as a whole were not completed until 1850.
A colonnade with a handsome portico in Pentelic marble fronted by two Ionic columns with gilded capitals, and a coffered ceiling in blue and gold in harmony with the classical motif of a painted and gilded door surround, gives access to the interior of the main building.
On the upper part of the wall a fresco by the celebrated Austrian painter Karl Rahl (1812-1865) shows the resurgence of arts and sciences under King Othon. Statues of two national heroes, Patriarch Grigorios and the martyred poet Rhigas Pheraios, stand respectively at the right and left angles of the facade.
The NATIONAL LIBRARY, which is built of Pentelic marble on a foundation of poros, consists of a central building in the form of a Doric temple, with two wings. It was planned by Theophil Hansen in 1887 and the work executed under the supervision of Ernst Ziller, at the expense of the Valianos brothers of Cephalonia in 1901. A statue of one of these munificent benefactors, Panayis, stands outside the central building, and those of his two brothers Andreas and Maris inside the entrance hall. All three statues are the work of Georgios Bonanos.
The eminent philologist Andreas Moustoxidis on the island of Aegina formed the nucleus of the Library in 1827. The books were brought to Athens in 1833 and stored in the beautiful church of St. Eleutherius (the “Little Cathedral”). In 1842 they were removed to the first floor of the central building of the University – which had just been completed – where they remained until the National Library was inaugurated in 1903.
In recent years many fine nineteenth century buildings have been demolished and unimaginative concrete structures built on the sites, so that with the exception of the Ionian Bank of Greece on one corner of Odhos Pezmazoglou and the former buildings of the Arsakeion College for Girls (founded in 1836) on the other corner over the Doric portico, built at the expense of Apostolos Arsakis of Epirus in 1848, nothing remains of the splendid buildings that once lined both sides of this street of central Athens.
Continuing along Odhos Panepistimiou for a short distance, we turn right into Odhos Patission. A few hundred meters further down, on our right, stands a construction in the finest Pentelic marble, in which two educational institutions of University status are established: The POLYTECHNIC SCHOOL (Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Naval, Chemical and Mining Engineering, Architecture, and Topography) and the SUPERIOR SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS (Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Engraving, etc.). Two wings in the Doric order serve as propylaea to the central building of two storeys, the lower erected in the Doric order, the upper in Ionic. This edifice is the work of Lysander Kaftanzoglou, who built it between 1862 and 1880, and owes its name -METSOVION POLYTECHNEION- to the fact that the principal donors Nicholaos Stournaras, Michalis Tositsas and his widow Helen, were natives of Metsovo in Epirus.
While the need for safety and saving lives
during this pandemic has increased our usage of telehealth, we are
seeing that it’s capability to address everyday medical needs will make
it part of our lives for good. Telehealth has always been a viable
solution within our healthcare system, but now, in our new normal, we
look to telehealth not just for convenience, but for its safety and
flexibility. Accessing medical care through online virtual visits has
been a much-needed lifeline for both healthcare providers and their
patients. Providers, needing to reduce or stop in-person visits
completely to prevent the spread of COVID-19, have found that adopting a
telehealth solution in their practice allows them to screen patients
for illnesses that require additional attention (including coronavirus),
refer serious cases for additional care, evaluate patients for
prescription medications, and provide follow-up for those already under
their care. Many physicians who felt in-person care was the only way to
effectively help patients have been pleasantly surprised and are ready
to adopt this new reality as a permanent part of their patient care and
not just a stopgap or interim measure.
Since the beginning of this medical crisis, healthcare providers have
learned many lessons about the adoption of telehealth solutions for
practices. Here are the top 5 that I’ve learned:
- Patients and physicians will use telehealth to still stay connected even in isolation. A patient’s healthcare needs do not end just because we are unable to go to the doctor’s office. There was skepticism around whether people would actually use telehealth during a time like this to stay connected to their doctors. What we’ve learned is that this is a resounding “yes.” Patients of all ages have quickly adapted to using telehealth services. What we have seen is that people’s medical needs outside of COVID do not need to deteriorate if they have a safe, efficient telehealth connection to their doctor, which likely prevented what could have been a secondary healthcare crisis if people’s regular healthcare needs were not met.
- The best telehealth platforms allow you to see your own patients. While we have learned that telehealth is a great way for doctors and patients to connect, we have seen the greatest benefit occur when telehealth is used as a tool to improve continuity of care connecting patients to doctors who already know them. The power of telehealth is magnified exponentially when you combine the video/audio connection with the benefits of a past relationship. This in-depth understanding of past medical history and current medical status makes the engagement far more valuable than that of a sterile provider-patient interaction where no relationship previously exists. Not only does it add value to the issue at hand, but there is a feeling of reassurance knowing that long-term interests are being considered as well. In the event that specialty help is required, you know that you will be referred to the help you need — preventing frustration and avoiding potentially more urgent issues in the future.
- Telehealth provides access to quality medical care no matter where your patients live. For many, including those who can’t afford to travel to the in-person visit, those who live in remote areas with limited access to medical treatment, and even people who live in urban areas who are too ill or too busy to take public transportation, the trip to an in-office medical appointment can be a hurdle too big to cross. Yet, without a doctor’s assessment, patients are unable to distinguish between illnesses (flu versus COVID-19), which can become life-threatening without proper care and treatment. In a recent guide published in Rural Health Information Hub, we’ve learned that “programs supported by telehealth offer new methods for improving healthcare access and quality by extending the reach of healthcare services, improving the ability of rural providers to address a broader range of medical conditions, and facilitating collaboration between professionals with limited access to their colleagues.” The fact is, with telehealth, we have seen firsthand that location should no longer be a barrier to getting quality medical care.
- Your telehealth platform should still be secure. Telehealth communication through your chosen platform must be HIPAA-compliant. Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the government has broadened the list of platforms that are HIPAA-compliant, but we believe nothing is more important than ensuring your health conversation is protected and built into the platform for the future. Additionally, once regulations are enforced again, you don’t want to go through the process to re-implement another solution. Implementing a HIPAA-compliant solution today can be just as easy or easier as one that is not while paying dividends in the future as your organization’s virtual healthcare needs evolve.
- Telehealth can be used for specialists, too. We’ve established that medical practices can conduct appointments and follow-ups via telehealth, but this pandemic experience has also shown us that specialists like dermatologists, optometrists, therapists and counselors, speech-language, physical and occupational therapies, and many other specialties, have found tremendous value in also connecting with patients to help ensure proper care is being administered during this difficult time. In fact, we’ve also seen that veterinarians have leveraged telehealth services to check in on our favorite four-legged patients, thereby avoiding unnecessary exposure to their families and the vet and staff, too.
While it’s unfortunate it had to happen under these circumstances, we
are seeing with greater clarity that telehealth solutions can help
protect patients and medical practices by providing patients with easier
access to care, reducing the spread of serious infections, and easing
burdens on providers by protecting them, providing efficiencies, and
giving providers and patients more control of their schedules. In our
new normal, we see virtual visits as a permanent part of how doctors and
patients communicate, improving quality of care while making healthcare
delivery more efficient. Those not getting on board in some way will
become the exception rather than the rule.