Modernist Architectural Gems To Look Out For In Athens

  • by XpatAthens
  • Friday, 17 March 2023
Modernist Architectural Gems To Look Out For In Athens
When it comes to architecture in Athens a visitor's first thought will most probably be the Parthenon and the second the sea of apartment blocks that dominate downtown residential neighborhoods such as Kolonaki and Pangrati and spread outward to the suburbs.

However, if you take a closer look you will find, tucked between the ancient sites, the neoclassical buildings, and the monotonous apartment buildings a bunch of modernist architectural gems.

Among them, the National Hellenic Research Foundation and the Athens Tower, have been overlooked in part due to being erected during the military dictatorship of 1967-1974 and dismissed as “junta” projects. But the Greek architects of these and other landmark post-war structures were largely inspired by the Bauhaus school and sought to amalgamate Greek urban life with the international spirit of the times. Here are 3 of the most notable modernist buildings in Athens.

Embassy Of The United States

The US Embassy in Athens is a monumental example of mid-century modernism. The Embassy was designed by Walter Gropius, one of the most influential architects of the 20th century and founder of the Bauhaus school, alongside Greek architect Perikles Sakellarios.Opened to the public on July 4, 1961, the building features brilliant white Pentelic marble, black marble from the Peloponnese and grey marble from Marathon, and a simple colonnade that wraps around the entire structure.

The Embassy's expansive courtyard was designed to encourage people to linger, converse and debate ideas openly. Unfortunately, the openness Gropius envisioned has had to submit to security concerns and now the unique outdoor landscaping has now given way to security fencing.

The Athens Hilton

The Athens Hilton opened its doors to the public on April 20, 1963. Conrad Hilton himself attended the inaugural celebrations and proclaimed the new building “the most beautiful Hilton Hotel in the world.” The Athens Hilton is a bold showcase of contemporary architectural ideas, seamlessly blending timeless local materials with cutting-edge modernism.

The building's facade is adorned with massive reliefs created by the noted mid-century artist Yiannis Moralis. The reliefs depict ancient and mythical themes and manage to combine modern and classical.

Emmanuel Vourekas, Procopius Vassiliades, Spyros Staikos, and Anthony Georgiades were the 4 architects responsible for the building's design. Vourekas was one of the busiest Greek architects of the era is also the architect of the Megaron-Athens Concert Hall.

National Hellenic Research Foudation

This building was designed by Constantinos Doxiadis, the father of ekistics – the science of human settlement. Doxiadis oversaw projects around the world, from Islamabad, where he was in charge of the city's master-plan, to Detroit. At the time of the NHRF commission in 1962, his firm, employed about 400 people, half of which were deployed internationally, while the other half worked from the firm's headquarters in Kolonaki.

The National Hellenic Research Foundation was the first Greek public building to materialize the dictum that "form follows function." It consists of three principal structures, a six-story office building, a three-level library, and the entrance foyer and lecture hall. The buildings are dressed in white and pink marble to project monumentality, without compromising the foundation’s mission.

To read this article in full and discover more modernist buildings in Athens, please visit:

Photo: Andy Chisholm -