Tuesday 7 February 2012


The First Cemetery of Athens (Greek: Πρώτο Νεκροταφείο Αθηνών) is the official cemetery of the City of Athens and the first to be built. It opened in 1837 and soon became a luxurious cemetery for famous Greek people and foreigners. The cemetery is located behind the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Panathinaiko Stadium in central Athens. It can be found at the top end of Anapafseos Street (Eternal Rest Street).

It comprises a large green, park-like space and is planted with pines and cypresses, traditional cemetery trees. In the cemetery there are three churches. The main is the Church of Saint Theodore and there is also a smaller one of Saint Lazarus. The third church is a Catholic church. There are separate burial areas for Protestants and for Jews. The cemetery includes the tomb of Heinrich Schliemann (archaeologist), designed by Ernst Ziller, the tomb of Ioannis Pesmazoglou (banker, economist and politician), that of Georgios Averoff, and the tomb of Sophia Afendaki, named I Kimomeni (the Sleeping Girl), with a famous sculpture by the sculptor Yannoulis Chalepas. The cemetery is under the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Athens and is declared a historical monument.

Other famous people's graves in the cemetery include: Theodoros Kolokotronis, general, politician; Richard Church, general; Kostis Palamas, poet; Angelos Sikelianos, poet; Odysseas Elytis, poet; Giorgos Seferis, poet; Andreas Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece; Dimitri Mitropoulos, conductor, pianist, composer; Ernst Ziller, architect; Melina Mercouri, actress and politician. Walking through the cemetery is like turning the pages of a history book of the recent (19-20th century) history of Greece.

This post is part of the Taphophile Tragics meme.

General view of one of the avenues of the cemetery
The tomb of Ioannis Pesmazoglou, banker and statesman. Schliemann's tomb is the one on the upper left looking like a miniature temple.
The tomb of Sophia Afendaki - "The Sleeping Girl" by Yannoulis Halepas. The sculptor is said to have attempted suicide when he was told that the bier the girl is lying on was too short to allow full extension of her legs! In 1878, Chalepas suffered a nervous breakdown and destroyed several of his sculptures. When he was committed to a mental asylum, his mother, who blamed sculpture for her son's illness destroyed everything he had created.  
The tomb of Evangelos Averoff-Tositsas, politician


  1. A peaceful shady place Nick with very elaborate tombstones ... and the advantage of wide pathways ..... very picturesque for the final resting place of a wealth of prominent Greek personalities.
    Great pics!

  2. Although these are each one different, the uniformity of all that white stone makes it look a peaceful place. Unlike our cemeteries that are sometimes quite a hodgepodge of stones and styles and often no neat rows.

  3. Firstly, I had to guffaw at the name you have given this blog!

    I really like that sculpure on Sophia's tomb, Nick. I think it is better with the leg flexed in that way, more evocative. Poor bugger. And what a stupid mother he had. Did she not know that intense creativity, bordering on genius, is just one step from madness. That it is a fine line they walk all their life! Ggrrr ...

    Ioannis Pesmazoglou was banker, economist and politician! What an apt combination of talents with regard to the dire situation of present-day Greece. I did not realise the Melina Mercouri had died; the last I heard she was in parliament.

    I think I would like this cemetery. It is very european in ambience. I like the smattering of flowering bushes every so often.

    Thanks for your continuing participation in Taphophile Tragics, Nick. As with Ann at Sydney Meandering, I enjoy the immense variety that you bring to our meme, regardless of the derivation of the expression.

  4. Looks like a really interesting place to wander around.

  5. This sure looks like an upmarket cemetery and I loved your sentence....walking through this cemetery is like turning the pages of a history book.

  6. Sharp assonance and alliteration in your blog title! Like a blog title imitating the text messaging phenomenon! Short and sharp! Very clever!

    And wow! What an elegant cemetery with amazing sculptures and stories attached! I have never heard of an "avenue" in a cemetery! This cemetery could easily pass as an outdoor art gallery!

  7. Beautiful pictures and such a tragic story. Thanks for sharing.

    Herding Cats


  8. It is a beautiful cemetery with all the marble graves and sculptures.

  9. Some impressive monuments in that cemetery, and detailed sculptures.

  10. A fun post and such solid and beautiful monuments! I would have liked to see Schliemann, a childhood hero.

  11. Tapirgal, Schliemann's tomb is the one on the upper left looking like a miniature temple (in the second photo)

  12. Thank you. Wouldn't he have loved that!

  13. How grand these graves are and filled with so much art. It's like an open-air museum!


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