Model of the steam-powered “Karteria”. The position of the ship’s cannons can be seen. The model was presented to the Baltic Exchange in London in 1923 by the Greek shipping community.


By Professor N. H. Apostolidis


The two Philhellene volunteers referred to in the title, are the German doctor Heinrich Treiber and the Italian lawyer and journalist Giuseppe N. Chiappe.

The first one, after taking part for almost seven years in land battles, such as the battle of Peta, the siege of Nafplio with Nikitaras, the battle of Karystos with Fabvier, the battle of Dombraina with Karaiskakis, the landing in Kastella and many other operations, finally served on the only steamship of the Greek fleet, the “Karteria”, with captain Frank Abney Hastings, for about 8 months.

The second one, served as secretary, interpreter and legal advisor of captain Anastasios Tsamados on the brig “Agamemnon” from the island of Hydra. He participated in the naval battle of Eresos, the revolution of Pelion and the siege of the castle of Volos, and in various other operations and patrols in the Aegean sea.

Later, in 1824, he published in Hydra the newspaper “The Friend of the Law”, one of the three Greek-language newspapers published during the war of Independence. He also published the foreign-language newspaper “Abeille Grecque”.

Both Philhellenes recorded their experiences, with the difference that Treiber recorded them in his personal diary, while Chiappe recorded them in the logbook of the “Agamemnon”.

These recordings are important because they give us a lot of details about various events of the naval warfare and the daily routine of the crews and ships, but also because they illuminate episodes unknown to the general public.

It should be noted in particular, that any information recorded in these logs was authentic, that is, it was first-hand, and they were also up-to-date, because they described the various events only a few hours after they occurred.

As for the quality, or rather the style, of these texts we must point out that there are differences.

Treiber’s entries in his personal diary are, as one would expect, rich in information about what happened every day during those seven years, but also very short.

On the contrary, Chiappe’s entries in the logbook of the ship “Agamemnon” go far beyond the dry information usually recorded in the logbooks of ships. These recordings are rather reminiscent of a war correspondent’s reports. We must not forget that Chiappe was not only a lawyer but also a journalist.

I quote below excerpts from the two diaries.

The first one is from Treiber’s diary.

17/1/1827 We arrive at Metochi on the mainland of Roumeli, opposite Koulouri.

Here is Gordon as well as the rest of the regular corps, 300 men.

23/1 Arrival of Makrygiannis’s corps.

24/1 The corps of Captain Notaras, the ‘archontopoulo’, arrives, and the embarkation on the ships begins. The expeditionary corps has a force of about 2,000 men”.

“I am boarding the steamer (Note: the ‘Karteria’). An hour after sunset we lift anchors. The operation’s goal is to occupy the high rocky area between Faliro and Piraeus (Note: Kastella), to fortify it and to create a bridgehead before Athens. This will facilitate the corps of Vassos (Mavrovouniotis) who will attack from Menidi and Elefsina with 3000 – 4000 men”.

“We disembark troops, who quickly go up the hillside immediately starting to fire, which creates a disturbance between the troops that have not yet disembarked, but also forces them to disembark faster. We disembark too. Cold night. Across the line they are all engaged in the construction of fortifications”.

“25/1 After dawn, the steamer sails to Piraeus and starts shelling the monastery and the houses”.

The second one is from the logbook of the “Agamemnon”, written by G. Chiappe. It concerns the destruction of the city of Kydoniae in Asia Minor. After the burning of a Turkish frigate by Papanikolis, which is described in another part of the diary by Chiappe, the Turks moved to retaliate against Kydoniae (Ayvali), a city of 30,000 inhabitants, all of them Greeks, on the shores of Asia Minor, opposite the island of Lesvos.

The Kydonians asked for help from the Greek fleet. Because the ships could not approach the shallow waters, it was decided to send boats with armed sailors and small cannons to repeal the Turks and evacuate the civilian population. The “Agamemnon” collected 830 refugees.

I am quoting some phrases from the shocking, but also moving, description that Chiappe entered into the logbook.

“June 15, 1821. At 9 o’clock in the morning the movement of feluccas and boats from all the ships began … from our ship 2 feluccas with 36 men altogether … 10 o’clock in the morning the war of the feluccas with the Turks began in Kydoniae and we noticed that the Turks set fire to the upper part of Chora (the city) …. the flames spread to other parts of the city … 2 o’clock in the morning, the boats were unable to find other people, and all the ships sailed … sailing all day against the wind and towing 4 boats loaded with people … The two holds and the bottom of the ballast chamber, the deck and the accommodation were full of liberated families … our deck is all covered with pregnant women, children and babies … At noon, a woman happily gave birth to a daughter, another woman gave birth to a boy in the chamber, another one to a girl in the hold, and another one aborted. The mothers and the newborn babies are well … 10 o’clock in the evening, sailing against a wind which continued to be harsher and we were turning in rounds with great effort and difficulty.

… Sunday, 1 o’clock in the morning. Two of the boats we were towing cut the ropes but we managed to rescue and get on board the ship the people and their belongings

… at 3 o’clock in the evening we dropped anchor at Antipsara.

Our Commandante (note: Tsamados) left Captain Kyriakos at Psara, as his representative, in order to baptize in his name the babies who were born in the chamber. … he baptized the two babies. He named the first one Eleftherios and the other one Eleni”.

I want to mention that almost a quarter of the inhabitants of Kydoniae were slaughtered by the Turks, or taken prisoners, ending up in slave markets.

The information provided by the diary of Treiber, regarding the operating conditions of “Karteria”, are very interesting.

It is known that “Karteria” was the first steamship worldwide to be used in military operations.

With this in mind, of course “Karteria” presented certain advantages but also several disadvantages, as is the case with all original constructions. Its obvious advantage over the enemy ships, which were of course all sailing ships, was that in the event of calm weather, the “Karteria” could move and maneuver as fast as its engine allowed, while the enemy ships were stuck at one point and the only way to move or turn their cannons against it, was by being towed by one or more rowing boats.

Against this obvious advantage, however, the “Karteria” had some significant disadvantages. The first of these was that the engine of “Karteria” often suffered damages, sometimes minor ones and on other occasions more severe ones. Treiber recorded in his diary at least 5 cases of breakdowns, the repair of which took from a few hours to a few days.

One additional problem, however, was that the ship’s sails were insufficient and the speed it could develop with them alone, without the engine, was relatively low.

From Treiber’s diary we learn that, when the “Karteria” participated in a naval squadron, along with other (sailing) ships, it had in many cases to be towed by one of the other ships. We are also informed that the “Karteria” used mainly coal as fuel for its engine, but when coal was not available it also used wood. The patrols of the fleet extended not only throughout the Aegean, the Ionian and the other Greek seas, but also throughout the southeastern Mediterranean.

Treiber reports that the flotilla under the command of Sachtouris, in which “Carteria” participated, sailed to as close as 80 miles from Alexandria and that it reached the shores of Libya (Barbaria) where they went ashore to look for water.

From the two diaries we learn several details about how each ship communicated with the other accompanying ships, with its base port and with the rest of the world in general. Communication with the other ships of the naval squadron was not a problem, as long as there was at least eye contact.

In the latter case, the communication with the other ships was done with the help of “signals”. Personal contact between the captains or the admiral with the captains of the other ships was very frequent. This was often done by one or more captains visiting the flagship, or by one captain visiting another ship, to consult with that ship’s captain.

From the moment that one or more ships sailed from their base port (from Hydra, Spetses, Psara, etc.) there was no more contact with the base except rarely, when some other ship left the island later and brought new instructions.

It was very common practice that when a fleet ship met another ship (either Greek or foreign – except of course enemy) the captain or the chief officer to visit the other ship or vice versa, to exchange information.

In my opinion, the prevailing impression among those who were taught the history of the Greek revolution at school , but also among the Greek reading public in general, is that the action of the fleet was limited to naval battles with the Turkish fleet and of course the burning of enemy ships by the use of fire ships. One may get this same impression also by reading books on the naval struggle of the Greek war of independence, where the emphasis is mainly on the naval battles.

The naval battles were undoubtedly a very substantial contribution to the Revolution and they constituted certainly the most impressive part of the navy’s action. This does not mean, however, that the Greek navy did not carry out other missions, which varied, but were also those with which the fleet was occupied most of the time.

During the roughly eight years of the Revolution, the ships of the Greek fleet were involved in about 15 to 20 naval battles with or without the participation of fireships. This means that, cumulatively, the fleet engaged in naval battles for a total of only 20 to 30 days, or in other words for less than 2% of the total time that the Revolution lasted.

One would reasonably ask: what did the ships of the fleet do during the remaining 98% of the time?

As it may be derived from the two diaries, the mission of the fleet and consequently its contribution to the Revolution was, apart from the naval battles against the Turkish and Egyptian fleets, multifaceted and specifically included the following:

– The naval blockade of the revolted areas to prevent the transportation of enemy troops and supplies to these areas. This, in my opinion, was the main mission of the fleet. This action included the conduct of raids and the seizure of ships and cargoes of both Turkish and (supposedly) neutral flags, etc.

– The surveillance of the enemy fleet, or parts of it, so that the revolutionaries could be aware of the movements of the enemy, but also in order to exert psychological pressure on the enemy crews.

– The transportation of troops and supplies from one place to another.

– Carrying out troop landings, such as the one that took place at Faliro (Kastella) in 1827.

– The support of the Greek land forces, when they were operating in areas near the sea, by bombarding enemy positions, but also with the involvement of marine raiding parties (e.g. Kydonia, Pelion, Sfaktiria, etc.). Coincidentally, both captains, A. Tsamados and Abney Hastings, were killed in action, not on the decks of their ships, but during amphibious operations, outside their ships.

– The protection of civilian Greek populations from Turkish attacks on islands, or in coastal cities, e.g. Chios Psara, Kydoniae, etc.

– The bombing, and in many cases destruction, of the enemy’s coastal fortifications (Vasiladi, Volos castle).

– The rescue and transport of civilians (Kydoniae and elsewhere).

– The collection of money (taxes) for the needs of the Revolution from islands and coastal cities.

– Finally, we must add the endless hours and days of patrolling and waiting in various safe coves.

Concluding, I will mention that both Philhellenes remained in Greece after the liberation. Treiber organized the Army Health Corps, of which he was the first commander, and Chiappe served in the Judiciary. Finally, several years after the liberation, they became in-laws, since Treiber’s daughter, Rosa, was married to Chiappe’s son, Pietro.



  • Ερρίκου Τράϊμπερ: Αναμνήσεις από την Ελλάδα 1822-1828 . Μετάφραση, βιογραφικές και επεξηγηματικές σημειώσεις Δρος Χρήστου Ν. Αποστολίδου. Αθήναι 1960
  • Ιστορικά Ημερολόγια Των Ελληνικών Ναυμαχιών του 1821. Εκ των Ημερολογίων του Ναυμάχου Αν. Τσαμαδού . Εκδότης Νικ. Πάτρας. Αθήναι 1886
  • Περικλή Δεληγιάννη: Ο Ναυτικος αγώνας της Επανάστασης. Μονογραφίες του περιοδικού “Στρατιωτική Ιστορία”. Αθήνα 2009
  • I.K.Mαζαράκη Αινιάν: Ο Ναυτικός Αγώνας 1821 – 1830. Αθήνα 2019


The desctruction of Psara, painting by Suzanne Elisabeth Eynard (1775-1844), daughter in law of the great Swiss Philhellene J. G. Eynard


Dear friends,

2020 was a difficult year for all of humanity, with unprecedented challenges and restructuring caused by the pandemic. However, it was also a year that confirmed the importance of the values ​​that Hellenism stands for, on which our societies are based.

In 2021 we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution, of which Philhellenism was a central pillar. This Revolution led to the establishment of the Greek state, which is today the guardian of the values ​​of the western world.

The Society for Hellenism and Philhellenism participates in the festive events with many important actions which will be announced soon.

The first of these actions concerns the establishment of the Museum of Philhellenism, which will be inaugurated in January 2021.

We also released our first edition. The book – diary on Philhellenism (information – orders: / +30 6974 750361 ).



Many other editions will follow.

Our aim remains to promote the principles of Hellenism and Philhellenism internationally, and to encourage the societies inspired by them, to find a position and an equal role on the side of the Greeks, who continue to be the guardians of the humanistic values. We will aim to launch a new philhellenic movement for the 21st century.

We thank you all for your interest in contributing to our work. In this regard, we are preparing a framework for the involvement of our friends and volunteers, which will be soon presented to you (in line with the progress of COVID19).

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy and Creative Anniversary Year 2021.

Society for Hellenism and Philhellenism




“[…] Es lebe Ihre Heimat, die auch für mich die schonste Heimat is, die Heimat meiner Bildung und meiner Ideale!”

“Long live your Homeland, which for me is the most beautiful homeland, the homeland of my Education and my Ideals!”

Friedrich Thiersch, On the Current State of Greece and the Means to achieve its Restoration, Leipzig 1833 (1828 – 1833)


Friedrich Wilhelm Thiersch (Ειρηναίος Θείρσιος: “Ireneos Thiersios”, 1784 – 1860), the founder of Classical Philology and Humanities in Bavaria, was the leading figure of German Philhellenism. He thought of Greece as his “real” homeland, the mother of his thought and ideals, therefore Hellenized his name to “Ireneos Theirsios”, with which he is better known. He warmly defended the rights of the Greek Struggle, and was targeted by Metternich and the Prussian government as the inspirer of the “Philhellenic German Legion” and a fiery advocate of the Greek Revolution. Back in his day he was recognized as the “Praeceptor Bavariae”, teacher and founder of humanist education in Bavaria, the same way the philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835) was considered as the founder of the educational system in Prussia.[1]

Ireneos Thiersios was born on June 17, 1784 in the village of Kirchscheidungen (Sachsen – Anhalt) and was the second son of the farmer Benjamin Thiersch. One of his brothers was the classical philologist and composer of the Prussian national anthem (Preußenlied), Bernard Thiersch. The famous Munich painter Ludwig Thiersch (1825-1909) was his son, and the architect and painter Friedrich von Thiersch (1852-1921) his grandson. From 1804 onwards he studied philology and theology at Leipzig and Göttingen, and offered private lessons after 1808. During his studies at Göttingen he gained close contacts with some of his classmates, who knew Greek songs. Thus his interest in modern Greek reality was ignited. In 1809 he arrived in Munich to teach at the Wilhelmsgymnasium and from 1811 onwards the Lyceum. He founded the Philological Institute (1812), which has since shaped teacher education in Bavaria, and established the school and university system in a neo-humanitarian direction. As early as 1809 he came into conflict with his superiors at the Munich High School and the circle of Baron Johann Christoph von Aretin, who expressed pro-Napoleonic positions. In 1811  he accused Aretin’s milieu of an assassination attempt against him during the Carnival, although the attack probably had an erotic rather than an ideological or political motivation.[2]

After the rise of the great Philhellene Ludwig I. to the Bavarian throne (October 13, 1825), Thiersch undertook the reorganization of the higher education system. He received the chair of Classical Philology after the state university was moved to Munich. In 1829 he became Rector of the Ludwig Maximilian University and founded the first seminary of Classical Studies in Germany. According to the curriculum he published for high schools in Bavaria, teaching was reduced almost entirely to the learning of ancient languages, thus satisfying the ideological program of the Bavarian monarch.

Theirsios predicted the revival of the Greek nation a decade before the outbreak of the Greek Revolution and contributed decisively to the formation of the entire German philhellenic movement.[3] The literary activity of German academics in favor of Greece before 1821 was crucial (the whole philhellenic movement would have been inconceivable, without their activity)[4]. The circulation of information about the Greek issue, already two generations before 1821, shaped an image for Greece and a movement of support. Regarding German intellectuals, Thiersch and Wilhelm Traugott Krug (1770-1842), professor of philosophy in Königsberg, were two very important advocates of the Greek Struggle. In fact, Krug was the first German scholar to publicly advocate for the freedom of the Greeks. At Easter 1821 he issued “The rebirth of Greece” (“Griechenlands Wiedergeburt”), appealing for support of the Greek struggle. He stressed out the fact that “the sovereignty of the Turks can in no way be considered legal, it is simply illegal … nothing can legally establish the supremacy of one people over another”[5] The leaflet travelled beyond German territory, in Holland and Poland, and was published in Greek anonymously in 1861.[6]

Thiersch shared similar ideas; his thoughts and worldview were shaped by his political Protestantism, liberalism, neo-humanism, and Christianity. In his brochure “The salvation of Greece, the case of the obligated Europe“, he propagated his position in favor of the Greek Struggle, based on an argument of moral obligation towards Greece. Europe owed its origin and progress to ancient Greece, therefore should reciprocate its gratitude to its descendants. The Greek Revolution offered Europe an ideal opportunity to pay gratitude to Greece; his compatriots ought to wholeheartedly embrace this rare opportunity to their advantage.

As a prestigious co-worker of the “Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung”, Thiersch sought to inform the German public about Greek affairs and argue in favor of the Greeks. He maintained a network of contacts in Greece, in order to receive information from the original source. Through his series of articles in the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper, “Von der Isar” (from Isar, 2/6 – 17/9/1821), he openly argued against the positions of the “Austrian Observer” (Österreichischer Beobachter), Metternich’s anti-Greek newspaper. Professor Thiersch’s “dangerous revolutionary games” in Germany before Vormärz, put his life and reputation in immediate danger. He became a target for the Austrian authorities as well as the, even more suspicious, Prussian government. His fiery spirit did not however bend: on 18/9/1821 he called for the formation of a Philhellenic, German Legion. The Prussian Foreign Minister Christian Günther von Bernstorff (1769–1835) reacted sharply to his proposal, publicly accusing the professor of “arrogance and complete misunderstanding of his duties“. The Prussian government recognized that an up rise of the Philhellenic movement could spark off reactions against the regime for a number of other internal issues; hence the silencing of the Prussian press on the Greek question.[7] Feeling the need to defend himself, Thiersch renounced his plans in the Allgemeine Zeitung, without actually abandoning his philhellenic struggle.[8]

According to Thiersch’s plans, the military involvement of a German legion in Greece would be funded by the Philhellenic Committees, and Munich would be the central point of coordination for the philhellenic movement. In order to implement his proposal, he came in contact with Greeks in Trieste and Vienna and with patriots, such as e.g. Theocharis Kefalas. The main supporter of his ideas, both in theory and in practice, was the Bavarian monarch Ludwig I. However, when the Austrian police became aware of his plans in July 1821, the execution of his project was suspended. The initial goal was to send a German military corps, with a general who would carry out the orders of the Greek government, and would undertake the military training of the Greeks. A German Legion was eventually formed by militarily untrained volunteers, who arrived in Greece in November 1822. Despite of all high expectations, it did not achieve any of its goals and was disbanded shortly afterwards.

Thiersch tried implementing his plans once again in late 1825 – early 1826, when he realized that the conditions in Europe were changing in favor of the Greeks. Although his ambition was not fulfilled, he nevertheless succeeded in founding an association for the Greeks in Munich, following the Prussian model. The Munich association undertook the collection and sending of money to the Philhellenic Committee of Paris. Ludwig himself offered large sums for the Greek Struggle. He was personally interested in the Greeks living in Bavaria, awarded scholarships to Greek students in Munich and followed their progress. Thanks to Thiersch, Alexandros Rizos Ragavis (1809-1892) and Scarlatos Soutsos (1806-1887) arrived in Munich as scholarship holders of the Military School. Ludwig adopted Thiersch’s proposal to cede the “Church of the Savior” (Salvatorkirche) to the Greek community of Munich and the consequent conversion of the church from Catholic to Orthodox. In 1826 a delegation of twelve Bavarians was sent to Greece under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Carl Wilhelm von Heideck (1788–1861), with the aim of organizing a regular army and undertaking military operations under Greek orders.

When Heideck left Greece, severely beaten by malaria, it was Thiersch’s time to visit the homeland of his ideals. The position left open was to be filled by another trusted person of Ludwig I. The monarch trusted Thiersch on educational and political matters in Bavaria. His Greek studies made him Ludwig’s only advisor in the royal court on Greek issues. On August 21, 1831 he left in a carriage for Trieste, from where he would sail to Greece. The trip’s official mission was archaeological research. He arrived in Greece just a few days before the assassination of the first Governor, Ioannis Kapodistrias (September 27, 1831), to act as an agent of the Bavarian court in the emerging Greek state.

Friedrich Thiersch arrived in Greece before the Bavarian prince Othon, and he was the first German philologist to visit the country.[9] He stayed in Greece between September 14, 1831 and September 4, 1832. He recorded his impressions of Greece in his two-volume work “De l’état actuel de la Grèce et des moyens d’arriver à sa restauration”(1833).


Friedrich Thiersch, On the Current State of Greece and the Means to achieve its Restoration, Leipzig 1833 (1828 – 1833)


With the beginning of the Bavarian period, a number of painters, architects and archaeologists arrived in Greece from Germany, thus repairing the remarkable absence of German travelers during the 17th and 18th centuries.

His lifelong acquaintance with Greeks did not overturn his philhellenic feelings, which, up to this moment, identified with his love for classical values. He recognized the spirit of ancient Greece in modern Greeks, whom he appreciated for their eagerness to learn. He saw the inner beauty of both men and women reflecting in their exterior appearance; a beauty he called classic, found “in the mountains of mainland Greece and in the families of captains and nobles”[10]. He considered climate as a determining factor for the development of their mental abilities, their courage and their thirst for learning[11]. His contact with modern Greeks confirmed his perception of the uninterrupted continuation of Hellenism through the centuries. For this reason he became a fierce opponent of Fallmerayer’s positions. In one of his articles in the Allgemeine Zeitung he asked him directly: “Is Othon the king of the Greeks or the Slavs?” (28.10.1835). A few days later, he attacked Fallmerayer’s follower, regent Ludwig von Maurer, for the book he published about the Greek people (01.11.1835)[12].

There is no doubt that Thiersch had great love and respect for the Greeks. His opposition to the first Governor of Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias (1776-1831), and his connection to Greece with anti-Kapodistrian circles, may have contributed to the neglect of his Philhellenism. His political positions offer a clearer image of him, though. An event e.g. which saddened political circles in Germany and Europe, was that Thiersch was not included as a member of Othon’s three-member Regency, despite the fact that he had contributed to the arrival of the young monarch and his regency in Nafplio in 1833. The reasons were probably political, as Thiersch was influenced by political Protestantism and early liberalism, therefore in favor of a liberal, constitutional state that would act as an obstacle for the institution of monarchy. It was probably an unfortunate coincidence that he was not included as a member of the Regency, considering the depth of his knowledge of Greek affairs, the fervent support of the rights of the Greek people, but also a series of reforms of his own inspiration, which reflect his also practical, political temperament: “austerity in the economy sector with reduction of civil servants and officers, integration of Revolutionary fighters in the Greek defense without change of traditional clothing and domestic weapons, land distribution to farmers and their protection by large landowners”.[13]

Thiersch was a member of the Philomousos Society from 1814, he supported Greek schools in the Ottoman Empire, and had met Ioannis Kapodistrias, Ignatios of Hungary, Anthimos Gazis and Adamantios Korais. Korais persuaded him to create the Athenäum, a boarding school for young Greeks, which was founded between 1815 and 1817 in Munich. Thiersch is also said to have been the translator of Alexandros Soutsos’s novel The Exiled (1831) into German. This is the first translation of a Greek short story into a foreign language after 1830[14] Although the translator’s name does not appear in the German version of the text from 1837, it is quite possible that this occurred for Thiersch’s self-defense, as he was a persona non grata in Prussia.

He followed the tactic of concealing his identity anyway between 1835-1837, when his relationship with the Allgemeine Zeitung intensified; especially when referring to Metternich’s policy. The newspaper itself took care of the author, therefore published his articles unsigned. Another way for Thiersch to escape censorship was to publish letters from Greece to his wife in the literary magazine of the Cotta publishing house, “Morgenblatt für gelehrte Stände”, in which he conveyed information about the situation in Greece. In this way he continued to inform his public without openly becoming a target of the regime.[15]

Another sign of his love for Greece was his contribution as an archaeologist. During his one-year stay he completed many small excavations in Argos, Heraion of Argos, Mycenae, Tiryns, Nemea, Aegina and Delphi. Apart from his enthusiasm for the ancient Greek culture, he was interested in Byzantine and modern monuments and was also eager to learn more about recent historical events in Greece.

In 1841 he was honored with the title of Senior Brigadier (Großkomtur) by the Greek Order of the Redeemer (Erlöser Orden), whose first leader was King Otto of Greece. When he returned to Bavaria, he became President of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences from 1848 to 1859. In 1855 he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1855 he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Bavarian Crown and acquired the title of knight (Ritter).

Friedrich Wilhelm Ritter von Thiersch died in Munich on February 25, 1860. His grave is in the Old South Cemetery in Munich (Alter Südlicher Friedhof).


The Tomb of Friedrich Wilhelm Thiersch in Germany


His name has been given in Thierschstrasse in Munich and in “Thiersiou” Street near Attiki Square in Athens, still reminding Greeks of his contribution to the Greek Struggle.

SHP and Greece will forever honor this great man of spirit and Philhellene.



[1] Πρβλ. Selbmann, σ. 1.
[3] Τurczynski, σ. 11.
[4] Grimm, σ. 30, παρατίθεται στο: Τurczynski, σ. 11.
[5] Τράκα, σ. 53.
[6] Ο.π., σ. 54.
[7] Πρβλ. Λάσκαρι, σ. 31-34.
[8] Τράκα, σ. 56.
[9] Σπηλιοπούλου, σ. 2, 3.
[10] Κεφαλίδου, σ. 135 – 136.
[11] Ο.π., σ. 142.
[12] Σπηλιοπούλου, σ. 11.
[13] Παππάς
[14] Dimadis, σ. 1.
[15] Πρβλ. Σπηλιοπούλου, σ. 1.


Sources and Bibliography

  • Dimadis, Konstantinos A., „Friedrich Thiersch und die Voraussetzungen für die erste Übersetzung eines griechischen Romans im deutschsprachigen Raum nach 1830: Der Verbannte von 1831 von Alexandros Soutsos“, στο Blume, H.- D. und Lienau, C. (Hg): Choregia, Münstersche Griechenland-Studien (2010)
  • Grimm, Gerhard, „Griechenland in Forschung und Lehre an den deutschen Universitäten vor der Ausbruch des griechischen Unabghängigkeitskrieges“, στο: Philhellenismus & die Modernisierung, σ. 29 – 46.
  • Κεφαλίδου, Σεβαστή, Πώς βλέπουν οι Ευρωπαίοι Φιλέλληνες Περιηγητές και τεχνοκράτες τους υπόδουλους Έλληνες και την ελληνική πραγματικότητα (κοινωνία – πολιτική- παιδεία). Μεταπτυχιακή εργασία. Αριστοτέλειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλονίκης, 2005
  • Konstantinou, Εvangelos, Griechenlandbegeisterung und Philhellenismus, Europäische Geschichte Online, 22-10-2012
  • Παππάς, Γιάννης, Friedrich Thiersch: Ο βίος και το έργο ενός κορυφαίου και αδικημένου Φιλέλληνα,, 25.04.2019
  • Selbmann, Rolf, Kefes, Peter, „Friedrich Thiersch und der Neuhumanismus in Altbayern. Wahrheit & Legende.“, Wilhelmsgymnasium München, Jahresbericht 1991/92, σ. 94- 121.
  • Σπηλιοπούλου, Ιωάννα, Το ταξίδι του Ειρηναίου Θειρσίου στην Ελλάδα (1831-1832) µέσα από την αλληλογραφία του µε τη γυναίκα του ως πηγή µαρτυρίας για τις ιδεολογικές διενέξεις αναφορικά µε τις ρίζες του ελληνικού πολιτισµού, Ευρωπαϊκή Εταιρεία Νεοελληνικών Σπουδών,
  • Τράκα, Θεολογία, H Ελλάδα και ο Ελληνικός Αγώνας για την Ανεξαρτησία μέσα από τη γερμανόφωνη πεζογραφία της δεκαετίας του 20 κατά τον 19ο αιώνα. Διδακτορική Διατριβή. Ιόνιο Πανεπιστήμιο, Κέρκυρα, 2012.
  • Turczynski, Emmanuel, Anmerkungen zu den wechselseitigen Kulturbeziehungen, στο: Hänsel, Bernhard, Die Entwicklung Griechenlands & die deutsch-griechischen Bezierhungen im 19. & 20. Jahrhundert, Verlag Otto Sagner, München 1990, σ. 9-21.



The Society for Hellenism and Philhellenism presents the anniversary edition – calendar of the Philhellenism Museum for the 200 years since the Greek Revolution of 1821.

The edition narrates in 4 languages ​​(Greek, English, French and German), the evolution of Philhellenism and its contribution to the liberation of Greece.

The calendar publishes an emblematic painting or art object, for each week of 2021. Each page of the calendar covers an important aspect of the continuous struggle of Greeks and Philhellenes to defend the values ​​of Western civilization, of which Greece is the cradle and custodian.



The publication is available from SHP and the Philhellenism Museum. Retail sale price: 21 euros

For information – orders, you may contact us:


Telephone: 697 475 0361





“We are all Greeks”

The well – known phrase which motivated the British and European public opinion of 1821 in favor of the Greek War for Independence, came from a delicate, thoughtful and unrecognized poet of his time, the English Percy Bysshe Shelley.

An unconventional teenager, a militant opponent of the establishment, even the Church and landowners, he was marginalized and persecuted for his love of Truth and Freedom. With his work, Shelley was the inspired prophet of the Greek Revolution.

In his emblematic work, “Hellas”, which he composed in the autumn of 1821, he confidently announces the arrival of a new era in Europe and the beginning of a “new race” that “will continue to produce fresh generations to accomplish that destiny which tyrants foresee and dread”. His political radicalism of pacifist Shelley intersected with his admiration for classical Athens, as a pioneer of a liberal political constitution. Shelley recognized modern Greeks as the descendants of the ancient ones. His love embraced Greek culture in its timelessness, recognizing it as democratic. His untimely and tragic death by drowning did not allow him to accomplish his dream and visit Greece, nor to witness the outcome of the Greek struggle for independence.

However he managed, as long as he lived, to pass on his enthusiasm and faith in the Revolution to his close friend, Lord Byron, who would land in Greece in 1823. His three close friends, Lord Byron, Eduard John Trelawny and Leigh Hunt, fare welled Shelley by ritually cremating his body near the beach of Viareggio, where his body was washed ashore, offering libations, under close supervision by the police authorities and the indiscreet crowd.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 – 1822), born in Field Place, near Horsham, West Sussex, England, was the eldest son of Sir Timothy Shelley’s eight – member family, a member of the Whigs from 1790 – 1792 and 1806 – 1812. He was the offspring of an aristocratic family and from an early age expressed radical ideas, turning against any traditional institution. He possibly developed his attitude towards the weak or defenseless already as a student at Eton College (from 1804 onwards), where his sensitive, benevolent nature made him a pole of attraction for the teasing or even torturing by elder students. He did not reciprocate such acts of bullying to his younger schoolmates.

On April 10, 1810, he enrolled at the University of Oxford, dedicated himself in long, daily study, and published his first Gothic novel ”Zastrozzi” (1810). In this work, he exposes his atheistic worldview for the first time. Together with his classmate and friend Thomas Jefferson Hogg (1792 – 1862), they published a pamphlet entitled “The Posthumous Fragments of Margaret Nicholson” (1810), in which Shelley expressed his first political views on war, government and society. A year later, he and Hogg were expelled from university after they anonymously published a pamphlet entitled “The Necessity of Atheism”. With this move, Shelley drew the attention of the university authorities, who asked for answers regarding the paternity of the text. Shelley’s refusal to answer any questions led to his expulsion from the university, already giving the mark of his proud course that he will follow until his death.

His course does not seem to be the result of some superficial, post-adolescent revolution. His reluctance to conform socially, by reconstructing or censoring his writings, will discourage many publishers and magazines from publishing his work later in life, in their attempt to protect themselves from a possible accusation of blasphemy or inciting rebellion.
Some information on his personal life shed light on Shelley’s genuine anti-conformist spirit; his liberal spirit in love is well – known, something which may have characterized other people in his circle as well (Byron, Trelawny) – a scandalous life choice according to the morals of the time.

Four months after he was expelled from Oxford University, disappointed by a failed romance with his cousin Harriet Grove, he secretly meets and marries sixteen-year-old Harriet Westbrook, with whom he has a son and a daughter. The couple lives together with Harriet’s elder sister, and Shelley invites his good friend, Hogg, to live with him; whom he however asks to leave when his feelings for Harriet become evident. Shelley’s relationship with Hariett does not seem to spark his mental interest and he is gradually seeking inspiration outside of marriage. He developed a platonic love affair with his teacher Elizabeth Hitchener, the muse for his utopian “Queen Mab” allegory (1813), and met his second wife, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, later Shelley, in 1814.

Mary Shelley (1797 – 1851), later author of “Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus” (1818), is the daughter of the anarchist philosopher and Percy’s mentor, William Godwin (1756-1836) and the early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who died a few days after giving birth to her daughter. Shelley fled with Mary and her step-sister, Claire, to Switzerland and France for six months, while still married to Harriet, who was pregnant with their third child. Claire meets Lord Byron in Geneva and becomes pregnant with their daughter, Allegra.

These moves seem exciting to a young and restless spirit, but they also have their cost. After returning to England, Shelley will have to confront Godwin’s rage. While the couple was in Geneva at Claire’s urging, Harriet committed suicide, which shocked Shelley. Two more losses follow: the two children he has with Mary die (William 1816 – 1819, Clara Everina 1817 – 1818). Eventually only his third child, Percy Florence Shelley (1819 – 1889) will survive.

Thanks to Claire’s intervention, Shelley came in contact with Byron in Geneva in 1818, where they rented adjoining houses by the lake. They interact creatively and spend time together every day. Shelley completes “Mont Blanc” (1816) and “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” (1817), and encourages Byron in the composition of “Don Juan” (1819). Other fruitful acquaintances followed, this time in England, where he remained until March 1818, with the poets Leigh Hunt (1784 – 1859) and John Keats (1795 – 1821). The couple and Claire leave England on March 11, 1818 and embark on a voyage to Italy in order to meet with Byron, who is now in Venice. They live in various cities, including Florence, Rome, and finally Pisa, from where Shelley frequently travels to Livorno and Lucca. Shocked by the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester (16/08/1819), he completes his most famous political poems: “The Masque of Anarchy” and “Men of England”.


The circle of Pisa

Pisa is the landmark for the rise of the Philhellene Shelley. Percy and Mary Shelley came in contact with the so-called «Pisa Circle», a group of people gathered around the archbishop of Hungary, Ignatius, who sought to play an active role in Greek affairs. Ignatius had taken refuge first in Tuscany, then in Pisa, away from the Austrian police, as he had pioneered the founding of the “Philomousos Society”, together with Kapodistrias in Vienna (1814). Around him gathered, among others, Alexandros Mavrokordatos, the ruler of Wallachia, Ioannis Karatzas with his son, Constantine, and Vincenzo Gallina, a member of the Carbonari. Shelley developed a close relationship and collaboration with Alexandros Mavrokordatos, who was hosted at Ignatius’ residence. The group elaborated a strategy opposite to the one of Ypsilantis. Shelley was informed of what was happening in Greece by his “turban-bearer” friend (as he called Mavrokordatos), who influenced his own political thought. The two men had met in the late 1820s. A series of letters between Mary and Mavrokordatos prove their special relationship. So when the Shelley couple learned that Ypsilantis had crossed the Pruthos River, they wrote two letters to English newspapers, likely after suggestion by their new Greek friend. In this way they took publicly position in favor of the Greek Revolution in their homeland, promoting the plans of Mavrokordatos and the Greeks.


“HELLAS”: Percy Shelley’s masterpiece

Albeit important, Mavrokordatos’ influence was not the sole factor which determined Shelley’s position in favor of the Greeks. As can be seen in his previous works, Percy Shelley was a lover of the Revolution. He was a romantic, selfless advocate of human rights to the core of his soul. The case of the “idealist” Shelley is often contrasted with that of the “realist” Lord Byron, who, although better known as a Philhellene than Shelley, did not act solely based on purely idealistic motives. The developments that took place here, between Shelley, the circle of Pisa and Byron, resulted in the creation of the masterpiece poem “Hellas” by Shelley. At the same time, Shelley conveyed his enthusiasm for the Greek cause to Byron, who until then had been absorbed by the Italian Carbonari revolutionary movement.

Based on news reports and information he obtained through Mavrokordatos, Shelley “improvised” a poem of 1100 verses entitled “Hellas”, in autumn 1821. His plan was to publish it immediately and raise sympathy for the Greeks. In this emblematic work of literary philhellenism, he singles out the virtues of the Greek cause, repeating positions expressed by other colleagues, but enclosing them in a stronger form. The work was published in January 1822, with the hope that the impact it would have on its readership would lead to sending weapons and money to Greece. The poem “Hellas” is dedicated to Alexandros Mavrokordatos.


Shelley, Percy Bysshe, Hellas, a lyrical drama. London, Ch. & J. Ollier, 1822. First edition (SHP collection)


The basic model for his lyric poem is Aeschylus’ tragedy “The Persians”, both in terms of form and meaning. The writer’s position in time, in relation to the events to which he refers, differs remarkably from the one of Aeschylus. Aeschylus composes the Persians seven years after the Battle of Salamis, thus creating a legend about events that already took place; he describes an accomplished reality with the use of his imagination. On the contrary, Shelley composes his poem in the autumn of 1821, while the situation in Greece is still pretty unstable, thus functioning as a Prometheus for the events of the Revolution. He relies on his imagination to envision the following day, expressing his personal expectations regarding the outcome of the revolution. He conveys an idealized image of Greece and the Revolution, more inspired by the Battle of Salamis and the classic past, than by contemporary events. In his own words: “The modern Greek is the descendant of those glorious beings whom the imagination almost refuses to figure to itself as belonging to our kind, and he inherits much of their sensibility, their rapidity of conception, their enthusiasm, and their courage“.

Shelley’s drama follows the basic outline of Aeschylus’ Persians. Instead of Xerxes there is Sultan Mahmut (meaning Mahmut II, during whose reign the Greek revolution broke out), and in the place of Chorus, there is the Chorus of the Greek female slaves. Mahmut receives unpleasant news from the war front, which foreshadow his decline as a ruler, while the female Chorus comments. The central issue is the different perception of Freedom. Freedom is defined for Mahmut by his position as sultan of an empire and is related to terms of power, imposition and maintenance of that power. The enslaved Greeks, on the other hand, refer to a kind of superior freedom, which is timeless and universal, it will be reborn as many times as needed, until forever established in the world. Careful analysis of the poem shows that even Mahmut himself is enslaved by tyranny, and seeks the kind of Freedom invoked by his enslaved subjects. A number of conflicts appear in the drama, such as reality in contrast to the vision, or the conflict of the present system with the forces that threaten its survival. The form of his lyric poem is a synthesis of dramatic dialogue and poetry.

In “Hellas” Shelley announces the arrival of a new order of things, as he states in the last couplet of his lyric poem: “The world is weary of the past, / O might it die or rest at last!“. His lyric poem echoes the spirit of “The Masque of Anarchy” (1819). In an excerpt from Hellas’ preface, which was censored by the original publisher, he openly announces:

This is the age of the war of the oppressed against the oppressors.… [A] new race has arisen throughout Europe, nursed in the abhorrence of the opinions which are its chains, and she will continue to produce fresh generations to accomplish that destiny which tyrants foresee and dread”.


“We are all Greeks”

Shelley sees in the Greek case a model for the universal struggle for Justice and Freedom. Even with contemporary standards, the poet’s courage makes an impression in his emblematic preface, as he strikes against the “apathy of the rulers of the civilized world” towards the “descendants of that nation to which they owe their civilisation, rising as it were from the ashes of their ruin”. He categorically states that “We are all Greeks”, proposing the Greek cultural identity as a universal life model. Echoing the romantic idealism of German classicists, he goes on to trace the origins of Western civilization to classical antiquity: “Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts have their root in Greece. But for Greece […] we might still have been savages and idolaters; […] The human form and the human mind attained to a perfection in Greece […]”. He never traveled to Greece, but considered the modern Greek “the descendant of these glorious beings […]“.

Shelley shows great courage in his introduction, as he does not hesitate to name reality using a harsh language. The proud attitude he maintained during his short life is also reflected in the criticism he directly addresses to his homeland, England, for its policy:

The English permit their own oppressors to act according to their natural sympathy with the Turkish tyrant, and to brand upon their name the indelible blot of an alliance with the enemies of domestic happiness, of Christianity and civilization. (…) The wise and generous policy of England would have consisted in establishing the independence of Greece, and in maintaining it both against Russia and the Turk; but when was the oppressor generous or just?

In addition to Shelley’s idealism, one can recognize his wit, realism, and courage with which he expresses his political stance. The limitations of harsh reality do not bend his spirit. Some verses of the last choir of Hellas play the rebirth of Greece, which at the same time means the rebirth of the human species:

The world’s great age begins anew / The golden years return […]
A brighter Hellas rears its mountains / From waves serener far […]
Another Athens shall arise / And to remoter time […]
The world is weary of the past / Oh, might it die or rest at last!

Even from a contemporary point of view, the work still impresses with the poet’s unequivocal faith in the struggle. And yet it is one of the less known poems of Percy Shelley.


Percy Shelley’s end and his legacy

A month before his 30th birthday, Shelley drowned in a sudden storm in La Spezia Bay, while returning from Livorno on his boat, Don Juan. He had gone to Livorno to meet his colleague Leigh Hunt. The boat did not capsize, but sank. Some attribute his drowning to a deliberate plan aimed at his life, and not to an accident. It is a fact that an assassination attempt against him took place between 1812-1813 in Tremadog, near Porthmadog, in southwestern Wales, which may have been politically motivated. Another interpretation was that the real target of the attack was Lord Byron, who was thought to be aboard the boat Don Juan, named after his poem. His friend Eduard John Trelawny (1792 – 1881), who removed his dead friend’s heart to hand it over to his widow, narrates about Shelley’s death in his book Recollections of the last days of Shelley and Byron (1858).


The Funeral of Shelley by Louis Édouard Fournier (1889). Pictured in the centre are, from left, Trelawny, Hunt, and Byron.


Shelley’s body was cremated near Viareggio Beach. The painting by Louis Édouard Fournier, “The Funeral of Shelley” or “The Cremation of Shelley” depicts the poet’s ancient – like cremation ritual on the beach in the presence of his close friends, Lord Byron, Leigh Hunt, Edward John Trelawny and his wife, Mary Shelley. The scene is historically inaccurate, as women did not attend funerals in pre-Victorian times. Also on the day of the ceremony, Hunt remained, crushed, in a carriage, while Byron, who could not stand the spectacle, swam to his boat, Bolivar. The Tory newspaper “The Courier” quite bitterly commented on the occasion of his unfortunate death: “Shelley, the writer of some infidel poetry, has been drowned; now he knows whether there is a God or no“. Shelley’s ashes were taken to the Protestant Cemetery in Rome. They are located near an ancient pyramid in the city walls. His tomb bears the Latin inscription, “Cor Cordium” (the heart of hearts), to remind him of his love for people. A memorial plaque has been erected in his honor at Westminster Abbey, next to that of his old friend, Lord Byron.

Although unrecognized during his lifetime, the radiance of Percy Shelley’s thought and attitude extended worldwide after his death. His ideas on political action and nonviolent resistance inspired Mahatma Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King Jr.. His political radicalism made him beloved in socialist circles, members of the Labor party and some key representatives of Victorian poetry. He influenced important personalities from the world of arts and intellect, e.g. Oscar Wilde, Bertrand Russel, George Bernard Shaw. Both Percy Shelley and his wife, Mary, decisively influenced the philhellenic orientation of Lord Byron, who after Shelley’s death, decided to go to Greece (1823), and offer his own life to the liberation struggle of the Greeks.


Edward Onslow Ford’s sculpture in the Shelley Memorial at University College, Oxford


Shelley’s idea of an “eternal, universal Greece” influenced Greek poets Kostis Palamas (1859 – 1943) and Angelos Sikelianos (1884 – 1951).

A historic street in the heart of Athens bears the name of the great poet, in Plaka, which intersects with Byron Street, named after Lord Byron. The intersection point of the two streets offers a great view to the Acropolis, symbol of Greek democracy.


The point where Byron Street intersects with Shellev Street in Plaka, Athens.


Greece and SHP honor the great poet and Philhellene Percy Bysshe Shelley. His poem “Hellas” will always constitute a hope and a lighthouse for Greeks and Western culture


Sources and bibliography

  • William St Clair, That Greece might still be free. The Philhellenes in the War of Independence, Open Book Publishers 2008
  • Roderick Beaton, From Ancient to Modern: Byron, Shelley, and the Idea of Greece Roderick Beaton, The Athens Dialogues. 2010 ; Vol. 1.
  • Roderick Beaton,Ο Shelley και ο Byron για την εθνική ταυτότητα των επαναστατηµένων Ελλήνων του 1821, Ταυτότητες στον ελληνικό κόσμο (από το 1204 έως σήμερα) : Δ’ Ευρωπαϊκό Συνέδριο Νεοελληνικών Σπουδών Γρανάδα, 9-12 Σεπτεμβρίου 2010 : πρακτικά
  • Av Mariann Cesilie Løkse, In Defence of Hellas: An analysis of Shelley´s Hellas and Its Reception, Universitetet in Tromsø, 1994
  • Γεώργιος Αργυράκος, Ο Φιλελληνισμός ως ευρωπαϊκό «κεκτημένο» και ο ρόλος των εφημερίδων κατά την Επανάσταση του 1821, Εταιρεία για τον Ελληνισμό και τον Φιλελληνισμό, Ιούνιος 2020
  • Θωμάς Κυριάκης, Η πρόσληψη «εθνικών αξιών» στην περίπτωση του Ιγνατίου Ουγγροβλαχίας, 30/06/2020, cognoscoteam
  • Αναγνώστης Λασκαράτος, Τρεις άθεοι «φιλέλληνες»: Βύρωνας, Σέλλεϋ, Τρελώνη. Έρωτες, ποίηση, τυχοδιωκτισμός και Επανάσταση, Λόγος 11.09.2010 & 18.09.2010




The archaeologist and painter Leo von Klenze (1784-1864) was born on February 29 as the third child of a nine-member family in Boklah, near the village of Schladen am Harz in Lower Saxony. At the age of 16 he began studying law in Berlin, which he interrupted and switched to architecture, possibly influenced by his acquaintance with the architect W. Gilly. As an architecture student he met art historian and classical archaeologist Aloys Hirt (1759-1837), who was a professor of archeology at the newly established University of Berlin and co-founder of the Berlin and Bauakademie museums. Hirt was the one who inspired his love for antiquity to young Klenze. Upon graduating from the Bauakademie, Klenze received the title of Architectural Supervisor (Kondukteur).

His first contact with antiquity takes place, as for most German Philhellenes, in Italy, which he visited during 1806 – 1807; more specifically the cities of Rome, Naples and Venice. He visited Italy two more times, accompanied by his patron, the Bavarian king Ludwig I. (1786 – 1868). In Paestum he discovers the Doric temples of Magna Grecia; like his ancestor, Winckelmann, almost 40 years earlier. He visits the ancient colonies in Akragas, Selinunda, Segesta, and captures, as a charismatic painter, his impressions in oil paintings, in an attempt to better study and understand the laws of analogy of the Doric temples. The Doric rhythm is ideal for Klenze and will be the object of his study over time.

“There was and there is only one architecture and there will be no other architecture than one; that is, the one that found its perfection in the great hour of Greek history and culture”.

After completing his studies, he worked in Kassel as the Architect of the court of King Jerome Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother. During this period, some buildings are constructed based on Klenze’s designs. The ballroom at the Wilhelmshöhe castle (Schlosspark 1), intended to be used as Bonaparte’s courtyard theater, is his own creation; the Pavillon is his first building.

Klenzestrasse reminds of his presence in the city today. In Kassel he met his future wife, singer Felicitas Blangini, whom he married on August 28, 1813. The couple had two sons and three daughters.

The fall of Napoleon in late October of the same year leads the couple to Munich. They are accompanied by his wife’s brother, Felix Blangini, who has good connections with King Maximilian I and the Bavarian court. Klenze’s attempt to connect professionally with Prince Ludwig of Bavaria fails and he moves to Paris. A little later he managed to meet the Bavarian king, and finally to realize his ambitions.

1815 is a fatal year for Klenze. His perseverance, charismatic personality and diplomatic talent seem to have convinced Ludwig I; to such an extent that established him as the king’s architect of trust. In fact, Klenze overshadowed important personalities from the monarch’s close circle. Among them, the royal art adviser and painter, Martin von Wagner (1777 – 1858), the archaeologist and architect, Carl Haller von Hallerstein (1774 – 1817), and the architect, Friedrich von Gärtner (1791 – 1841). Fascinated by classical antiquity, Ludwig I had begun, since he was a prince, to expand the collection of his House. He assigns Klenze to act as an art expert and entrusts him with the task of searching works through auctions and various private collections. Knowing that it is impossible to compete with the museums of Rome, Paris and London, Ludwig aims exclusively at acquiring objects of exceptional quality, setting quantity aside.


The “Athens on the Isar” visionary

Ludwig’s artistic endeavors did not have his personal satisfaction as a sole purpose. Above all, he wanted to establish his monarchy through monumental buildings and art collections, taking as an example the tradition of 19th – century monarchs. He also wanted to keep close to him the educated and wealthy elites of the time. His aim was to turn Munich to a capital of European scale, and for this reason he entrusted Klenze with the work of its urban planning. Klenze’s performance will be recognized, and he will be promoted to the Royal Adviser for Architecture about a decade later.

Klenze is for Munich, what Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781 – 1841) is for Berlin. He is the architect and visionary of the “Athens on the Isar”, as Munich is still called today. Isar is the river’s name that flows through Munich; “Spree-Athen” is Berlin, where the Spree river flows. Although Klenze was, back in his days, considered to be more conservative as an architect than “poetic” Schinkel, and without the latter’s instinct for innovation, he seems to have been much more practical in the solutions he came up with.

The “new”, classic Munich came to life thanks to Klenze; it gained its distinction after the completion of the Sculpture Gallery in Munich (Glyptothek) and the exhibition of its collections, with the foundation of the Royal Building (Königsbau) and the old Gallery (Alte Pinakothek). The city gained a reputation as the most beautiful in Germany after the design and construction of Ludwigstraße. The buildings at Königsplatz and the Hall of Fame (Ruhmeshalle), are directly related to classical Greek architecture. The renewal of the city, by order of Ludwig I, took place in parallel with the revival of Greece, after its liberation from the Turkish yoke.

The parallel “renaissance” of Athens and Munich is related to the same monarch and the same architects, Klenze and his great rival, Gärtner, who created a special bond between the two capitals with their work. Klenze, along with Schinkel, is the most important propagandist of the image of ancient Athens in a German city, as he could conceive it based on his imagination and document it with his field and theoretical research.

For the famous Glyptothek (1816 -1830), Klenze envisioned a classicist “Gesamtkunstwerk”, without copying the originals; its facade with Ionic columns is based on ancient Greek temples, but the interiors with their vaulted ceilings, remind of thermal baths. He designed interior rooms as well, and selected the exhibits. Across the Glyptothek in Königsplatz, the collection of Greek pottery was housed in the then “Museum Antiker Kleinkunst”. Today, the collections of ancient Greek, Etruscan and Roman artefacts in Munich are called “Staatliche Antikensammlungen” (State Collections of Antiquities). The building of the collection with the Corinthian columns façade was built by Georg Friedrich Ziebland (1800 – 1873) between 1838 – 1848. The buildings complex was completed with the construction of the Propylaea at the western end of the square, in honor of the struggle of the Greeks for independence. The Propylaea were created between 1840 and 1860, modeled on the classic gate of the Acropolis of Athens from the 5th century BC, following the Doric style on the outside and the Ionian style on the inside.


The Propylaea in Munich (for detailed information please see here).


Russian Emperor Nicholas I commissioned Klenze in 1838 to design a building for the New Hermitage, the public museum that housed the Romanov collection of antiquities, works of art, coins, books, etc.

The buildings on the Königsplatz provide the historical center of the city of Munich, which was expanded with the construction of the Alte and Neue Pinakothek (The Old and the New Art Gallery).

As King Ludwig’s architect, Klenze completed the following projects.

The Leuchtenberg Palace, on the main street Ludwigstraße (1817 – 1821), the Odeon (Munich Concert Hall) and the Biederstein Palace in Schwabing, Munich (1826 – 1828), the Monopter in the “English Garden” of the city (1832 – 1837). The Wallhala and the Pantheon in Regensburg, Bavaria (1830 – 1842) are impressive. In Wallhala, Klenze combined central European and Scandinavian mythology into a building modeled on the Parthenon. In addition to the above works, Klenze was commissioned to design the iconostasis in the Salvatorkirche in Munich, when, by decision of Ludwig I, the church was ceded to the Greek community of the city and converted from Catholic to Orthodox.


Leo von Klenze in Greece

During a mature phase of his professional career, when he had already proven his skills in the conception and implementation of emblematic architectural works in Munich and in Bavaria, Klenze takes on a special and important mandate from Ludwig I. Between July and November 1834, he was asked to go to Greece having a political and an artistic mission. His political mission was to recall regents Georg Ludwig Von Maurer (1790 – 1872) and Karl von Abel (1788 – 1859), between whom there was intense friction. His artistic mission was to supervise and settle issues related to the urban plan of the new capital, submitted by the architects Eduard Schaubert (1804 – 1860) and Stamatis Cleanthis (1802 – 1862).

In July 1834 he visited Corfu and designed the Doric temple in Kardaki. In Corinth he got impressed by the temple of Apollo. He visits Nafplio, Epidaurus, and continues his wandering in Poros and Aegina. In the temple of Aphaia he observes the traces of color in its parts which were already excavated in 1811. The issue of the colors of ancient temples concerned him. Thus, in his ideal depiction of ancient Athens colors appear on the buildings of the city (Ideale Ansicht der Stadt Athen in antiker Zeit, 1862). This idea, however, was neither popular nor dominant in his time; in fact he is the first classicist architect to propose colorful designs. Impressed by the Doric temples, which for him were the ideal, archetypal form of ancient Greek architecture, he praises the mental and aesthetic purity of the Greeks, which keep nothing secret to their recipient. In fact, he notes the following:

“The whole Greek temple, even its smallest part, has nothing hidden, enigmatic … we have the whole architectural alphabet at our disposal … if we write with it we will be able to create new and exceptional works”.


Idealized view of the Acropolis and the Areopagus in Ahens, 1846, oil on canvas, 102.8 x 147.7 cm.

Leo von Klenze: Ideal view of the city of Athens in ancient times, 1862, οil on canvas, 104.5 x 131.5 cm.


Klenze remains between August 14 and September 15, in Athens, which is not yet the capital of the new Greek state. King Othon (1815 – 1867) commissioned him to design the city based on classical standards and choose the location of the palace. As far as the second issue is concerned, Klenze disagreed with his colleague, Schinkel, who envisioned a building palace on Acropolis. Fortunately, Klenze found the idea unrealistic, among others due to climate and geology and rejected it. He also rejected proposals by Schinkel’s students, Cleanthes and Schaubert, to make Omonoia the center of the city and build a palace there.

Klenze envisioned a royal residence on the beautiful Hill of the Nymphs with sea view, safely distanced from the crowds of the city. The plan was considered expensive and was not implemented. Frictions developed between him, Cleanthes and Schaubert, both on the issue of the palace and on other interventions in the image of the city. Klenze wanted to give it the air of an Italian big city. He considered that the heavy architecture of Central Europe would not satisfy the Greek spirit, but rather harm it. He believes that the continuous construction mode suits better the character of a Mediterranean city and changes the city’s density and plan. Moreover, he disagreed with the position of Schaubert / Cleanthes for a construction mode based exclusively on single- and two-floor buildings in the city. The frictions arising from the reluctance of his colleagues to modify their plans, led to their removal from the public sector in November 1834.

Klenze is perhaps less known to Greeks, or maybe the subject of severe criticism, due to his opposition to Schaubert and Cleanthes. He is criticized for reducing the roads’ width, limiting the city plan, reducing the surface of ​​public spaces, etc.

Another reason for which he got criticized, is that due to his classical orientation he seems to have overlooked the value of the Byzantine –orthodox tradition. In several cases he did not hesitate to propose the demolition of churches, when standing in the way of his urban plans. The church of Kapnikarea on Ermou Street was saved by coincidence. Klenze probably did not pay due attention to Byzantine monuments, for reasons ideological and political as well. For him, Germans and Greeks shared a common historical origin as Indo-Germans / Indo-Europeans, they were distinguished by their physical beauty and their tendency towards the True / Great / Beautiful (“Entwicklung des Wahren – Großen – Schönen”). He did not recognize these tendencies in other peoples, for whom he believed that were unable to reach a higher anthropocentrism / anthropomorphism in their art because of their religious fixations. The theoretical background of his thinking, may allow us to better understand some of his urban proposals.

During his time in Greece, he came close to its people and developed sincere feelings of love and friendship for the Greeks. He even went so far as to openly criticize Bavaria. In the city of Athens there are quite obvious traces of his presence. The “Athenian trilogy of neoclassicism” was his inspiration; though these three emblematic buildings were eventually constructed in frontal arrangement, and not in a Π-shape, as he wished. The church of Agios Dionysios of the Catholics on Panepistimiou avenue was erected based on his designs, but with some interventions in his original plan (e.g. without the same bell tower as it was designed by him). Unfortunately, he did not manage to see a museum for the Acropolis, as he wished, or a “Pantechneion”, a museum that would also function as a school of Fine Arts, as he had suggested.


Leo von Klenze as an archaeologist

Leo von Klenze’s decisive contribution on the protection of antiquities in Greece is not widely known. Thanks to him, the law “on the discovery and preservation of antiquities and their use” was adopted in Nafplio, May 1834, which also covered Christian antiquities. The decision that archeological sites should be guarded is due to his initiative. He also started recording antiquities in the country, and proposed to start the restoration work on the Acropolis.

By decree of king Othon, the Acropolis hill was cleared by the presence of the army. Thanks to the interventions of Klenze and Ludwig Ross (1806 – 1859), it was ensured that the Acropolis would not be used as a military fortress again. According to Klenze, “this hill had to be liberated as soon as possible from the ugly and ruined buildings of the barbaric times” (“Dieser Berg sollte, […], sobald als möglich von den ruinierten und schlechten Bauwerken der barbarischen Zeit”). The cleaning and restoration works of the Acropolis, officially started on September 10, 1834, in a festive atmosphere with the participation of the people and Klenze’s presence. This work continued for many decades.

Klenze left Athens on September 15, 1834. He crossed Tiryns and Mycenae and visited the Lions’ Gate, Tegea, Mantineia, Megalopolis and Lycosura. He also visited Olympia. Actually, he produced oil paintings from the archaeological landscapes he visited in Greece (Kardaki, Corfu, Temple of Aphaia in Aegina, St. George Square in Nafplio, Tower of the Winds in Plaka, etc.), and completed some of them in Munich (e.g. Ideale Ansicht der Stadt Athen in antiker Zeit, 1862, the Acropolis of Athens and Areopagus, 1846). The lithographic reproduction of his works contributed to the dissemination of the image of Greece in Europe, as his other Philhellene colleagues had already done, such as Ferdinand Stademann, Karl Freiherr von Heideck, Carl Rottmann, Ludwig Lange, Peter von Hess and Joseph Petzl.

After completing his mission in Greece, Klenze did not want to come again as Othon’s permanent adviser, as Ludwig I suggested. However, he tried to continue the supervision of the restoration works on the Acropolis from Munich. He died in Munich in 1864, almost forgotten. Unlike his colleague Schinkel, who, although he died earlier than him in 1841, was mourned by lots of his students and admirers, Klenze left without such worship manifestations.

During his lifetime he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects (1852) and a year later the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Arts and Sciences (1853). In 1863 he was proclaimed honorary citizen of Munich for all his contribution. He was honored even after his death. Many streets bear his name (Klenzestraße) in the German cities of Munich, Kassel, Werries, Tutzing and Regensburg. His name was also given to the Klenze High School in Munich, the state vocational school in Ingolstadt (Staatliche Berufsschule II Ingolstadt) and the city park (Klenzepark). From 1996 onwards, the Bavarian Ministry of Interior awarded the “Leo von Klenze” medal for outstanding achievements in architecture and urban development.


Klenze’s grave in Munich


SHP and Greece honor the great architect who spread the classic line in architectural design in Europe, inspired by ancient Greece, and laid the foundations for the urban design of the modern city of Athens.


Sources and bibliography

  • Bernhard Schulz, Leo von Klenze: Der Baumeister eines griechischen Bayern, Der Tagesspiegel, 24.02.2001.
  • Frese, Peter, Ein griechischer Traum. Leo von Klenze. Der Archäologe, München, Staatliche Antikensammlung und Glyptothek 1985, München 1985 (κατάλογος έκθεσης).
  • Fuhrmeister, Christian, Jooss, Birgit (Hg.), Isar/Athen. Griechische Künstler in München- Deutsche Künstler in Griechenland. München 2008 (κατάλογος έκθεσης).
  • Θερμού, Mαρία,  Λέο φον Κλέντσε, ΤΟ ΒΗΜΑ, 24 Νοεμβρίου 2008.
  • Καγιαδάκη, Μαρία, Οι ζωγραφοι Γεωργιος και Φιλιππος Μαργαριτης. Τα πρωτα καλλιτεχνικα εργαστηρια στην Αθηνα του 19ου αιωνα. Διδακτορικη διατριβη, Αριστοτελειο Πανεπιστημιο Θεσσαλονικης, 2008.
  • Μουστάκα, Αλίκη, Ένα ελληνικό όνειρο: Λέο φον Kλέντσε, ο Αρχαιολόγος, «Αρχαιολογία και Τέχνες», τεύχος 20, Αύγουστος 1986.
  • Μπαδήμα-Φουντουλάκη, Μαρία, Σταμάτης Κλεάνθης: 1802-1862: αρχιτέκτων, επιχειρηματίας, οραματιστής, Δήμοι Αθηναίων και Βελβεντού, 2011.
  • Παπαγεωργίου-Βενετάς, Αλέξανδρος, Ένα όραμα του κλασικισμού. Καπόν, Αθήνα 2001.