The Greek Consul in Geneva, Mr. Alexandros Gennimatas, organized a particularly important ceremony during which an iconic bust of Lord Byron was inaugurated in Geneva, at the famous Villa Diodati in the municipality of Cologny. The bust is offered on behalf of the Hellenic community in Geneva, as a symbol of gratitude to the great British Philhellene, Lord Byron. The ceremony took place on Wednesday, 15 May 2024.

This historic villa on the lake of Geneva, where Lord Byron lived in the summer of 1816 with his friends Mary and Percy Shelley, John Polidori and Claire Clermont, has been linked with the two famous horror stories of international literature, “Frankenstein” and “Vampire”. Byron’s cohabitation with the Shelleys during the “year without a summer” as 1816 went down in history due to a huge climate crisis caused by a volcano eruption in Asia, had a significant impact on the development of international literature and the subsequent development of Philhellenism internationally .

The extremely important and complex task of highlighting this unique landmark in Geneva, which honors Lord Byron and Philhellenism, “will be another point of reference in the long philhellenic tradition of Geneva”, as mentioned by Mr. Alexandros Gennimatas.

The construction and installation of the bronze bust of Lord Byron was sponsored by the Greek businessman Mr. Georgios Koukis, while the artwork was designed by the Greek sculptor and professor, Mr. Praxitelis Tzanoulinos. This project started in 2020, on the initiative of the Consul of Greece and the honorary president of the Greek Community of Geneva.

The Society for Hellenism and Philhellenism (SHP) and the Philhellenism Museum participated in the inauguration ceremony and the event that followed, with a speech by the President of the SHP and the Philhellenism Museum, Mr. Constantinos Velentzas. In the context of this event, Mr. Velentzas honored the important Swiss Professor of archeology and history, Mr. Pierre Ducrey, with the Lord Byron Medal on behalf of the SHP and the Academy of Athens.

This distinction recognizes Professor Ducrey’s contribution to highlighting the values of Hellenism, Greek history, and culture, as well as his contribution to strengthening the historical ties between Greece and Switzerland.

The ceremony was attended by HE Metropolitan Maximos of Switzerland, the mayor of Cologny Ms. Catherine Pahnke, the next mayor of Geneva Ms. Christina Kitsos, the deputy mayor of Cologny Mr. Pascal Hornung, the permanent representative of the United Kingdom to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Simon Manley, the honorary president of the Greek Community of Geneva, Mr. Michalis Papadopoulos, the family of Mr. Georgiou Koukis, and many representatives of Greek and philhellenic organizations.



Pierre Ducrey, a contemporary defender of Philhellenism

Pierre Ducrey embodies what he describes as “new philhellenism”, a modern form of the solidarity movement for Greece, born in Europe during the Greek War of Independence (1821-1827). Archaeologist, historian of ancient and modern Greece. He has taken part in excavations in Northern Greece in Philippi and in Crete, as a researcher of the French Archaeological School. He then directed the Swiss Archaeological School in Greece (ESAG) and the Swiss excavations of Eretria in Evia for 24 years. He served as professor of ancient history at the University of Lausanne from 1974 to 2005, and was rector of that university from 1987 to 1995. From 2005 to 2010 he was president of the Hardt Foundation for the Study of Classical Antiquity, located at Vandoeuvres in Geneva, then he directed the Foundation until 2022 under the presidency of the former president of the Swiss Confederation, Mr. Pascal Couchepin.


Society for Hellenism and Philhellenism (SHP)

The SHP awards the Lord Byron Medal every year in collaboration with the Academy of Athens, to private or public organizations, to academics and researchers who have contributed to the promotion of Hellenic  culture, to personalities or to organizations that support the mission of the SHP, and finally to descendants of Philhellenes who offered their support to Greece during the war of independence.


Philhellenism Museum, T. +302108094750, E.



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