This edition of Sculpture Saturday features a statue of Evangelis Zappas by Greek sculptor Ioanis Kossos. Zappas was a Greek physician, entrepreneur and hero of the Greek War of Independence who could be considered to be the father of the modern Olympic Games.
As part of post-independence efforts to restore Greek traditions and culture, Zappas approached King Otto with an offer to donate part of his fortune to stage ongoing modern Olympic Games. The king agreed and Zappas set up a large trust fund for the games. These funds sponsored the first Zappeion Olympic Games in 1859.
Zappas died in 1865; however, the Zappeion Olympic games and building initiatives continued under the leadership of his cousin Konstantinos Zappas. Additional Zappeion Olympic Games were held in 1870 and 1875. In 1869, the Greek Parliament allocated land adjacent to the Royal Palace Gardens for a facility to host the Olympics. The building, which was completed in 1888, was named “Zappeion” in honor of both Evangelis and Konstantinos Zappas.
The Zappeion was the first building to be constructed specifically for a modern Olympic Games. Evangelis Zappas’ dreams came to fruition in 1896 when Athens hosted the first modern Olympic Games. The Zappeion was used as the main fencing hall. During the Second International Olympic Games in Athens in 1906, the Zappeion served as the Olympic Village.
The Zappeion is located in the beautiful National Garden. The area is worth a visit if you are ever in Athens.
Evangelis Zappas’s head is enshrined beneath his memorial statue just outside the Zappeion. An inscription reads “here lies the head.” Zappas was very excited about reviving the Olympic Games; however the phrase being “head over heels” doesn’t seem to fit in this case.😊
Sculpture Saturday is a challenge hosted by No Fixed Plans.