Twelve royal carriages which once belonged to Greece’s royal family and were rediscovered in 2020 at the premises of the famous Tatoi Palace, on the outskirts of Athens, have been approved for restoration, the Greek Ministry of Culture announced on Tuesday.
The graceful wooden carriages had been stored in the stables of Greece’s royal estate since 1973 and re-emerged as restoration works on the vast property began in 2020.
They have since been transferred to a temporary storage facility on the estate which is equipped with all the necessary security and has the correct environment for their restoration and maintenance.
Works in progress for restoration of entire Greek royal estate
Located on a slope of Mount Parnitha, Tatoi lies 27 kilometers (16 miles) from the center of Athens, in a lush, verdant area featuring woods, rivers and abundant wildlife.
Greece hopes to attract more tourists to the area through restoring the site into a luxury vacation spot and highlighting its royal history with a new museum.
“The carriages have received emergency rescue operations from the maintenance department of the Maintenance Directorate for the temporary retention and protection of the peeled paint layers and the removal of dirt and loose deposits, after a long stay in completely unsuitable conditions,” Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni said as part of the announcement.
“With the implementation of the Maintenance and Restoration study, their original look will be restored. The works at the historical core of the former royal estate of Tatoi are progressing systematically and within schedule,” she confirmed.
The massive ongoing transformation project aspires to make up for the over 50 years of abandonment of the estate by converting the former summer residence of the royal family of Greece into a hub of culture, history, and luxury.
In addition to shops, restaurants, and nature trails, a luxury hotel and spa are planned to be constructed on the property which boasts a total of 55 buildings.
The creation of a suitably grand permanent space for the display of the exquisite historic carriages may be also added to the project.
Horse Carriages are Invaluable Cultural and Historical Objects
The maintenance and restoration study includes a detailed description of each carriage and presents documented historical facts regarding the type and use of the carriages by the Greek royal family, as well as a description of the technology and materials used to build them.
The invaluable collection includes the official Berlin-style carriage built in France in 1870 for the Earl of Chambort and acquired by George I in 1871. It was famously used at the wedding of Queen Sophia of Spain in Athens in 1962.
Also included is an Ascot Landau open carriage, used at the wedding of the former King Constantine and Anna Maria; a carriage for specific town chariot events; and two Phaeton open sports carriages that were widely used for George I’s daily commuting and for various official events of the family.
Three closed Brougham-style carriages, one of which does not have any axles, a Brake hunting carriage, a Tilbury-style chaise and two Chaise chariots complete the impressive collection.
The study will examine the maintenance of the metal, wooden, fabric and leather elements of the carriages, with chemical and mechanical cleaning, reupholstery as needed, and the welding of detached parts, to allow them to function once again.
Other heirlooms found on the Tatoi estate since the beginning of the restoration project have included a collection of luxury motor vehicles and a total of seventy suitcases and trunks, all believed to belong to Frederica, who was the Queen Consort of Greece from 1947 to 1964 and Queen mother thereafter.