A long Athenian tradition is being reborn. The inauguration of the restored historic flower shops outside Parliament took place on Wednesday. The historic flower shops of Syntagma are being revived as part of a joint initiative of the Hellenic Parliament, the Ministry of Culture and Sports, and the Public Real Estate Company (ETAD) SA.
The initiative follows the unanimous positive opinion of the Central Council of Modern Monuments.
Prominent spot of Athens restored
President of the Hellenic Parliament Costas Tassoulas stated that “after many years of decline, the Flower Shop area is being revived, thanks to the cooperation between the Parliament, the Ministry of Culture and the ETAD.”
Tassoulas highlighted that the shop interiors are being renovated and will also be able to house cultural activities.
“Cultural events will work in [favor] of this special space, encouraging new florists to return to the renovated environment which once more will come to life after so many years of abandonment,” Tassoulas said.
Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni said that “the Parliament’s flower shops, the ‘louloudadika,’ as we all know them, are a landmark in the city center. Many of us remember them being fully operational but we have also witnessed their decline for several years now.”
She added that “the result of our excellent cooperation with Parliament and the Organization for the Management and Development of Cultural Resources/ODAP is the project for the ‘Restructuring of the Parliament Flower Shops,’ prepared by the ETAD and approved by the Central Council of Modern Monuments. This aesthetically restores a prominent spot in Athens, adding a highly decorative touch to the solid building complex of the Hellenic Parliament.”
Historic flowers shops in Syntagma open after 12 years
Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who attended the inauguration of the restored historic flower shops on Wednesday, expressed his satisfaction that a part of the history of the city was restored.
“It is probably symbolic of the country’s course in the last decade, the fact that today the flower shops open again after twelve years of remaining closed but with a different identity; not only as flower shops but also as places of culture, by hosting the exquisite exhibits of the [Hellenic Organization of Cultural Resources Development], along with the extremely rich cultural and historic production of the Greek Parliament,” Mitsotakis said.
He added that “today, is a colorful day for Athens, [as] it is a day of happiness and I believe that all the citizens of Athens and its numerous visitors will appreciate the fact that we once again have an area which is linked with the historic memory and the collective subconscious of all Athenians.”
Mitsotakis was given a tour by Parliament President Konstantinos Tasoulas, Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, and CEO of Hellenic Public Properties Co Stefanos Vlastos.
He also visited the revamped area, where works from the collection published by the Hellenic Parliament Foundation are also on sale.
History of Syntagma Square flower shops
The historic course of the Parliament flower shops began in 1932 with the first flower stalls appearing after the construction of the Unknown Soldier Monument on the façade of the Hellenic Parliament.
Later, eleven permanent flower shops were housed beneath the Parliament forecourt, facing Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, and, over time, they became a landmark in the center of Athens.
In order for the flower shops to operate legally, law 5300/1932 was issued. The law states: “On the installation of the florists removed from the pavement in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.”
From day one, the public welcomed the flower shops, which quickly elevated the historic Syntagma Square. Residents could also buy flowers and lay them at the monument in honor of those who had sacrificed themselves in Greece’s wars of liberation.
The flower shops soon became an institution in Athenian society. They were seen as a meeting place, landmark, and living monument of the city. Being ideally situated helped them stand the test of time.
However, the opening of more modern shops in the 1980s flooded the downtown area of Athens and led to the decline of the historic flower shops. Furthermore, many years of financial crisis in combination with the regular occurrence of street demonstrations in the area gradually led to the flower shops’ decline, and many of these shops were forced to close their doors.