Born out of a pan-Hellenic effort
In 1926, André Honnorat invited the Greek government to construct a residence in the Cité internationale. Unfortunately, the state coffers had been bled dry after ten years of waging war with the Ottoman Empire. A truly pan-Hellenic effort was needed to create the Foundation. Many sectors, including a Francophile population in Greece and Greek people living around the world, were motivated to contribute in part by the Greek ambassador to France, Nicolaos Politis, and he was able to raise sufficient funds. They believed that a student residence in the Cité international would be a perfect way to exhibit Greek culture in the French capital. So convincing were their arguments, that in addition to wealthy donors, many students and working class Greeks made modest contributions and this wide support played an important role in the project.
Homage to ancient Greek architecture
The Greek government matched the private funds raised and construction on the Foundation began in 1931. This homage to the architecture of Ancient Greece was designed by the architect Nikolaos ZAHOS. The portico at the front entryway recalls the Acropolis and its ornately decorated façade; inside the building, the columned hallway, with rich mosaics and brilliant white light is pure Greek inspiration. The Foundation opened its doors on 23 December 1932. At the time it was built there were 67 rooms for Greek students, who took up residence there beginning in January 1933 despite the financial difficulties Greece was facing.
Did you know?
The Hellenic Foundation was renovated in 1974, and more recently, work began in 2008 to restore the building to its original splendour.