Ioannis Kapodistrias (1776-1831), the first president of Greece, and after him King Otto I (1815-1867) and King George I (1845-1913), were particularly concerned with the economic development of the country. To that end, they especially encouraged the revival of ancient centers such as Argos, Nauplia, and Athens. The latter became the capital of the young kingdom in 1833. In addition, in order to encourage the return of refugees from the War of Independence and to take in people who wanted to leave regions that remained part of the Ottoman Empire, the new government created new cities on the sites of ancient ones. The rebirth of these cities expressed a link with antiquity that the government wished to assert for ideological reasons, while at the same time marking the end of Ottoman power and indicating the desire to modernize the country.
Pioneers of Hellenic urban development
A Greek, Stamatios Kleanthes (1802-1862), and a German, Eduard Schaubert (1804-1860), are among the pioneers of Hellenic urban development in the 19th century. Trained in Berlin by Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841), the two architects began their careers under Kapodistrias.
In 1832, they began drawing up a topographical map of Athens with its ancient ruins, its Byzantine churches, and the buildings of the old city. This very detailed map served as a basis for the construction of a modern capital north of the ancient city. Although their project underwent modifications, particularly on the part of Leo von Klenze (1784-1864), King Ludwig of Bavaria's architect, their concept, with its main thoroughfares arranged in a "goosefoot" pattern around the acropolis, was carried out and served as a model in particular for the cities of Piraeus and Eretria.
The urban plan of Eretria - Nea Psara
After having collaborated with Kleanthes on the project for the Piraeus (1864), Schaubert alone designed the project for Eretria. In 1834, on the basis of the map made by the surveyor J. B. Beck (who had prepared a topographic plan, including in a very precise manner all the visible ancient ruins), Schaubert conceived a city with a regular arrangement. This plan is characterized by an opening toward the bay, which serves as a port, and by the integration of the most important archaeological remains. Thus, as in Athens, it projects different points of view on the north-south axis between the city hall, the main market (agora), the church, and the acropolis, but also between the naval school and the library arranged on the axis of the ancient theater. On the regular plot drawn between the sea and the acropolis, Schaubert envisaged the construction of public buildings and one or two-story houses, with a large garden behind them. He also decided to plant trees along the main avenues in order to protect the residents from the sun.
Schaubert's project was carried out laggardly. Whereas most of the public buildings were never constructed (the library, market halls, hospital, quarantine building) or soon abandoned (the naval school), the first public building, the Aghios Nikolaos church (Hegelochou Tarantinou street) still exists. So far as private architecture is concerned, many Neo-classical buildings have disappeared, especially since the modernization of the city began in the 1960s. However, a few houses from the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century have been preserved. Although larger modern buildings have rendered the link between the city and the ancient ruins less perceptible, especially the acropolis, Eretria remains an important testimony to Greece's urban renaissance.
by Ferdinand Pajor
The plan of Eretria drawn up by Schaubert and dating to 1834 was conceived for a town of 10,000 people. This plan is still used today for the cadastral map