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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Μonument/ Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is inspired by ancient tombs.

  1. Modern and Contemporary era (1821 - )

    1926 On March 3, a tender was launched by Theodoros Pangalos. The work of Fokion Rok (1891-1945) was selected after a rather questionable procedure.

    1932 It was unveiled on March 25th, the 100th anniversary of the independence of Greece, the day of the National Day of the Greek Revolution and a few years after the end of bloody wars (Balkan Wars, World War I, the Asia Minor Catastrophe).

  2. Ottoman era (1453- 1821)

  3. Byzantine era (331 AC- 1453)

  4. Roman era (30 BC- 330 AC)

  5. Hellenistic era (322- 31 BC)

  6. Classical era (478-323 BC)

  7. Archaic era (800-479 BC)

  8. Geometric era (-1100- 800 BC)

  9. Prehistory (-1100 BC)

What I can see

This is a complex and extensive monument. At the centre of the composition, there is a relief representation of gray limestone (2 metres high and 5 metres long) inspired by ancient tombs. It represents a dead warrior lying over a territorial elevation, wearing an archaic helmet and holding a shield. The extensive use of curves adds a sense of harmony as well as tension to the piece. The deceased figure is rendered with such detail that it gives the impression the warrior is alive and simply getting rested before going to battle. On the left and right of the relief representation there are monumental stairs, whose side surfaces have engraved sayings and battle names. Another characteristic feature is the bronze shields that exist on the stairs, which are inspired by ancient ones. Under the relief, an eternal flame burns in honour of the dead. The light comes from the Monastery of Agia Lavra in northern Peloponnese, a place considered by Greeks as the launching point of the Greek Revolution of 1821.

What I can't see

The first design was made by the architect Emmanuel Lazarides. Lazarides’ plan was only partially implemented as his depiction of a gigantomachy was considered too expensive for the economics of the time. The placement of the sculpture in front of the former palace (then Ministry of Military Affairs, now the Greek Parliament) was originally proposed by Theodoros Pangalos, originally a minister of military affairs and later a military dictator. The proposal was met with intense reaction because the symbolism of placing the work in front of a military building contradicted the principles of democracy. After Eleftherios Venizelos was elected prime minister and following the decision to house the parliament in the building, he insisted that the work be placed here, at the heart of the city and the base of the so-called “temple” of democracy thus adding further meaning to the location. This is essentially a tomb monument, which is not associated with religious rituals. The ritual in honour of the dead embodies a respect for the nation and the constitution. Monuments of this type were first created in France after 1870 and later, after World War I, throughout Europe, as a token of respect for the millions of dead soldiers. However, memorials of fallen soldiers existed already, as revealed by archaeological excavations and ancient Greek texts, particularly of Classical Athens (see Pericles’ “Funeral Oration”).


  • Address: Amalias Av.


Antonopoulou Z., (2003), Τα γλυπτά της Αθήνας, Υπαίθρια Γλυπτική1834-2004 [The sculptures of Athens, Outdoor sculpting 1834-2004], Potamos

Matthiopoulos E, (1998), Το μνημείο του Αγνώστου…Γλύπτη. Ο Άγνωστος Στρατιώτης και η σκανδαλώδης ιστορία του, [ The tomb of the uknown… Sculptor. The uknown soldier and its scandalous history], in Epta Imeres, Kathimerini, p.p. 20-22

Tselios Th. Makrypoulias I., (d.u.), Μνημείο Αγνώστου Στρατιώτη, [Tomb of the unknown soldier] The General Staff, 7th Ε.G./5