The newly-renovated, historic flower stalls at Parliament were formally opened in the presence of the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Parliament
A joint initiative by the Hellenic Parliament, the Ministry of Culture and Sports and Hellenic Public Properties Co. (HPPC).
The newly- renovated, historic flower stalls at the Parliament were formally opened this morning in the presence of the Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and the Speaker of the Parliament, Konstantinos Tassoulas. The stalls had been fully redeveloped and renovated under a joint initiative by the Hellenic Parliament, the Ministry of Culture and Sports and Hellenic Public Properties Co. (HPPC).
The Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Parliament were welcomed by the Minister of Culture and Sports, Lina Mendoni and the CEO of HPPC, Stefanos Vlastos. The event was also attended by the Minister of Finance, Christos Staikouras, the Mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis, the President and Deputy CEO of the Growthfund, Konstantinos Derdemezis and Stefanos Giourelis, the General Secretary of Spatial Planning and Urban Environment at the Ministry of Environment and Energy, Efthimios Bakoyannis, as well as representatives of competent institutional bodies.
Statement by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis:
“Mr. President, Madam Minister, Mr. Minister, it is perhaps symbolic of the course taken by the country over the last decade that today the famous flower shops are, after being closed for the past 12 years, now reopening with a different character: not only as florists, as florist shops, but also as culture centers, hosting amazing exhibits from the former Hellenic Organization of Cultural Resources Development (H.O.C.RE.D.), and also the very rich cultural and historical work of the Hellenic Parliament Foundation.
Today is a truly colourful day for Athens, it is a day of joy, and I believe that all Athenians, as well as the numerous visitors to the city, will appreciate the fact that we are once again able to enjoy a space that is part of the historical memory and the collective subconscious of all Athenians.
Congratulations to the Ministries, the HPPC and the Hellenic Organization of Cultural Resources Development (H.O.C.RE.D.). I am sure that both Athenians and visitors to our capital city will enjoy these spaces.”
Statement by the Speaker of the Parliament, Konstantinos Tassoulas:
“The famous florists at the Parliament have finally reopened. Three years ago, in a conversation with the Prime Minister, we agreed that there was no way the flower shops on the north side of the Parliament, one of the most beautiful parts of Vasilissis Sofias, should be closed and left to the ghosts. They had been like that for at least 12 years. So in consultation with the Ministry of Finance, the Hellenic Private Properties Company, and mainly with the Ministry of Culture which is currently housed in the flower stall buildings, we began our work to restore the florists at the Parliament and to ensure that this historical and beautiful landmark in the centre of Athens was used again.
Today, with pride and joy, we are handing over these flower stalls at the Parliament so that they can be used once again. This use is not limited to being like the old “flower sellers”, as they were called in the Decree that established them in 1932, but they will now also sell other “flowers”, other ” blooms”, as the Hellenic Parliament Foundation’s books and the copies of the ancient works of art exhibited by the Ministry of Culture’s Hellenic Organization of Cultural Resources Development (H.O.C.RE.D.) are the flowers of culture.
I want to thank Mrs. Mendoni for the understanding and cooperation we enjoyed with HPPC and the Ministry of Culture and Sports, meaning that this period of abandonment and closure is today coming to a happy ending. Flowers are at the beginning and end of this path.They remind us of tradition and the outlook for the future. I am now handing over the baton to the Prime Minister. I remember that exactly three years ago when we were walking past
this closed up area, he asked me, reflecting the wishes of all Athenians and, I would say, all Greeks, to see that this closure and abandonment should come to an end. Today, Mr. Prime
Minister, it’s over.”
Statement by the Minister of Culture and Sports, Lina Mendoni:
“Today, with great joy, we gave an Athenian landmark which had been empty and abandoned for 12 years back to the citizens of Athens and to all the city’s many visitors. The historic Parliament flower shops, a place which is strongly connected with the history of the city, are once again open and continuing with their traditional trade.
At the same time, they now stock the beautiful, high-quality cultural products which are produced by the Organization of Cultural Resources Development and which can be found in museum shops throughout the country. We enjoyed an excellent collaboration with the Hellenic Parliament and the Hellenic Private Property Company. This ensured that the flower shops at the Parliament, which are well-known to all of us as “the flower stalls”, were perfectly restored so that they can continue as a landmark in the centre of Athens and in the Parliament of the Hellenes complex.
For the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the opening of the H.O.C.RE.D. shop here marks the beginning of a new direction for the Hellenic Organization of Cultural Resources Development, with a different strategy and making full use of the developmental dynamics of Culture, something which is a strategic goal for the Ministry”.
Statement by the CEO of the Hellenic Public Properties Company (HPPC), Stefanos Vlastos:
“Today, a vision for the iconic Parliament flower sellers that we shared with all the relevant institutional bodies is becoming a reality, delivering a real jewel to Athenians and visitors to Athens.
With the support and personal interest of the Prime Minister – whom we would like to thank warmly – and thanks to our excellent cooperation with the Speaker of the Parliament, Konstantinos Tassoulas and the Minister of Culture, Lina Mendoni, we managed to bring this historical landmark back to life, with a quality aesthetic approach and a cultural dimension.
As a Company, we have shown that, through a new philosophy, we are able not only to listen to the needs of society, but also to effectively implement the goals we set in practice, as we ourselves are now acting as investors in Greek State properties. In the same way and with the same philosophy, we are working to put public real estate to use as strong development capital which will benefit all Greek citizens.”
Statement by the President of the Hellenic Organization of Cultural Resources Development, Nicoletta Divari-Valakou:
“Today is a very important day for H.O.C.RE.D as our first shop in the centre of Athens, our first shop outside a museum or an organized archaeological site, is opening in the Parliament flower shops, in this highly significant area. This is a new venture, an outward-looking move by the Organization, with the aim of coming into contact with the buying public in the city, whether they are residents of Athens or visitors. We will make every effort to reinvent ourselves continually, to present the most interesting and impressive items produced by H.O.C.RE.D and to prove that our organization can offer high quality services and products of high symbolic value”.
There are eleven historic flower stalls in Syntagma, which are almost all the same size. They are small premises which are under the courtyard of the Parliament building and extend in a row down Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, with direct access to the road. Some of the stalls are joined together, while others are autonomous and have an entrance on the road, as they were originally designed. Today there are two florists operating in four stalls.
In line with the study HPPC prepared and implemented on restructuring the flower shops at the Parliament and with the approval of the Central Council for Newer Monuments, the current uses of the shops were upgraded by the Ministry of Environment and Energy. There are still flower shops at each end of the row of shops, and new uses have also been introduced by adding a Hellenic Parliament and Hellenic Organization of Cultural Resources Development shop and exhibition area.
The exhibition areas are linked by openings in the internal walls and the corridors, and two semi-outdoor areas have been created to give an entrance/transition from the public space to the showrooms and the store. These areas can also be used to host temporary exhibitions.
As provided for in the architectural study, the external constructions which had been added have been removed as these altered the character of the site, and the main facade on Vasilissis Sofias Avenue where the stall are has been modernised.
The renovation study for the stalls was implemented in collaboration with the architectural office Dimitris Thomopoulos Architects and the construction company Ballian Techniki SA.
The history of the Parliament flower shops
When the monument to the Unknown Soldier on the facade of the Parliament building facing Syntagma Square was completed in 1932, flower stalls were set up in front of the building that currently houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, directly opposite the monument on Vasilissis Sofias Avenue. Then it was decided to open small flower shops on the side of the Parliament building.
11 flower shops were designed and were created under the Parliament building’s courtyard, facing Vasilissis Sofias Avenue. Law 5300/1932 was passed so that they would be allowed to operate, “On the installation of the florists removed from the pavement in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier”.
From the first moment they opened, people welcomed the flower shops as they could now buy flowers and lay them at the monument, in honour of the young people who had sacrificed their lives in the Greek Wars of Independence. The florists soon became an Athenian institution, a meeting point and a famous landmark.
The flower shops’ central position helped them stand the test of time. The situation began to change in the 1980s with the opening of new flower shops that flooded the city centre. In recent years, after the Greek financial crisis, the flower shops were led to wither and a result most of them closed. Today the historic flower stalls at the Parliament have once again opened their doors again to Athenians and visitors to Athens, marking a new era in their long history.
Photographic material: Prime Minister’s Press Office/Dimitris Papamitsos