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The history of coins in the Schliemanns’ old home October 14, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece, Arts Museums.
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Second floor of the Numismatic Museum open for visitors > The revamp of the Numismatic Museum has revealed the grandeur of an earlier era. As well as thousands of coins, visitors can admire the wall paintings in the style of Pompeii and mosaic floors made by Italian master craftsmen.

The three-story building with a large courtyard built in a mix of neoclassical and Renaissance styles is a sight to admire on Panepistimiou Street. It was designed by Ernst Ziller, who was responsible for such fine buildings in Athens as the National Theater, the Stathatos Mansion, and the Church of Aghios Loukas on Patission Street. The former was the home of the archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann.

Recently the building has been out of sight, hidden behind the conservators’ drapes during the refurbishment needed before the second floor was opened. When the last pieces of scaffolding were removed, the revamp was deemed a success. The balconies with their terracotta railings and the marble on the facade are bright again, while the metal railings have been gilded in the style of the era when the gate used to open every Thursday to admit the cream of Athens society.

numismatic_museum1.jpg  Now that the refurbishment of the Iliou Mansion and its transformation into the Numismatic Museum are complete, and the permanent exhibition, “The History of Coins,” is in place, the museum is already open to visitors, before its official opening.

The work has revealed the building’s impressive decor. The frescoes by Slovenian painter Yuri Subic were done according to the owners’ wishes, with subjects taken from the villas of Pompeii. The mosaic floors were made by Italian master craftsmen, with decorative motifs inspired by or copied from finds excavated by Schliemann.

numismatic_museum2.jpg  Conservators have worked wonders on the second floor, which had suffered damage when rented out to state services. What used to be the home of Heinrich and Sophia Schliemann and their children is painted ocher, deep green, sweet red and blue and houses the museum’s collection of 500,000 items. There is an elevator for people of limited mobility, and a modern cafe is an added attraction.

Yiorka Nikolaou, Panayiotis Tselegas and their assistants have created a period atmosphere with scales, lead seals, stamps and coins that have been made into jewelry and amulets.

Denarii, dirhams, ducats and even modern Greek drachmas are among the exhibits that trace the history of money. The six ground-floor rooms present the evolution of ancient Greek coins, from the turtles of Aegina and owls of Athens, to coins used throughout the ancient world, such as the Athenian tetradrachm and the gold coin of Alexander the Great. On the same floor, which is associated with the social life of the Schliemann family, visitors can learn about the history of the museum and its major donors.

On the second floor, the journey into the world of coins starts with the Roman era. Visitors can see how coins were minted, what the images on them represent, bronze coins minted for local use, and a banner portraying the system of coins and their fluctuations in value. You can see how much a meal at a hotel or a haircut cost, and what happens when coins go out of circulation and are used as amulets or jewelry.

Exhibits from the Byzantine era are in what used to be the Schliemanns’ bedroom. One point of interest is the lead seals that the patriarchs of Constantinople used to stamp correspondence and laws. The 24-carat Byzantine coin weighing 4.5 grams lasted 10 centuries till 1040, according to the label. Another highlight is an amusing game with prices. An adult eunuch slave cost 30-50 Roman solidos, a doctor’s fee was 8-12 solidos, while 72 solidos would get you a silk robe.

In what was once the bedroom of the Schliemanns’ son Agamemnon, the exhibits trace the transition from Byzantine to European coins from France, Russia and Germany, up to the 15th century. At that time the Venetian currency was the strongest. The modern coins are displayed in the former room of Andromache, the Schliemanns’ daughter, and the history of the drachma in the children’s playroom. A comparison of meat prices in modern times show that a kilo of meat cost 80 lepta in 1880, 20 drachmas and 40 lepta in 1931 and 70 drachmas 15 lepta in 1975.

The library will be used for the Museum’s temporary exhibitions, and currently holds old studies of numismatics, while the last room tells everything you might want to know about forgery and counterfeiting in the 19th century, when the forgery of ancient coins became common, as the Museum’s Director Despina Evgenidou explained. As you descend the grand staircase you think of the money spent on the revamp, 3.8 million euros, and hope the project succeeds.

“The aim is to allow the monument to coexist with the history of coins,” says Museum Director Despina Evgenidou. She dreams of “a modern museum that will play a role in the cultural life of Athens and the public’s everyday life.”

The next goal is to produce publications. The museum has 500,000 coins, of which visitors see only 10,8666, and the collection is constantly enriched with new acquisitions. Gradually some of them will appear in exhibitions related either to the history of the building or to the coins. The Numismatic Museum is the only one of its kind in the Balkans and one of the few independent numismatic Museums. It also has a wealth of priceless treasures.

Try to get a copy of the museum’s publication “How Much it Cost: The Price of Food from Antiquity till the Present Day.” Among other things, it compares daily wages: For example, a laborer in Eleusis in 329 BC took home 3 obols a day, while an Athenian sailor in 314 BC earned 4 obols.

Numismatic Museum, 12 Panepistimiou Street, Athens, tel 210 3643774, 210 3612190, 210 3612519, fax 210 3635953. Nearest metro station “Syntagma”.

Related Links >
http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/1/eh151.jsp?obj_id=3368

http://www.chem.uoa.gr/Location/AthensMap/Athensmap.htm

Urban warfare, Comme des Garcons style October 14, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Fashion & Style, Shopping.
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Continues in Athens with new Guerrilla Store > Inside the Kolonaki Guerrilla Store.

The tiny logo sticker by the nondescript entrance opens the door to a world of high intellectual style, just ring the bell. Urban fashion warfare continues in Athens as the city’s second Guerrilla Store by Comme des Garcons opened in commercially active Kolonaki last month. This second “occupation”, the term coined by the Japanese fashion house, follows the first one at the downtown Bios center last year.

Established by Rei Kawakubo in Tokyo in the early 1970s, Comme des Garcons belongs to a select group of global, trendsetting fashion industry leaders, as opposed to followers. Based on deconstruction, plenty of black, without discarding flashes of exuberant color, and silhouette innovation, Comme des Garcons’ signature looks are often defined as conceptual.

For Kawakubo, fashion serves as a platform for experimentation and exploration. The idea for the Guerrilla Stores occurred to the Japanese designer sometime in 2004 as a form of alternative shopping experience. Short-lived, a maximum of one year is authorized for every occupation, emerging in unexpected places and without counting on advertising, the outlets are a sharp contrast to Comme des Garcons boutiques worldwide where meticulous attention is paid to every single detail.

Stretching from Hong Kong to Singapore and Reykjavik, the stores have proved a tremendous success. Besides Athens, the fashion fight is currently on in Beirut, while outlets recently disappeared in The Hague and Cracow. Stores are expected to open in Warsaw and Miami, the latter marking the first time the Comme guerrilla concept travels across the Atlantic. A store is also scheduled to open in Dusseldorf, as part of an exhibition at the city’s modern art museum.

kolonaki_guerrilla_store.jpg  Meanwhile in Kolonaki, the 150-square-meter warehouse space has conserved its previous, untidy character, with various installations acting as counters and dressing rooms. The man behind the local Guerrilla Comme des Garcons campaign is Dimitris Papadopoulos. With a career in retail, Papadopoulos came under the Comme des Garcons spell after viewing a collection in 1997.

For this second Guerrilla venture, Papadopoulos traveled to Paris, handpicking a number of exceptional pieces from the early period of Junya Watanabe, originally a Kawakubo protege, the designer now works under his own name for Comme des Garcons, as well as Comme des Garcons circa 1999.

Catering to a rather broad, 20 to 70-year-old clientele, the Kolonaki store showcases vintage as well as recent apparel and accessories. Besides collectible pieces, accompanied by visual material demonstrating how each item was presented on various catwalk shows, the outlet has a constant flow of merchandise.

The entire gamut of Commes des Garcons perfumes is available here, with the brand-new Luxe collection on its way too. Also on display are pieces from the Play line, a Comme des Garcons collaboration with New York-based artist Filip Pagowski; polo shirts from a collection co-produced by Watanabe and Lacoste together with Comme des Garcons wallets and footwear.

In the words of its creators: “Style is a revolution, a way of life, a state of beautiful anarchy, spread the word, leave your mark, join the guerrilla.”

For more information visit > www.guerrilla-store.com 

The monumental communist symbols in Eastern Europe October 14, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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ceausescu_palace_bucharest.jpg  Ceausescu’s Palace in Bucharest, one of the world’s biggest buildings, today houses Romania’s Parliament.

The First Chalkida Greek Documentary Festival is about to host a journey through communist monuments from Berlin to Athens. Antonis Pitsios and Christos Varvantakis’s “Symbols in Transition” will be screened today, in the Panorama section.

The 71-minute documentary is mostly in English and also in German with English and Greek subtitles. It covers Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia. “The documentary explores the fate of the symbols of the communist regime in Eastern Europe. The focus is always on Berlin’s Palast der Republik and we try to draw parallels with similar cases in other countries. We received no funding and paid for it all ourselves. That is why the translation is not very good and the lack of money is obvious, but we think that the content is worthwhile,” said 26-year-old Pitsios, who did a postgraduate course on East European studies in Berlin.

The documentary features the views of academics, architects, researchers and artists, who talk about the transition from one system to another. The decision to tear down the Palast der Republik, which has supporters and opponents, raises issues of historic legacy.

“We talked to many people and have much unused footage,” said Pitsios. There are people who spent their youth in a communist country, but also people who have never had that experience. The film passes no judgment or guidance. It focuses on people’s feelings and wonders how much yesterday’s symbols are useful or necessary today.

The First Chalkida Greek Documentary Festival will run to Sunday. The festival is taking place at the Papadimitriou Theater in Chalkida. For information, tel 22210 28001.

Documentaries tackle real issues October 14, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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‘Earth’ and ‘Sicko,’ which opened on Thursday, tell us about what we’ve got and what we’re losing > ‘Earth’ is not an overtly political documentary. It has chosen the way of images, and breathtaking ones at that, to show us some of the most beautiful spots on Earth and to tell us why they are so important.

From a haven for dreamers and a space for iconic reality to unfold, movie theaters are increasingly becoming places for an awakening of political and social awareness, venues where one goes to get informed. Two much-anticipated documentaries opened in Athens on Thursday.

Michael Moore’s «Sicko» takes issue with the grave shortcomings of the American healthcare system and compares it to that of other countries, even ones with substantially weaker economies. The other documentary is «Earth,» by Mark Linfield and Alastair Fothergill, which is based on the successful BBC documentary of the same title and looks at the beautiful landscapes, ecosystems and animals of our planet that are at risk of extinction. It is narrated by David Attenborough and Patrick Stewart.

Though different from one another, both documentaries are about loss, the loss of social rights on the one hand, and the environment on the other. Life on Earth is no longer a simple matter and each day is a battle. Both «Sicko» and «Earth» each in its respective field, make a record of the things we have and those we are losing.

The environment and its preservation is becoming all the more frequent as the subject of movies and documentaries. From «The March of the Penguins,» which looks at the trials and tribulations of the emperor penguin, to Al Gore’s «An Inconvenient Truth,» and from «Earth» to «The 11th Hour» a documentary written and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Nadia Conners and Leila Conners Peterson, due in Greece in December, the voices championing the environment are growing increasingly stronger.

Does this mean real awareness and understanding, or a passing trend? It doesn’t take much to express concern over the course of the environment. But what will come of it? When another issue with more hype comes along and draws the attention of Hollywood’s stars, will the public and, especially, governments, have changed attitudes?

«Earth» is not an overtly political documentary. It has chosen the way of images, and breathtaking ones at that, to show us some of the most beautiful spots on Earth and tell us why they are so important. As far away as the forests of Siberia may seem, our very breath depends on them. Three animals are the stars of the documentary: the polar bear, the humpback whale and the African elephant. The first impression one gets is that they are in no imminent danger. Yet, the creators of «Earth» have selected these species specifically because they are not, yet, species at risk of extinction, but will be very soon. As their natural habitats shrink rapidly and their access to food and water becomes limited, the battle for survival gets harder each day.

Michael Moore, for his part, takes a more in-your-face approach to his subject in «Sicko». The effect of a Michael Moore documentary on its audience is much like the effect the director had on his audience at the University of Buffalo in New York recently during a lecture. The reactions varied from outright enthusiasm to downright indignation. But who said that Moore likes to play it safe? Some members of the audience accused him of being a propaganda artist. He replied that he is an anti-propaganda artist.

Moore addresses a slew of different issues, gun control, the war in Iraq, education and unemployment in America are just some of them, and his target is always the same: US President George W. Bush. «Of all the crimes committed by Bush, I think the greatest is that way he and his administration have succeeded in killing hope,» he says.

The above example reflects that way most groups view Moore and his work. In many parts of the world, Greece included, critics say he is too simplistic and something of a rabble-rouser. But Moore is not trying to display the results of scientific research. His documentaries, whose objective is essentially to be entertaining and therefore attractive to a broad audience, are based on the conclusions of his research and meant to raise social awareness on certain issues. Is this ethical? Maybe not. Is it desirable? If it brings results, yes, it is.

The genre is experiencing growing pains in Greece. The Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival in March 2006 featured in its program the successful television series “Exandas” By Giorgos Avgeropoulos, “Reportage Without Frontiers” by Stelios Kouloglou and “War Zone” by Sotiris Danezis. Critics defending art-house documentaries reacted and said that journalists had no business at a documentary festival, because their work is shown on television.

“It reminds me of the arguments we used to have as kids in the 80s, about whether a song was rock music or not,” says Danezis. For Avgeropoulos, “it is a childhood disease we all suffer from in Greece, as we are still newbies.” “Abroad,” says the creator of “Exandas,” “people got over it because they realized they have nothing to fear from others. You can make a poetic, lyrical documentary and I can show raw reality.” But he also does not believe that television is the only customer for documentaries. “A few years ago, we experienced a historic moment when Philippos Koutsaftis’s ‘Mourning Rock’ sold tens of thousands of tickets in theaters,” says Avgeropoulos.

Fashion Targets Breast Cancer on tram October 14, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Fashion & Style, Health & Fitness, Transport Air Sea Land.
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Public transport ride is an initiative of the local branch of an international campaign that was established in the United States in 1994

Spot on. The Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign was launched in the United States in 1994 under the guidance of Ralph Lauren. A group of women, among them familiar faces including actresses, models and fashion designers, went on a sun-filled Athens tram ride on Tuesday earlier this week. From Zappeion Hall to Neos Cosmos and back again, the ride was dedicated to talking to each other, as well as informing others about a type of cancer which is on the rise.

According to world figures, the breast cancer death toll is currently rising by 1 percent every year. Meanwhile, it is estimated that one in 10 women living in Europe will be a victim of breast cancer at some point in her life.

Tuesday’s initiative was organized by the Greek chapter of the international Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign. Established six years ago, Fashion Targets Breast Cancer Hellas is part of a highly visible global effort which was initially launched in 1994 under the leadership and creative guidance of Ralph Lauren. Its major tool? The Fashion Targets Breast Cancer T-Shirt.

Currently active in 12 countries around the world, the campaign focuses on research, awareness, treatment and support. All figures points to its success: In Britain alone, 10 million pounds have gone to research. In this country, the campaign’s success culminated in the establishment of To Spiti tou Stochou (The House of the Target), which carries out mammograms. Up to 30 women a day undergo a mammogram here, free of charge for 40 to 69-year olds.

Following the tram ride, participants joined others at a press conference. Representing Fashion Targets Breast Cancer in Greece, Marilena Stratopoulou spoke about the local and international campaigns, while Eryfilli Galli of Athens Tram pointed out that the public transport company is focusing on informing its passengers, 65 percent of whom are women, about environmental, cultural and health issues. Also on the panel were Hellenic Fashion Designers Association President Daphne Valente and Fashion Targets Breast Cancer spokeswoman and model Vicky Kagia. On the Greek campaign’s fashion front, T-shirts, dresses and other apparel have been designed by Eryfilli Nikolopoulou in tandem with jewelry designer Yiannis Geldis, Deux Hommes, Mi-Ro and Simeoni. Fashion Targets Breast Cancer Hellas has also collaborated with Sophia Kokosalaki and John Varvatos, the latter invited to create the first design for men.

The Greek campaign’s products are currently available at a number of stores, among them Attica, Hondos Center, Lussile, Artisti Italiani, Notos Galleries, Fena and Oxette. Also participating in the campaign is a new footwear collection carried out in collaboration with local shoe manufacturers Elite.

“This is about love deposits,” noted Stratopoulou. “Love deposits which we should not keep inside, but distribute on a daily basis.” Starting with ourselves.

For more information visit > www.ftbc.gr. For mammogram appointments at To Spiti tou Stochou, call 210 2521418.

Greece’s Intralot in Australian and Bulgarian deals October 14, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Greek lottery systems supplier Intralot said yesterday it has won a 10-year license to operate lottery and instant games for the Australian state of Victoria, expanding its presence in the country.

Intralot will operate games, including scratch cards, or instant lotteries, in the state, breaking Australian gaming firm Tattersall’s Ltd 54-year monopoly, Intralot, the world’s second-largest lottery systems provider by sales, said in a statement.

Intralot, which already provides lottery systems to Western Australia’s state lottery, said it will start operating the games on July 1, 2008. It would invest about A$12 million to set up a network of more than 1,000 points of sale in the state. Lotteries in Victoria produce an annual turnover of A$1.2 billion and the market is expected to grow further with a second operator setting foot in the state.

Tattersall’s said yesterday the Victorian state government had awarded it a 10-year license to operate the majority of public lotteries. Tattersall’s, which has an exclusive license to operate lotteries in the state until June 2008, said it would provide games which account for 85 percent of lottery sales in the state through to 2018 under the new licence. It will provide games such as Tattslotto and Powerball where prize pools are combined with operators in other Australian states.

However, it will no longer sell some other games, including scratch cards that are only offered in Victoria. Tattersall’s, which doubled earnings after buying betting group UNiTAB last year, said it expected to deliver more than A$3.7 billion in taxes to the Victorian government from lotteries over the license term.

Tattersall’s paid the Victorian government A$375 million in lottery taxes in the last financial year. Lotteries contributed A$35.3 million to the company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) last year. The Victorian government has been reviewing the structure of the gaming sector, including gaming machine and wagering licenses.

Intralot stock trades at 19 times its estimated 2007 earnings, compared with a 25 multiple and 32 for Italy’s Lottomatica and New York-based Scientific Games respectively, according to Reuters Estimates.

Separately, Intralot said yesterday its Bulgarian fixed-odds betting subsidiary Eurofootball is mulling the acquisition of online bookmaker Eurobet.

“Intralot, and the firms in which it holds a stake, have been exploring several business partnerships around the world, including the possible acquisition of Eurobet, which is active in Bulgaria, by Eurofootball Ltd,” it said in a bourse filing.

Intralot said it was examining the regulatory framework for the operation of Eurobet in Bulgaria but no decision has been taken yet.

Intralot, the world’s second-biggest lottery systems supplier, holds a 49 percent stake in Eurofootball, which has a market share of more than 50 percent in the Bulgarian gaming market.

Hellenic Shipyard sells unit to Dr Meyer October 14, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Hellenic Shipyards (HSY), a fully owned subsidiary of Thyssen-Krupp Marine Systems, said yesterday it had sold its rolling-stock unit ETYE to German rail car maker Dr Meyer for an undisclosed amount.

HSY sold the unit as ThyssenKrupp’s core activities do not include the rolling-stock business.

“Dr Meyer was chosen as a best owner because rolling stock is the core of their business,” HSY Chief Executive Reinhard Kuhlmann, also a member of the board of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, told reporters. “The most decisive issue besides industrial prospects was the agreement to preserve jobs,” he said. HSY, acquired by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems in 2005, is the largest shipyard firm in the eastern Mediterranean and builds gunboats and submarines.

The new rolling-stock owner, Dr Meyer, wants to go after new business and plans to beef up personnel to about 700 from a current 200. The Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) has said it plans to invest up to 1.2 billion euros to upgrade trains in the next years. “OSE will be tendering a number of projects including wagons and diesel locomotives. We also anticipate to get cargo rail business,” said Horst Meyer, CEO of Dr Meyer.

The group plans to invest 7 millions euros in ETYE in coming years to upgrade facilities. Horst said ETYE will target doubling sales to about 30 million annually and will take part in consortiums. “We will need additional employees with certified technical skills. Beyond assemblage, we want to manufacture many parts in Greece,” he said.

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