The name Onassis is a synonym of Croesus, of a very wealthy man. Aristotle Onassis, the so-called “Golden Greek”, became worldwide known for oil tankers and Olympic Airways. However, he did much more than that. Let’s get to know him and have a closer look at the Onassis Cultural Center in Athens as well as the Onassis Foundation’s activities.
Who was Aristotle Onassis?
Aristotle Onassis was born in Smyrna in 1906. In 1922 he came to Greece as a refugee. In 1923 he moved to Argentina, where he did various jobs. In 1932 he bought his first ship and named it after his sister, Kalliroi. Thanks to his business talent, he became one of the world’s greatest ship-owners, mainly of oil tankers.
In 1956 he founded Olympic Airways, the only Greek airline company at that time.
In 1963 Onassis bought Scorpios, a small island in the Ionian Sea near Lefkada. He used to spend his holidays there together with celebrities.
Ηe had two children, Alexandros (1948-1973) and Christina (1950-1988). In 1968 he married the widow of the American President, John F. Kennedy. He died in 1975, two years after his son’s death.
His only descendant and heiress is his granddaughter, Athina Onassis.
Stegi: the Onassis Cultural Center
The Onassis Cultural Center (or its other name “Stegi”, meaning ‘the roof’) is a cultural and artistic center. Its aim is to promote contemporary culture, to support Greek artists, to provide education to children and lifelong learning to people of all ages. Events related to theater, dance, music, cinema, art and literature take place there.
It is located on Syggrou Avenue in central Athens. It first opened in 2010. The Center boasts 18,000 sq. m. of interior space on 7 floors and 9 underground levels. There are two main auditoria for major events, a lecture hall and an exhibition hall. You can also enjoy a great dinner at the fancy restaurant on the top floor. In the summer the rooftop terrace offers amazing views of the Acropolis, the Philopappos monument, the Lycabettus hill and the Saronic Gulf.
We suggest you check out the program and events taking place at the Onassis Cultural Center for the periods you plan to be in Athens or while you attend our 1- or 2-week Omilo Greek Language and Culture Courses in Athens.
On their website, you can find all the information about Stegi, in Greek and English, as well as how to get there by public transport: http://www.sgt.gr/eng/
The Onassis Foundation’s activities
In accordance to Aristotle Onassis’ will, a foundation was established in 1975 in the name of his son, who died in 1973 in an airplane crash at the age of 25. It consists of the Business Foundation that engages mainly in shipping, and the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation.
Its activities are related to Greece and Greek culture. They mainly concern the following areas:
The Foundation aims to promote Greek culture all over the world.
The Onassis Library is housed in a neoclassical building in Plaka. It has the Archive of poet K.P. Cavafy and two large collections of books: a) the Hellenic Library with about 3,000 books from the 15th to the 19th century; and b) the Travel Accounts Book Collection with about 2,500 books of Western European travelers describing the Mediterranean area and Southeastern Europe from the 16th to the 20th century.
The Foundation financially supports schools and universities where Ancient and Modern Greek are taught, as well as museums, libraries and other projects related to arts and culture.
The Foundation grants scholarships to Greeks for studies and research in Greece and abroad, and to foreigners for studies and research in Greece.
III. HEALTH and SOCIAL SOLIDARITY
The Onassis Foundation created the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center, a hospital specializing in adult and pediatric heart surgery and cardiology. It also supports organizations such as ELPIDA and ELEPAP (Hellenic Society for Disabled Children).
The easiest way to visit “Stegi” is to take the red metro line to the Syggrou-Fix station and walk 10 minutes from there along the Syggrou Avenue.
For those looking for even more contemporary art and culture in Athens, you might also be interested in visiting the EMST (Museum of Contemporary Art), which is located right next to that metro station.
On the same Syggrou avenue, 4 km further South, you will find the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center.
As Onassis, Stavros Niarchos was also a well known Greek shipping magnate (1909-1996). The two of them have spent much of their lives battling for supremacy on the high seas. As of today, the Onassis Cultural Center and the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center seem to compete in funding Greek culture and stunning modern architecture.
Omilo is happy that private capital is invested in Greek culture and arts, open to the general public. We encourage you to check out their programs and cultural events, while visiting Athens.
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