I was always particularly fond of the picturesque alley of Emmanuel Sofroni... However, since June 2020, when a special and impressive gallery, the Athena Gallery, opened at number 15, I love it a bit more.
Here, in the heart of old Nafplio, the Athena Gallery with its exceptional museum replicas, highlights the unsurpassed aesthetics of Greek Art and at the same time the deep rich history of the place, but also of the whole of Greece.
Beauty fair welcome
On my way to meet Stelios Maragos, the owner of Athena Gallery, I enter a bit delayed in my appointment, as I'm captured by both: the four admittedly impressive statues outside the gallery, as well as by the two showcases, overflowed with artwork. Then after, I look up at the two-storey mansion, on the ground floor of which Athena Gallery is housed, and I think of how ideal the match is, how harmonious the coexistence...
The first to "welcome" me, in the form of a modern take on the sign's logo is, who else, Glauka, Athena's wise owl. The goddess who has given her name to the store, together with one of the Caryatids, stand statuesque to the right and left, as you pass the entrance. The long, narrow, high-ceilinged space, lined with stone walls, hosts countless exhibits, museum replicas of various eras, sizes and styles, and my gaze is filled with images of high aesthetics.
Personal Stories in the "Court of the Gods"
Now, I truly look forward to learning more, from Athena Gallery’s mastermind Stelios Maragos and his wife Diana Naki-Maragos, who wait for me in the back yard, a small green oasis, surrounded by statues, amphorae and pillars, embraced by two towering lemon trees. Stelios Maragos calls it the "courtyard of the gods". He tells me that he apprenticed in his father's pottery workshop, quickly developed, created his own team of collaborators and is now considered one of the best in the field of museum replicas in Greece. However, his reputation travels abroad as well, as he exports all over the world, and also has a showroom in Dallas, Texas.
A tour in space and time
With the valuable help of Diana, I take a guided tour of the site and feel awe, admiration, emotion... as if we are walking the avenue of Greek history together, passing from the paths of the golden classical period, the Minoan, the Geometric, the Attic and the Corinthian, ending in my own favorite period, the Cycladic.
The large, marble and bronze statues, such as Myron's discus thrower and Delphi's Oeniochus, certainly steal the show. I stand, however, dazzled in front of one statue of the warriors of Riace, also of its history: the two original bronze statues, unique works of ancient Greek art, were discovered in the summer of 1972 by an amateur fisherman at the bottom of the sea, off Riace and are hosted at the National Museum of Greater Greece, in Reggio Di Calabria.
Extremely impressive, I admit, are also the large-sized vases, like of which you won't find anywhere else, except at the Athena Gallery!
My sight also falls on works, such as the horse of Mycenaean art, the Trojan Horse, Odysseus and the Sirens and Medusa, works that I notice have been rendered somewhat differently, with a more creative eye. Diana confirms this, explaining to me that in their workshop, besides creating faithful copies of Greek art, in some cases they creatively intervene in the works by changing the dimensions (enlarging or reducing them), but also their original form.
As Stelios and Diana politely serve the tourists who enter the gallery (Americans, French, Germans, but also Greeks), I take the opportunity to admire the replica of a Minoan civilization’s mural on one of the walls. A little further on, I see the tripod, where the ancient Greeks lit the Olympic flame, the double peleki - a symbol of the Minoan civilization, the trieri - the ancient rowed warship, the Cycladic figurines with their transparent whiteness and the wonderful Plagones - the clay dolls, which gave their form to Phoebus and Athena (the mascots of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games).
Pottery workshops – a unique experience
Plagones, in fact, are the main subject in the pottery and ceramics workshops organized by Athena Gallery. In them, the children in particular, learn the secrets of clay and much more, as they make Plagonones with their own hands; but also learn that the two brothers, Phoebus and Athena, represent teamwork, participation, "fair competition". In this very creative and artistic way, those who participate in the workshops travel through space and history through statues, benches, amphorae, gifts, jewelry, living a unique experience.
Saying goodbye to Stelios and Diana, I walk through the idyllically lit old town of Nafplio with slow, lazy steps, as if I want to hold on a little longer to this unique journey through history and Greek art, which Athena Gallery gave me...
Did you know that?
Athena Gallery also accepts special orders: if you have seen an exhibit that impressed you, you can ask to have it made for you!
All exhibits of Athena Gallery have a Greek signature and are created from materials of excellent quality.
You can find great gifts in a small size, to offer to friends and colleagues, which will be unforgettable! Their prices start from €19.
In the same context, the amazing huge gallery on the road to Mycenae called “Agora” Gallery and the huge statues outside, is of the same ownership and, apart from being literally like a museum in size, you should know that there is also a pottery activity for adults and children!
Monday to Sunday 11:00 – 23:00
Closed on Tuesdays during wintertime