Greeks wanted their freedom again after 1789, so consequently in 1813 Filomousos Company was founded in Athens in order Greeks learn their classical heritage. Now Filomousos it the main square in Kydathineon Street in Plaka, where you can taste Greek food with many options. Even Scottish George Finley’s house today is of Ottoman period, located in Kekropos 8 in Plaka as well, belonging to neoclassical houses of Athens. George Finley arrived in Athens with Lord Byron in 1823.
Nevertheless, Athens was a peaceful Ottoman garrison till 1821. In April 1821 Greek rebels attacked Athens and gained its control in June 1822. Census of 1824 measured 9000 Christians. At the same year, archaeologist Pittakis went to Corfu for studies. Two years later, at 1826, Kioutahis tried to recapture Athens, which fell to Ottoman hands again in May 1827. Athenians left in 1827 and returned again 3 years later, when London Protocol for Greece’s independence was signed.
Lord Byron firstly visited Athens in 1809, where he found Turks to enjoy Athens Mediterranean climate. Accordingly he was hosted at Psirri (Agias Theklas 14 street), by Tarsia Makri, widow of the British consul in Athens, who earned her living by renting rooms to tourists. Her daughter Theodora Makri, was so beautiful, even just 13 years old, that Byron fell in love with her. Archeologist Pittakis was married to the other daughter of Tarsia Makri, Katerina. This is the poem that Byron wrote for her.
The Maid of Athens
Maid of Athens, ere we part,
Give, oh, give back my heart!
Or, since that has left my breast,
Keep it now, and take the rest!
Hear my vow before I go,
Ζωή μου, σᾶς ἀγαπῶ.
Today in Benaki Museum you can find Theodora’s red hat, next to a Byron’s portable desk. One of her three daughters, Karolina, was the last that survived, till 1920, in the age of 86, living in 13 Keramikou street at Metaxourgeio.
Moreover, Byron later went to Constantinople and when he returned to Athens he stayed in Cappuccini monastery, in Lysikratous, (next to Tripodon) maybe the most cosmopolitan place in Athens, while the city’s antiquities were stolen. The Curse of Minerva, is Byron’s attack on Lord Elgin for pillaging Greece’s ancient heritage, records for the first time the full extent of Byron’s sympathy for classical Greek culture as well as for modern Greece and her people.
Byron played a major role regarding the Greek loans’ case, after he was elected in May 1821 to the London Greek Committee, and he returned to Greece during the War in 1823. Byron died in 19 April 1824 in Mesolloggi, supporting the Greek cause as no one else… his death united Greece against the enemy and helped support towards victory. In October 1827, the Great Powers fleet at Navarino, assuring Greek independence, which was acknowledged by the Sultan in 1829.
Today in National History Museum you can see all these amazing exhibits.