In the early of 15th century, the Ottoman Turks had conquered much of Asia Minor and had turned the Balkan Peninsula in the province of their territory. In the spiritual sector, the situation was even worse. That’s because, before the Fall of Istanbul, the most eminent scholars fled to West, where occupied important positions in the intellectual history of Europe and were coefficients of the Renaissance.
Patriarch Gennadius, taking advantage of the privileges which gave the conqueror Sultan Mehmed II, re founded in 1454 the ‘‘Patriarchal Academia’’. The Patriarchal Academia has operated prior to the Fall of Constantinople. Many educated people passed from this Academia as example we can mention the first teacher, Mathaius Kamariotes from Thessalonica.
In the centuries this Academia changed many buildings. Nowadays, is accommodated in Phanar, near to the Greek Orthodox Church of Virgin. This building was given by George Zarifis, and other people in 30 January 1880. The architect was Constantine Dimades and the inauguration of the Patriarchal Academia made by Patriarch Joachim III, on 12 September 1882.
Before the expulsion of Greek national in 1964, this Academia had 448 students. A year after this event, the number of the students dropped to 228, and since the reduction in the number of students continued rapidly.
Nowadays the Great School operates as gross High School and has 60 students.
The Great School of the Nation was the life-giving breath of the ancient Greek language, ancient philosophy and history, but also the most important legacy of Orthodox. After 560 years of operation (with certain role the education of the Greek homogenous young students) this Academia is endanger of closing up.
The feelings of a person like me, getting in this Academia are complicated. To begin with, when at first I entrance to this imposing building I felt like my home. I felt that ancient Greek civilization exists. Looking At the Greek Ancient Phrase ‘‘ΓΝΩΘΙ ΣΑΥΤΟΝ’’ in the 1st floor and to the ceiling of the big ceremony hall with the frames of famous people of the Ancient past and the mural of the Three Hierarchs (protectors of education) someone can feel that this is the ‘‘House of Knowledge’’. Actually in the view of the empty classrooms someone can feel dissatisfied. Wish that this Academia will continue this exceptional work even though the adversities.
* ΓΝΩΘΙ ΣΑΥΤΟΝ : means the self-awareness that you have to know yourself.
You can watch a video with photos of the Academia here:
I was born in Thessaloniki. I studied History at the Democritus University of Thrace. In 2014 I moved in Istanbul, as an exchange student at Yeditepe University. In 2015 I took part in the first Greek-Turkish Symposium on Security. I completed my MA studies in Rome which was about “Education and Disabilities”. Nowadays I study Political History and Diplomacy in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki as a Master Student and I work as a teacher in a public primary school.
Photo Credits: Phanar Greek Orthodox College