A talented dandy

Aristotelis Zachos

Often, while looking for information about an entirely different subject of interest, a curious and alert reader will stumble upon something unrelated yet enthralling.
In this case it was the portrait of the architect Aristotelis Zaxos (Αριστοτέλης Ζάχος 1871-1939) which was probably taken in the late 1890s. Though Zaxos “tempered” his look” in later years (fourth photo), he was clearly out to make an impression with his official portrait.

Born in Kastoria in the Ottoman Empire in 1871, Zaxos first went to Monastiri (Monastir, Bitola) for education and then on to the Engineering/Architectural universities in Munich, Stuttgart, and Karlsruhe.

Zaxos was part of the international (French, German, Greek) team of architects under Ernest Hébrard who redesigned the city center of Thessaloniki after the devastating fire of 1917. The city was redesigned to create a metropolis which was not only modern and European but above all projected a “Greek” identity. After all, the fire occurred only 5 years after the city’s capture from the Ottomans in 1912.

The commission to re-design Thessaloniki (1918). A graying Aristotle Zaxos (back row center). 60% are smoking for official portrait.

Aristotelis Zaxos was a pioneer of the Neo Byzantine style of Greek architecture popular in the interwar period. Those readers who are familiar with the Plaka area of Athens might know of his beautiful design of the Angeliki Hatzimichali House (1924) which now houses the Center of Traditional and Folk Arts of the City of Athens (worth a visit both for the collection and the architecture).

Hatzimichali House, Plaka Athena

He went on to design the (familiar) Agios Nikolaos church (1927–1928) in the center of Volos as well as the Agios Konstantinos church along the paralia Volou.

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