A Door Out of Place?

The Greek town of Nafplio’s architecture generally reflects its historic significance as the modern Greek nation-state’s first capital in the early 19th century. Many of the buildings in the old town are neo-classical like the door I’ve shown in two previous posts: Door at Number 13 and Update on Door at Number 13. But, one door at a bank (trapeza or τράπεζα) in the old section of town, just off the main square, defies convention.

It struck me as a door strikingly out of place. So much so, I had to take this photo just to record it. Because it is so different from the other architecture around it, it your eye naturally gravitates to it.

The main feature is the flanking red columns. They taper down from their capitals, an exaggeration of the columns found at the Bronze Age palace of Knossos on Crete. Although, most of what you see now at Knossos are recreations produced in the early 20th century by the site’s excavator, Sir Arthur Evans. Below is a photograph I took in 2011 at the palace of Knossos of some of these reconstructed columns.

Then there is the triangle above the bank door. It reminds me of the door or entranceway to the Treasury of Atreus (sometimes called the Tomb of Agamemnon). This is a beehive (domed) tomb located at the prehistoric site of Mycenae, not that far from Nafplio.

I wondered why these ancient elements adorned this door. But, then, many bank doors tend to be grand and architectural historians have often postulated that this ‘grandness’ symbolises power and wealth, in effect the bank’s ‘brand’.

Could the powerful cultural images of Greek prehistory have been used to achieve the same affect at this bank in Nafplio old town? And, then, there is that giant bronze coin at the base of the triangle above the door: an obvious symbol of wealth? Or, is this door and the bank building itself (which has more of these columns adorning the windows) simply a folly, an architectural whim of the builders? Many questions without answers simply because of a door out of place.

Have a look at Norm’s blog, Thursday Doors for more stories of fascinating buildings and their doors. 

9 comments

  1. This is certainly an entrance I’d be snapping a photo of. Those columns are so interesting. I’m not used to seeing tapered columns, but I would have expected them to be tapered from bottom to top. Thanks for adding the historical context.

    Like

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