The Thessaloniki Branch building

The classically-styled building of the Bank’s Thessaloniki branch, situated at the corner  of Tsimiski and I. Dragoumi Streets, is one of the city’s most important neoclassical monuments, thanks to its architectural merit and prominent location. The plot had  originally been earmarked for a branch of the National Bank of Greece (NBG) in 1922 (as part of the city’s reconstruction plans  by the French urban planner Ernest Hébrard in the aftermath of the great fire of 1917).

The Bank’s Thessaloniki Branch is a listed building under Law 1469/50 and offers a prime example of interwar architecture.

The entire edifice was built on the basis of designs submitted in a 1925 competition by A. Valvis (third prize) and N. Mitsakis (honourable mention). The building was completed in early 1933 and inaugurated  on 21 May of the same year.

Although the original plan was, in fact, for the building to house the National Bank of Greece, after the  Bank of Greece was established in 1928, and shortly before construction work began,  the original design was modified to accommodate  two separate banks, i.e. the NBG branch with a fronting  on Mitropoleos Street and the Bank of Greece branch with a fronting on Tsimiski Street.

Innovative methods of construction

Some nnovative methods were used in the initial construction, including a Franki piling system for the foundations and groundwater drainage. A state-of-the-art reinforced concrete frame also ensured a lighter structure.

The building has six levels, comprising an underground level, a ground floor, a mezzanine and three upper floors. As regards the interior architecture, rigid classicism cedes way to a Byzantine style with elements from  Italian Renaissance and Art Deco.  The large central hall and the surrounding galleries feature elaborate ceilings, arches and columns. Most impressive is the hemispherical alabaster dome, which allows natural light to penetrate the hall through an overarching vaulted structure.

Between 2005 and 2009, the building underwent extensive restoration as well as remodelling to enhance functionality under  the supervision of the Technical Service and with the contribution of the Art Conservation Service. 



SOURCES:

  • Kardamitsi-Adami, M. (2011), Bank of Greece: the buildings, Bank of Greece, Athens (in Greek).
  • Technical Chamber of Greece and Ministry of Culture,Ephorate of Contemporary and Modern Monuments of Central Macedonia (2009), Appropriate  interventions for the safeguarding  of monuments and historical buildings, Proceedings of the 3rd National Conference, ,Ianos Publishers. 
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