idea panorama“Panorama” was the name given to the revolutionary 360° painting of a cityscape which allowed the people of London, in 1792, to see the world with new eyes. This new in-the-round concept could henceforth be applied to any physical environment, city or historic site. It could also be applied to a “panoramic” way of thinking. The word panorama was coined by the same man who invented this new way of representing the world on canvas. Panorama was a neologism which passed into international usage. But its linguistic building blocks are, of course, Greek: pan, meaning “all”, and orama, meaning “sight” or “vision”. The composite word, with its many layers of meaning, can be put to multiple uses and suits our goals ideally, thanks to its flexibility and adjustability to different terrains - physical, cultural, spiritual and intellectual, to name only a few.

When in August 1985, a small group of friends decided to create a space for sharing our common interests and activities, we adopted as the name for that space – a space at once physical, but also social and intellectual – the well-worn but still highly-suggestive term Panorama. The term continues to express our aims and aspirations.

At that time, the social fabric of Athens was dissolving as its physical structure was rapidly expanding and being transformed, consequently, into a city whose inhabitants had little sense of belonging to a communal whole. We wanted to preserve what community identity remained and build on this foundation to create an open and functional home, a hospitable “center” at the besieged core of Greece’s capital.

The three-storey building which housed Panorama for its first fifteen years had been the home of the architect Anastasis Metaxas (1863-1937), whose name is associated with the reconstruction of the Panathenaic Stadium in central Athens (1894), the construction of many of the city’s mansions, such as those which now house the Benaki Museum and the French Embassy, as well as public buildings such as the Ionian Bank.

There, in an Athenian house on Alexandrou Soutsou Street, our aspirations and “visions” found their home and came to embrace a wider community.

Panorama was inaugurated on November 28, 1985 with an exhibition on the 2,300-year history of the city of Thessaloniki dedicated to the memory of the well-known man of letters Yiorgios Ioannou. And so by incorporating Thessaloniki, the only truly cosmopolitan city in Greece across time, we manifested our hope that an Athenian cultural society could break out of both the small and great “traffic circulation zones” which confine the people of Athens and reinforce the mutual isolation of those living within and without the “city walls”.

From that beginning, thirty years have passed.