Hilton Athens celebrates 50 years
In April 1963, exactly 50 years ago, a landmark hotel opened its doors in Athens marking a new era of prosperity and development for the Greek tourism. The official inauguration of the Hilton Athens, which took place on the 20th of April 1963 followed by a 2-day celebration, gathered distinguished guests from all corners of the world and constituted an unprecedented social event for the city of Athens. The founder of the company, Conrad Hilton, who was present during the inauguration ceremony, said: “I agree with those who believe that the Hilton hotel in Athens is the most beautiful Hilton hotel in the world”.
The first international chain hotel which had ever opened in Athens was indeed a remarkable building of an unprecedented size and innovative services, while from an architectural point of view it combined an imposing magnificence with the minimal style of Ancient Greece. The architectural team of the Hilton Athens consisted of Emanuel Vourecas, Procopius Vassiliades, Spyros Staikos and Anthony Georgiades. Hilton Athens was indeed one of the buildings which defined the architectural aesthetics of the ‘60s in Greece and, despite its cosmopolitan character, it featured some powerful Greek elements thanks to the use of the Pentelic marble and the monumental artwork of the façade by Yannis Moralis, one of the most important 20th-century Greek artists. All these years, lots of celebrities have passed the threshold of the Hilton Athens: heads of states, famous artists and renowned scientists. From Aristotle Onassis to Frank Sinatra and from Ingmar Bergman to Anthony Quinn, Hilton Athens has always been the point of reference for the international jet set. At the same time, this emblematic hotel has always been the favourite meeting point of the Athenians, who have tried their first American hamburger and club sandwich at the Byzantino Restaurant or tasted their first cocktail at the Galaxy Bar.
On the occasion of the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games, Hilton was fully renovated by the renowned Greek architects Alexandros Tombazis and Charis Bougadelis. In 2004, Hilton Athens was the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee, while in 2011 it was the headquarters of the organizing committee of the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens.
Hilton Athens has been functioning in a multidimensional way in the city of Athens. It established the first art gallery in Athens, the so-called “Hilton Gallery” through the relationship with Marilena Liacopoulou which resulted in a series of historical exhibitions from 1968 until 1972. Today, Hilton Athens does not just expose art as part of the hotel decoration but it incorporates famous art pieces in its whole existence. Apart from a permanent exhibition, Hilton Athens is constantly investing efforts in culture by hosting periodical exhibitions of Greek and foreign artists in its large, luminous lobby. These initiatives enhance the commitment of the hotel towards the enrichment of the Athenian art scene.
Hilton Athens is not just a hotel, but an integrated part of the city’s social, cultural and business life. On the occasion of its 50-year anniversary, Hilton Athens has created an anniversary accommodation package (www.hiltonathens.gr) and has launched a photo exhibition on Facebook (facebook.com/HiltonAthens), while it is in the process of preparing a special anniversary issue of the Hilton Athens magazine which is going to circulate in the beginning of May.