Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center is a cultural center complex in the municipality of Kallithea, minutes away from Pireus, the port of Athens. In a land that covers more than two hundred thousand sq. m., it houses the National Opera House and the National Library of Greece.

Its architect, Renzo Piano delivered to the state in 2017 a building that looked as if it had emerged from the surface of the earths’ crust and was nominated for the RIBA International architecture Prize in 2018. The exterior of the center features the Stavros Niarchos park, a huge park to raise ecological awareness.

Who is Stavros Niarchos you may ask? Niarchos was one of the great benefactors of Greece and a wealthy shipping tycoon. In the province that Greece once was though, he was known for his rivalry to the nouveau riche Aristotle Onassis. Niarchos was born in a wealthy family. He knew how to stand, act, talk and dress in the great salons of the worldwide elite. Onassis on the other hand was self-made. Once he entered the world of the ultra millionaires of the time, he was out of his waters. He would always compare himself to the other greek billionaire shipping tycoon, Niarchos. Onassis found that Niarchos wore elegantly all the fine fabrics and the suits made him look even more attractive, while he looked like a rat, lowborn and as if he did not belong.

Tina Livanou, the young it-girl daughter of a shipping tycoon Stavros Livanos, knew what an influence she had on men. She was beautiful, elegant, fashionable and wealthy. A sought-after bride of the global jet set. Both Niarchos and Onassis fell in love with her since her teenage years. Niarchos was the first to ask her to marry him but Onassis turned out to be more persistent and in 1947 their union was blessed in New York. In return, a year later Niarchos married her older -not as beautiful- sister, Eugenia Livanou. The Livanou sisters were rolling in it, charming and famous… but also deeply unhappy. In the 60s Tina got divorced from “Ari the Greek” and Eugenia at the end of the decade died mysteriously in Spetsopoula, the private island of Niarchos. It was now time for Niarchos to fulfill his realize his unfulfilled love for Tina. The two of them got married in the 70s, but the fate of Tina was not so different than her sisters’. She was found dead a couple of years later in the Parisian hotel that she owned with her husband.

Niarchos himself lived for two more decades. He got married five times in total and gained five children from two of his marriages. His fortune at the end of his life was estimated around 12 billion dollars, a twenty percent of which was donated to the greek state so that a foundation could be established in his name; The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center.