In memory of Professor Emeritus Charalambos Bouras

Manolis Korres

The measure of contribution of Ch. Bouras’s scientific, educational and social work.

A quick glance to his beginning in the sixties (1)

And an ampler view of his 2010-2015 scientific output (2).


The unusually short time of the architectural-archaeological research in Brauron (1960) and scholarly fashioned study delivered (print-ready) in the Ministry of Education in October 1962 (see Ch. Bouras, H Αναστήλωσις της Στοάς της Bραυρώνος [the restoration of the stoa at Brauron] –with French summary on pp 179-184-, Athens 1967, p.6) being of the highest scientific standards by a then very young scholar (23 years old he had already finished the 5-year studying-plan in the Technical University, and for the next two years he was in the service of Greek Army, from which he was released in 1959, in the age of 25) still inspires respect and admiration. The book still excels not only thanks to the exemplary archaeological documentation it contains, but equally for the very progressive principles of practice so properly conceived, formulated and applied by the young author:

…”The restoration must be timely preceded by the publication of the relevant study..”

...” Additions to a monuments original fabric must be discreet, but still discernible and as limited as possible…”

All these applied in the stoa’s restoration (1961-1962) well in advance of the inception of the Charter of Venice (1964)

Still more:

…” Indispensable condition for any sort of intervention to the fabric of a historical monument must be the possibility of reversing it if needed”…

(Ch. Bouras, Η αναστήλωσις …, p. 171)

This is probably the earliest formulation and application of the now obligatory principle of reversibility of interventions proposed for a valuable monument (which principle remarkably was not included in the most esteemed charter of principles, that of Venice, incepted 2 years later!)

From the beginning of his teaching in the University of Thessalonike (1966) Professor Bouras started a new project: the writing of new handbooks for students and scientists, based on the then more recent state of scholarly research (released in 1967 in a simple form, but properly printed in a more complete form from 1975 onwards). The late Professor Gottfried Gruben (1929-2003) the author of Die Tempel der Griechen (1964) and a good friend of Bouras, appreciated these handbooks and advocated for their translation in order these to be used by German speaking readers (an actually unfulfilled desideratum)

From the beginning of his teaching in the Technical University of Athens 1974-1975, Professor Bouras started farther new projects:

a) The establishment of an archive of Photographs and drawings of historical monuments (now more than 30.000 items) based on a system of geographical divisions and subdivisions, as well on a system of multiple thematic indexing.

b) The introduction of graduate and postgraduate studies in the field of the treatment of historical monuments.

c) A weekly seminar for doctoral candidates in the form of lectures open to a wider scholarly audience.

d) Preparation of the conditions for the proper interdisciplinary collaboration expected in view of the soon to be incepted programs for the restoration of the Acropolis monuments.

e) The inception of a series of thematically linked collective publications to facilitate the debut of young scholars on the one hand and on the other to intensify the interest for certain important historical buildings that happened to remain unnoticed or neglected.

His lectures on the protection and maintenance of historic monuments, thanks to their direct links with current and practical issues, always attracted sufficient number of students, many of whom having continue specialization at postgraduate level in Greece and abroad excel today as professionals in various fields.

Suffice to name some of them:

Professor Dr. Clairy Palyvou

Plutarchos Theocharides

Professor Dr. Ing, Dr. h.c. Manolis Korres

Dr. Calliope Theocharides

Professor Dr. Panagiotis Turnikiotis

Professor Dr. Georgia Marinou

Dr. Soterios Voyajis

Professor Dr. Mamaloukos

Professor George Panetsos

Professor Petros Koufopoulos

Themistokles Bilis

And many others

Almost all Greek architects practicing today the specialty of restoration of historic monuments are pupils of Ch. Bouras and always acknowledge the valuable effect of him not only in their professional formation, but equally in their scientific capacity, their ethics and their ideals.

During his long academic service, Professor Bouras, despite his unusually broad spectrum of duties and responsibilities (as for instance as a member of Committees, see CV), he never abandoned his main task: continually to search for new scientific knowledge, continually to shear his discoveries and other achievements with his colleagues, and never ceased to read, visit, observe, carry out measuring, make drawings and publishing on historical buildings, on historical subjects, on issues of education, on methods and principles of treating monuments and sites, with an always unusually great care for environmental aspects.

Within this frame of personal and social action, his first books were followed by others, summing up to fifteen and the articles to ten times more. But since numbers alone are not necessarily sufficient proof of any property (let alone their sometimes misleading effect) the only safe proof of what professor Bouras had given to us all, is just read his writings, even parts of them.


In the following, and in conformity with the term of presenting his last-five-years’ bibliography (achieved in the age of 78 to 83), it is quite appropriate to add more data about his Byzantine Athens (2010) his Monastery of Hosios Lucas (2015) and some of his other studies written in the time between these publications (sea bibliography attached in the proposal).

A1. Byzantine Athens from the 10th to 12th Century (in Greek: Βυζαντινή Αθήνα, 10ος – 12οςαι.), published by Benaki Museum, Athens, 2010, 280pp with a larger map at the end.

The fullest up to now monograph for the historic topography and the architecture of Medieval Athens, is the result of long systematic research by an author broadly recognized as one of the best architectural historians worldwide.

Despite its non-impressive external appearance, the book contains a wonderful wealth of information, both as regards the description of the object and as to the literature. Even more admirable is the critical ability of the writer, who ousting fallacies or insignificant items, remains firmly on the substance, which he brings out with an excellent composing talent.

The work consists mainly of a first part, being a synthesis and a list of 40 monuments (with reference to other ten monuments of uncertain identity, form or age).

In the first part summarizes the written sources and the research for the medieval Athens subsequently he examines the natural environment of Athens and presents an overall view referring to the streets, the fortifications and the gates, to the water supply and the most prominent of the existing buildings.

Next to it he examines the residential area in districts (Acropolis, Plaka, Center, Monastiraki, Hadrian's Library and Roman Market area, site of the ancient Agora and Areopagus, South Acropolis-slope, site of the Syntagma square, site of the National Garden, site of Zappeion exhibition building complex, site of Ceramicus) and summarises the types of houses and dwellings.

At the end of the second part a chapter is included on building techniques and architectural forms. It follows a general assessment of the Athenian ecclesiastical architecture in the context of the wider spectrum of Byzantine architecture in Greece (on which the writer has published his epoch-making book Byzantine and Post-byzantine Architecture in Greece, Athens 2001, English edition 2006).

Following is the historic interpretation of Athenian monuments and one end-chapter titled the legend of Athens during the Middle Ages.

Indicative of the value of the book is the high degree of originality of texts and most of the overall 2118 footnotes. Similarly original are most of the 131 linear drawings, of which the great majority is drawn by the author. only few of the drawings had been published before.

Despite its well justified complex composition, the book, due to its structure and the extent of indexes (names, sites and monuments) is very easy to use.

A2. Working Methods of the Byzantine Architects and Master Builders, Academy of Athens, 2010, 41 pages.

Τhe problem as to whether there were architects or master builders in middle and late Byzantine times remains unresolved. It becomes clearer, however, if we examine the capabilities and knowledge all those responsible for the construction of a building had at that time. Το be sure they had neither the specialised education nor the social recognition received by the architects in Antiquity or later, during the Renaissance. They were not theoretical technicians, but they simply did not improvise in the building lot. The evidence for this lies in general in: a) their ability to give originality to some of their works, which implies planning, b) the general diffusion of the knowledge of geometry necessary for architecture that is confirmed by the books-manuals used by the army, which were drawn from compilations of Antiquity that are preserved in Constantinople, and c) the possibility of understanding and communicating with officials of Church and State.

The complicated synthesis of many Middle Byzantine buildings makes it certain that they were planned. The fact that no plans of that period have survived does not mean that they did not exist, given clear references to them as σκιάσµατα and as accessories to official documents. It is virtually certain that the plans included «orthography», that is, right angle projections in plans, elevations and sections of the buildings, just as in Antiquity. Α number of plans inscribed on stones or ceramics verify this. The existence of plans in any case was absolutely necessary in cases in which they wanted to construct a building with the exact same dimensions of proportions as another. The books compiled for the use of the military show common knowledge of practical geometry and knowledge of measuring with sighting instruments. They refer to examples of purely constructional content, as well as to the ability to draw with ruler and divider. The carving of sculpture and the setting of Middle Byzantine marble floor inlays bear witness to this same capability of designing with great accuracy.

C2.  the influence of Byzantine Architecture on the Architecture of the 19th and 20th century (in Greek with an Italian summary) in Θησαυρίσματα 39-40 (2009-2010) of Hellenikon Instituto Byzantinon kai Metabyzantinon Spoudon Venetias (Greek Institute of Byzantine and Post-byzantine Studies in Venice) Venice 2011, 461-469

The byzantine architecture was discovered by the Western Europe, rather late, and the relevant studies start mostly after 1840. In the context of confrontation of styles, architects who were looking for new modes of expression directed toward and toward the Byzantine architecture, especially the sacral.

The famous classicists architects Leo von Klenzeκαι Theophil Hansen are example of such trends, while in France famous architects like Esperantieu imitated medieval buildings with Byzantine elements. Similar phenomena have been likewise in England (Cathedral of Westminster).

In the same time they configured the appropriate ideology on the desirability of imitation of byzantine architecture.

The idea that the national continuity from antiquity to contemporary era contains also the Byzantine era, with its art as an important part of the national heritage. In this spirit adhere also the plans of Ernest Hebrard for the reconstruction of Thessaloniki after the great fire (1917).

Subsequently, after some unfortunate combinations of Byzantine and Classic, other architects, like Α. Ζachos and Α. Orlandos created ecclesiastical works in which they renewed Byzantine forms. A similar tendency to imitate Byzantine elements appeared then also in the architecture of Serbia.

C6. Alaric in Athens, in  Δελτίον της Χριστιανικής Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρείας 33 (2012) 1-6.

The reexamination of the written sources and of the aftermath of the damages to the Parthenon confirms Alison Frantz’s view that the ancient fire was instigated by the fanatical newly baptized Christian Wisigoths led by Alaric, who suppressed the ancient religion by destroying its sanctuaries through methods known in the Est. The systematic effacing of the metopes of the temple and the destruction of statues seems to have been concurrent with the fire.

C13. Genoese Doorframes in Chios (in Greek with English Abstract), In G. K. Bargelioti and K. G. Tsiknakis (edit.), Γαληνοτάτη (=Serenisima), Athens 2013, 511-527

In Chios we have a small but unique in Greece group of sculptures of the early Renaissance, heritage of the occupation of the island by the Genoese (1346-1566). Three architectural members of this group that were found during the last years in the Castle of Chios, bear in lowrelief and in profile busts of emperors all' antica, two of them in medaillons. The state of preservation of two of the busts ismediocre.

The stone of the architectural members is pietra serena and this is a strong indication that they are imported from Genoa nοt made in the island. The date, based οn the style of the works is about 1500. Close examination shows that they are parts from two pilasters and from a frieze, which comefrom a doorframe of a Genoese mansion or public building of the city.

The propοsed restored drawing of the doorframe is based on measurments of the existing parts and οn cοmparisοns with other doorframes in Genoa. Of the same periοd is another Genoese doorframe, in excellent condition, in a church of the Chalkios village, once in the Castle of Chios (F. W Husluck, BSA, 1909-1910). Busts of emperors or heroes in low relief all'antica can be seen οn the spandrels of its arched opening. Two more portraits inlowrelief are saved on a lintel of an old house in the town of Chios, perhaps of the same period, drawn by D. Pikionis.

C4, C9, C10. (several) Studies on Greek Byzantine City

Professor Bouras, based on everything known about its particular city in Greece (records from excavations in different archives, many circumstantial, not observed findings etc.) and on any indirect evidence traceable on the surface (by his legendary power of observation), managed to approximate the forms of cities in question better than anyone else. Still his sense of objectivity leads him to a rather modest display of his great compositions. He rather prefers always to remind us what is uncertain, what has to be revised, what has to be improved. The following is a summary of some main points of his scientific concern:

The study of provincial cities of Byzantium is still at its initial stage, while in the time elapsed since its beginning, an unfortunately very large part of the archaeological evidence, which should have been timely documented, has been lost forever.

There are still many subjects to investigate, mainly through written sources, as the water supply, systems of defense, hygiene, baths, buildings associated with the power of the State or the church, including that made to keep the archives, buildings for the care of foreigners or the sick, or the public warehouses. Likewise issues of residential mobility, like that of villagers moving to towns and people of the capital (like for instance administrative or military officers, or traders, monks and deportees etc) moving to the country.

There are also issues of the residential distribution of the social classes and prominent occupations (bankers, land owners) or the ethnic groups (like the Jews): whether there was a relevant distinction of them in terms of spatial distribution -if and how they lived in (separate?) and what was the value and taxation of dwellings in cities. Always the demographic problem remains.

The whole issue is actually more complicate because of the instability and dramatic changes of the overall configuration in the course of time.  In the three middle centuries and in Post-Byzantine era the economy and or the social situation strongly influenced the conditions of life, the land use and the urban development.  And yet, despite the well-known inertia and resistance of the built environment to changes, the investigator of cities of Byzantium should not ignore how important could be the time laps in situations that for the sake of simplicity are being considered as stable; thus, we are again left with the need for more detailed scrutiny of the data and the physical evidence.

A3. H αρχιτεκτονική της Μονής του Οσίου Λουκά (The Architecture of  the Monastery of Hosios Lucas) Melissa, Athens, 2015 (151 large format pages ca 28x38 cm. the full English version of the Book is under preparation).

It contains chapters on the history of research, the founder of the monastery, foundation, its country and population in the 10th and 11th century, history of the monastery, general setting, building types and related issues, architectural forms and decoration of the Panaghia (Virgin Mary) church, structural system and related issues of the same, architectural forms and decoration of the Catholicon (Hosios Loukas church), structural system and related issues of the same, the refectory and other buildings, conclusions. An appendix with the original plates published by R. W. Schultz and S. H. Barnsley, in 1900 and extensive indexes.

The pictorial documentation with linear drawings and black and white photographs of well-chosen parts and details is excellent.

At the end the old genetic question about origins and influences in the Byzantine architecture of the Greek province is being treated in a quite comprehensive way, with the main points of the issue as follows:

  • The importance of the monastery of Hosios Loukas becomes understandable when one compares the state of the arts in Greece before and after its construction.
  • From the time of Iconomachy up to 950 many churches were built as a result of the pursuit of their donors for self-demonstration, some quite sizeable but always of low building technology and unskillfully made sculpture. The more elaborated ecclesiastical buildings appeared as late as the 11th century, that is after the building of this monastery.
  • The historic interpretation of this very important cultural improvement unfortunately remains incomplete. The written sources are minimal, the monastery seems to be almost unknown to Constantinopolitan scholars and elite, the donor of the church of Virgin Mary is an otherwise unknown magnate, while the donors of the Catholicon were just local land owners of whom only one family-name survives.
  • Informations from archives and visitors are only of much later times. Moreover, the pilgrimage to Hosios Loukas apparently had a rather limited geographic range, mostly confined within Greece proper and slowed down soon after 1204.
  • With the church of Virgin Mary, a building type already crystallized in Constantinople was imported from there in Greek province to be adopted to the function of the pilgrimage. With the Catholikon on the other hand, with its large dome, a new type of church was made, but always in the spirit of trends observable in large churches of the Empire’s capital.
  • The view expressed by Gabriel Millet and accepted by others that in these and other churches in the Greek province indigenous structural methods were applied is far fetching. If in certain churches some constructional particularities differ from what is oservable in Constantinople is only due to differences of the building material available and some practical issues, so that in consideration of the architecture proper no general conclusion could be drawn.
  • Clearly, with the monastery of Hosios Loukas and the two gifted architects, a new architecture was imported from the empire’s center in the still underdeveloped Greek province. To these builders money was plentifully disposed and more importantly the freedom of innovation. All this happened in a country on which by this time a new beginning was attempted.
  • The plan and spatial types, the architectural forms and the structural systems that with these churches made their first appearance in Greek province, had a strong impact in the Greek South for the next two centuries. the historical explanation is not easy.

On the other hand the absence of many other architectural forms and typological elements of the capital in the Greek province supports the view that the all these artistic characteristic of its monuments that constitute what G. Millet called ecole grecque had their immediate origin in the monastery of Hosios Loukas.

This spreading does not necessarily mean that those who in later times were making use of these forms were aware of their Constantinopolitan origin.

  • The Constantinopolitan idea for an enlargement of the central dome was applied in continental Greece (Hosios Loukas and other buildings faithfully copied from it with no other influences) in a characteristically different way as in the island of Chios (Nea Mone, middle 11th century)
  • The broader use by Greek builders of the plan and forms created first in Hosios Loucas, undeniably was made possible by the country’s economic growth in this time.

Written sources on this relationship lack and the only useful observation is that the most elaborated and expensive churches by this time were clearly the catholica of the monasteries.

  • The inference of some economic progress in Greece is indirect, based on the observable building activity, so that no convincing historical interpretation of the same phenomenon could be made. Moreover, in the great majority of instances in Greek mainland and islands much smaller or humble churches were still being built with limited financial means and chip material
  • In both churche-types derived from Hosios Loukas, the composition is based on the central element of the dome and the barrel vaults supporting it and transmitting its thrust farther down to a system of other bearing elements properly disposed to withstand against any load and lateral thrust. Necessarily the barrel vaults are disposed like the arms of a cross, which is equally visible inside and outside in the configuration of the space and of the roofs respectively, so that a certain sympolic value emerges which actually is not as clear in the case of domes based on an octagon.

However the spatial relationship of the central part to the corner apartments in the lower zone and to the peripheral galleries above is being offered for other symbolisms.

  • In the six churches with an octagonal dome base made in Greece following the paradigm of Hosios Loukas some aspects of the spatial composition or the system of bearing elements appear simpler mainly due to a lesser size or /and lesser means. At any rate they justify the view that in Byzantium the willingness for improving existing forms and methods was limited.
  • The big change made in Greece with the creation of the two churches in Hosios Loukas’s monastery becomes even more evident in the sphere of sculptural decoration. In Byzantine churches generally, sculptured architectural members and painting complement the enhancement of architectural composition and space. In the 'Hosios Loukas’s churches however this enhancement is by far more perfect and luxurious than in other churches
  • In Greece the availability of good marble certainly favored the development of sculpture, so that in many instances, already in the 9th century and more often in the 10th important churches were enriched with marble elements. Their decorative patterns are always rich in composition and variations but their composition is unpleasing with horror vacui characteristics and their execution is pour and unskillful.

In contrast to all these examples, the sculptures of the Panhagia are of by far higher quality, with impressive composition skillfully executed, being comparable with Constantinopolitan examples recent to them.

Soon this new style was imitated in many other Greek churches in the 11th and 12th century.