Photoshoot at villa Kapantzi
Villa Kapantzi houses the Cultural Centre of MIET in Thessaloniki and is one of the few extant, late nineteenth-century mansions and one of the most important modern monuments in the city. It is one of the few remaining villas of Thessaloniki’s Countryside District, that has been successfully restored.
The villa takes its name from the Kapantzi family, who were the original owners in late 18th century. It was a very luxurious construction that cost over 40.000 gold pounds, a mythical amount of money in that time.
The villa has had many residents such as Prince Nicholas, the first Military Governor of the city (1912), prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos (1917), the Kapantzis and Cohen families (1918-1922) and refugee families from the Greek defeat in Asia Minor (1922-1928). It also housed the American Foundation Company (1928), the Fifth Boys High School (1938-1940 and 1945-1972), the Greek Army (1940), German authorities during the occupation (1941-1944) and British Army headquarters after liberation (1944-1945).
After 1972, the building was abandoned in dilapidated state and in need of serious repairs, following its long-term usage in different capacities. The National Bank of Greece, that has owned the building since 1928, decided to restore it and to use it for cultural purposes. The painstaking restoration process lasted from 1982 to 1988.
Ever since I learned about the history of the Countryside District, I became fascinated by it. I first visited villa Kapantzi during Thessaloniki’s Open House organization, where I first learned about its history and architecture. I then visited many other times to attend exhibitions hosted there. It is a uniquely beautiful building and a living reminder of the area’s forgotten glory.
Obviously I thought shooting there would be a dream. It took me some time until I finally decided to do the simplest thing ever: ask for permission. Even though I thought I had no chance, I was proven wrong and I eventually got permission to shoot on location. Even better, the shooting would take place during the building’s close hours, so I would have it all to myself.
Together with my model, Kalliopi, we arrived there on a Monday morning and shot for about four hours. I wanted to shoot as many concepts as possible, showcasing aspects of the building. Because it serves as a cultural space, most rooms host exhibitions and so they are not suitable for photoshoots. So I chose some of the most photogenic corners. I was about seven months pregnant at the time, so I wasn’t at my most comfortable and by the end I was exhausted!
Overall, I really enjoyed the experience of shooting in such an historical building and I am determined to do it again in the future. The most valuable lesson I learned is this: when you want to do something, all you have to do is ask!