Every time I visit the popular neighborhood of Psirri, I make a small detour to admire the house with the Caryatides and recall the urban legend connected to it. The house has become part of the city’s history but remains relatively unknown to its visitors. The house is known for the two wonderful Caryatid sculptures located on the balcony of its facade. The house was built in the late 19th century and is a typical example of Athenian neoclassicism. The Caryatids are the work of the sculptor Ioannis Karakatsanis, who was the owner of the house. The models for the statues were his wife Xanthi and her sister Eudoxia.
The urban legend that accompanied them was created by the barber, Panagiotis Kritikakos, who kept his shop on the ground floor. He was telling his clients – possibly for reasons of fame – that the owner ordered the Caryatids in memory of his two daughters who mysteriously died. The barber’s story was that the two daughters had been poisoned by their evil stepmother, the owner’s supposed second wife, who was jealous of them.
But apart from the legend, the sculptures and their fine art had a strong influence on various artists, such as the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, the Greek painter Yannis Tsarouchis, and the Greek novelist Costas Taktsis (who used elements of their legend in his famous novel “The Third Wedding Wreath”). In 1989, the house was put under the protection of the Ministry of Culture, and in 2001, the sculptures were restored.