This unique tour will take you to the former palace and castle of Sophie de Marbois-Lebrun, Duchess of Plaisance.
Duchess Sophie de Marbois-Lebrun was married to Anne-Charles Lebrun in 1802, the eldest son of Charles-François Lebrun later duc de Plaisance (this last one who along with Napoleon Bonaparte had served as one of three Consuls of France from 1799-1804). The marriage was unhappy, and the couple separated without ever taking divorce; Sophie lived in Italy while the Duc served as the Governor of Holland from 1811-1813.
Upon the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, the Duchess and her daughter generously supported the Greek cause and in 1830, they moved to Nafplion, the capital of Greece at that time and she was reacquainted with the Greek leader Ioannis Kapodistrias whom she had met in Paris in 1826. She became an ardent financial supporter of public education. Eventually, she became an opponent of Kapodistrias, and after a 17-month stay, she left for Italy.
In 1834, the Duchess returned to Greece and settled in the new capital Athens. She purchased large amounts of agricultural land initially near Mt. Penteli, but also all around Athens. She was then engaged to the Greek architect, Stamatios Kleanthis, to design a palace for her on the slopes of Mt. Penteli. Meanwhile, in 1836, the Duchess and her daughter traveled to Beirut, where Eliza died of pneumonia. Such was the sorrow of the Duchess that she had her daughter’s body embalmed and returned to Athens where it was placed in a crypt under her temporary home on Peiraios Street.
Kleanthis completed the Tower of the Duchess of Plaisance in 1841 and then set to work on Villa Illisia, which was completed in 1848. Today the Villa Illisia is the site of the Byzantine Museum. A central fixture in the social life of Othonian Athens, the Duchess would host symposia on various topics of religion and politics in her palace. She was also known to dole out funds and titles of courtesy to those whom she found favorable.
Later in life, she commissioned Kleanthis to begin the construction of a final home and resting place for her beloved daughter’s remains, the Castle of Rododafni. She would never live to see the house completed. In 1847, it caught fire and was burned to the ground. After that, the Duchess withdrew from public life and she died in 1854 and her nephew sold her lands to the Greek state. She is buried with her daughter in her Tower near Penteli. (Source: Wikipedia)
The tour will take you to Duchess Sophie de Marbois-Lebrun’s palace where the Byzantine museum is today and then to her Castle (outside visit) in Pendeli mountain at the outskirts of Athens.
Adult: 120 euro
Child: 90 euro
Above Rate includes:
- Transfer from/ to your hotel
- Entrance fee to the Byzantine Museum