Decorations of the Panama Instituto Nacional


The Instituto Nacional was designed and built by an Italian architect named Genaro Ruggieri in 1911.  Due to his Italian origin, Ruggieri had a deep knowledge of classic architecture, (e.g., classic Greek and Roman architecture).

If you look closely at the structure of the Insituto Nacional, you will easily recognize the gorgeous marble frieze on the upper section of the edifice.  For those of you who are not familiar with the architecture term; a frieze is a broad horizontal band of sculpted or painted decoration, especially on a wall near the ceiling.  Take a look.

This picture depicts the lovely frieze of the Instituto Nacional in Panama City, Panama. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

When I saw this frieze, I remembered the famous Elgin Marbles stolen from the Greek Parthenon Temple by an unscrupulous British nobleman. His name was Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin.  From 1801 to 1812, Elgin’s agents removed about half of the surviving sculptures of the Parthenon, as well as sculptures from the Propylaea and Erechtheum. The Parthenon Marbles were transported by sea to Britain. In Britain, the acquisition of the collection was supported by some, while others likened Elgin’s actions to vandalism or looting.

Credit: Wikipedia Encyclopedia

Following a public debate in Parliament and the subsequent exoneration of Elgin, the marbles were purchased from Elgin by the British government in 1816 and were transferred to the British Museum where they stand now on display in the purposely-built Duveen Gallery.

Lord Byron did not care for the sculptures, calling them “misshapen monuments”. He strongly objected to their removal from Greece, denouncing Elgin as a vandal. His point of view about the removal of the Marbles from Athens is also reflected in his poem “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”:

“Dull is the eye that will not weep to see
Thy walls defaced, thy mouldering shrines removed
By British hands, which it had best behoved
To guard those relics ne’er to be restored.
Curst be the hour when from their isle they roved,
And once again thy hapless bosom gored,
And snatch’d thy shrinking gods to northern climes abhorred!”

And now you know more about some of the attractions of the beautiful edifice of the Instituto Nacional in Panama City, Panama and its Italian roots.  Good Day.

6 thoughts on “Decorations of the Panama Instituto Nacional”

  1. How very interesting! Those marbles and frieze sculptures are beautiful. I would have to agree with Lord Byron in that they were pilfered and should be taken back to the point of origin. I like the poem. Have fabulous day today, Omar!

    1. Morning Barbara:

      Every day we learn something new. My gut feeling is that Great Britain will not return the archaeologic pieces back to Athens, Greece. It’s most unfortunate how these precious works of art are looted by greedy people and even nations. The same thing happened with the pyramids of Egypt by the same British subjects.

      You too, Baraba, enjoy the rest of the day.

  2. My opinion is different. Given the political and military realities in the region today, it may well be that only the artifacts that have been moved will be safe — or at least have their destruction put off. The Greeks don’t have the money to maintain them, and just today there was news of more destruction in Palmyra by militants. There are people intent on destroying the artifacts of cultures they disapprove of. I’m glad to see some being preserved.

    It’s ironic that what surely was looting may end up being a defense against destruction.

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