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.
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.
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.