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THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE LIBRARY.

The combined efforts of Ioannis Prigos and the Ecumenical Patriarch Kallinikos III, both prominent and leading figures of the 18th century Zagora, are to be thanked for the foundation and the acclaimed reputation of this historical establishment. Ioannis Prigos emigrated when he was just a sixteen-year-old boy, in order to learn more and educate himself better. Travelling around Alexandria, Venice and Smirna, he ended up in Amsterdam-Holland where he became very rich through trading. Being a deeply religious man he spent a large sum of money taking care of the Orthodox Community in Amsterdam. However, most of his great fortune was spent on his hometown Zagora. He had a great desire to improve his country, seeing the progress of Europe and comparing it to the misery and enslavement of Greece. His first generous donation of money, books teaching aids etc., came to Zagora in 1762.

At the same time, Patriarch Kallinikos III, after a short and troubled Patriarchate in Constantinople and a four-year exile in Sinah, came back to his hometown and took general care of its progress until his death; he was especially interested in its spiritual progress. He reorganized the School – which had already been functioning for 40 years or more – and to which he gave the name “Hellinomouseion” (literally “Greek Museum”, in the sense of the “place of the Muses”, place of art and research. In other words a Greek cultural centre). The books Ioannis Prigos was sending from Holland and which finally came to a total of 1.000 volumes approximately, were kept there together with the Patriarch’s manuscripts and other documents donated by famous Zagorians who had high positions in Constantinople, in Russia and elsewhere. All those important donations consisted mostly of books published in Venice, Rome, Moscow, Vienna, London, The Hague, Amsterdam, Paris and other major cultural centres of Europe.

All of them were printed at printers of famous Academies, Royal Colleges and well-known printers such as Aldus Manutius, Hieronymous Commelini and were supervised by wise men like Erasmus Schmid, Balthasar Corderious, Euegene Voulgaris and others. Their contains were classical ancient Greek literature (Homer, Plato, Aristotle etc.), religious, historical and geographical subjects too, such as those of the famous Dutch cosmologist Abraham Ortellious and many others.



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