Villa Grecque Kérylos – C’est Magnifique!

December 9, 2011 @ 2:21 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan

Overlooking Cap Ferrat on the Cote d'Azur

Expect a series on this magnificent monument – one simply can’t cover the Villa Grecque Kérylos.  We’ll begin with the location in a seductive setting on the Mediterranean between Nice and Monaco.  Add lush gardens of olive and pine trees, oleanders and iris; and take to the tower for a panoramic view over the sea, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and the countryside.

The villa is the culminating dream and passion of two men with a love of ancient Greek history, archeology and architecture.  Théodore Reinach was a member of the  “Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres” who indulged his love of all things Greek with the building of the Villa, quite near to the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild.

In the late 19th century, he entrusted the building of his splendid Greek villa to Nice-born architect Emmanuel Pontremoli, a fellow philhellenist who studied at the Villa Medici and the School of Archaeology in Athens.  We are able to enjoy inexpensive access to this historic mansion, due to the generosity and foresight of Msr. Reinach.  After relishing his exceptional Greek Villa, Theodore bequeathed Villa Kérylos to the Institut de France, a step that insured the preservation of this esteemed French treasure.

The main rooms of the Villa are situated to capture the scenic landscape overlooking Cap Ferrat, but one outstanding feature is the corner tower with panoramic views of the sea.  The tower pillars feature Greek fret patterns, and the floor includes a mosaic of a compass rose.  Every detail evokes Greek art and architecture to lend an air of quiet harmony.

For us, the peristyle is the pièce de résistance, a lovely central courtyard inviting light and wind to flow through the state rooms and porticos that surround the space.  As one could imagine, it was here that the Reinachs enjoyed elaborate receptions for privileged international visitors.

Marble columns of the Peristyle

Equally striking, the Villa Library and gallery spreads over one and a half floors and is dedicated to the goddess Athena.  Facing the morning light, oak furnishings surround a mosaic of Prometheus and Hera, and Msr. Reinach’s art and archaeology books line the shelves.  Ancient Greek objets d’arts include vases, Roman glass and Greek figurines.

The Villa’s master incscribed one of his mottos on the library wall, which translates, “This is where I, in the company of speakers, scholars and Greek poets, enjoy a peaceful retreat in immortal beauty.”
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