“You will come back…”

By on March 14th        0 Comments   /   show comments


When I discovered Amfissa and her little secrets I was really happy… a sort of traveler’s happiness of course. I’ll tell you about that feeling in the near future. A little later, when I found the cafe “Panhellenion” I was deeply moved, not only because of the colors and the atmosphere, but mostly because of those vivid memories of…this unique place.

I walked uphill the main avenue N. Giagtzis with the old shops and I finally arrived at Kehagia Square. A really pleasant square! Surrounded by so many elegant neoclassical houses, a panorama of antefixes, pastel colors, elaborate balconies and doorframes, lovely gardens with palm trees, citrus trees, giant roses mixed with jasmine everywhere. I looked carefully at the eastern part of the square and there it was! The café “Panhellenion” still standing as proudly as ever.

Without hesitation I walked in and I was…sort of… petrified” .  It was like being in a time machine!


Πανελλήνιον, Άμφισσα


They also call it “Yali cafene. ” Do you know who named it like that? “asked the smiling owner Thanasis Mastronikolopoulos. How should I know that? “The actor and director Artemis Matsas of course! when he delivered some of his best performances right here” he answered.

He made a plain thick Greek coffee and sat besides me to recount the story of this glorious and legendary old café. It was a quiet and peaceful afternoon. Only three old men were playing cards. A pale light was coming from the windows illuminating the warm pastel colors of the walls and the rest of the interiors.

This is a café now, but back then it was a glamorous old theater with beautiful colors, wooden floors and a unique scene. Unique, and unfortunately closed forever…


Πανελλήνιον, Άμφισσα


“A great theater! It was back in 1936 when the first performances started taking place. The very first troupe that came to play was the troupe of Avlonitis, Fotopoulos, and Makris (three of the greatest Greek actors of all time).

Thousands of rich and poor people gathered here … attending the performances “says mr.Thanasis. And he recites a list of actors and directors, almost all belonging to the pantheon of the good old Greek cinema. It really had started to feel like being in an old movie here… huh?

He rises and shows me where the old seats were, the prompt box, the cashier. “You know a lot of people came then. There were hundreds of bright nights, the theater was packed tight with theatergoers from Amfissa, the troupes stayed here for days …

«Did all the people have enough money for their tickets? “Well some did, some didn’t but they paid anyway with anything they could offer. Some even paid with eggs and chickens! “.

I took a couple of sips from my coffee and tried hard to remember. Oh!… yes …now… I finally… remembered! I had seen this cafe in the famous film “Thiasos”a masterpiece from the internationally renowned Greek film- director Theo Angelopoulos who was recently lost unfairly in a street motor-accident while shooting his next film.

Mister Thanassis told me all about the filming of “Thiasos” here,in the Panhellenion café. “Thiasos” was filmed in 1976! “They were filming for 5 days, continuously!” It was right here where they shot the famous scene with the actors singing “You will come back …” at the sounds of the accordion. Of course, I remember… How can I not remember these ecstatic moments?


Πανελλήνιον, Άμφισσα

Thanassis told me a lot more. For the days and nights of “glory and splendor…”, for the war, for all those who kept the theater alive till 1988. It was then that the last performances took place.

“Do you want another coffee? I even have made coffee for Romy Schneider here!” he says laughing proudly. And that’s true my friend!

Outside the pale village the sun was gradually disappearing and a melancholic drizzle was about to start.
I could almost hear the nostalgic sound from that accordion …

Where am I?

Amfissa is located in Phocis, near world famous Delphi, Arachova village, and the port of Itea. The quickest way to reach Amfissa is through Delphi.




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