Stavros Niarchos and his father Spyros left their mark on the business community worldwide, without ever forgetting Vamvakou. Moreover, the village of Parnonas had the luck to receive support from various benefactors in terms of infrastructure, education and culture.

Of utmost importance for Vamvakou was the action of Klimis Diamantidis, who embraced monasticism and left all his fortune to his beloved homeland for the foundation and maintenance of the Greek Primary School in the village.

At the same time, Ioannis Coumantaros built the contemporary primary school, renovated the club of the Cultural Association Nea Zoi [New Life] and undertook the creation and placement of the statue of Theodoritos the Second. Worthy of mention, of course, is the contribution of his namesake grandson, who recently took care of the conservation of the portable byzantine icons of the triune church in the village square. Equally noteworthy is the initiative of Panagiotis Coumantaros to slate the specific church and its surroundings. Finally, the daughter of Ioannis and Flora Coumantaros, Dolly Goulandris realized at her own expense the clock tower of Vamvakou, which turned out to be the village’s trademark.

The action of Georgios V. Tsohonis was also special as he built the guesthouse of Vamvakou and contributed to the construction and embellishment of the church, the creation of the municipal garden, road maintenance, the repair and equipment of the school buildings, the construction of the road between Vamvakou and Karyes, as well as to the publication of Oinountiaka by Faidon Koukoules. After his death, his heirs and the company Paterson Tsohonis backed up the Association of the People of Vamvakou regarding the water supply system of the village and other projects.

From their side, Kostis and Philippos Vourvoulis built the monument to the fallen heroes standing in the village square, helped significantly with the purchase of fruit trees and the construction of the road connecting Vamvakou to Karyes. By depositing bonds via the National Bank of Greece, they donated to the community part of their fortune in order to establish the School of House Economics for Women – eventually not realized due to the German Occupation. After the death of Philippos, some funds kept being sent to the community in favour of girls in need.

Other characteristic figures in the history of Vamvakou were Georgios I. Papatheodorou, who commissioned the construction of  a modern, fully equipped shelter at Arnomousga spot; Phaidon Koukoules, who wrote the history of Vamvakou and Oinountiaka, while he also served as headmaster of the school; and K. Zaharopoulos, who undertook the task of the hagiography of the triune church and is remembered till today for the money offered as dowry to girls from the village. The activity of G. Maraslis was also important, as he sent part of his books (Maraslis editions) to Vamvakou. Finally, P.Vouras donated his house to the community, which was renovated in 2000 and then in 2019 by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, operating today as a café-restaurant handled by Vamvakou Revival.

Stavros S. Niarchos

He was born in Athens to Spyros Niarchos and Eugenia Coumantarou. He studied law at the University of Athens, but then started working in his family’s grain business. Through the family business, he bought 6 cargo ships.

In 1955, he invested in the establishment of the Aspropirgos Refinery, while in 1958 he founded the Hellenic Shipyards in Skaramagas.

During World War II, he participated in the Allied operations in Normandy and was thus awarded the Commander of the Order of the Phoenix, the Royal Order of King George I and the Royal House Order of SS George and Constantine.

His art collection was one of the greatest worldwide. Among the works in it, a very expensive self-portrait of Pablo Picasso and paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gaugin stood out. The collection was later on completed by his son Philippos.

In 1930, he got married to Helen Sporides; in 1939, to Melpomene Capparis; and in 1947, to Eugenia Livanos, with whom they had four children – Philippos, Spyros, Constantine and Maria. In 1965, he got married, by civil ceremony, to Charlotte Ford, great-granddaughter of the founder of the Ford Motor Company; together, they had a daughter, Elena. Finally, in 1971, he got married to Tina Livanos.

He died in 1996. In his will, he designated a significant part of his estate for the establishment of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).

His relation to Vamvakou

Being the son of Spyros – who was born and died in Vamvakou – and having contributed to the welfare of the village significantly (by supporting its water supply system, taking care of the Greek school and providing for the people’s healthcare with a salaried municipal doctor), Stavros Niarchos holds an outstanding position among the donors-benefactors of Vamvakou.

In memory of his father, the Greek shipowner brought electricity to the village, while, later on, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation realized works of infrastructure and renovation in Vamvakou worth of 380,000,000 drachmas. He financed municipal programs such as the hagiography of the church of Agios Charalambos, the recovery of the historical center, the renovation of public buildings, as well as road lighting and water supply projects. Today, an initiative for the revival of Vamvakou is taking place in the village by Vamvakou Revival, implemented with the guidance and financial support of Stavros Niarchos Foundation.