An ancient Grecian palace (villa Kerylos)

On the shores of the Mediterranean, between Nice and Monaco, the Grecian Villa Kerylos is one of the most extraordinary sites on the French Riviera. It was built in the early 1900s, in the period the French call the “Belle Epoque”, and is a quite unique and extremely luxurious re-creation of an ancient Grecian dwelling, complete with wall decorations and furniture.

It stands as the tribute to Greek civilisation of two great enthusiasts for Ancient Greece : Theodore Reinach, an archaeologist and patron of the arts, and Emmanuel Pontremoli, an inspired architect.

Based on the design of noble houses built in the 2nd century B.C. on the Island of Delos, the Villa Kerylos invites visitors to step right back into Ancient Greece. Everything inside, from the arrangement of rooms to the stylistic details of the décor, was designed to recreate the atmosphere of a luxurious Grecian villa. 

Théodore Reinach (1860-1928) was the youngest of three very talented brothers born into a family of bankers, originally from Frankfurt. Important personalities in the Third Republic, the Reinach brothers were known as the “Know-it-alls” because of their extraordinary learning. The eldest, Joseph, was a deputy (member of the French parliament) and worked with Gambetta. Salomon was a member of the Institut de France and had a distinguished career as curator of the “Musée national des Antiquités”. As for Theodore, he gained a double doctoral degree (in law and arts) at a very young age, before concentrating on ancient Greek history. He was an archaeologist, papyrologist, numismatist and musicologist, a member of the “Académie des Inscriptions et des Belles Lettres”, as well as being deputy for the Savoie department.

It was his great love of all things Greek that gave rise to the building of the Grecian villa at Beaulieu-sur-Mer, not far from Rothschild’s famous Villa Ephrussi. Madame Reinach was in fact a cousin of baron Maurice Ephrussi.

Theodore Reinach entrusted his project to Emmanuel Pontremoli (1865-1956). This architect and archaeologist, winner of the “Grand prix de Rome” and an elected member of the “Académie des Beaux Arts”, shared Reinach’s passion for ancient Greece. He fell in love with the idea and spent 6 years, from 1902 to 1908, creating the Villa Kerylos. The Greek word “Kerylos” means Halcyon or kingfisher which in Greek mythology was thought to be a bird of good omen. 


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