History of the school (Gymnasium and Lyceum)

Ionidios School of Piraeus was Founded in 1847, and it was named after the Greek national benefactor Constantinos Ionides. 


(Oil painting - Constantine Ionides,  Victoria & Albert Museum - London - U.K)

Situated in Korai Square, opposite the Municipal Theatre and next to the Town Hall, in the heart of Piraeus, Ionidios School of Piraeus has a long history. Piraeus is the historic port of the city of Athens. The school was founded in 1847 and it was named after the Greek wholesale-merchant and national benefactor Constantinos Ionides or Ipliksis, who had made a fortune in Constantinople and London. Ionides was born in 1775 in Constantinople, where he spent his early life, and set up his large family. After having lost his fortune during the Greek Revolution of 1821, he moved to England aiming to export Manchester cloth to Greece and Turkey. There, he prospered again, based on not much more than a motto given to him by his father in his will: never spend more than a third of your income; give away a third in charity and save a third. His son Alexander settled in Manchester in 1827 changing his name (Ipliksis) to Ionides (Ion was the mythical ancestor of the Ionians, therefore Ionides means "the Greek") and founded the firm of Ionides and Co.

       Around 1842 he returned to Athens and donated large amounts of money to the University of Athens. In addition, he financed the construction of hospitals and an orphanage, as well as several schools. One of these is our own.

            It was him that the then Mayor of Piraeus, Homirides Skylitsis, appealed to in 1844, asking his contribution to build schools in Piraeus. Responding to the Mayor’s appeal, Ionides offered a considerable sum of money (30.000 Drachmas), with which the first two schools, called “Ionideian Schools”, where built in the city. Later, in 1862 they were changed into a secondary school, a gymnasium, which remained the only secondary school in Piraeus until 1914, when the second Secondary school in the city was founded. Then the school was renamed as “1st Gymnasium of Piraeus”.

            Ionidios School operated in the original building from 1847 to 1932. The building was then demolished so that the present school building could be built on the same piece of land. The new building housed the School, as well as a number of shops on the ground floor. Since then, the rent for the shops has been yielding considerable income to the school community. In 1963 the school was renamed “Ionidios Protipo (= Model) School” and in 1986 as “Ionidios experimental Gymnasium and Lyceum”.

            Ionidios is a Public School. Currently, its students are chosen every June from a large number of candidates, through a rigorous and competitive examination. The number of students entering is 108 for Gymnasium (Middle School) and 108 for Lyceum (High School). Since both the Gymnasium and the Lyceum consist of 3 grades each, total enrollment is always around 650 students. The teaching staff is comprised of 80 people, both men and women, most of whom have extensive teaching experience and hold Doctorates or Master’s Degrees.


            The four- storey building housing the School, built in 1932 as mentioned above, is renovated at regular intervals and is situated at the heart of the city of Piraeus, the biggest Port of Greece. On the ground floor, apart from the Lobby and the door-keeper’s Lodge, lie the Auditorium, the Information Technology Laboratory and the school Canteen. On the first floor there is the Gym, the Playground, the Chemistry Laboratory, the Multi-media Laboratory, the Library, and four classrooms. The offices of the principals, Vice-principals the Teachers and the Secretariat for the Gymnasium and for the Lyceum as well as the Science and Biology Laboratories, plus four classrooms are to be found on the second floor. The third and the fourth floors are occupied exclusively by classrooms.

            The school library dates from 1847, when the benefactor, Ionides, offered an additional amount of money for the needs of the newly-built schools and the creation of a school library. It is housed in a 90 sq. m. room. It comprises two kinds of book collections: the old one and the new one, totaling approximately 14,000 volumes, plus a considerable number of magazines, which are bought by the school itself. There are also computers through which books can be searched electronically. The school library is constantly being enriched. In addition to the collection of old books, the school has in its possession some very old, nineteenth century, most-valued scientific instruments.

Since its establishment, Ionidios School has continued to play an active role in the intellectual and social life of the city of Piraeus and its suburbs. The school has participated in several educational and scientific projects, both national and international, many of which have been carried out under the auspices of Greek Universities, the Pedagogical Institute or the Ministry of Education, thanks to the voluntary contribution of students and teachers.

Each year, a considerable number of the school students participate and excel in various examinations and competitions, such as the Hellenic University Entrance Examinations and the competitions of the Hellenic Mathematics and Physics Association, as well as in the athletic school leagues and in various athletic events.

Furthermore, every year, school editions are funded by the School to present its teacher and student work. Examples are the Gymnasium’s Magazine Έκφραση (= Expression) and the book “Piraeus in the Modern Greek Literature”, an anthology of fragments of literary texts and poems for the city of Piraeus.

Since its foundation, some of the leading personalities of the country, such as famous writers, poets, music composers, University Professors and researchers, as well as politicians and successful professionals have been educated in Ionidios.

Graduates of the school have established the “Ionidios Graduates’ Association”, an active organization, which supports the school community in many ways and participate in various educational and cultural activities and events in the city of Piraeus.


1. Χρονικά της Ιωνιδείου Προτύπου Σχολής Πειραιά, Πειραιάς: Ιωνίδειος Πρότυπος Σχολή Πειραιά 1969.

2. "ΘΥΜΑΣΑΙ;".  Επετειακή έκδοση των αποφοίτων Ιωνιδείου 1991.

3. Μαϊστρέλλης Σ., Φλωροπούλου Α, (2007). «Ο Πειραιάς μέσα από την Ιστορία και τη λογοτεχνία», Οδηγός της πόλης για παιδιά και μεγάλους. Πειραιάς: Ιωνίδειος Σχολή Πειραιά, Εν. Πειρ. Λύκειο.

4. Constantine Alexander Ionides and his Bequest to the V&A, The Family, At: http://www.vam.ac.uk/nal/guides/ionides/index.html


Malitsa Maria, English Language Teacher and Palmou Maria, Greek Language Teacher, School librarian.