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Slide item 1

The Italian’s Portolago was built from scratch in the 1930s on an area of drained marshes on the bay of Lakki.

Photo: Markos Spanos

Slide item 2

Many buildings of this scenic town still stand, abandoned, in danger of collapse.

Photo: Markos Spanos

Slide item 3

Former Italian town hall.

Photo: Markos Spanos

Slide item 4

The Church of Agio Nikolaos, formerly the Catholic church of Saint Francis.

Photo: Markos Spanos

Slide item 5

The market hall with the imposing atrium and the clock tower.

Photo: Markos Spanos

Slide item 6-7

Market hall: clock tower (on the left) and the market’s atrium (on the right).

Photo: Markos Spanos

Slide item 8

Palazzina Comando.

Photo: Lepida

Slide item 9

Historical photograph of the Palazzina Comandoi.

Photo: Archive of the Municipality of Rhodos

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The town’s school is a hybrid of modernist and Byzantine elements.

Photo: Alamy

Slide item 11

The cinema and theatre building has been renovated and reopened; it is located next to the former “Albergo Roma” hotel that first opened in 1938.

Photo: Markos Spanos

Leros, Greece

Military base in the Mediterranean

Leros is a small Greek island and municipality in the southern Aegean Sea. Leros has a very rich architectural and military history. When the Italians built the G. Rossetti Air Base in the island of Leros (Lepida) in 1932, which later developed into the largest military base in the eastern Mediterranean, they faced the challenge of housing the officers and their families. This need led the Italian authorities to build the new town of Porto Lago (today known as Lakki). This was the largest urban planning project the Italians undertook in Greece. Porto Lago, created as an independent entity to meet the civilian needs of a military community, in terms of both architecture and urban planning is a rare example of rationalist architecture in Greece.

The urban plan for Porto Lago was approved in 1934. By 1936, there were 7,500 people living there and, in addition to the military installations, it contained all the administrative, cultural, and social services of a town. There were special residential areas for higher ranking officers (one and two storey houses), lower ranking officers (two storey complexes containing four apartments each), and workers (two storey apartment buildings).

Mario Lago (Governor of the Dodecanese) had determined that the architecture for the buildings of the new town should be in “modo razionale”, thus in accordance with the regime’s policy, which had chosen rationalist architecture as the official architecture for its public image. It was fortunate for the architecture of the Dodecanese that the designs for Porto Lago did not follow the architecture of integration the Italians adopted on Rhodes and Kos, following instead contemporary Italian trends influenced by the second exhibition of rationalist architecture.