King's College London
Online Exhibitions
‘A brighter Hellas’: rediscovering Greece in the 19th century

Megali Idea

Map of Greece with boundary line in redThe boundary of Greecefollowing independenceOn 6 February 1833 King Otho arrived at Nauplia in Greece where he ruled for 32 years. He began his reign as an absolute monarch, but following a military coup in 1843 he was forced to draft a new constitution. From 1844, until his forced abdication in 1862, he became a constitutional monarch. Upon taking the throne, the young King faced both political and economic crises in post-war Greece.

Following independence a large Greek population found themselves living on the side of the border still under Ottoman rule. In the 1840s the concept Megali Idea or ‘Great Idea’ emerged, whereby the Greeks sought to expand their borders to include areas occupied by ethnic Greeks, including Thessaly, Epirus and Macedonia.

The map on display, published in 1837, shows the boundary of Greece following independence. By the end of the century Greece had expanded its territories, acquiring the Ionian Islands in 1864 and Thessaly in 1881. The acquisition of Epirus, Macedonia and Crete followed in 1913.

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