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Stavros Melissinos, the poet-sandlemaker of AthensStavros Melissinos
The Poet-Sandalmaker of Athens

He is sitting on his chair, working with the tools he has handled for 50 years, a smile on his face. His eyes betray he is living in his own world; a world of perfection, of immense beauty, of creative harmony but, above all, a world of simple peace. Stavros Melissinos is a happy man, in heart and soul.

You would expect to find him on the beach of a small secluded Greek bay, you imagine him walking the green slopes of the Greek mountains, holding a pencil in one hand, a creased piece of paper in the other but every day you will see him walking to his shop as he has done for so many years.

It doesn’t show he is famous, that he has become a tourist attraction in Athens and one certainly can’t tell Sophia Loren, Olympic flame ceremonyRudolph Nureyev, Margo Fontain, Jacqueline Onassis, Anthony Quin, George Peppard, Ursula Andress, Josep Cotton, Garry Cooper have all worn the sandals he makes. The Beatles even have been at his shop four times. All priestesses at the Olympic flame ceremony in Olympia, walk on his sandals that are based on the footwear of Helen, Plato and Pericles. One can easily say this fragile looking, always smiling Athenian, is as well known, yes, even as much an artist, as his famous clientele is. Many of the worlds major tv stations and networks have been to see him as have uncountable newspapers and magazines. At the end of September 2004 Sofia, Queen of Spain, visited the shop. She bought a pair of sandals for Crown Prince Felipe de Borbon y Grecia.

Many times I said: stay with at your level sandalmaker
But ideas and words around me buzz like a beehive.
The immaterial swarm drinks the blooming souls dew
And the poetry’s honey is made to give life.

While creating one of the 35 models of his sandals, Stavros Melissinos creates poetry in his head. Born in 1929, the poet-sandalmaker started writing poetry during his army service in 1953. One year later he took over the shop where his father sold rubber-bottom sandals. Melissinos has published 10 books of poetry; he wrote plays and essays and translated many literary greats into Greek. A lot of his work has been translated into English, French, German and Italian. He wrote his best know work in 1959. “Melissinos Rubaiyat”, where all 127 stanzas celebrate wine and it is on the curriculum of many universities.

His poetry is lyrical, philosophical and simple. He has reached the level where one of his works, the play “Chastity Belt”, is banned in Greece for political reasons, a fact of which he is very proud.

Even if I know not where I go, from whence I came
For better or worse this world as home I claim.
Before you go have a child or plant a tree
Thus, new hope will grow to set new souls free.

History and art on sandals: Pantelis, Stavros, and SophiaStavros Melissinos and his wife Sophia Apessos, have three children; two sons and a daughter. Pantelis Melissinos is stepping in the footsteps where his fathers’ sandals went before. He was born in Athens in 1959 and studied Fine Arts (illustration and painting) at Parsons School of Design in New York. He also studied music at the Odeon Athenon and is working as a set and costume designer. He wrote three plays and he is a gifted painter with many exhibitions. Like his father, and his father before him, Pantellis also is a sandalmaker who will carry on his family’s sandal tradition.

Sophia, Stavros’ wife, is always by his side. Sitting quietly on a chair in the shop, close by her husband; she is his moral support, his living conscience, his branch when, after a high flight, the eagle lands in her tree. She does not stand in his shadow, she has become it, being happy and content with the sunlight her husband stands in.

Every day, Stavros is in his shop, making sandals with his hands, creating poetry and plays in his head. All of his creations last a life time, both because of their high quality. Difficult feet? Special size? Stavros will make the sandals for you and they will feel as if you were born with them.

Stavros Melissinos, the poet-sandalmaker of Athens and happy man, creates and radiates pure beauty …for both ends of the human body.

Location map 2 Aghias Theklas Street (opposite Monastiraki Square).
Nearest metro station Monastiraki



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