The University of Athens was inaugurated on 3 May 1837 and was housed in the residence of architect Stamatis Cleanthes, on the north east side of the Acropolis. It was the first University not only in the newly-established Greek State but in all the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean in general. The Othonian University, as it was called before taking its present name, National and Capodistrian University of Athens, consisted of four Faculties, Theology, Law, Medicine and Arts (which included applied sciences and mathematics) It had 33 professors, 52 students and 75 non-matriculated auditors.
New Classes began in a new building which designed by Danish architect Christian Hansen, in November 1841. At the same time as the Main University Building was being erected, work was also in progress on the library, the scientific collections, the laboratories and the annexes essential for the teaching and training of the students. By 1840 fifteen thousand volumes had been donated or purchased for the library.
A major change in the stucture of the university came about in 1904, when the Faculty of Arts was split into two separate Faculties : that of Arts and that of Sciences, the latter consisting of the departments of Physics and Mathematics and the School of Pharmacy. In 1919 a department of Chemistry was added, and in 1922 the school of Pharmacy was renamed a Department.
A further change came about when the School of Dentistry now Department of was added to the Faculty of Medicine. In this first and heroic period for Greek education, the professors of the University made superhuman efforts to bridge rhe gap between their newly founded institution and equivalent ones in advanced countries with centuries of tradition behind them. In the meantime, the number of students was rising.
From 52 in 1837 enrolment reached 3358 in 1866 and calculations inticate that as a proportion of the Greek State the students represented a percentage higher than and sometimes in excess of that in the European states twenty years laterand ten times greater than that of other Balkan states and Russia. Between 1895 and 1911 an average of one thousand new students entered the Faculties each year, a figure which rose to two thousand at the end of World War I.
This led to the decision to introduce entrance examinations for all the Faculties, beginning in the academic year 1927-28. Since 1954 the number of students admitted each year has been fixed by the Ministry of Education and Religion, on the proposal of the Faculties. In the 1960’s construction work began on the University Campus in the suburb of Zografou. The completed Campus buildings now include those of Arts and Theology, some Departments of the Faculty of Sciences and the Students Hall of Residence.