Hellenic Culture

"The Acropolis of Athens" by Donovan Cheney


A Labor of Love Towards our Cultural Heritage

” … For there, welcoming you as you first enter our eatery, is the great symbol of Greece’s timeless story of the birth of western civilization: The Acropolis of Athens.” - Donovan Cheney

You have only to glance upward toward the specially built loft at the back of the main room of the Yanni’s restaurant and behold what is believed to be the largest model of the Athenian Acropolis ever built, “Acropolis at Sunset: The Acropolis of Athens and the mighty Parthenon in their Golden Age.”

Designed as a three-dimensional painting, it is the masterful achievement of Seattle artist Donovan Cheney, who spent three years researching, developing, and building this remarkable miniature monument.

With the invaluable assistance of Mr. Craig Mauzy of The American School of Classical Studies in Athens, as well as the generous cooperation of the Greek government Yanni’s longtime dream of such a model for his restaurant at last came true.

Dozens of vendors across both the United States and Europe provided their services and the many, carefully selected materials used in the construction.

Of particular note is the featured landscaping. Embedded in the craggy formation below the citadel wall are several chunks of stone of varying sizes and shapes all of which were extracted from the northern slopes of the actual Acropolis rock in Athens, Greece. They were thoroughly cleaned, baked at 400 degrees farenheight for ten hours, and, by permission of the United States Customs Service, shipped here to Seattle, Washington, exclusively for this project.

The building and decorating of the different structure in the miniature were truly a labor of love, patience, and professional precision.

For example, resting on the loft floor along the front of the model is Cheney’s reproduction of the impressive Stoa of Eumenes the second, a long, two storey edifice that served as a covered walkway, public meeting place, and storage facility. This one item was constructed of over 6000 individual pieces of wood and decorative features and required nearly three months to complete!

Now just like the Athenians of old, lift your gaze above the Stoa and let it climb the wall all the way to the top.

Here, at the apex, is the crown jewel of the Acropolis, the Parthenon. This magnificent, temple-like masterpiece, considered one of the true gems of architectural history, served as a private meeting hall for city government officials. It housed not only the municipal treasury, but also an enormous statue of the goddess Athena, namesake protectress of Athens.

So acclaimed was this statue that, soon after its completion, its creator, Phidias, “the Michael Angelo of ancient times,” was chosen to travel to the site of the Olympic Games in order to design and erect the gigantic statue of Olympian Zeus, which was later designated as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Feel free to bring your binoculars so you can study the detail and color of the Parthenon’s glorious exterior, meticulously recreated from the state-of-the-art technique and most recent discoveries in archaeological research.

The beautiful statue of Athena standing next to the Parthenon was relocated farther in from the edge, rising approximately 40 feet from its base near the center of the plateau. But we wanted you to be able to see her in all her glory. After all, it is her statue, her citadel, her city. So, it is her model as well!

When you look upon this warlike statue, known as the Bronze Athena, you’re actually seeing two different statues combined by the gifted artist Cheney into one, perfect representation, then painted. That’s right! Two different miniatures of Athena were shipped to his studio from Athens, and he used the best aspect of each to arrive at the splendid result you see before you.

The legendary Acropolis, the “high city” on the rock, was, of course, a fortress in times of need, but its daily function was a place of festivity, oratory, discussion, worship, and of celebration of the arts, of athletics, of Greek culture in all its facets.

Classical scholars have long since speculated that, if the ancients had continued their list of architectural splendors, the Athenian Acropolis, with its incomparable Parthenon, might very well have been named the Eighth Wonder of the World.


And so, just as history still celebrates the Acropolis as the Acropolis still celebrates life, we at Yanni’s gladly and proudly celebrates both, as well as our opportunity to serve and celebrate you, our friends new and old.

When “Acropolis at Sunset” was unveiled on November 2nd, 2003, it was a joyous Seattle event, covered by the local press and receiving congratulatory greetings from such luminaries as His Excellency the United States Ambassador to Greece, His Excellency the Greek consul General to the United States, and His esteemed Excellency the President of Greece, Chief-of-State of the Government of the Hellenic Republic.

We are deeply grateful to these illustrious dignitaries for taking the time to acknowledge our humble efforts. We further feel the deepest gratitude to our many advisors, consultants, suppliers, and friends of the Acropolis Project.

But, above all we wish to express our profound appreciation to the people of Seattle, to our local restaurant critics, to our loyal patrons, and to our first-time visitors stopping by to see what all the fun and full tummies are about.

This splendid model, this unique portrait of the Athenian Acropolis in its golden age, is our gift, our sincerest thank-you to all of you.

Hellenic Culture

"The Acropolis of Athens"