When you leave the centre of the town of Aegina heading east, you will encounter a large, impressive and characteristic building which was once the Orphanage of Aegina.
The Orphanage was the first Greek public building built by order of Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias to host the approximately 600 children orphaned during the 1821 War of Independence, who had been brought to the island for their safety, offering them housing, food and education.
The officials of Aegina granted this plot of about 3 acres and the citizens of Aegina granted an area of 13.6 acres located in front of the building to serve as a garden. It was built quickly, in less than a year, and there were used stones from the ancient theatre and the ancient walls of Aegina.
The building, apart from serving as orphanage, housed, among other things, mutual teaching schools, vocational arts workshops, the National Library, the National Archaeological Museum, the Military Academy, the National Printing Office and the National Conservatory. Later, from 1880 and for about a century, prisons for criminal and political prisoners operated in that building. The last use of the building concerned the housing for a few years of the Hellenic Wildlife Rescue Centre (ΕΚPΑΖ) of Aegina which now has its own facilities in the central island (Metochi).
Today this legendary building is under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture in order to be restored and used as the intertemporal Museum of History and Culture of Aegina.
The 1,500 books collected by Kapodistrias from abroad for the education of children were the reason for the creation of the first Greek library and are now in the National Library that houses the Stavros Niarchos Foundation in Athens.