Evangelis Zappas was born in 1800 at a village of Epirus. In 1831 he immigrated to Bucharest, where he became one of the most important and wealthiest landowners.
Influenced by an article by the Greek poet Alexandros Soutsos, in which the need to revive the Olympic Games in modern times was underlined, Zappas decided to promote this idea and to fund this effort. After his agreement with the Greek government, the Zappian Games were organized, a combination of agricultural and industrial exhibits with athletic games.
Zappas died in 1865, leaving a large part of his enormous fortune to the organization of the Zappian Games, in order to take place every four years "according to our ancestors", as he said. According to his will, his body was buried in Roumania and his skull was transferred to the new Olympic building in Athens, which was named after him. The visitors of Zappeion can still see the inscription: "Here lies the head".