Dating back to antiquity and the Byzantine period, the Benaki Museum’s collection gives a captivating overview of Greek history throughout the ages.
The private collection was cultivated by Antonis Benakis, a wealthy cotton merchant, in memory of his father Emmanuel Benakis. Housed in the original Benaki family mansion, it is an impressive neoclassical building and one of the few that survived the architectural post-war destruction.
The highlights of the permanent exhibition are the reconstruction of reception rooms found in stately mansions in Greek Macedonia in the mid 18th century. Rescued in the 1930s, they feature the original gilded ceilings and wood paneled walls. It’s a rare glimpse at how the other half lived during this period and a good example of decorative fusions between central European, Ottoman and Byzantine styles.
A film directed by Athina Tsaggari, narrated by Willem Dafoe and produced by Faliro House productions, is dedicated to the Benaki Museum and its founder. Music by Marilena Orfanou.
Why Athens Tips:
- Every Thursday and Saturday the museum is open until 12 midnight and you can finish off your visit at their restaurant which has views over the Acropolis and the National Gardens
- The Byzantine and War Museums are both within walking distance to the Benaki Museum
- The museum shop is a worthwhile visit with some of the best reproductions of Greece’s antiquities.