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A unique mix of historic Athens and modern day Mediterranean culture

Athens, which sprawls well beyond its official limits, is unlike any other European capital. Home to roughly one-third of the Greek population, its fabric has been woven by successive waves of migrants – initially from the Greek provinces, today from abroad – since it was established in the 11th century B.C. The Greek capital may exhibit all the characteristics of a big city but at heart it remains a small town.

Image of Benaki Museum
Paintings (Installation View) by Dimitris Andreadis / Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Centre / The Armory Show 2010 / 20100305.7D.04014 / SMLSee-ming Lee / CC BY-SA 2.0

Benaki Museum

Benaki Museum

Famous World-renowned collection of Islamic art

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Iliada Kothra

Founder of Living Postcards

The Benaki Museum ranks among the major institutions that have enriched the material assets of the Greek state. It is also the oldest museum in Greece operating as a Foundation under Private Law. Through its extensive collections that cover several different cultural fields and its more general range of activities serving more than one social need, the Benaki Museum is perhaps the sole instance of a complex structure within the broader network of museum foundations in Greece.

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World-renowned collection of Islamic art Editors' Note

Antonis Benakis (founder of the outstanding Benaki Museum) spent much of his life in Egypt, where he amassed this 8,000-piece collection, now displayed over four floors. Exhibits hail from regions of the old Islamic world, and date from the early days of Islam, till the 19th century.

Items include an impressive collection of ceramics – ranging from 11th-century Fatimid pieces from Egypt to a colourful 16th-century Ottoman bowl from Iznik in modern Turkey, decorated with the then mega-fashionable tulip.

From the early Islamic period a stand-out piece is a pair of carved doors from eighth-century Mesopotamia. Don’t miss the exquisitely detailed tenth-century gold belt from Samarra, in modern Iraq; a 14th-century universal astrolabe, the only known surviving piece of medieval astronomical equipment of its kind; and a series of 19th-century Iranian daggers in gem encrusted or painted ceramic cases that manage to make even such deadly instruments look beautiful

The café on the top floor has magnificent views not only over Keramikos, but also of the Acropolis, Philopappus and its observatory, the hills surrounding Athens and the sparkling Saronic Gulf.

Benaki Museum
Koumpari 1, 10674 Athens
+30 21 0367 1000
9am-3pm Tue, Fri-Sun; 9am-9pm Wed.