A few months ago, I shared 5 must-visit museums in Athens. Those are the ones that will give you the best overview of Greek history from antiquity to the 20th century. They are not the only museums in Athens though. Last April I got a glimpse of the Numismatic Museum during Open House Athens, and later on, in May, I took advantage of the World Museums’ Day (on May 18th) and visited 5 additional museums! I’ll be presenting them in this post, so, without further ado, let’s get into this.
Museum of the City of Athens
The name is somewhat misleading. Initially, I thought that it was a museum about Athens’ history throughout the centuries. Not so. The museum building was King Otto’s first residence in Athens. When the palace (now serving as the Greek Parliament) was finally finished the royal couple moved there, and the original residence was turned into a museum so that we today can get a small glimpse into the life of Greece’s first royals back in the day. Apart from the royal memorabilia, you get to see how the houses of affluent Athenians were outfitted in late 19th – early 20th century, thanks to various donations.
My favorite rooms in the museum can be seen in the photo above. The far room (the one with the painting) contains donations from the Papastratos family, the owners of a large Greek tobacco company. In that room, you can see several paintings of Kiki Papastratos as well as love letters from Greek writer Kostas Ouranis to her.
Practical Information: The museum is located on 5 Paparrigopoulou street. The closest metro station is Panepistimio and the entrance fee is 5€. More information about opening times and days can be found on the museum’s website.
National Historical Museum
A few blocks up from the Museum of the City of Athens lies the National Historical Museum. The museum building served as the Parliament of Greece from 1875 to 1935, and that’s why locals refer to it as the “Old Parliament”. The museum covers the history of Greece from the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 up to the Greek-Italian War of 1940-41. Most notably it covers the Greek War of Independence from Ottoman rule, which began in 1821. The story is told through paintings and engravings, flags and weapons, personal items of historical figures, documents, utensils and traditional costumes. Aside from the exhibits, you can also see the old Parliament hall.
Practical Information: The museum is located on 13 Stadiou street. The closest metro stations are Syntagma and Panepistimio. The entrance fee is 3€. More information about opening times and days can be found on the museum’s website.
Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum
Ilias Lalaounis was a renowned Greek jeweler. He created his brand back in the 60s and through the years expanded to Europe, Asia and America. He also became the first goldsmith to be honored by the Institut de France, Academie des Beaux Arts et des Lettres.
The museum houses over 4000 pieces of jewelry designed by Ilias Lalaounis between 1994 and 2000. The jewelry is inspired by Greek history, foreign cultures, flora, space etc. It’s a small museum but totally worth visiting.
Practical Information: The museum is located on Karyatidon street near the Acropolis museum. Closest metro station is Acropolis. The entrance fee is 5€. More information about opening times and days can be found on the museum’s website.
Museum of Islamic Art
This is my favorite of all the museums included in this post, probably because it deals with culture and art so different to the Ancient and Folk Greek ones. Plus, I love Islamic art. Whenever I visited Victoria & Albert Museum in London (which is more than once) I was always drawn to the Islamic art exhibits.
The museum has artifacts from Iran, Iraq, the Middle East, North Africa and many other countries that were conquered by the Ottomans and Arabs. Antonis Benakis initially started collecting them in Egypt at the beginning of the 20th century. His collection was then enriched with other donations.
Practical information: The Museum of Islamic Art is located on 22 Agion Asomaton street. Closest metro station is Thisseio. More information about opening times and days can be found on the museum’s website.
Benaki Museum 138 Pireos street
This is an annex to Benaki museum that houses temporary exhibitions. When I visited I saw some of Documenta 14 exhibits and video installations called Paratoxic Paradoxic. More information about this exhibition can be found here.
Practical information: the museum is located on 138 Pireos street. The closest metro station is Kerameikos. Then you can walk (it’s a 10-minute walk) or take a bus. More information about opening times and days can be found on the museum’s website.
Numismatic Museum Athens
The Numismatic museum is housed in the former residence of renowned German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, designed by the famous German architect Ernst Ziller. The former is known for his excavations and the discovery of Troy and Mycenae, the latter for his neoclassical style.
The museum houses over 500.000 coins dating from 14th century BCE to this day. Most of the coins are from the 6th BCE to the 5th century CE. What I enjoyed more than the exhibits is the building itself. It’s beautifully decorated with frescoes, even in the balconies outside (see photo here).
Practical Information: the museum is located on 12 El. Venizelou (Panepistimiou) street. The closest metro station is Syntagma. More information about opening times and days can be found on the museum’s website.
So there you have it! 6 (not so well known) museums to visit in Athens!
Don’t forget to read about the 5 must visit museums in Athens!