I can’t help but gush over the Benaki Museum in Athens, Greece. Trust me, if you’re planning a trip to Athens, this is one museum you simply must visit. So, buckle up because I’m about to convince you why the Benaki Museum should be on your visit to Athens.
Located in the heart of the city, and close to other great museums including the Goulandris Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology, the Numismatic Museum of Athens, and the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Benaki Museum is nestled in the vibrant and historical Kolonaki district. It’s just a stone’s throw away from Syntagma Square, so it’s incredibly easy to access by public transport or a leisurely stroll. In fact, while you’re at it, why not grab a coffee at one of the many nearby cafés and soak up the Athenian atmosphere?
Now, you might be wondering, “Why is it called ‘Benaki’?” Well, it’s named after its founder, Antonis Benakis, a prominent Greek art collector and philanthropist. His vision was to create a museum showcasing Greece’s rich cultural heritage, and he generously donated his entire collection to make this dream a reality. Established in 1930, the museum has since grown to become one of the most beloved cultural institutions in the city.
The Benaki Museum is also known as the “Benaki Museum of Greek Culture” to distinguish it from its sister museums, which include the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art, the Ghika Gallery, and the Toy Museum. These satellite museums are all worth a visit, but for now, let’s focus on the main event – the Benaki Museum of Greek Culture.
Stepping into the museum, you’ll be instantly captivated by the vast collection spanning over 40,000 exhibits. It’s a treasure trove of Greek history and culture, offering visitors a comprehensive journey through the ages – from prehistoric times to the modern era. Each floor of the beautifully restored neoclassical building is dedicated to a different period, creating a chronological narrative that’s as educational as it is fascinating.
One of the standout aspects of the Benaki Museum is its extensive collection of Byzantine art. The museum houses an impressive array of sculptures, pottery, jewellery, and other artefacts that paint a vivid picture of life in ancient Greece. Marvel at the intricate mosaics, ornate icons, and illuminated manuscripts that bear witness to the opulence and skill of this remarkable era. And if you’re a fan of ancient Greek history, you won’t be disappointed.
But it’s not all about the past – the Benaki Museum also celebrates Greece’s more recent history. Delve into the world of modern Greek art and be captivated by the works of great artists such as Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas, Yannis Tsarouchis, and Yiannis Moralis. The museum’s ever-evolving contemporary art exhibitions inspire and provoke thought, so be prepared to spend a good chunk of time getting lost in their captivating displays.
In addition to the permanent collections, the museum frequently hosts temporary exhibitions, often featuring internationally acclaimed artists and artefacts. These special exhibitions are a treat for art and history enthusiasts, providing fresh perspectives and unique insights into various aspects of Greek culture.
Now, if you’re anything like me, after a couple of hours exploring the museum, you’ll probably be craving a break and maybe a bite to eat. Well, you’re in luck. The Benaki Museum has a fantastic rooftop café-restaurant with a panoramic view of Athens. It’s the perfect spot to unwind, indulge in some delicious Greek cuisine, and soak up the spectacular vista of the Acropolis and Lycabettus Hill. Trust me, there’s no better way to recharge your batteries before diving back into the museum’s countless treasures.
To top it all off, the museum’s gift shop is a haven for souvenir hunters and art lovers alike. You’ll find an array of beautiful items, from authentic Greek pottery and jewellery to unique art prints and books. It’s the ideal place to pick up a memento of your visit or a special gift for someone back home.
Based on my personal experience, these top two Benaki Museum tickets are a must for any visitor. If you’re keen on exploring all the options, just click right here for the complete list of tickets to make the most of your visit.