Born in Alexandria and bred in Mediterranean culture, the wealthy art dealer Antonis Benaki (1873-1954) donated his collections to the Greek State. The museum bearing his name, which retraces 5,000 years of Greek culture, from prehistory to the end of the Greco-Turkish War in 1922, opened to the public in 1931, in the collector's family home, a stone's throw from Sýntagma Square. It boasts one of the best collections of Ancient art: statuettes from the Cyclades, busts, artefacts from ancient Syrian sites, as well as Byzantine icons... Most particularly, do not miss the icon of Saint Anna, mother of the Virgin Mary, made in the 15th-century Cretan school tradition.
Long confined to the walls of this private mansion belonging to the Benákis family, over the decades the museum has continuously expanded to various other buildings in the city. At the heart of the industrial brownfield site of Gazi, in a red brick and glass 1950s building that used to be a car dealership, is where Pireos 138, its annex devoted to design, architecture and fashion, was inaugurated in 2004. In addition to installations by contemporary Greek artists like Cosmas Xenakis and Zafos Xagoraris, it hosts the Athens Photo Festival every summer in June and July. This event is the largest dedicated to the image in this part of Europe, including the Balkans. If you are in Athens at that time, do not miss it. The young Greek photographers, who are highly original and creative, deserve to be better known.
Benaki Museum of Greek Culture
Koumbari 1 & Vasilíssis Sofías Avenue
106 74 Athens
+30 210 367 1000
Pireos 138 & Andronikou
118 54 Athens
+30 210 345 3111