Athens Benaki Museum

Location: Vasilissis Sofias Ave
Don't miss: Museums guide (free admission dates and other useful info)

Within walking distance from Syntagma Square, on Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, an impressive and imposing neoclassical building attracts the attention of passers-by. It is the Benaki Museum, which was founded in 1930 and has since become a leading cultural institution in Greece.
Its premises house over 100,000 exhibits from all periods of Greek history (prehistory to the 20th century).

The museum was founded by Antonios Benakis in the house bought by his father, the merchant and politician Emmanuel Benakis.
Over the years, its collection became increasingly enriched, resulting in the creation and donation of additional space to house the many exhibits.
Today, in addition to the main building in Kolonaki, eight other spaces belong to the Benaki Museum.

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The core of the complex that was to house the muses was formed in 1895 and was owned by the businessman Panagis Harokopos. In 1910, Emmanuel Benakis, a businessman then living in Alexandria, Egypt, purchased the building as a new home for his family who were coming to live in Athens. A year later, a ballroom was added to the house, while the famous architect Anastasios Metaxas (who had assisted in the restoration of the Panathenaic Stadium) was responsible for the exterior and interior design of the building.

In 1926, Emmanuel Benakis' son Antonis, then 53 years old, decided to leave Egypt and come to Athens. He is the founder of the museum. In order for the building to be converted into a museum, an additional wing was added to the interior (1930).

In 1931, the Benaki Museum was inaugurated. The ceremony was attended by the then Prime Minister of Greece Eleftherios Venizelos and the President of the Republic Alexandros Zaimis. The archaeologist Theodoros Makridis was appointed director of the museum.
The first major donation to the museum's collection was made in 1936 by the collector Georgios Evmorfopoulos, who donated works of Chinese art to the museum.

The beginning of World War II (1939) made Antonis Benakis decide to hide all the exhibits in the museum. He placed them all in special boxes, while bags filled with sand were placed in the openings of the museum to protect the building from bombing.

By the time of Antonis Benakis' death in 1954, the museum had collected 26,666 objects, 10,410 books and 146 archival units of historical documents. Two years later, Dimitrios Sisilianos donated to the museum a painting by El Greco, depicting Apostle Luke painting the Virgin Mary.

Over time, several additions of space were made to house the museum's growing number of exhibits. The spaces that have been added are both interior and exterior and additional buildings in other areas of Athens and Greece that function as branches of the main museum on Vassilisis Sofias Avenue.
As of 2006, the museum's collections consist of 47,388 objects, 217,515 photo negatives and 16,499 originals, over 70,000 books, 537 archival units of historical documents and 32 archival units of Modern Greek Architecture.


• Prehistoric, Ancient Greek and Roman Art
• Byzantine Art
• Islamic Art
• Chinese and Korean Art
• Coptic Art
• Pre-Columbian Art
• Historic Heirlooms
• Post-Byzantine and Neo-Hellenic Art
• Nikos Hadjikyrakos-Ghika Gallery
• Childhood, Toys and Games
• Collection of Paintings, Drawings and Prints
• Yannis Pappas Studio
• Library

Venues and Opening Hours

The spaces that house the exhibits of the Benaki Museum are:

► The Main Building (former Benaki Residence), which first functioned as a museum. It is also called the Museum of Greek Culture, as it houses a unique exhibition presenting the course of Greek culture.
Address: 1 Koumbari Street and Vasilissis Sofias Avenue (Kolonaki)
Opening Hours:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday: 10:00 - 18:00
Thursday: 10:00 - 00:00
Sunday: 10:00 - 16:00
Closed on Tuesday

► The Pireos 138 Building, situated around a courtyard, is of an area of 8,200 square meters, with exhibition halls spanning 3,00 square meters.
Address: 138 Pireos and Andronikou Street (Petralona)
Opening Hours:
Thursday and Sunday: 10:00 - 18:00
Friday and Saturday: 10:00 - 22:00
Closed Monday to Wednesday

► The Museum of Islamic Art, the exhibits of which are housed in two neo-classical houses in Kerameikos Neighborhood.
Address: 22 Agion Asomaton Street and 12 Dipilou Street (Kerameikos)
Opening Hours:
Thursday to Sunday: 10:00 - 18:00
Closed Monday to Wednesday

► The Ghika Gallery, a building owned by the praised Greek painter Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, who donated it to the museum, and now houses artworks of his
Address: 3 Kriezotou Street (Syntagma)
Opening Hours:
Friday and Saturday: 10:00 - 18:00
Closed Monday to Thursday
Closed throughout August

► The Yannis Pappas Studio, presenting the works of the famous Greek sculpturer and painter Yannis Pappas in the space where he created them.
Address: 38 Anakreontos Street (Zografou)
Opening Hours:
Tuesday, Friday and Sunday: 10:00 - 14:00
Closed on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday
Closed throughout August

► The Benaki Toy Museum is home to numerous toys originating from Europe, Asia, North and South America and Africa.
Address: 14 Poseidonos Street & 1 Tritonos Street (Paleo Faliro)
Opening Hours:
Thursday to Sunday: 10:00 - 18:00
Closed Monday to Wednesday
Closed throughout August

► The Mentis-Antonopoulos (NEMA) Passementerie is a unique passementerie showcasing the manufacture of braids, ribbons, curtain ties and tassels, using the old methods of manufacture to this day.
Address: 6 Polyfemou Street (Petralona)
Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00 - 15:00
Closed on Sunday and Monday
Closed throughout August

► The Delta House, the former residence of the renowned Greek writer Penelope Delta, now houses many archives of the Benaki Museum.
Address: 38 Emmanuel Benaki Street & Stefanou Delta Street (Kifissia)
Opening Hours:
Wednesday: 10:00 - 15:00
Closed on the rest of the days

► The Leigh Fermor House, donated by Patrick and Joan Fermor to the Benaki Museum in 1996. The house organizes educational activities in collaboration with educational institutions and visits and cultural events for the public.
Address: Kardamyli, Mani, Peloponnese

Official website:

How to get there

There are many ways to reach the Benaki Museum from any location in Athens.

Tours: Discover the Benaki Museum with an organized tour.

Private transfers: We recommend using an online pre-booked transfer service, which provides transfer by taxi, minibus, or private VIP car and arranging a pickup directly from the port, airport, or your hotel. Alternatively, there’s the option of arranging a pickup by a local driver directly at the following numbers: (0030) 18288, (0030) 18222, (0030) 18180. You can also book your taxi online.

On foot: As the Benaki Museum is located in a central area of Athens, it can be easily reached on foot from Syntagma Square or Evangelismos Metro Station in approximately 10 minutes.

By metro: The closest metro station is Syntagma (Red Line and Blue Line). Note that the Benaki Museum is located within a 10-minute walking distance from the metro. Get a map of the metro here.

By bus/trolleybus: The closest bus stop is “Kipos”. Check the routes and the official timetables on OASA Telematics.



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