Athens Byzantine and Christian Museum

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

The Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens is located in the center of Athens, just a 15-minute walk from Syntagma Square. It is housed in a 19th-century Neoclassical building called Villa Ilissia.
This villa was the winter residence of Sophie de Marbois-Lebrun, commonly known in Greece as the Duchess of Plaisance.

The Duchess was a wealthy American-born lady (1785) who got married to a French military in 1804 and moved to Athens in 1830. At first, she lived in Nafplion and contributed financially to the Greek War of Independence. When Athens became the capital of the country in 1834, she moved there and constructed Villa Ilissia behind the Royal Palace. The villa took this name from river Ilissos that used to flow at that time at the south side of the gardens.

The Duchess of Plaisance died in 1854 and was buried in Mount Penteli, northern Attica. After her death, her fortune was inherited by her French nephew who later sold it to the Greek State.

The construction of the villa started in 1840 and was completed in 1848. The designs were made by Stamatis Kleanthis, a distinguished architect who had also constructed many other private and public buildings in Athens at that time. Distinguished by simplicity and strict symmetry, the exterior of the villa is covered with marble. The central building, which was the residence of the Duchess, has two floors and a basement. This imposing building stands at the far end of the yard and has a gatehouse at the entrance. Carved on the arch of the marble vaulted entrance is the name of the complex: Ilissia. In the mid-20th century, some additional buildings were erected in the garden of the villa.

The Byzantine and Christian Museum was established in 1914 and, at first, it was housed in a room of the National Archaeological Museum. In 1930, the Byzantine Museum was transferred to Villa Ilissia, after the necessary architectural changes were made to host the exhibitions. The collection of the museum contains more than 25,000 exhibits, including unique icons, sculptures, wall frescoes, ceramics, textiles and manuscripts dating from the 3rd century AD until recently. Occasionally, it also hosts permanent exhibitions.

How to get there

There are many ways to reach the Byzantine and Christian Museum from any location in Athens.

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 Byzantine and Christian Museum is located in a central area of Athens, it can be easily reached on foot from Syntagma Square in approximately 15 minutes.

By metro: The closest metro station is Evangelismos (Blue Line). Note that the Byzantine and Christian Museum is located within a 5-minute walking distance from the metro. Get a map of the metro here.

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



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