Posts Tagged ‘Greek History’

The Benaki Museum

December 14, 2009

If you have a few days to spend in Athens, a must is the Benaki Museum! The building is neo-classical and was originally a private home, belonging to the very prominent Benaki family. They were wealthy Greeks of the Diaspora in Egypt but also owned property in Greece. Adonis Benakis (1873-1954) was the one to start collecting various artifacts, mainly Islamic art at first and later ancient Greek and Byzantine and eventually this would turn into one of the largest private collections in the world. His sister, Penelope Delta (1874-1941) was the first author of children’s books in Modern Greek and therefore deserves a mention.

The Benaki Museum now houses over 50.000 artifacts and the visitor can literally walk through Greek history, starting with pre-historic objects and ending with 19th century costumes, artworks and items. The museum is a short walking distance from Syntagma square: just walk along Vasilissa Sofias avenue and you will soon see it on your left hand side. It also has a wonderful restaurant on the roof terrace!

Here follows a few photographs with captions of what you can see in the museum. (The reference points can be found in our book A History of Skiathos.)

Ancient mummy portraits from Egypt. These portraits are said to have inspired later icon painting.

Byzantine icons. Here a very unusual motif: The Virgin breast feeding baby Jesus.

A private Greek home during Ottoman Rule.

Traditional costumes from Skopelos (left) and Skiathos.

Lord Byron's actual weapons and mobile work desk. He played an important part in the Struggle for Independence and died in Greece.

Official court dresses from the second king of Greece, George I's, rule. It was his wife, Queen Olga, who supposedly ran into the Evagelistria Monastery, which at the time was forbidden for women. Legend has it that she got her punishment though!

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