Athens is a city full of museums. I’ve been told there’s over 200 of them! So for history buffs there’s plenty to choose from. But if you don’t have six months up your sleeve to see them all, then one of the must visit places that gives you a great cross section of exhibits to enjoy is the Benaki Museum. Housed in a mansion located opposite the National Garden on Queen Sofia’s Avenue, the collection spans all ages of Greek culture and history, with an emphasis on foreign influences. It’s incredibly unique in this regard, which is why it’s such a fascinating place to visit.
The Benaki Museum was established in 1930 by Antonis Benakis in memory of his late father Emmanuel Benakis. The following year he donated the family’s home in downtown Athens as well as their vast collection of over 37,000 Islamic and Byzantine artifacts. Since then even more objects have been added to the exhibits, many of which have been donated by outside sources who were inspired by what Antonis had done. What’s brilliant about the museum is that it tells the story of Greece’s evolution through art, books, documents and other relics, creating a tangible sense for the many varied influences the country has had across thousands of years.
We were fortunate enough to be able to film here in the first episode of My Greek Odyssey. We only managed to scratch the surface of what’s on offer, so to properly see it, make sure you allocate half a day to explore the exhibits.