Hi Frugalistas! Regular readers will know that I always say there is no point visiting any site just because you are there, or just because everyone else does. As far as I am concerned there isn’t really any place in the world that is a “must visit” or a “must do”. If it isn’t something that you are interested in, something that “floats your boat”, then it is a waste of your precious travel time or travel budget. So it may come as no surprise that I didn’t make the time to visit the National Archaeological Museum of Greece when I was in Athens last year. That’s right, I didn’t visit the greatest museum of ancient Greek antiquities in the very cradle of democracy and civilisation. Yes, I went to the Acropolis, and yes, I enjoyed the wonderful Acropolis Museum. But that was enough for me. My interests are different. That’s why visiting the Benaki Museum of Greek History and Culture was a much greater priority for me than another Museum of statues………………
Why visiting the Benaki Museum was important for me
Regular reasons will also know that I love costumes, textiles and crafts. I also like religious and domestic arts. So when I discovered the Benaki Museum in my guidebook when planning a trip to Athens and read about it, I knew that was the museum I really wanted to visit. Regardless of how important it was.
The Benaki Museum is a little slice of Greek historical life
The Museum building itself is a treasure – a gorgeous 19th century mansion just off Syntagma Square. Inside the Museum, displays are organised in a very logical manner. Starting on the groundfloor are a small number of antiquities. But what is more interesting among those antiquities is a display of jewellery. Far more interesting to me than any statue!
Then as you head upwards through the floors, you travel through time, with the most modern displays of Greek life on the top floor.
What to look for when visiting the Benaki Museum
The Benaki Museum can perhaps best be described as the Greek equivalent to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, for those who are familiar with that Museum. I think the best of the Benaki Museum is best summed up in this slide show:
Details for visiting the Benaki Museum of Greek History and Culture
There is more than one Benaki Museum. The Benaki Museum of Greek History and Culture costs EUR7, but is free on Thursdays (a donation will be gratefully accepted). It is located in a pretty mansion on Koumbari just a stone’s throw from Syntagma Square.
There is also a rooftop café, and a very smart (but somewhat expensive) gift shop. If you are looking for gifts beyond the usual Greek clichés it is a good place to try. In particular, there is some lovely (read pricy) jewellery if you want to treat yourself or someone special – expensive yes, but very one bag travel friendly!
If you like arts and crafts, costumes or textiles, visiting the Benaki Museum of Greek History and Culture makes a very enjoyable alternative to statues and antiquities in Athens.
Resources for your trip to AthensCheck out Athens hotels now
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