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The Benáki Museum

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The often overlooked but fascinating Benáki Museum houses a private collection donated to the state in the 1950s by Antónis Benákis, a wealthy cotton merchant. Its exhibits range from Mycenaean jewellery, Greek costumes and folk artefacts to memorabilia of Byron and the Greek War of Independence, as well as jewellery from the Hélène Stathatos collection.

Among the more unusual items are collections of early Greek Gospels, liturgical vestments and church ornaments rescued by Greek refugees from Asia Minor in 1922. There are also some dazzling embroideries and body ornaments and unique historical material on the Cretan statesman Eleftherios Venizelos, Asia Minor and the Cretan Revolution. An additional attraction, especially if you’ve been dodging traffic all day, is the rooftop café, with views over the nearby National Gardens. The museum shop stocks a fine selection of art books and CDs, plus some of the best posters and postcards in the city.

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