Last Updated on August 3, 2022 by Celeste.
The Byzantine Museum in Athens Greece is an interesting collection of Byzantine and Christian art. History-loving families will enjoy a visit. Here’s what you can expect at the Byzantine Museum Athens.
Byzantine and Christian Museum
Everyone knows the Acropolis Museum or the Archaeological Museum in Athens. But there are many other lesser-known museums that are worth your visit.
Having tried nearly every museum in Athens, we could not skip the Byzantine Museum. So we spent an afternoon in the museum with the kids (between 9 and 12 years old) admiring religious treasures, artifacts and murals. We also had lunch in the nice restaurant next to the museum.
If you do plan to add this museum to your sightseeing itinerary in Athens, you should probably allow an hour for a visit with kids.
Where to find the Byzantine Museum in Athens, Greece
The museum is located on the 22 Vassilissis Sofias Avenue in Athens. It’s just a short walk away from Syntagma Square in the center of Athens. The museum is located right next to the Athens War Museum and the Cycladic Art Museum is just over the road. The National Gallery of Athens is a five-minute walk away. Finally, the Aristotle’s Lyceum is next to the museum gardens.
The Museum is just a few meters from the Evangelismos Metro station and at a 15-minute walk from Syntagma Square. There is a parking garage around the corner and a bus stop right outside the entrance of the museum.
Opening Hours for Byzantine Museum
Monday – Sunday : 09:00-16:00
Closed: 1st January, 25th March, Good Friday (open: 12.00-17.00), Easter, 1st May,
What you will see at The Byzantine Museum
The Byzantine & Christian Museum is housed in the lovely Neo-Classical Villa Ilissia. It was built in 1848 as the residence of Sophie de Marbois-Lebrun, the philanthropic US-born Duchess of Plaisance. Having had an architectural facelift in 2004, the museum has one of the best displays of Byzantine icons and mosaics on earth.
Its exhibits are in chronological order starting at the early Christian and Greek Byzantine culture from the 4th century onwards. There are more than 25,000 treasures on display from across the Greek world including religious statuary removed from ruined churches in the wider Athens area.
You will enter the museum through an impressive gated entrance, and then emerge onto a courtyard. A courtyard is a beautiful place full of lavender, colorful flowers, and olive trees. Our kids had a great time just exploring the gardens and running around the large square at the back of the museum.
Greek families will understand the heritage of their culture while foreign families can learn more about Greek history. The exhibition is a well-curated, well-lit gallery, with multi-lingual labeling and displays spread over several floors. The collection is marked with both Greek and English translations.
t helps if you know a bit more about the Byzantine period (the Byzantine Empire was between 330 and 1453) before your visit. The museum is not for very young kids. The collections are carefully protected by the museum staff and nothing is to be touched. Thankfully, there is lots of outdoor space for kids to let go of excessive energy.
The Byzantine Museum in Athens Greece for families
The exhibitions at the Byzantine and Christian Museum offer the whole family a creative learning experience and is stroller accessible. The museum developed the following for families with kids:
- Making use of the printed educational material available free of charge at the entrance to the exhibitions during their visit.
- Taking part in the wide-ranging educational/interpretative activities in the Greek language staged at the Museum during the year.
The gardens of The Byzantine Museum
If your children are too young to visit the museum, you may still want to wander through its beautiful gardens (free of charge). The gardens of The Byzantine Museum are a true oasis in the heart of the city where visitors can take an imaginary journey through history and art. There are many seating areas under fruit trees, surrounded by aromatic herbs and fountains.
Three small themed exhibitions of historic and archaeological interest are permanently presented in the gardens:
- The Well-Cistern, on how Athens was supplied with water from ancient times to the present;
- Paradise, on the Byzantine concept of Paradise in life and the afterlife; and
- The River Ilissos, on the development of the fluvial landscape on the banks of the Ilissos from antiquity to modern times.
You can find a printable map and educational material about the gardens on the website of the museum.
Café Restaurant Ilisia at the Byzantine Museum
We had lunch at a large table at the Ilisia Café and Restaurant located inside the courtyard of the museum. It is a very pleasant and peaceful environment, for a coffee, dessert, or a light meal. The kids choose burgers, club-sandwich and ice cream. The moms had a nice time chatting while our kids were playing games and exploring the museum gardens.
Opening hours of the Café Restaurant: every day from 09.00 a.m. to 18.00 p.m. We recommend Ilisia regardless if you visit the museum or not.
Family Friendly Tours and tickets to The Byzantine Museum
If you prefer to join an organized tour of the museum instead of venturing out on your own, we recommend the following excursions.
Disclaimer: This blog post has a number of affiliate links placed. If you decide to book through these links, you will be helping us to fund our blog and perhaps the next adventure. More importantly, it doesn’t cost you anything extra!
This flexible 2- hour skip-the-line private guided tour of the Byzantine Museum is great for people who want to avoid the crowds and understand more about Greek history and contemporary life. With a licensed professional guide, you will learn how the Byzantine period is still heavily present in the lives of modern Greeks who still worship in mosaic and fresco-covered Byzantine churches today. For family’s the tour is specially tuned for the needs of young group members, with more Greek Mythology commentary & stories.
Families who love Ancient History may like to book a Private Half Day Tour (4 hours) including a luxury car transfer to the Byzantine Museum, Aristotle’s Lyceum, and the Ancient Agora. The tour includes skip-the-line tours by a licensed professional guide and the transfer by Mercedes car with car seats or boosters (upon request). Kids will enjoy these three sites because they have much green space to safely run around and explore. This tour is for people who want to have a relaxed experience because the driver will meet you in the lobby of your hotel/apartment or at your cruise terminals.
For museum-loving families, we recommend the Half Day Private Best Museums Tour. During this tour, you will visit two museums that you will choose from a list of the 6th best in Athens. By luxury Mercedes, an English-speaking driver will take you to your favorite stops where a professional licensed guide meets you. We recommend you choosing The Byzantine Museum with the Cycladic Art Museum. The second one is right across from The Byzantine Museum and is great for kids. You can also pick the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, the National History Museum or the Benaki Museum.
While the above tours focus on museums and (Ancient) history, we also wanted to include an activity highlighting the Byzantine times. The Medieval Athens Walking Tour with Late Lunch and Wine is such an activity. Although we certainly do not promote drinking wine for families, this tour ends in the beautiful restaurant of The Byzantine Museum which is very family-friendly. The tour takes you around several medieval gems of Athens, the Church of Kapnikarea, the Ottoman Fethiye Mosque, and the Byzantine and Christian Museum.
Museums in Athens
If you love museums as much as we do, you can see a list of museums and other activities in Athens here – Top things to do in Athens with Kids. Other museums that you may find interesting for your family are:
Celeste was born and raised in the Netherlands but lives in Greece for 25 years. She studied at the Dutch Institute of Athens underneath the Acropolis and currently lives with her family in an Athenian suburb. Celeste is the founder of Family Experiences Blog. Whether you and your family live in Greece or are visiting, this blog will show you the very best ways in which to celebrate family life here.