Plaka is a popular neighbourhood in Athens. It is known for its vibe, the neoclassical houses, the quaint cafes and tavernas and the souvenir shops. Few people realize that Plaka is also home to over a dozen museums!
Plaka Athens Museums
Arguably, the museums are not the first reason why someone would visit Plaka. Most visitors are attracted by the tiny alleys, the beautiful neoclassical houses and the cosy cafes.
This is understandable, and in all honesty none of the museums in Plaka are very well known. Still, they can help you put the pieces in your Athens puzzle together. Plus, it’s an easy way to see what the interior of a neoclassical house in Plaka looks like.
You could easily visit a few of them in a day, as most of them are quite small. Here is some more information about the museums in Plaka Athens.
Historical Museums in Plaka Athens
If you have already done some research about Athens, you will have come across our most important historical museums. There’s lots more than the famous Acropolis Museum!
Apart from those places though, there are a few more historical museums in Plaka.
The Canellopoulos Collection is an impressive private collection of artefacts from Ancient Greek and Byzantine times. The founders were passionate collectors of objects, which are on display in a beautiful neoclassical mansion. This museum is definitely worth a visit if you want to get a quick grasp of Greece’s long history.
The Athens University History Museum was once the residence of the first urban planners of the city of Athens. The established architects Kleanthis and Schaubert lived there from 1831 to 1835. In 1837, the building became home to the first University of Athens.
Today, it hosts several historical items, including objects used during university lectures in the previous century. Doctors and dentists will find this museum particularly interesting!
The Jewish Museum of Greece aims to present and explain the Greek Jewish heritage. Its rich collections showcase the life of the Jewish population in Greece over the centuries. It’s a fairly large museum spread on a few floors, so you might want to allow a couple of hours.
Cultural Museums in Plaka Greece
History and culture go hand-in-hand. That said, the following museums in Plaka focus more on the cultural aspect.
The Museum of Popular Music Instruments is one of my favourite museums in Athens. There are dozens of instruments on display, and visitors have access to several audio files. Children and teenagers generally love this museum. Online information is limited, but don’t let that stop you from visiting!
The Museum of Greek Folk Art currently consists of two buildings, the Bath House of the Winds and the Museum at 22 Panos Street.
If you visited Athens a few years ago, you may remember a huge permanent exhibition on Kydathinaion street. It consisted of traditional costumes from different areas of Greece, jewellery and other items.
This building is now closed, and new exhibition halls are currently under construction. I can’t wait for the new galleries to open!
The Bath House of the Winds is a public bath, built during the early days of the Ottoman Era. It is the only surviving public bath in Athens. If you have been to a hammam in Turkey, you will probably recognize the structure. Occasionally, art exhibitions are on display here.
The Museum at 22 Panos Street hosts a permanent exhibition presenting all sorts of tools from past eras. Many of them are obsolete nowadays, and it could be hard to guess the purpose they served.
Finally, the School Life and Educational Museum explains school life in Greece since the 17th century. You can see several old school books, desks, uniforms and other school items, as well as many photos.
Greek-speaking people will make the most of the museum, but there are many explanatory signs in English, so you won’t feel lost. The museum employees are very passionate, and you can them all the questions you want.
Historical Houses in Plaka
As you can imagine, not many houses in Plaka have been kept intact. The above buildings are mostly neoclassical houses which have been transformed into museums. You can also visit a couple of important houses in the area.
The Benizelos Mansion is a very impressive house right in the heart of Athens. This restored building is a superb example of an 18th century upper-class family mansion. The building was constructed over two pre-existing houses. If you’ve been to northern Greece or the Balkans, you may have seen similar buildings.
The Katakouzenos House belonged to a couple of intellectual Athenians of the early 20th century, Angelos and Leto Katakouzenos. Similarly to the Patrick Leigh Fermor house in Kardamyli, the residence functioned as a cultural centre. Moreover, the couple were art collectors, and you can see several paintings in their house.
Finally, the Aggeliki Chatzimichali Museum of Folk Art and Tradition is an early 20th century mansion. It once belonged to Aggeliki Chatzimichali, the prominent Greek ethnographer and folklore expert.
Unfortunately there’s little official online information in English, and photos are not allowed. Just take it from us – it’s absolutely worth visiting, as it’s a really impressive century-old house that has been superbly preserved.
Art museums in Plaka Athens
Plaka is also home to a few art museums. They are great if you want to take a break from all the ancient history.
The Frissiras Museum was founded by the family of the visionary lawyer and art collector, Vlassis Frissiras. It is home to permanent and temporary exhibitions of Contemporary European Paintings. Check their website for the latest news.
Finally, you may be surprised to discover the existence of the Museum of Greek Children’s Art. This is actually a fascinating museum, and there are very few similar museums worldwide.
The exhibits are paintings and other works by children aged 5 to 14. So, if you want to see the early works of the future Picassos or Monets, do not miss this museum.
Museum of Illusions in Athens
A stone’s throw from Plaka, just a few metres away from Monastiraki metro, you will find the Museum of Illusions. As the name suggests, this is a museum where reality and illusion blend together.
I had a lot of fun visiting this museum with my family and teenage nephews. I have first-hand experience of children being fed up with historical museums when on holiday, so I totally recommend it for families, and not only. You can see more about our experience in the Illusions Museum in Athens in this article.
Museums in Plaka Athens
I hope this article was useful. If you visit any of the museums in Plaka, let me know what you thought!
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