Numismatic Museum of Athens
Now supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Numismatic Museum of Athens first opened in 1834 and has been relocated several times during its lifetime; its present resting place is the Iliou Melathron (Palace of Iliou), a late 19th century Neo-classical mansion that was once home to German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, who discovered Troy. The house, designed by Ernest Ziller in 1881, is as big an attraction as the museum and is surrounded on three sides by manicured gardens full of replicas of classical statues. Inside, a series of grand apartments are filled with highly patterned marble floors, elaborately painted ceilings and wall paintings reflecting Schliemann’s interest in ancient civilizations.
The museum itself is dedicated to rare coins, weights, stamps, medals and gemstones from across the world, mostly donated to the collection by wealthy Greek benefactors. Thematically displayed in a series of lavish apartments are rare and ancient coins from Hellenistic, Roman, medieval and Byzantine times, as well as modern coins from European states. With more than 500,000 artifacts in total, this is one of the most important numismatic museums in the world, with great rarities in the collections including gold coins dating back to Alexander the Great in 356 BC and to the Egyptian Pharaoh Ptolemy I in 305 BC. The library of some 12,000 books is also available for research purposes.
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