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The Numismatic Museum in Athens also known as the Iliou Melathron or Palace of Ilion (Troy)

Numismatic Museum
Iliou Melathron


The Numismatic Museum is situated on Panepistimiou (Eleftheriou Venizelou) Street close to Syntagma Square. It is housed in the Iliou Melathron (Palace of Ilion), the house of the famous German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890) who excavated Troy (ancient Ilion) and Mycenae.

The museum was founded in 1834 and displays important collections of coins, molybdobulls (coins made of molten metal), medals and precious stones from ancient Greece, Rome, Byzantium, the Orient, medieval and modern Europe, United States and modern Greece. The museum is unique in Greece and one of the most important of its kind in the world.

Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890)

Throughout his adventurous life, the German Heinrich Schliemann gained Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890)great wealth as a businessman. When he was forty year old, he turned to archaeology and set out to fulfil his life dream, the discovery of Homer’s world.

He was the pioneer of prehistoric archaeology and he proved the existence of the Mycenaen world. His excavations at Troy, Mycenae, Orchomenos, Tiryns and Ithaca, caused great sensation and admiration but also controversy.

His love for Greece and its culture, as well as his marriage to Sophia Engastromenou (Kastrioti) connected him closely to Greece, which became his second homeland.

Before the collections were permanently housed in Schliemann’s house, they were kept at the University of Athens, the Academy and the National Archaeological Museum. During the German rule, they were safely kept in the vaults of the Bank of Greece.

The Iliou Melathron was built between 1878 and 1880 by the German architect Ernst Ziller. It shows the influence of the buildings of the Italian Renaissance, adapted however to late 19th century neoclassicism. It is considered to be one of the Athens’ most characteristic neoclassical buildings and one of Ziller’s most important works.

Ernst Ziller (1837-1923)

Ziller was one of the most important architects of the 19th century. He was born in the German town of Dresden and came to Greece in 1862 as an assistant of Theophilus Hansen Ernst Ziller (1837-1923)for the construction of the Academy of Athens. He remained in Greece for the rest of his life.

Ernst Ziller designed churches, public buildings, monuments, graves, mansions and houses in Athens and other cities. He frequently combined elements from Roman and Renaissance architecture with various Greek styles. His great reputation meant that buildings designed by other architects were often attributed to him.

Among his most significant works are the National Theatre (1882-1900), the Presidential Mansion (1891-1897), the Military Academy or Evelpidon School (1889-1894) and the church of Saint Lucas (Agios Loukas) on Patission (28 October) Street. His most typical work, however, is the house of Heinrich Schliemann, also known as Iliou Melathron.

The building has a garden on three of its sides and its ground plan is almost a perfect square. Its façade, with arched verandas and Ionic colonnades, makes it one of the most impressive houses in Athens. Inside, the walls and ceilings have been decorated with paintings by the Slovenian artist Yuri Subic. They are mostly copies of the mural paintings in Pompei. The mosaic floors made by Italian craftsmen show various geometric patterns as well as objects uncovered by Schliemann in the excavations at Troy and Mycenae. The house was officially opened on 30 January 1881.

Gold ducat of Venice (1289-1311) – Numismatic Museum AthensThe Iliou Melathron was purchased by the Greek state in 1927 and for a while it was used to house the Supreme Court (Areos Pagos). It was renovated in 1984 and in the same year, the Numismatic Museum was transferred here. In 1998, the museum’s permanent exhibition was mounted on the first floor where the Schliemann family used to socialize. The transfer of the museum’s entire collection and functions was completed in the beginning of 2003.

The main parts of the museum’s collections have been donated by a number of wealthy Greeks. The most significant collections in quantity and variety are those donated by the Zosimades Brothers (1857), Giannis Dimitriou (1892) and Grigorios Empedoklis (1953). The first of these collections included over 18.000 coins and medals, the other two around 10.000 and 7.800 coins respectively.

Gold stater of the Lydian King Croesus (561-545 BC) – Numismatic Museum AthensThe exhibition starts in the old reception rooms with information on the building and its architect, while there are also important highlights of Schliemann’s work and his coin collection. In the reception hall, the Esperides hall, visitors can learn about the use of various metals for transactions, the invention and wide use of coins, metals and methods for the cutting of ancient coins, as well as treasures.

In the study room, or Literary Salon, there are several series of “strong” ancient coins like those of Athens and the Kingdom of Alexander the Great. In the adjacent room, the coins on display highlight the various images that they carry. In the space where the dining rooms used to be, parts of the donated collections are on display. Finally, there is a room with photographic and archival material. Once the restorations works on the wall paintings of the second floor have been completed, there will be an exhibition of Roman, Byzantine, medieval and more recent coins and items.

Opening hours Opening hours and admission
Locaton map Iliou Melathron, 12,
on Panepistimiou (Eleftheriou Venizelou) Street
Nearest metro station
Syntagma Top



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