Kanelopoulou Museum

Kanelopoulou Museum (5)

Almost nothing escapes the vast collection that the wealthy Alexandra and Pavlos Kanellopoulos brought together over the years and that is now on display in a small neoclassical mansion located in the picturesque village of Anafiotika.

Private collections are usually guilty of eclecticism, as they are the result of the strong will of their owners, who devoted years to obtaining pieces that suited their tastes and passions and that are sometimes a far cry from chronological or thematic logic. This is the problem with collecting, although in many cases it is its virtue. This museum is not limited to specific eras or disciplines, but covers artistic and decorative Greek expressions right back from almost Neolithic times to the 19th century, including Minoan, Phoenician, Egyptian, Byzantine, Turkish and Italian craftsmanship.

The mansion was built in 1884 and is said to be constructed around the large stone block that dominates the ground floor. This is a piece that fell from one of the walls of the Acropolis and was so heavy that it could not be moved, so they had to build the museum around the block. The mansion was restored in the 20th century and opened as a museum in 1976, when Kanellopoulos donated his collection to the Greek Government.

Three floors, ten rooms and 6,000 objects that offer an overview of the history of Greek art forms await you if you decide to venture into this museum.

With so many items on show, you will be thankful for some examples. On the ground floor, Byzantine art steels the show. 15th, 16th and 17th century gold and bronze jewellery, vases, lamps and sacred icons from the Cretan School and the School of Constantinople fill the first rooms.

On the first floor, examples of post-Byzantine art dominate the scene: cameos, carvings and assorted jewellery, ranging from pendants to brooches of gold and precious stones, made in Constantinople during the Ottoman Empire after 1453.

The top floor holds the part of the collection that many consider to be the most valuable. This is a selection of coins, Persian jewellery from the 5th century BC, Attic vases or war helmets from the 6th century BC The classical Greek vases from the 7th century BC decorated with red and black figures are also on show in the displays of the Kanellopoulos. The themes that these vases and some carvings illustrate are erotic, and show satyrs chasing nymphs. Cycladic figurines made of terracotta are also highly prized in the museum collection.

On this same floor, you might be interested in seeing the superb, luxurious gold jewellery from the Mycenaean period and from classical, Hellenistic and Roman times. The precious metalwork, the precious stone inlays, the filigrees and beading by craftsmen from the time with such little technology is truly amazing.

It is easy to find this spot, behind a stairway, when you climb up to the Acropolis through the Anafiotika neighbourhood. If you have time and want a run through the history of Greek arts over just three floors, this is a great opportunity. In less time than it takes to say the name of the museum, you will have seen an extremely valuable collection.

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