The Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki
It won’t take long on your holidays in Thessaloniki to realise that the city is like an open-air museum. It was founded after the death of Alexander the Great and beats with more than 2,000 years of history (Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman...). And if there’s one time period that stands out above all the others visually, it’s the 1,000 years when Thessaloniki was one of the most important centres of the Byzantine Empire.
Thessaloniki’s Museum of Byzantine Culture, established in 1913 and relocated to a listed building in 1994, is designed to preserve that legacy and is considered one of the most important of the many museums in Greece’s second city.
More than 11,500 m2 of exhibition space includes 11 rooms dedicated to a permanent exhibition of 3,190 items (selected from more than 46,000 in storage) from Thessaloniki and the wider Macedonia region, representing the Early, Middle and Post-Byzantine periods.
The galleries are arranged independently around an upward, spiralling path, meaning that you can pick and choose the order in which you wish to view them. Sculptures, frescoes, mosaics, icons, inscriptions, heirlooms, books and items from everyday life in Byzantium are displayed.
Considering the influences leading to the flourishing of the Byzantine Empire in Greece, exhibits range from the 2nd century AD all the way up to the 20th century and give a special focus to the seismic events that followed the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.
Dominating the exhibits are the collections of coins and stamps and small artworks, followed by sculptures and Byzantine icons (including some by the best-known painters of the 16th and 17th centuries). There is also a collection of 3rd-8th century funerary paintings considered the richest in Greece, rare textiles and manuscripts, as well as an impressive 18th-19th-century collection of engravings.