The 7 Best Libraries in Athens

Photo credits: Nikos Pappas, Yannis Voutsalas/Flickr
Photo credits: Nikos Pappas, Yannis Voutsalas/Flickr
Thanks to its rich cultural and historical past, Athens is home to excellent libraries where you can easily spend hours browsing through the shelves. While the city is also home to major foreign institutional and organizational libraries, here we are spotlighting only those libraries relevant to an English-speaking audience. Come join us and explore the best libraries in Athens, Greece.

Central Library of the Municipality of Athens

Library
The Central Library of the Municipality of Athens is one of the oldest libraries of the city, alongside the Library of the Hellenic Parliament and the National Library, and contains more than 55,000 books mainly focused on literature, history, and art. If you are on the lookout for rare material or into old newspapers and magazines, this is the perfect place for you, as the library has archives dating back to 1863. There is also a children’s section.
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National Library of Greece

Building, Library
National Library of Athens
National Library of Athens | © Thomas Wolf/WikiCommons
The National Library of Greece is located in a stunning building which belongs to the “Neoclassical Trilogy,” a trio of Neoclassically styled buildings on Panepistimiou Avenue in downtown Athens. Containing a wide collection of historical documents, the National Library has a splendid reading room. However, the actual collection is being relocated to its new home, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (SNFCC), and the collection is momentarily not accessible to the public. The National Library should reopen during the fall of 2017.
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Lilian Voudouri Music Library at the Athens Concert Hall

Concert Hall, Library, Building
The Athens Concert Hall
The Athens Concert Hall hosts concerts, dance and opera performances | Courtesy of The Athens Concert Hall / © Akriviadis

Created by the Friends of Music, the Lilian Voudouri Music Library, housed in the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron Mousikis), has an impressive collection of books and records of Western music, as well as ancient Greek, Byzantine, folk, and popular music, and rembetika. The library also contains archives from composers and examples of traditional music from around the world. On top of this, the library has more than 63,000 books and musical scores, 10,000 audio recordings, and many other audiovisual materials, making it a real treasure for anyone interested in music.

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Gennadius Library

Library
The Gennadius Library, Athens
The Gennadius Library, Athens | © Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/Flickr
Established in 1926 with 26,000 volumes from Greek benefactor and diplomat Joannes Gennadius’s personal collection, the Gennadius Library counts more than 120,000 books, archives, manuscripts, and works of art on Hellenic culture. Part of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, the library often hosts events and art exhibitions open to the public.
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Blegen Library

Library
Reading room of the Blegen Library, Athens
Reading room of the Blegen Library, Athens | © Karen Green/Flickr
The second library of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, the Blegen Library focuses on Greece from the earliest prehistory through late antiquity. With more than 105,000 volumes, it is a prominent research library in the fields of history, culture, prehistoric, and classical archaeology of the Mediterranean region, as well as for classical languages. The library is accessible to members of the school as well as to approved visitors.
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The American Library at the Hellenic American Union

School
With more than 35,000 volumes in Greek and in English, and more than 250,000 digital books, as well as archives from U.S. journals and rare books, the Library of the Hellenic American Union is open to the public at large (provided that they register as members of the Library) and, of course, to the Hellenic American Union students. Members are welcome to borrow volumes from their lending collections.
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