National Library of Greece

National Library of Greece
Εθνική Βιβλιοθήκη της Ελλάδος
Ethnikí Vivliothíki tis Elládos
English National Library of Greece
National library of greece athens.jpg
The main building of the library
Established 1832
Location Athens
Coordinates 37°58′52″N 23°43′59″E / 37.98111°N 23.73306°E / 37.98111; 23.73306
Branches 2 (Αγία Παρασκευή/Agía Paraskeví
& Νέα Χαλκηδόνα/Néa Chalkidóna)
Items collected books, journals, newspapers, magazines, multimedia and manuscripts
Criteria for collection Material that is produced in Greece as well as Material that is produced abroad, but is connected with Greece in any language and form
Other information
Director Ms. Aikateríni Kordoúli
(κα. Αικατερίνη Κορδούλη), general director

The National Library of Greece (Greek: Εθνική Βιβλιοθήκη) is situated near the center of city of Athens. It was designed by the Danish architect Theophil Freiherr von Hansen, as part of his famous Trilogy of neo-classical buildings including the Academy of Athens and the original building of the Athens University.



The original idea for establishing a National Library came from the philhellene Jacob Mayer, in an August 1824 article of his newspaper Greek Chronicles, published at Missolonghi, where Mayer had been struggling alongside Lord Byron for Greece's independence. Mayer's idea was carried out in 1829 by the new Greek government of John Kapodistrias, who grouped together the National Library with other intellectual institutions such as schools, national museums, and printing houses. These were all placed in the Orphanage of Aegina, under the supervision of Andreas Moustoksidis, who thus became president of the committee of the Orphanage, director of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, and director of the National School.

At the end of 1830, the library, which Moustokaidis called the National Library, held 1,018 volumes of printed books, which had been collected from Greeks and philhellenes. In 1834, the Library moved to Athens, the new capital, and was at first temporarily housed in the public bath at the Roman Market and then later in the Church of St. Eleftherios, next to the Cathedral and other important buildings.

The collection grew rapidly. In addition to the purchase of books from private libraries, carried out under the supervision of Dimitris Postolakas (1,995 volumes), the Library accepted many large donations of books, like one from Christoforos and Konstantinos Sakellarios (5,400 volumes) and one from Markos Renieris (3,401 volumes).

In 1842, the Public Library merged with the Athens University library (15,000 volumes), and was housed together with the currency collection at the new building of Otto's University. George Kozakis-Typaldos was appointed as the first director of the newly enlarged institution, remaining in his post until 1863. At this time, the Library was enriched with significant donations and with rare foreign language books from all over Europe. With the royal charter of 1866, the two libraries merged, and were administered as the "National Library of Greece".

On 16 March 1888 the foundation stone for a neoclassical marble building was laid, financed by three Kefallonian-born brothers of the Diaspora, Panagis, Marinos and Andreas Vallianos. The Library remained in the University building until 1903, when it was moved to the new building which was designed by Theophil Hansen and supervised by Ernst Ziller.

Today, the Library is still housed at the Vallianos building, as well as at two other buildings, at Agia Paraskevi and Nea Halkidona. The valuable collections of their combined materials represent the written Greek cultural treasure.


The library holds 4,500 Greek manuscripts which is one of the greatest collection of Greek scripts. There are also many chrysobulls and archives of the Greek Revolution.

Among the library's holdings are a codex of the four Gospels attributed to the scribe Matthew; uncial codex with a fragment Gospel of Matthew from 6th century (Uncial 094), Flora Graeca Sibthorpiana by English botanist John Sibthorp; Rigas' Chart by Rigas Velestinlis; The Large Etymological Dictionary, a historic Byzantine dictionary; and the first publication of Homer's epics and hymns.[1]

Some other manuscripts: Uncial 075, Uncial 0161, Minuscule 798.

Planned relocation to Phaleron Bay

The present building has long been outmatched by the space and technology demands that a National Library should have available. Although the Vallianos building will continue to house some of its current functions, the bulk of the library will be relocated to a new building on the Phaleron Bay "Delta". The 20-hectare Delta is a seafront area that used to host the Athens Hippodrome now relocated to new facilities for the Athens 2004 Olympics. Italian architect Renzo Piano proposed a radical new plan for the National Library and the National Opera of Greece, and the project will be funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and gifted to the Greek state as the "Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center". The twin buildings will be integrated within a landscaped park with indigenous Mediterranean flora, and will feature extensive renewable energy facilities and a central plaza around a 30-m wide seawater channel. Work on the project is scheduled to commence in 2010 with completion set for 2015.


External links

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