National Library of Greece
The National Library of Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

  is situated near the center of city of Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

. It was designed by the Danish architect Theophil Freiherr von Hansen
Theophil Freiherr von Hansen
Baron Theophil Edvard von Hansen was a Danish architect who later became an Austrian citizen...

, as part of his famous Trilogy of neo-classical buildings including the Academy of Athens
Academy of Athens
Academy of Athens may refer to:* Platonic Academy* 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
Jacob Mayer
Reverend Dr. Jacob Mayer was a European-born American rabbi who served congregations in the Reform Judaism movement in the late 19th century. He obtained the pulpit in 1874 at Har Sinai Congregation in Baltimore, founded in 1842 and the longest continually functioning congregation adhering to...

, 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
Greek War of Independence
The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries between...

. 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
National Archaeological Museum of Athens
The National Archaeological Museum in Athens houses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity. It is considered one of the great museums in the world and contains the richest collection of artifacts from Greek...

, 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
Otto of Greece
Otto, Prince of Bavaria, then Othon, King of Greece was made the first modern King of Greece in 1832 under the Convention of London, whereby Greece became a new independent kingdom under the protection of the Great Powers .The second son of the philhellene King Ludwig I of Bavaria, Otto ascended...

'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
Greek diaspora
The Greek diaspora, also known as Hellenic Diaspora or Diaspora of Hellenism, is a term used to refer to the communities of Greek people living outside the traditional Greek homelands, but more commonly in southeast Europe and Asia Minor...

, Panagis, Marinos and Andreas Vallianos
Panayis Athanase Vagliano
Panayis Athanase Vagliano a.k.a. Panaghis Athanassiou Vallianos, was a merchant and shipowner, acclaimed as the 'father of modern Greek shipping'....

. 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
Ernst Ziller
Ernst Moritz Theodor Ziller was a Saxon architect who later became a Greek national, and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a major designer of royal and municipal buildings in Athens, Patras and other Greek cities.- Buildings :* Presidential Mansion, Athens* National Theatre of...


Today, the Library is still housed at the Vallianos building, as well as at two other buildings, at Agia Paraskevi
Agia Paraskevi
Agia Paraskevi , is a suburb of Athens, Greece, in the northeast of Athens, about nine kilometers away from the city centre. It is linked to Athens by Mesogeion Avenue, a major road in the greater Athens area. It is a municipality within Attica region....

 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
Gospel Book (Ethnike Bibliotheke tes Hellados, Codex 2603)
Codex 2603, the Four Gospels, is a historic codex held by the National Library of Greece. The book is attributed to scribe Matthew of the Hodegon Monastery, the so-called thutorakendutès....

 of the four Gospels attributed to the scribe Matthew; uncial codex with a fragment Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

 from 6th century (Uncial 094
Uncial 094
Uncial 094 , ε 016 ; is a Greek uncial manuscript of the New Testament, dated paleographically to the 6th century.- Description :...

), Flora Graeca Sibthorpiana by English botanist John Sibthorp
John Sibthorp
John Sibthorp was an English botanist.He was born in Oxford, the youngest son of Dr Humphry Sibthorp , who from 1747 to 1784 was Sherardian professor of botany at the University of Oxford....

; Rigas' Chart by Rigas Velestinlis; The Large Etymological Dictionary
The Large Etymological Dictionary
The Large Etymological Dictionary is a historic book held by the National Library of Greece. Described as one of the most important Byzantine Dictionaries, it was released by Nikolaos Vlastos, owner of the first Greek press in Venice....

, a historic Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

A dictionary is a collection of words in one or more specific languages, often listed alphabetically, with usage information, definitions, etymologies, phonetics, pronunciations, and other information; or a book of words in one language with their equivalents in another, also known as a lexicon...

; and the first publication of Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's epics and hymns.

Some other manuscripts: Uncial 075
Uncial 075
Uncial 075 , Οπ3 , is a Greek uncial manuscript of the New Testament, dated palaeographically to the 10th century. Formerly it was designated by ג.It was also classified as minuscule codex 382p.- Description :...

, Uncial 0161
Uncial 0161
Uncial 0161 , ε 019 , is a Greek uncial manuscript of the New Testament, dated paleographically to the 8th century.- Description :...

, Minuscule 798
Minuscule 798
Minuscule 798 ε 473 . It is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on 260 parchment leaves . It is dated palaeographically to the 11th century.- Description :...


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
Phaleron Bay
Faliron Bay, is a bay almost 8 km directly SW of Athens overlooking Andreas Syngrou Avenue...

 "Delta". The 20-hectare Delta is a seafront area that used to host the Athens Hippodrome
A hippodrome was a Greek stadium for horse racing and chariot racing. The name is derived from the Greek words "hippos and "dromos"...

 now relocated to new facilities
Markopoulo Olympic Equestrian Centre
The Markopoulo Olympic Equestrian Centre hosted the equestrian events at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. The venue is located at Markópoulo on the outskirts of the Athens suburbs. It was completed in December 2003 and officially opened on August 12, 2004, shortly before the beginning of...

 for the Athens 2004 Olympics. Italian architect Renzo Piano
Renzo Piano
Renzo Piano is an Italian architect. He is the recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, AIA Gold Medal, Kyoto Prize and the Sonning Prize...

 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
Stavros Niarchos Foundation
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation was established in 1996 to honor Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos.- Mission :The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is an international philanthropic organization, making grants in the areas of arts and culture, education, health and medicine, and social welfare...

 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
Flora is the plant life occurring in a particular region or time, generally the naturally occurring or indigenous—native plant life. The corresponding term for animals is fauna.-Etymology:...

, and will feature extensive renewable energy
Renewable energy
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable . About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from...

 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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