Aspects and relics of the Greek War of Independence bring the most historic moments of modern Greece “to life” before the eyes of its visitors. The National Historical Museum, indissolubly linked to the modern course of the country, was organized by the Historical and Ethnological Society of Greece on March 25, 1884, while the first exhibition entitled “Monuments of the Sacred Struggle” was presented in the premises of the University National Technical of Athens.
Long guns (called kariofilia), pistols, curved swords (yatagan), cartridges, axes, belts (selachi), as well as various accessories such as molds for throwing bullets, pouches for powder barrels, metal water troughs and charms as well as hundreds of personal items of the revolutionaries awaken the imagination of visitors by “taking them on a journey” to legendary battles.
The walls are decorated with portraits of the most important fighters of the national struggle.
Among them, the portraits of Athanasios Diakos, Georgios Karaiskakis and Theodoros Kolokotronis amaze visitors, as if their gaze fixed on the canvas constantly observes the course of present-day Greece.
Each step in the corridors and exhibition halls of the Museum (within the Old Parliament in the center of Athens) marks a stage in the modern history of Hellenism.
From the very last moments of the Byzantine Empire, the rise of the enslaved Greeks 400 years later, to the establishment of the modern Greek state, the museum uniquely chronicles the most significant events.
Visitors to Room 3 can see the Phanariots, an aristocratic class named after the Fener district of Constantinople, who used their political and economic prowess to act as protectors of Orthodox Christians as well as Lambros Katsonis’ early battles against the Ottoman fleet at the end of the 18and century.
In the same room we can see the Charter of Rigas Ferraios, the monumental work of the Hellenic Enlightenment and cartography, as well as the office of the “Master of the Nation” Adamantios Korais and the uniform of the officer of the band sacred to Alexandros Ypsilantis, also a leading member of the so-called Philiki Etaireia, a secret organization aimed at overthrowing Ottoman rule and establishing an independent Greek state.
In rooms 4 and 5 are portraits of Souliotes and Roumeliotes fighters, the revolutionary flags of Laconia and Cyprus, weapons and swords of renowned leaders and the spoils of the first battles.
Greek scholars in the West from the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Revolution are introduced to Corridor 6, while Corridor 7 is dominated by Messologi’s heroic exodus on the night of April 10, 1826, as depicted by the painter Theodoros Vryzakis in 1853 as well as the most important naval battle of the Revolution, that of Navarino, in October 1827.
In Corridor 8, visitors are introduced to great Philhellenes who positively and effectively influenced the Greeks’ struggle for national independence, such as Lord Byron. A list of each of them is deposited in the Museum under the inscription “Gracious Greece”.
The National Historical Museum has been permanently housed in the former Parliament building on Stadiou Street (Kolokotronis Square) since 1960 and, alongside permanent exhibitions telling the story of Greece from the fall of the Byzantine Empire to our days, it also hosts many temporary exhibitions.
See website https://www.nhmuseum.gr/
by Aggelos Skordas