HISTORY | ATHENS
A Palace of Troy in Athens
"AS THE MANSION'S NAME SUGGESTS,
IT IS A PALACE OF TROY, OR ILION."
Home to the Numismatic Museum of Athens, the Iliou Melathron was built in the late 19th century as the residence of Heinrich Schliemann, a German entrepreneur with a devout lust for antiquity. A successful businessman obsessed with the works of Homer, Schliemann set out to discover what is believed to be the location of the ancient city of Troy.
Under the influence of antiquity’s allure, Schliemann called upon famous Saxon architect Ernst Ziller to design his residence, a three-story mansion complete with Ionic order columns, decorative metalwork, intricate paintings, and unique mosaic floors depicting the various details of Schliemann’s findings. Erected in 1878-1879, the Iliou Melathron is an architectural tribute to the ancient city and Schliemann's own love of the arts and letters.
As the mansion’s name suggests, it is a palace of Troy, or Ilion. The inauguration of the lavish residence was carried out with a spectacular reception on January 30, 1881. The project cost an astronomical, for the time, 439,650 drachmas.
Indeed, this architectural gem is considered one of Ziller’s most beautiful projects.
An impressive presentation of ancient Greek excerpts and motifs emulating antiquity, the building’s ceiling and wall accents are the work of Slovenian painter Jurij Subic (1855-1890). Created by Italian mosaicists, the floors depict artifacts unearthed during Schliemann’s excavations.
Following Schliemann’s death in 1890, the Iliou Melathron remained the residence of his wife Sophia, and their two children, Andromache and Agamemnon, until it was sold to the Greek State in 1927. Used as the seat of the Council of State and later the Court of Cassation, the building endured daily wear and tear.
After undergoing major renovation, during which floor mosaics and murals were beautifully restored, the Iliou Melathron opened its doors in 1998, this time housing the Numismatic Museum of Athens. The museum’s entire collection became accessible for viewing in 2007.
WORDS + PHOTOS: Portes Magazine