Historical Archives

Ιστορικά Αρχεία

The Delta house in Kifissia was built at the beginning of the 20th century to plans by an unknown architect. In 1912 the building was sold by its first owner, the lawyer K. Lytsikas, to Emmanuel Benakis, father of Penelope Delta, and two years later he transferred it to his daughter. The Delta family first moved into the house in 1916, after settling permanently in Athens. Penelope Delta lived in the house for 25 years, until her suicide in April 1941, on the day the German armies entered Athens. It was there that she wrote her best known stories, "The Mangas", "In the days of the Bulgarslayer", "The Secrets of the Swamp", "Crazy Antonis", and "The Life of Chris". It was there that she kept her diary -parts of which have been published- with its important testimonies about her own life and the tumultuous contemporary history of Greece. Αnd there where she carried on her correspondence about the contentious issue of education with individuals such as Yannis Psycharis, Kostis Palamas, Manolis Triantafyllidis, and Dimitris Glenos. In this house, the Delta family frequently hosted leading politicians and intellectuals, and it was after spending the evening there on 6 July 1933 that Eleftherios Venizelos survived one of the attempts on his life.

The Delta house is a characteristic example of the mature neoclassical style of the early 20th century, with a number of eclectic features borrowed from medieval architecture, including the typically Athenian feature of a tower staircase. The interior is spare, with wood panelling, but without the plaster-of-Paris ornamentation common to bourgeois houses of the period. The Delta family built an addition at the south-west corner of the house in order to enlarge the author’s work space and they installed an external elevator. These alterations do not affect the character or the morphology of the original building.

The restoration of the building began in 1992 according to the architectural study by G. Plessas and A. Zannas.

Since 1994, the Historical Archives Department has been housed in the Delta house.

The Benaki Museum’s Historical Archives constitute one of the best-organised and richest archival collections in Greece. It became an independent department of the Museum in 1955.

Most of the archival material comes from Antonis Benakis’ personal collection, as well as from subsequent donations by private benefactors.

Focusing on the history of the Greek nation, the museum collects documents, records and other historical artifacts, mostly relating to the political, economic, and social life of the last three centuries.

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