Hadrian’s library

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Built by the most “philhellenic” Roman emperor of all (a lover of Greek culture), Hadrian’s Library is one of the most important archaeological sites in Athens.

In this article we tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about this place to make the most of your visit. Let’s get to it!

Brief history

Hadrian’s Library was built in 132 AD and occupied an area of no less than 10,000 square meters. It was known as “the Library of 100 columns”, as described by the historian Pausanias, who also mentions that this place was decorated with gold cornices and alabaster statues.

Far beyond what we understand today by a library, Hadrian wanted to create an academic space at the height of the prestige that once came to have the ancient Athens, especially in terms of science and letters.

For this purpose, porticoes, gardens and a pond were also built, where philosophers strolled and thought, as well as different study rooms that were open to all citizens.

Sadly, Hadrian’s Library was destroyed by the Heruli in 267 A.D. However, later in the 5th century, a Roman governor named Herculeus recovered and repaired the ancient building.

An early Christian church, a basilica with 3 naves and the church named Megali Panagia were the other buildings that were erected in this same space throughout its “Roman/Byzantine” history.

Later, during the Ottoman occupation, the seat of the Turkish governor was erected here. And finally (I promise that’s the end of it), when “independent” Greece was created, the non-Greek king imposed by the great powers Otto I turned this place into a barracks.

Hadrian’s Library opening hours

In high season (April 1 – October 31): Every day from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

In low season (November 1 – March 31): Every day from 8:00 to 15:00

Even so, keep in mind that the opening hours are very changeable, so I recommend you to go to the official website where (in theory) you will find the updated information. I leave you here the link: odysseus.culture.gr

Important information:

The archaeological site of Hadrian’s Library is open every day except for the following dates:

  • January 1
  • March 25th
  • May 1st
  • Easter Sunday
  • December 25th
  • December 26th

Tickets and entrance fees

The single ticket to Hadrian’s Library costs 6 euros in high season and 3 euros in low season.

On the other hand there is also a combined ticket, which has a fixed cost of 30 euros and with it you can enter the 7 archaeological sites of Athens.

Important information:

The entrance to Hadrian’s Library, as for the rest of the archaeological enclosures, is free for all the public on the days:

  • March 6
  • April 18th
  • May 18th
  • The last weekend of September
  • 28th October
  • First Sunday of each month between November 1 and March 31

Location of Hadrian’s Library

The easiest and quickest way to get to Hadrian’s Library is to walk from Monastiraki Square, as the entrance to this archaeological site is just 30 meters from there.

While you’re here, take the opportunity to visit the Roman Agora as well – it’s right next door!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Where is Hadrian’s Library?

It goes without saying that Hadrian’s Library is located in the heart of Athens, a city that was the cultural center of Classical Greece. Specifically, it is located in the Plaka district, very close to Monastiraki Square.

Who built Hadrian’s Library?

It was the same Roman emperor after whom the library is named, Hadrian, who ordered the building to be erected. It is also worth mentioning that the Roman governor Herculeus was in charge of repairing the building after it was destroyed by the Heruli.

What was Hadrian’s Library used for?

Hadrian’s Library was an academic and public place, built with the aim of paying homage to Hellenic culture and the importance that the ancient city of Athens had had in this regard.

Juan Taracena
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