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Melina Mercouri, the last Greek GoddessMelina Mercouri
The last Greek Goddess

Maria Amalia Mercouri was born in Athens on 18 October 1920. In 1971 she wrote her autobiography titled "I Was A Greek". Melina wed actor Jules Dassin in 1966 and remained married to him until her death in 1994. Melina Mercouri died of lung cancer in New York City, on 6 March 1994. She was also known as the last Greek Goddess.

Bust of Melina Mercouri

Bust of Melina Mercouri on a small square along Amalias Avenue across from Hadrian's Arch.

Melina Mercouri, a world-famous actress, active in the resistance movement against the military regime (1967-1974), politician of importance in Greece and abroad, left her seal as Minister of Culture in Greece for eight and a half years (1981-1989 and October 1993-March 6, 1994). Above all she was a great Greek, a woman that was cherished and passionately loved by the Greek people and she still is.

By using her own splendor and glamour, Melina Mercouri managed to make culture part of the everyday lives of the Greeks. During her years in office at the Ministry, she was the first to raise the issue for the return of the Parthenon's marbles kept in the British Museum in London, to their rightful place, the Acropolis Museum. The Parthenon's marbles are the masterpieces that were taken in the beginning of 19th century by Lord Elgin, then the British ambassador to Constantinople (Istanbul), who mutilated the most resplendent monument of antiquity.

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Aware of the fact that the existing Acropolis Museum did not have enough space to exhibit the marbles, Melina Mercouri started procedures for the construction of a new Museum that would operate keeping its most beautiful, most splendid room empty, waiting for the marbles to return to Greece, the land that gave birth to them. Moreover, it was she who visioned the creation of a substantial cultural institution, the "Cultural Capital of Europe". The institution, which was inaugurated in 1993 from Athens, was the first event that culturally united European countries. Melina Mercouri was the one who had said "Culture is Greece's heavy industry" and managed to make everyone amply aware of this.

Melina Mercouri was buried at the entrance (left side) of the First Cemetery of Athens. Top

Melina MercouriThe Melina Mercouri Foundation

The Melina Mercouri Foundation, which was founded after her dead by her husband Jules Dassin, keeps Melina’s ideas alive. Melina Mercouri was a woman of vision who knew how to make her dreams come true. The Foundation that bears her name, was established in response to one of her wishes. It is staffed by devoted collaborators and friends who aspire at keeping her visions alive and guarantee the continuity of her creative achievements.

The Melina Mercouri FoundationToday, the Melina Mercouri Foundation has set as its primary goal to promote all the necessary actions for the construction of the new Acropolis museum participating in its funding. Melina herself had brought all her sensitivity, energy and passion to the attainment of that goal.

A space in the new Acropolis museum will be reserved for the eventual return of the Parthenon marbles to their homeland. The promotion and co-ordination of activities for the restitution of the sculptures is a major Melina Mercouri Foundation logoobjective of the foundation. When on an autumn afternoon in Crete Melina, in an interview to the BBC., had presented, for the first time, her request for the return of the marbles, many had felt that she was chasing a utopian dream. Today, changing attitudes, especially within the United Kingdom itself, justify optimism.

Quote from Melina MercouriThe initiatives of the foundation include the organization of lectures, congresses, publications and educational programs for the promotion of Greek culture values. The foundation's work in this area will follow the opening of the new Acropolis museum. For the time being, the construction of the museum remains its primary objective.

Opening hours Opening hours and admission
Location map 9-11 Polygnotou Street - Monastiraki (Melina Mercouri exhibition and foundation).
Nearest metro station Monastiraki Top

Cafe Melina in AthensThe Cafe of Melina

On 22, Lisiou Street (Plaka) you will find "The cafe of Melina" (To Kafe tis Melinas). It not only is a nice kafeneion with a lot of atmosphere, it almost also is a shrine with many photos, statuettes etc. You can listen to Melina’s music there all day and evening long. It is a lovely kafeneion during the day and a romantic bistro at night.

Location map 22, Lysiou Street - +30 210 32 46 501
Nearest metro station Monastiraki Top

Cultural Centre Melina MercouriCultural Centre Melina Mercouri

The City of Athens’ Cultural Centre Melina Mercouri in Thissio is housed in an impressive industrial building where the Poulopoulos hat factory used to be. It has been listed as a protected building since 1985. It is a stone building with a simple architectural design and tiled roof. The use of iron on the windows and facades is interesting as is its trapezoid shape. The Centre organizes temporary exhibitions, events and concerts.

On the first floor there is a permanent exhibition called “Travelogue of Athens” which was organized with the participation of the Hellenic Literary and Historical Archive. It presents the neighborhoods of Athens at the beginning of the 20the century.

The exhibition shows mural paintings, the interior of a neoclassical house, authentic clothing articles of that time, shop windows with the merchandise that was available in those years as well as a small open-air coffee-shop.

66, Irakleidon – Thissio
Nearest metro station Thissio Top


    The last Greek Goddess
    Melina Mercouri Foundation
    Cafe Melina
    Cultural Centre Melina

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