Friday 15 March 2019

The National Library, Athens

The National Library, Athens, at the Niarchos Cultural Centre.

I finished my last post on the Niarchos Cultural Centre, as, after our walk in the Centre's park, we entered this lounge area, which they call the Lighthouse.

We went in search of the lift, through this bar/coffee area

Views of the Southern suburbs and the Ymettus range of mountains on our right

same view as above, but one which includes part of the reflecting pool

and we finally reached the lift

down to the ground floor, and the main reading area of the library, an entirely glass-walled space which sits on top of the building, just underneath the canopy roof. A square horizontal transparent box, it enjoys 360-degree views of Athens and the sea. The canopy roof provides essential shade and has been topped with 10.000 sq m of photovoltaic cells, enough to generate 1.5 megawatt of power for the library and the opera house. This field of cells should allow the building to be self-sufficient in energy terms during normal opening hours. Wherever possible, natural ventilation has been used.

The library was busy

as were the computer stations

A staircase leads to the upper floors but, we wanted to explore the spaces on the right of the  main reading area, first

It's a vast space with very high ceilings and bookshelves all the way up: stairs are strategically placed to allow access to the books

quite impressive

I tried to explore this colourful area but was told that I would need to be a member in order to do so

So we retraced our steps and took the stairs to the upper floors

Overall, there are eight reading rooms with a total of 400 seats

We walked around for a while - lots of shelves are empty waiting for books to fill them

a good view of the stairs we had just come up on, from here

and good views of the Agora, the reflecting pool and the ice skating rink. The Zoggopoulos exhibition was on the top floor, amongst the books.

After the exhibition we took the lift down to the ground floor and had a delicious lunch in the restaurant

Had a look in the shop which you can see on the left here,

walked out into the Agora

and proceeded on to the nearby taxi rank which took us back home.


  1. Looks like a great facility with an uplifting feeling. The staircase at the book shelves reminds me of the external escalators at the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

    1. It's a great, much-needed facility, Olga, and is obviously being used a lot.

      Ahhh! The Pompidou Centre - it's ages since I've been and your comment made me think that it's maybe time we re-visited Paris.