Hadrian’s Library in Athens

GreeceAthensArchaeological Sites › Hadrian’s Library
by Santorini Dave • Updated: September 7, 2022

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A row of huge, marble Corinthian columns reach up into the blue sky.

The impressive entrance to the archaeological site of Hadrian’s Library in Athens.

Tours and Tickets:
Athens Pass Combo Ticket (7 archaeological sites + Acropolis Museum. No tour.)

Hadrian’s Library Hours and Information

  • Hours: Open daily. Summer 8am – 8pm; last entrance to the site at 7:40pm. Hours are reduced gradually in the fall through winter (check website for details). Closed 1 January, 25 March, 1 May, Orthodox Easter Sunday, 25 & 26 December.
  • Website: odysseus.culture.gr
  • Location: Κ, Areos 3
  • Telephone: +30 210 324 9350
  • Admission Fee: Summer (April to October) entrance fee: 6€. Winter (November to March) entrance fee: 3€. Reduced admission 3€. You can also purchase a 30€ combo ticket for this and 6 additional sites: Acropolis, Ancient Agora of Athens, Roman Agora, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Kerameikos, and Aristotle’s Lyceum. The combo ticket is valid for 5 days and offered year round. Purchase on site or in advance online.
  • Free Entry: 6 March (in memory of Melina Mercouri), 18 April (International Monuments Day), 18 May (International Museums Day), the last weekend of September annually (European Heritage Days), 28 October, every first Sunday from November 1st to March 31st.
  • Parking: Street parking, nearby pay lots.
  • Nearest Metro: Monastiraki.

Hadrian’s Library in Athens

  • Hadrian’s Library is an ancient archeological site in the Monastiraki area, to the north of the Acropolis. The closet metro station is Monastiraki, about 50 meters away and directly across from the site.
  • It was built in 132 AD by the Roman emperor Hadrian, who ruled from 117 to 138 AD. This is probably the largest building he erected during his reign. The ancient building included a library, as well as music and lecture auditoriums. It basically served as a civic center during Roman times, conveniently located near the nearby Roman Agora (market).
  • The library’s west wall, located by the entrance, has been restored. Beyond that, there are only a few remnants of the original library, its columns and the entrance framed by 7 remaining Corinthian columns, remnants of foundations and walls of a pavilion, and 2 early churches – including what is believed to be the oldest Christian church in Athens.
  • Hadrian was regarded as a “good” emperor and a just ruler. Although he was devoted to his army and commonly depicted in military uniform, his reign was relatively peaceful. Hadrian reigned for 21 years; 12 of those were spent traveling throughout the Empire, visiting provinces and overseeing all aspects of government and justice.
  • Decent translation, but it wouldn’t hurt to read up on this site before visiting so it makes more sense.

A row of old Corinthian pillars set along a busy street with cars and pedestrians.

The entrance to the archaeological site of Hadrian’s Library in Athens is located along the compact but busy Areos Street, very near Monastiraki Square and metro station.

Reconstructed Corinthian columns reaching up into the blue sky.

The building dates back to 132 AD, and was built by the Roman emperor Hadrian.

Corinthian pillars along a stone wall

The site’s most recognizable feature is its entrance, featuring this row of Corinthian columns that line the reconstructed western wall.

Visitors walk past rows of Corinthian columns at an archaeological site

The entrance is well-visible from the street, but visitors to the site can venture beyond the columns to the heart of the site.

Archaeological site with the Acropolis in the background

Set at the foot of the Acropolis, the ancient building was a sort of civic center that included not only a library, but also music and lecture auditoriums.

An overhead view of an archaeological site as seen from the street above.

The site also includes the ruins of two early churches. The most prominent of the two is the tetraconch (quatrefoil-style) church of Megali Panagia in the site’s center courtyard. It was first constructed in the 5th century, demolished and rebuilt in the 7th century, and then again in the 11th. It is believed to be the oldest Christian church in Athens.

Sign indicating the location of Megali Panagia ruins.

Pillars and low ruins of stone foundations in an archaeological site

Various views of the church of Megali Panagia.

Stone pillars and foundational walls of an ancient ruined church

A woman takes a photo through a doorway in an archaeological site

Photograph of ancient stone pillars framed by an ancient stone archway

Stone pillars and foundational walls of a ruined church in an urban archaeological site.

Stone sign indicating the location of an ancient library

Ruins of the ancient library line the northern wall of the site.

Two men read a descriptive sign in front of archaeological ruins

Sign indicating the location of an ancient auditorium

There are also the foundational remains of two auditoriums on site.

Stone sign on the low foundational wall of urban archaeological ruins

Old stone pillars set in grass in an urban archaeological site

Views of the site.

Rows of stone pillar bases and pediments, set in the grass

Archaeological site with small sections of mosaic tile flooring

Sections of mosaic tile flooring can be seen throughout the site.

Two people read a sign at an archaeological site.

Signs at the site are in Greek and English, but are short on information. If you want to have a good understanding of the site’s history, it’s best to do a bit of research before you go.

Stairway leading up through archaeological ruins

From the heart of the site, stairs lead upward to the entrance colonnade.

Old stone ruins looking up to the Acropolis in Athens

View of the Acropolis from the site entrance.

Shelves lining the foundational walls of an archaeological site, filled with stone artifacts.

Pieces of unidentified ruin from the site are stored along the edges.

View of the entrance pillars of Hadrian's Library, as seen from behind a carved stone column base

View through three reconstructed ancient columns to the modern street above, crowded with cars and pedestrians.

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