The Philhellenism Museum in the northern suburb of Filothei held its opening ceremony on Wednesday, with an event including the presentation of the Lord Byron International Prize to descendants of philhellenes who helped in Greece during its 1821 War of Independence, reaching its bicentennial this year.
Representatives of families arrived from France, the German states of the 19th century, Haiti, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Addressing the meeting online, Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias expressed the Greek state’s and people’s gratitude for all the help during those years, whether philhellenes fought themselves or provided funding or supported the welfare of the population. He particularly mentioned the contributions of Philhellenic Committees in Geneva, Paris, London, and New York, who helped the war of liberation from the Ottoman Turks in any way they could. The Geneva Committee, for example, assumed the raising and training of young Greeks who had suffered during the war, he said, citing documents in the Ministry’s diplomatic archives.
In addition, artists also contributed to spreading the message of the Greek struggle, influencing public opinion and inspiring solidarity in the population at large. The work of philhellenes remains inspirational even today, the minister said, especially since it continued past the founding of the Greek state.
The Museum was founded and is operated by the Society for Hellenism and Philhellenism to present the evolution of philhellenism from the Renaissance to the present day, with an emphasis on its contribution to the national independence of Greece.