Based on a concept initiated by the French in 1984, European Days of Cultural Heritage has evolved into Europe’s biggest cultural event. The idea, to open museums and archaeological sites to the public for three days each September, free of charge, and to coordinate efforts under a periodically changing central theme, has now spread throughout Europe. Greece joined the scheme a decade after its inception. Beginning today, Europe’s cultural institutions open their doors again, this year’s theme being «From Exchange of Goods to Exchange on the Internet.» Organizers hope to acquaint visitors with the various methods of trade practiced throughout economic history. Based on figures provided following last year’s event, over 20 million Europeans are expected to participate. In Greece, the ancient Agora, a bustling political, economic, religious and social focal point during antiquity in Athens, will be the main venue for this year’s events. Homage will be paid to Hermes, the ancient god of commerce. Events, however, will not be restricted to the capital. Some 40 venues will mark the occasion, in Athens as well as in Piraeus, Patras, Delphi, Galaxidi, Volos, Ioannina, Larissa, Karditsa, Thessaloniki, Veria, Kilkis, Myconos, Mytilene, Corfu and Crete. Besides museums and archaeological sites, various other cultural centers, as well as municipalities, firms, and financial magazines, have enlisted. Also on the agenda are lectures, concerts and plays. Greek museums taking part this year include the Athens Numismatic Museum, the Piraeus-based Nautical Museum of Greece, the Pieridis Museum of Ancient Greek Art, the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus and the Museum of Popular Greek Art. On show at the latter will be an exhibition titled «People and Tools – Types of Work in Pre-Industrial Society.» Also participating is the International Council of Museums and the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where a photographic retrospective of Piraeus banks of the 19th and 20th centuries will be on show. One of the capital’s oldest retailers, the Lambropoulos Bros department store, will present an exhibition depicting both its history as well as that of the wider downtown commercial district. The doors of the French Embassy on Vassilis Sofias Avenue, one of the city’s more prominent neoclassical buildings, will be open to the public, as will those of the French Archaeological School of Athens (6 Didotou Street). Tomorrow, the French Embassy’s function room will be open between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. On Sunday, the archaeological school will offer three tours of its premises at 10.30 a.m., 12.30 p.m., and 2.30 p.m. European Days of Cultural Heritage is supported by the EU and the Council of Europe.