Islamic art museum opens

The Islamic art collection of Athens’s Benaki Museum was yesterday unveiled at the inauguration of the museum’s new site in Kerameikos, attended by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. «Islamic culture is one of the most significant in the history of mankind, having offered us… unique architecture and superb works of art,» Karamanlis told an audience including the muftis of Xanthi and Komotini, home to most Greek Muslims. «The museum is opening its doors at a time when people from all over the world will be arriving in Greece for the greatest festival of culture and sports,» Karamanlis said. More than 8,000 exhibits chart the evolution of Islamic art from the first appearance of Islam until the 19th century. Highlights include a marble interior of a reception room from a 17th century mansion in Cairo, a pair of carved wooden doors from eighth-century Mesopotamia, a reed mat from 10th century Tiberias and a 16th century velvet saddle from Bursa.

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