The Danish Institute in Athens

The Danish Institute in Athens

The Danish Institute at Athens was founded on 2 April 1992 with the purpose of promoting research, education and cultural exchange in relation to the archaeology, history, languages, literature, art, architecture and cultural traditions of Greece and other Mediterranean countries.

The Institute has its home in Plaka below the eastern slope of the Acropolis in a beautiful neoclassical building dating from the early 20th century. The building, a gift from the Carlsberg Foundation, opened on 2 April 1993, the anniversary of both the founding of the Institute and the birth of the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. The Carlsberg Foundation and the Danish Institute at Athens continue to work closely together to this very day.

Both research institution and cultural institute

The Danish Institute at Athens is a not-for-profit independent institution under the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science. The Institute fulfils its purpose by hosting conferences and running PhD and further education courses. It also serves as a base for education and research, enjoying close ties with educational establishments in Denmark. Every year, the Institute offers residential and educational programmes for Danish university students, postdocs and artists, as well as receiving visits from groups on excursions and arranging access to museums and archaeological sites.

The Institute also holds open cultural events, including foreign-language lectures, films, concerts and exhibitions.

From the Material Koinai in the Greek Early Iron Age and Archaic Period conference, 2015

The Institute’s research library, the Nordic Library, opened in 1995 and focuses in particular on archaeology and studies of ancient culture. The library is jointly run by the institutes of the four Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden). The Institute also has a number of additional assets and collections

Read more about the strategy of the Danish Institute at Athens for 2015-2018 here

The reading room in the Nordic Library

Neighbouring property and guesthouses

In 1995, two years after it opened, the Danish Institute at Athens expanded by incorporating the neighbouring property, Herefondos 12. This building, also gifted by the Carlsberg Foundation, was renovated as a guesthouse with two double rooms and one en suite room. In October 2000, a new building attached to the two older buildings was opened housing an auditorium and offices. The Institute also has an apartment with four small guest rooms. The apartment is located ten minutes’ walk from the Institute, south of the Acropolis and close to the Nordic Library and the other Nordic institutes.

The Institute welcomes applications to make use of its accommodation facilities from persons engaged in a project relating to the archaeology, history, languages, literature, art, architecture and cultural traditions of Greece and other Mediterranean countries, as well as from artists. There are also scholarships for authors and upper-secondary school teachers wishing to expand their knowledge of Greek culture. The Institute is happy to receive applications from researchers for long-term stays.

Herefondos 12, room 2

Field projects

The Danish Institute at Athens is recognised by the Greek Ministry of Culture as an archaeological school, which is a precondition for Danish archaeologists being able to obtain permits to carry out field projects in Greece. The Institute undertakes archaeological field projects and procures permits for researchers connected with the scientific community in Denmark. By way of example, the Danish-Greek Lechaion Harbour Project, headed by archaeologist Bjørn Lovén PhD and financed by the Augustinus Foundation and the Carlsberg Foundation, is a research project of the University of Copenhagen to carry out underwater excavations of Lechaion, ancient Corinth’s partially submerged harbour town. Other projects include Chalcis in Aitolia, Delphi, the Minoan town of Kydonia (Chania), Zea, Kalydon and Sikyon.

Field research typically refers to archaeological excavations or surveys that attempt to answer historical questions or provide greater clarity on specific issues of cultural history. Project leaders report to the Greek authorities on an annual basis and findings are routinely made public through websites and other popular science media. The actual scientific publication takes the form of books (both printed and digital) or detailed articles, mainly in the Institute’s publication series.

Antiquity Course

The Danish Institute at Athens, in collaboration with the Classics departments of Aarhus University, the University of Copenhagen and the University of Southern Denmark and with the foundation G.E.C. Gads Fond, has been running the Antiquity Course in Greece since 2012. The course, which runs for approximately two weeks in May, takes the form of a tour of ancient cities, shrines and museums. As well as incorporating visits to classical locations, such as Athens, Delphi and Olympia, the course also provides an exceptional opportunity for participants to experience more out-of-the-way locations that are important for understanding and reflecting on the ancient world.

The courtyard at Herofondes 12 with the sculpture of Jason by Jette Wohlert

Management and administration

The Board of the Danish Institute at Athens comprises eight members appointed by various Danish universities, ministries and the National Museum of Denmark. Applications for long-term stays at the Institute are decided by the Board based on the recommendation of the Director. The day-to-day management and administration are undertaken by the Director, currently Associate Professor Kristina Winther-Jacobsen PhD, assisted by the Assistant Director.