Mansion Merlin

Mansion Merlin

The Merlin de Douai Mansion (today French Embassy) is located on Vasilissis Sofias Avenue in downtown Athens and is an elegant neoclassical building of 500 m² with rich exterior decoration. It was built on a large 1770 m² plot, directly opposite the Old Palace, the home of the first king of Greece, Otto, and today houses the Greek Parliament.

In 1893, the wealthy English banker and landowner Charles Merlin, a descendant of Merlin de Douai, suggested to Count de Montholon, who was the French Minister of France in Athens, the erection of a building for housing the French delegation with the purpose, of course, of renting it to the State of France for 50 years for 10,000 gold Francs per year. Count de Montholon briefed the French Foreign Minister Jules Paul Develle on the project, which was eventually accepted. The construction of the mansion was undertaken by the Greek architect Anastasios Metaxas with glorious studies abroad, whose works we have admired and elsewhere such as today's offices of the Onassis Foundation and Harokopos Mansion (today's Benaki Museum).

But despite the completion of the embassy within two years, the deal did not go ahead and, in 1896, new negotiations began with Frederic Albert Bouree, the successor of Count de Montholon, who managed to persuade French Minister Marcelin Berthelot to give the money to rent a house by the French. Finally, in 1897, the building was leased by the French delegation whom, until then, had hung its hat on Stadiou Street.

The mansion is very imposing to anyone who has been fortunate enough to visit it. Made entirely of marble, the structure has a huge staircase at the entrance that magnetizes you. Its facade features Ionic pioneer columns and busts, while its balconies are all hand carved marble. The interior features a ballroom, lounges, a huge dining room, and large rooms. In its outer space, there is a small but beautiful garden with rich vegetation - mainly palm trees that act as decor. Unfortunately, admission is not allowed to the public, but you will have the opportunity to admire this special work and all its details from Akadimias Street (corner with Vasilissis Sofias Avenue).

For a beautiful photo, we suggest you pass directly across from the French Embassy, where the main entrance of the Greek Parliament is located so that you can photograph the entire building.