The Potemkin Stairs in Odessa, from a c. 1895 postcard now in the US Library of Congress. Public domain.

HFC Museums

Plaque, in Greek, on the building of the "Rodokanakeion" - which was a Greek girls' school in Odessa. © Yuriy Kvach, Wikimedia Commons.
Plaque, in Greek, on the building of the “Rodokanakeion” – which was a Greek girls’ school in Odessa. © Yuriy Kvach, Wikimedia Commons.

The HFC operates two museums as part of its activities abroad – the Cavafy Museum in Alexandria and the Philike Etairia Museum in Odessa. Both museums are small, but each one marks a significant example of the enduring presence of Greek communities beyond the borders of modern-day Greece.

Coin from the Greek colony of ancient Olbia, near Odessa.
Coin from the Greek colony of ancient Olbia, near Odessa.

Since ancient times, the Greeks traded far afield, primarily by sea routes and, thus, communities of Greeks were well established in port cities far and wide. One such center was ancient Olbia, settled by Greeks from Miletus in Asia Minor, and near present-day Odessa.

Detail of the newspaper the Telegraph, published by and for the Greek community of Alexandria, for which  C.P. Cavafy worked in his youth.
Detail of the newspaper the Telegraph, published by and for the Greek community of Alexandria, for which C.P. Cavafy worked in his youth.

The founders of the Philike Etairia were Greek traders, living and working in Odessa, and Cavafy’s family were also traders, except they had their base in Alexandria, the first Alexandria of many established by Alexander the Great and, like Odessa, a city with a long and continuous history of having a Greek presence. Alexandria’s Greek community was particularly active in literature and publishing during the active years of C.P. Cavafy’s career as a writer.

Sofianopoulo Coffee Shop, one of the many reminders in Alexandria's cityscape of the city's Greek component.
Sofianopoulo Coffee Shop, one of the many reminders in Alexandria’s cityscape of the city’s Greek component.

The museums are an integral part of our work in Odessa and Alexandria and highlight both the Greek contribution to the cultural life and history of cities far from Greece as well as the important influence on Greek culture and history that the Greek diaspora has historically had and continues to have.

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