As early as 1834, an initial law is passed to protect the numerous ancient sites. Thus, antiquities are officially considered the national property of all Hellenes.

What is considered cultural property in Greece?

In Greece, there are initially different temporal categories for cultural property: Created before 1453, the time of the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans; created between 1453 and 1830; modern cultural property that emerged after 1830.

Under cultural protection are objects dated before 1453 from archaeological excavations and research, objects removed from immovable monuments, as well as religious objects such as icons, relics and liturgical objects used in worship. In addition, objects created after 1453 and more than 100 years ago that have a general historical or scientific significance, in social, technical, folkloric, ethnological, artistic, architectural or industrial terms.

More recent objects (less than 100 years old) that have a special social, technical, folkloric, ethnological, artistic, architectural, industrial and generally historical or scientific significance can also be classified as cultural property.

What are the export regulations?

An export ban applies to cultural property that was made before 1830 and found during archaeological excavations or are part of archaeological research or have been removed from immovable monuments. Furthermore, religious images and liturgical objects of the mentioned periods may not be exported. Excluded are objects that are not considered important monuments and the export of which does not affect the unity of significant collections. Cultural goods may also be loaned for a period of up to five years under certain conditions.

What sanctions are there?

An attempt to illegally export cultural property from Greece is punishable by up to ten years' imprisonment.

Chronology of cultural property protection laws

  • 1825
    Decree of Grigorios Dikaios
    Protection of antiquities; foundation planning of Musee
  • 1827
    Article XVIII of the Resolution of the Third National Assembly
    Prohibition of the free sale and export of antiquities
  • 1834
    First National Antiquities Law
    Highlighting the importance of ancient monuments to the Greek Kingdom
  • 1899
    Law No. 2646
    The state has sole ownership of all movable and immovable cultural property.
  • 1932
    Law No. 5351
    Declaration obligation for ancient finds; approval obligation for excavations and the export of antiquities
  • 1980
    UNESCO 1970 Convention
    Means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property
  • 1981
    The Hague Convention of 1954
    Protection of the cultural property of countries in the event of armed conflicts
  • 2002
    Law No. 3028
    Export ban for antiquities of national importance; duty to declare finds; licences for excavations and trade
  • 2005
    Hague Convention, Second Protocol of 1999
    Clarification and extension of the 1954 Hague Convention
  • 2008
    1995 UNIDROIT Convention
    The aim of the Convention is to counteract the increasing threat to extraordinary natural and cultural property in order to preserve them for future generations.
  • 2008
    Law No. 3658
    Establishment of the Directorate for Documentation and Protection of Cultural Property