Queen Rania Visits Guest House and Tours Ancient Sites in Greece

December 23, 2005

(Office of Her Majesty – Press Department – Athens) - In recognition of her humanitarian role and efforts globally, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah, on Thursday, received a warm welcome at the ELPIDA Guest House in Athens, an establishment of the Friends' Association for Children with Cancer, ELPIDA, as part of a two-day trip to the Greek capital with His Majesty King Abdullah.

Established in 1999 by Founder and President of the Association, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, the Guest House caters for children suffering, and recovering, from cancer, as well as their families, within a number of child support programs, implemented in a five-story home-like building.

Upon her arrival, Her Majesty met the Association's Board of Directors as well as the Guest House Director.

In her welcoming remarks, Mrs. Vardinoyannis praised Queen Rania, for her "outstanding humanitarian work internationally" and her " devotion to the people of Jordan", calling her "a pioneer fighter in the struggle for the protection of children and human rights, family safety, women’s empowerment, social development and culture".

During her visit, the Queen also met the Director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Units at the "St. Sophia" Children's Hospital in Athens, which were established by ELPIDA, and the Projects Coordinator of the Association, and toured the Guest House, taking a first-hand look at the services offered there. Facilities include a kitchen and a dining room, located in the first floor, in addition to 32 double rooms, with a bathroom, heating, air conditioning, TV and telephone in each room, located on each of the other four floors.

Stopping at the playground room, Queen Rania also met children, as well as parents, residing at the facility and receiving treatment at the "St. Sophia" Children's Hospital, one of the two children's hospitals situated near the Guest House.

Since its establishment, the Guest House has accommodated 470 families from all over Greece, offering services to families from other countries, including Albania, Armenia, Palestine and other areas of the Balkans and Mediterranean Sea.

Also on Thursday, Queen Rania, accompanied by the wife of the Greek Prime Minister, Mrs. Natasha Karamanlis, toured parts of the city and a number of touristic sites on foot, within the ancient district of Plaka, including the Monastiraki flea market, the ancient part of Agora and the Museum of Anciaent Agora, in the Stoa of Attalos, looking at several monuments.

Queen Rania concluded the tour with a visit to the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art.

The oldest museum in Greece, which functions as a foundation under Private Law, the Benaki Museum was founded by Antonis Benakis, who eventually donated it to the Greek state.

It is located in a particularly attractive setting in the historic centre of the city, exactly opposite the greenery of the National Gardens and the grounds of the Presidential Palace, and near related institutions such as the Museum of Cycladic Art and the Byzantine Museum of Athens.

The Museum's collection of Islamic art includes local variations from India, the Middle East and North Africa, the Arab world and Sicily to Spain. Antonis Benakis initially began collecting the items in Egypt at the beginning of the 20th century.