Visitors in room 17 where the Nereid Monument sits

Room 17

Nereid Monument

390–380 BC

Visiting the gallery

Opening times

Daily: 10.00–17.00 (Fridays: 20.30)
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Gallery audio guides

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The Nereid Monument takes its name from the Nereids, the most likely identity of the statues placed between the columns of this monumental tomb.

The Nereids were sea nymphs in Greek mythology, who helped sailors on their voyages when they faced fierce storms.

The monument was probably built for Erbinna (known as Arbinas in Greek), ruler of Lycian Xanthos in modern-day south-west Turkey. Although he wasn't Greek, Erbinna chose to be buried in a tomb that mostly resembled a Greek temple of the Ionic order, but here placed on a high podium following the local tradition for burials of important individuals.

The monument is influenced by the Ionic temples of the Acropolis of Athens. Its lavish decorative sculpture, which can be seen reconstructed and displayed around the walls of Room 17, is a mixture of Greek and Lycian style and iconography.

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Travel right up to this stunning Lycian tomb in Room 17 with Google Street View.

The Nereid Monument gallery. ©2020 Google.

Gallery facts

This gallery contains the Nereid Monument, the largest and finest of the Lycian tombs from Xanthos, south-west Turkey. 

Although influenced by Greek and Persian styles, the people of the mountainous land of ancient Lykia had a unique style of funerary architecture.

It's believed that the Nereid Monument was built for Arbinas, a Xanthian ruler, and his family. He's mentioned elsewhere as the builder of the Temple of Leto, mother of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis, close to the city of Xanthos and other monuments on the acropolis in the city itself. 

Gallery facts

Arbinas' exploits are likened to those of a number of Greek heroes, and the themes represented on both the larger and smaller podium friezes, show sieges and battles that are either legendary or biographical and historical.   

It's believed that Arbinas, the Xanthian ruler, died around 380 BC.

British archaeologist Charles Fellow explored the region of ancient Lykia between 1838 and 1844 and brought many antiquities back to England with the full permission of the Ottoman Turkish authorities.  


  • Some objects in this collection feature on the British Sign Language multimedia guide. This resource is temporarily unavailable. You can access a selection of BSL films on your own device.
  • Some objects in this collection feature on the audio description guide, available on Soundcloud.
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Room 19 and 20 closure

Accessed via Room 17, Room 19: Greece: Athens 430–400 BC and Room 20: Greeks and Lycians 400–325 BC are temporarily closed. The Museum is an historic and listed building and there are ongoing infrastructure assessments across the site. We have a team of specialists who make regular checks across the Museum to monitor and ensure appropriate management of risks to the collection. The care of the collection and the safety of our visitors and staff are our utmost priority.

The essential works being undertaken are part of a programme of building maintenance and conservation which will help enable future works on the Museum estate. Alongside these essential repairs, we are developing a strategic masterplan to transform the British Museum for the future. It will involve actively renovating our historic buildings and estate, improving our visitor experience and undertaking an ambitious redisplay of the collection in the years to come.