Most of you who choose to visit Greece will also surely pass through Athens. Greek cities aren’t fun in the summer: traffic, heat, congestion but the nightlife is fantastic, the dining options appeal to all tastes and budgets and the museums – endless.
To friends who ask me what to see and do in Athens is to see the museums, landmarks and shop by day and wine and dine by night. The darling of tourists currently is the New Acropolis Museum (yes you should go see it) but one musn’t neglect the National Archaelogical Museum.
This museum houses many of the important artifacts from all over Greece and representing Greece from pre-history to late antiquity. It is located on Patission Avenue in the Exarchia area and it’s about a 10 minute walk from centrally located Omonia Square and the underground/subway system.
The building is striking to look at from the outside and very moving once you step inside. Lots of natural light and the shadows of the artifacts help you along on this time-traveling experience. The musuem was competed in 1889 and that in itself makes it a national treasure. During WWII, the museum closed it’s doors, the antiquities were boxed-up, buried and hidden from possible damage and looting.
The museum reopened in 1945 after the war and ever since then, it has been gently showing visitors this dream-walk through Greece’s long history. The museum is organized in sections, starting with the pre-historic (Neolithic, Cycladic and Mycenaean) collections.
There is then the Sculptures, Vases and Minor objects collection and also the Santorini collections. Artifacts found at the Akrotiri site in the island of Santorini are a newer addition to the museum and an ongoing dig is still taking place on site.
The Vlastos-Serpieris collection contains terracotta figurines, gold and silver vessels and glass vessels. The collection was donated by both the Vlastos and Serpieris families.
The Museum also houses Greece’s only collection of Egyptian and near eastern antiquities.
When I went to the National Archaelogical Museum, it was an early evening visit. I had just woken up after a well-deserved afternoon siesta and I have some time to kill until my evening plans with friends.
Like anywhere, check with the museum for the hours and closures due to national holidays to avoid disappointment. Before leaving this museum, a cafe and snack bar look out towards a courtyard with some more artifacts and the souvenir shop is right next door, in case you’re looking for a bust, coffee table book or trinkets to bring back home.
Once again, here is the link to the National Archaelogical Museum of Athens and don’t forget to visit my Flickr photo stream (right column of the blog) for more photos from my visit.
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