National Archaelogical Museum of Athens

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.

Further on in the museum, one can browse through the Metallurgy Collection and watch how Greek civilization progressed thorough it’s use and taming of various mineral ores.

The women might find of particular interest the Stathatos collection which contains jewelry, pottery and vases from the Middle Bronze Age to the post-Byzantine Era.

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.

There is also a collection of Cypriot antiquities, highlighting it’s own uniqueness as a civilization and touching upon religion, arts and commerce.

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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© 2007-2010 Peter Minakis

© 2010,
Peter Minakis

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7 Comments for “National Archaelogical Museum of Athens”

says:

I have visited this museum and was struck by all that it had to offer. The kouros, bronzes of the boy and jockey as well as Aphrodite, Pan and Eros in marble stand out in my mind.

says:

I love the Archaeological Museum! It has so many treasures and it is such a great building.l i think my favourite part are the Santorini murals and the treasures from the Macedonian period.

says:

What a fabulous collection – and that bronze discus thrower is stunning. There are some sculptures in Italy that are made in the same time period using the lost wax process – not surprising since much of Italy was ruled by the Greeks for so long.

veredgy

says:

I have seen many magnificent Greek , Etruscian, Roman and Mesopotamian artifacts all over the world (especially at the Louvre, the British museum, the Danish Glyptotek, and at variuos Berlin museums).
In my opinion those countries have to give these treasures back to their homelands.
There can not be any dispute about the fact that all these items were stolen and robbed during the Imperialistic era.

says:

Sigh…it’s been almost one year since we visited the National Archaeological Museum and two years since we toured the Acropolis. Your post brings back so many wonderful memories. And I disagree–I love Greece in the summer!