National Archaeological Museum
Athens is a paradise for those passionate about the Ancient Greece empire. Among the top sights when staying in the capital, the National Archaeological Museum is a must-see.
The largest museum in Greece
The archaeological museum is housed in a neoclassical building built in 1866 by L. Lange and later restored by Ernst Zille. It comprises 8.000 square meters and holds 11.000 exhibits.
The museum has been growing ever since and welcoming visitors year-round. However, on two occasions they had to shut down.
During the Second World War the museum was closed and all its artifacts where stored underground so that the German army wouldn't destroy them. In 1999 the museum suffered destruction from the earthquake in Athens. While renovations took place some of the sections had to be closed temporarily.
Explore the exhibitions
The six permanent collections will instruct visitors on the Ancient Greek civilization from prehistory to late antiquity.
The Prehistoric antiquities sector displays items that illustrate how people lived in the Aegean Sea and Troy. Among the highlights, lookout for the treasures found in the royal tombs of Mycenae, the Cycladic marble sculptures and the famous gold mask of Agamemnon from the 16th century BC. You will see two holes next to the ears which determine the mask was found in a deceased person's face.
The sculpture collection showcases the extensive and most unique figures from the 7th century BC to 5th century AD. The whole collection, which is not entirely on display, contains 17.000 works.
Our picks are the statue of Poseidon from Melos found in 1877, measuring 2.35 meters high and the kore and the kouros – discovered in Mirenda in 1972.
The evolution of metalworking is in the metalwork segment, where the Antikythera Mechanism is displayed. It contains 30 mechanical gears and it is thought to be the first computer ever invented in humankind. It was found by divers in 1901 in the island of Antikythera.
In this section don't miss out on the most discussed statue. Is it Zeus or Poseidon? Although most Greeks would agree it is Zeus, researchers haven't decided. This bronze statue from the classical period was found in a shipwreck in the island of Euboea. In the same place, they found the bronze statue of a horse and the jockey, measuring 2.9 meters long.
Elsewhere, check out the vases and minor arts collection with 6000 objects on display, the Egyptian antiquities, and the Cypriot antiquities.
The nearest metro station is Victoria. Check out the museum's website to keep informed on the many temporary exhibitions they host.
Visit the charming café with a garden patio that has about 700 kinds of plants. The entrance is free, and you don't need to purchase the museum ticket. Do check out the gift shop for some unique souvenirs to take home as travel memories.