Founded in 1829, the National Archaeological Museum was the first museum of independent Greece. It started working on the island of Aegina, and was moved to Athens few years later after the city had acquired the status of the capital. What does the museum hide within its walls and what do you need to know before visiting it?
History of the Archaeological Museum
In 1889, the Archaeological Museum of Athens opened to the public. At the beginning of the XX century, excavations throughout Greece were gaining momentum: more and more treasures dating back to different eras were being excavated from the ground. Many of them were accumulated in the funds of the Archaeological Museum of the capital. That is why in 1932 the expanding of the museum was started.
The works were carried out until 1939, and then the Second World War broke out. During the years of occupation, the museum's cellars served as a repository of valuables. Just 2 years after the end of the war, the reconstruction of the building was carried out, and the museum opened its doors again. In the early 2000s, the restoration works took place in the museum. Since 2004, many new halls for permanent exhibitions have been opened. Today, the Archaeological Museum of Athens will help you to get acquainted with the past not only of Greece, but also of the entire Mediterranean. It houses artifacts from Italy, Cyprus and Egypt.
The museum is on the shove: it regularly holds temporary exhibitions and cultural events. But still a permanent exhibition is its basis. The collections of National Archeological Museum of Athens are gathered in many thematic halls:
- The Egyptian hall is one of the first halls of the museum, which was opened at the end of the XIX century. Among its exhibits, you will find mummies, statuettes, statues, steles, sarcophagi, vases, funerary items, and jewelry. The exhibition covers all periods of Egyptian civilization;
- Stathatos collection is the room with a collection, presented to the museum. Here you can see archaeological finds from the Halkidiki peninsula, Mycenaean jewelry, Minoan artifacts and Byzantine silver vessels;
- Collection of metal products is a collection of items made of bronze, lead and iron;
- Mycenaean hall is a collection of finds of Mycenaean civilization, one of the most valuable in the museum. Here are the finds from tombs at Mycenae and large palaces of the Peloponnese;
- The hall of sculpture is one of the largest collections of ancient Greek sculpture in the world;
- The Cycladic hall is a collection of antiquities from the islands of the Cycladic archipelago. Here you can see the famous Cycladic statuettes, finds from the graves of Paros, Naxos and Amorgos, frescoes and pottery;
- The hall of the Neolithic period — here the displays of pottery, figurines, jewelry and burial objects are waiting for you;
- Cypriot antiquities is the hall with finds from the island of Cyprus. The permanent exhibition presents more than 200 items: from vases and statuettes to bronze and jewelry;
- The hall of Fira keeps magnificent frescoes of Ancient Fira, amphorae, household items — everything that testifies to the history of civilization destroyed by a volcanic eruption;
- Vases collection — the 15 rooms of an impressive collection of vases and vessels found on cape Sounion, in Sparta, Athens, on the island of Lemnos, in Asia Minor, Palestine, on the island of Aegina and in other areas of the Mediterranean;
- Hall of terracotta figurines — more than 500 exhibits created by masters from all regions of Greece. The figures from Asia Minor and the Peloponnese are especially fully represented;
- Hall of jewelry — jewelry that amaze with their luxury and brilliance. Earrings, pendants, bracelets, brooches, as well as stone products and vessels made of precious metals — all of these can be seen here;
- Collection of glass vases — glass vessels of all colors and shapes. They demonstrate the history of glass products’ producing in Greece.
Top 5 unique highlights of the Archaeological Museum of Athens
Among the thousands of exhibits of the museum, there are some things for which visitors come to its halls:
- The equestrian from cape Artemision — the original ancient statue, found by chance by a diver for sponges while diving at cape Artemision. The statue shows a disproportionately small rider and a horse — it is made of bronze;
- Agamemnon's mask of gold, found in Mycenae. This one is the original, in the museum of Mycenae you can see a copy;
- Antikythera mechanism is a mysterious mechanical device that was used to calculate the movement of celestial bodies;
- Poseidon from cape Artemision is a bronze statue, found together with the statue of the horseman;
- The statue of Cora and a Kouros, created by sculptor Aristion Parian.
The Archaeological Museum of Athens offers for the convenience of visitors:
- A cafe, which offers a view of the smart garden and works of artists on the walls. In summer musicians’ performances are held in the garden;
- A shop where you can buy souvenirs and books.
The museum is located at 28is Oktovríou 44.
You can get to it:
- by metro and electric train (Omonia and Victoria stations);
- by trolleybuses No. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7;
- by buses No. Β5, Ε6, Β6, Ε6, Α7, Β7, Ε7, Α8, Β8, Α12, Β12, Γ12, Ε12, 022, 035, 046, 060, 200, 224, 605, 608, 622.
There is no parking near the museum, but you can park your car at the nearby streets.
- If you haven’t still turned 18 years old, you can go to the museum for free (on presentation of the document).
- You can also visit the museum for free on March 6, April 18, May 18, the last weekend of September, October 28, and the first Sunday of each month (from November 1 to March 31).
- You can save money by buying a three-day ticket, which is valid in the National Archaeological Museum, Numismatic Museum and the Byzantine Museum. Its price is 15 €.