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The city of Athens, with a long history of 3,000 years, is loaded with wonderful museums that cover every period of the vast Greek civilization. Museums in Athens vary in many types, from archaeological museums to art galleries.
Fascinating collections of artworks, marvelous ancient findings, and impressive rare objects are all showcased in the several art galleries and museums, which attract thousands of visitors each year, not only because of the cultural wealth they present, but also because of the delightful and educational, sometimes interactive, displays.
Here are the top 5 museums in Athens to visit during your trip to the city.
Impressive for its glass exterior and the architectural design, the New Acropolis Museum is located in the scenic quarter of Makrigianni in Athens, just opposite the Acropolis Hill and few steps from the metro station. This wonderful museum, designed by distinguished architects Bernard Tschumi and Michael Fotiades, hosts a remarkable collection with ancient artifacts that were mainly excavated on the Acropolis Rock.
The building is mostly covered with glass, allowing unobstructed sunlight and views to the Acropolis Hill. The structure of its three showcase floors is ideally designed so visitors can view the exhibits in chronological order. More than 4,000 archaeological findings are on display, including the famous statues of Caryatids from the Erechtheion Temple and the complete frieze of the Parthenon Temple, with original and recreated parts.
Among others, guests can admire interesting everyday objects, buildings remain, sculptures and decorative pieces dating back to the Greek Bronze Age, the Roman and the Byzantine era. On the top floor, guests can sit and relax in the cafeteria or the restaurant with views to the Acropolis Hill.
National Archaeological Museum
One of the best museums in Athens and the largest in Greece, the National Archaeological Museum is definitely worth to visit. With more than 11,000 exhibits from a wide range of historical periods and locations in Greece, visitors could even need more than one day to see all the rooms of the museum.
The Greek National Archaeological Museum is housed in a Neoclassical building of the 19th century, just a few meters from Omonoia Square. Five permanent collections dating from prehistory to late antiquity are displayed, representing the wealth of the ancient Greek civilization. Among the exhibits, there are items and findings from the prehistoric Neolithic, Cycladic and Mycenaean civilizations, sculptures, ancient pottery and other minor objects from the 11th century BC up to the Roman period.
Don’t miss the well-preserved, wall frescoes of Ancient Akrotiri in Santorini and the famous Antikythera Mechanism. What is more, the National Archaeological Museum has a collection of ancient Cypriot art and culture and the only Egyptian and Near Eastern Antiquities Collection in Greece.
Benaki Museum, one of the top museums in Athens, is housed in a Neoclassical building of 1895, just a short walk from Syntagma Square, and is home to several important permanent exhibitions and temporary presentations of contemporary art. Artifacts covering a wide chronological range are showcased, offering an interesting panorama of the Greek culture development through time.
The exhibitions include tools, figurines, and vases from the prehistoric, Cycladic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods. Then the display proceeds to manuscripts and jewelry from the Byzantine period, as well as clothing, furniture, and paintings from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. There is also a collection of paintings from famous 19th-century painters, such as Vryzakis, Parthenis, and Gyzis.
Museum of Cycladic Art
The Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art in the center of Athens hosts the marvelous collection of Nicholas and Dolly Goulandris of Cycladic and Ancient Greek art pieces. The Museum of Cycladic Art owns 350 exhibits found on the Cyclades islands from the Greek Bronze Age to the Roman Period, including small marble statues and vessels. The exhibits are accompanied by very well organized presentations and videos explaining their historical background and use.
Byzantine and Christian Museum
In the heart of Athens, just a few steps from Syntagma Square is the Byzantine and Christian Museum, hosted in a 19th-century building with a rich history. The museum was founded in 1914 and includes more than 25,000 religious and historic artifacts, wall paintings and sculptures of the Byzantine and post-Byzantine Greek art and culture. Unique handmade icons, historic documents, ceramics and textiles from the Early Christian, Byzantine, Medieval and later periods, are all presented in this veritable treasure of Greek civilization.
Want to find out more museums in Athens? Have a look!