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The metro of Athens is not only the most modern in Europe, but has another impressive characteristic: the metro stations are decorated with ancient antiquities that were discovered during the construction works. In fact, the largest excavation programme ever accomplished in Greece took place during the construction and digging works of Athens metro railway (1993-2000), when more than 50,000 findings came to light.
Some of these findings were displayed in the metro stations so that they create a connection between the past and present of Athens.
In Syntagma metro station, you will see the skeleton of a young lady who lived in Athens in the 4th century BC, lying in her tomb between layers of soil. There are also displays of pipes from the ancient water supply and sanitation system of the town, funerary monuments, ceramic lamps and part of an ancient mosaic floor.
The first thing to attract the attention in Acropolis metro station is the huge photograph of Melina Merkouri, an important Greek actress and politician, with the Parthenon at the background. Her photo was placed in Acropolis station as she initiated the campaign for the return of the Parthenon marbles, that are now kept in the British Museum, in Athens.
Along the metro platforms, there are replicas of the Parthenon frieze. The subject of this frieze is the Panathinaea procession, the most important festival of ancient Athens to honor goddess Athena. This procession would depart from Eleusina and end on the Acropolis Hill.
Up the escalators, on the way out of the station, there is a small exhibition with items of every day use, including ancient toys, vases for olive oil and wine, pieces of ceramic pots and an ancient loom. Towards the exit, there are replicas of the east pediment of the Parthenon, showing the birth of Athena out of the head of Zeus and other mythological scenes.
In Monastiraki, there is a huge photograph of an underwater tunnel with pot fragments. This photo was taken from the archaeological works during the metro digging project.
Tomb findings are displayed in Panepistimio metro station, such as ceramic pots, offerings to the dead and coins.
Such exhibitions exist in many other stations of Athens metro. In Evangelismos station, there are remains of the water system of the ancient town. In Eleonas station, there are the remains of the oldest bridge in Attica, dating from the 5th or 6th century BC. In Egaleo station, ancient objects of everyday use are displayed along the corridors, including ceramic pots, lamps, statuettes and funerary offerings.