Must-do’s and see’s in ATHENS: The National Archaeological Museum

The museum-lover in me instantly fell in love with the National Archaeological Musuem in Athens. It became an easy favorite, a museum I would love to talk about whenever Athens or Greece is mentioned. At first, I was hesitant to include it in my itinerary because it is located outside the city center where the main attractions are. It’s about 2 kms from the Acropolis, and there was the scorching heat of the summer sun to consider. But luckily, I had an extra free morning on the last day of my stay, so I took my cabin luggage with me and made the Museum my second to the last destination. And boy, was it a good decision!

The National Archaeological Museum in Athens
The National Archaeological Museum in Athens

The Museum is “the largest archaeological musuem in Greece and one of the most important museums in the world devoted to ancient Greek art.” Seriously, I only saw most of the artefacts in the museum in books and readings from my Archaeology classes in UP. I remember taking two General Education courses in Archaeology because it was easy to obtain slots! But I did enjoy the classes, one of which was instructed by a German professor. How cool was that?

Anyway, the museum was founded in 1866 and based on the designs by architects L. Lange and E. Ziller. For 5 euros, you can enjoy learning more thru artefacts in the following sections of the museum (information gotten from the museum’s leaflet):

  • The Prehistoric Collection – Contains unique works of art representing the major civilisations that flourished in the Aegean from the 7th millennium to about 1050 BC.
  • The Sculpture Collection – The sculptures collected from Athens and other parts of Greece represent the development of ancient Greek sculpture from the 8th c. BC to the end of the 4th c. AD.
  • The Collection of Vases and the Minor Arts – The artefacts in this section came from excavations in cemeteries and sanctuaries, like geometric pottery, the black-figure vases from Vari, the white-ground lekythoi and the red-figure vases of the 4th c. BC.
  • Terracotta Figurines – In this section, you will find various products from the main local workshops of ancient Greece, from the Geometric to the late Hellenistic period (9th c. BC to 1st c. AD).
  • Vlastos-Serpieris Collection – The collection consists of ancient Greek and Tarantine artefacts donated by the Vlastos-Serpieris family.
  • Gold jewelry and silver vessels – More than 600 pieces of gold and silver items from the Geometric period to the Roman era (9th c. BC to 4th c. AD) are housed in this section.
  • Glass vessels – This section exhibits a rare collection of glass vessels from different regions of mainland Greece and the islands, dating from the Archaic period to the Middle Ages (late 8th c. BC to 14 c. AD).
  • The Bronze collection – This is one of the favorite sections! Here you will find the original statues of Poseidon/Zeus from Artemision and the Marathon youth, and smaller pieces like the mechanism from Antikythera. The artefacts represent the development of Greek art from the Geometric to the Roman era.
  • The Egyptian collection – The museum also houses an exhibition of artefacts representing the Egyptian civilization, dating from the early Predynastic period to the Roman times (5000 BC to 30 BC- 395 AD). Here you will find statues, reliefs, mummies, pottery, stelai, sarcophagi, potraits, miniature art and jewelry.
  • The Stathos Collection – The exhibit consists of 970 objects from the Middle Bronze Age to the Post-Byzantine period.
  • Collection of Cypriot Antiquities – The 180 artefacts in the collection represent the ancient life in Cyprus from the early Bronze Age to the Roman period (ca. 2500 BC to 4th c. AD).

If you want a more comprehensive information about the museum, the sections, visiting hours and entrance fees, click here. Meanwhile, here are some photos I took during the visit, with little captions to help appreciate them more. 😉

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And of course, I have my favorites. Here are my top 5 (also found on the slideshow):

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The original statue of Zeus, holding his thunder bolt, or Poseidon, holding his trident.
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Statue of a sleeping Eros. Probably pentelic marble.
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Aphrodite, Pan and Eros. Parian marble.
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Statue of a sleeping Maenad. Pentelic marble.
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Head of a bearded god. Pentelic marble.

Now, if you go hungry, there’s no need to worry. There’s an nice little cafe in the museum which serves beverages and Greek pastries. I kinda miss this cheese-stuffed bread I had during my visit.

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Museum cafe
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Nom nom! 😛

There you have it! A museum that is worth a visit! 😉 For a souvenir, I bought myself a commemorative medallion of the statue of Zeus/Poseidon! It was super nice, made of copper nickel and weights 10 grams! haha

More about Athens, and Greece, in the next entries. Cheers! ❤

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Statue of a sleeping Eros. Probably pentelic marble.
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