While traveling in Athens, you do not want to miss the Acropolis Museum ! Come and see why it is the most visited Museum in all of Greece!
The Acropolis museum provides a very rich insight on local ancient lifestyle as it has gathered more than 4000 objects directly from the Acropolis hill, which is situated just next to it. It is a world-class museum and is considered as one of the most significant museums of ancient times in the world. The minimalist design makes the interior part stand out more ; the contrast between the small artifacts and the spacious area that houses them creates an enjoyable atmosphere where one can wander in the alleys without feeling that the place is overcrowded. It is highly recommended to visit the museum before the Acropolis itself, as you’ll have a better idea of what the ruins contained in their prime after a visit to the Acropolis Museum and in any case both should be visited as they are interdependent.
To visit the Acropolis museum, you don’t have to follow strict hallways as there is a special kind of display where you can go all around the sculptures. The large glass panels floors and windows also invite you to go back in time by giving another impression of space, inviting you to turn around in circles and following what attracts your eye.
You can also visit other key archaeological sites in Athens by visiting the museum, as it is situated in the town center. The Dionysios Areopagitou street is pedestrian and links the museum to the acropolis for example.
Before the Museum was built, the monuments from the Acropolis were ravaged several times. The Ottoman occupants dismantled the Athena-Nike temple and in 1687 Venetian bombs exploded and destroyed many buildings. Visitors came and looted pieces they would find in the rubble. Entire marble pillars belonging to the Parthenon were removed and kept intact by the British Ambassador to Constantinople, Lord Elgin. They were sold to Great Britain where they are displayed today at the British Museum in London. When Greece started to become independent and the Ottoman colonies retreated in 1833, there where discussions about restoring the remains and creating a place to conserve what remained of the Acropolis. Twenty five years later, in 1865 five a first museum was built.
It was one of the first museums of its kind to be built in Greece in terms of size and quality. From that date on, the museum has been extended five times as it became more and more popular, and endlessly increasing amount of people wanting to visit the place. Space was needed to welcome them but also to display all of the artifacts found in the Acropolis area, that couldn’t be contained in the previous version. The various constructions works extensions took years to complete as delays arose with the discovery of an archaeological settlement called Makriyianni, found in the area where the new museum was supposed to be built. The project was first initiated by the minister of culture Melina Merkouri, who also demanded that the marble pillars be given back to Greece as they belonged to the country’s heritage.
A completely new and modern structure was built by Michael Photiadis and Bernard Tschumi in 2009, after an international competition was organized. The museum you can now visit is now very different from the original design, and has successfully integrated the Makriyianni settlement in a excavation that you can visit by walking on a glass floor. This setting gives the place more authenticity. A hundred years were required to create this beautiful design, offering lots of natural and ambient light that enhances and blends in with the ancient findings that once were only lit by the hot blinding sun.
What to see and do at the Acropolis Museum?
Even before entering the Museum, you can see excavations that were found directly on site, by walking on a glass floor. The museum’s structure was built in a way that respects the organization of the Acropolis : every staircase corresponds to a higher level at the Acropolis : to visit the museum is also to visit the Acropolis in a way.
Main level – The Gallery of the Slopes
You while find at this level a large gallery of objects found in the descends of the Acropolis ; small sculptures and objects from everyday life. The glass floor continues and allows you to admire even more excavations.
Level one and two – The Archaic Gallery
At this level you will mostly find fine, smiling statues such as the famous and mysterious Sphinx. These statues come from the Archaic period (7th century BC until 480 BC), and mainly come from the second temple of Athena and The Hekatompedon temple which are massive monuments at the Acropolis. There is also the Votives collection ; sculpture that aren’t only part of a single monument but were present a little bit everywhere on the Acropolis. Some still have traces of paint including pigments that are not found anymore nowadays. You can observe them through every angle as they are not displayed in rows as they usually are. At the second level you will find more statues, including the five Caryatidsthat supported the most sacred part of the Parthenon.
This level is exclusively reserved for the Parthenon. Unlike the other levels it has a direct view on the Acropolis. There is a hundred and sixty meters frieze, pediments illustrating attic mythology, columns and more to visit. Unfortunately only fifty meters of the frescoes are original and the rest remains in different museums across the world. The reconstitution is very well made though and is worth a visit.
You can also visit the two shops and select one of their art books, or rest and have a bite at their restaurant or café where they serve delicious traditional foods.
How to go to the Acropolis Museum?
The Acropolis is situated in the historical town center neighborhood and is easy of access. It is only 300 meters from the Acropolis and approximately two kilometers from Syntagma Square, the main square of the city of Athens. There are many different means of transportation :
- By foot
If you’re staying in Athens, you will enjoy easy access to the Acropolis Mueum, situated only 15 minutes away from Syntagma Square by foot.
Lines 24, 40, 57, 103, 106, 108, 111, 126, 134, 135, 136, 137, 155, 206, 208, 227, 230, 237, 790, 856, Α2, Α3, Α4, Β2, Β3, Β4, Ε2, Ε22. (stop: Makriyianni)
Lines 1, 5, 15 (stop: Makriyianni) Stop: Leoforos Vouliagmenis
Line 2 (Anthoupoli-Elliniko) to Acropolis station
There is no public parking facilities, and the street parking space is very limited. Other means of transportation are encouraged by the city, but if you choose to use your car try to go to these streets to park for free : Hatzichristou, Dimitrakopoulou, Veikou, Mitseon, Parthenonos, Karyatidon. Paid parking facilities are available in Rovertou Gali Street and Falirou Street.
Bike racks are available at the main entrance at the Museum and at the exit of the Metro station.
Acropolis Museum : Opening hours and rates
During spring-summer (1 November-31st March) :
- General admission: 5 Euros
- Reduced admission: 3 Euros
- Free for minors from the EU
During autumn-winter (1st of November – 31st of March) :
- General admission: 10 Euros
- Reduced admission: 5 Euros
- Free for minors from the EU
Entry is free on the 6th of March (In Memory of Melina Mercouri), 25th of March (Greek National Holiday), 18th of May (International Museum Day), 28th of October (Greek National Holiday).
During spring and summer (1st of April – 31st of October) :
- Monday : 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
- Tuesday – Sunday : 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- Friday : 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
During autumn and winter (1st of November – 31st of March) :
- Monday – Thursday : 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Friday : 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
- Saturday – Sunday : 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Last admissions are accepted half an hour before the museum closes.
There a few exceptions, so plan your visit carefully :
The museum is closed: January 1st, Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday, May 1st, December 25th and 26th.
On August’s Full Moon and on the European Night of Museums, the Acropolis Museum operates until midnight.
On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve (24 and 31 December), the Acropolis Museum opens from 9 am. to 3 pm.
GOOD TO KNOW:
– The restaurant offers a spectacular panoramic view of the Acropolis, particularly beautiful during the full moons in August
– A digital reproduction of the Parthenon and a colorization of the Kores sculptures were created and are available for free. The museum is also part of the Google Art project that inventories all the faces of the sculptures, so you can enjoy having access to a high quality memory of your visit.
Photographs aren’t allowed in the Archaic Gallery.
– A campaign was created in order to bring back the marbles from Britain back to Greece ; if you want to support the movement go on www.bringthemback.org
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