Visiting Athens? Don’t miss the best archaeological museum in the country, perhaps the best archaeological museum in the world!
The National Archaeological Museum in Athens is the largest museum in Greece, and one of the finest archaeological museums in the world, if not the finest. Every year thousands of people from all parts of the world visit the National Archaeological Museum to see all the national treasures it offers. The place is so big a visit can take up to three hours. It is recommended to come back several times to visit the National Archaeological museum entirely and deeply soak into ancient Greek history. In any case you will probably want to come back at least once as the collections are truly unique and unseen in other museums. It is a must see. There are a lot of interesting explanations and information about the collections. The exhibitions are fantastic, well presented and enable you to walk through the museum easily even if it is often crowded. Unlike the Acropolis Museum, the design of the building is neoclassical and not modern and as a result isn’t generally admired as much from the exterior but the inside is so full of artifacts that one can simply not miss a visit at the National Archaeological Museum.
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Even if the National Archaeological Museum was founded in 1829 by the Prime Minister Kapodistrias, it was only open to the public in 1889. As the capital of Greece changed from Aegina to Athens, the headquarters of the museum also had to change its location. Its original purpose was to index findings from the region of Athens and its surroundings but the museum is now full of artifacts from regions all over Greece. The increasing number of discoveries of new settlements led to the construction of a whole new infrastructure.
A new expansion in the East wing of the museum started to take place in 1906 and another one was added in 1932, right before World War II. The new expansion had not been completed yet and stopped right when the war started. To protect the antiquities from the German occupation, curators had them buried and boxed in several places, for example in the Greek national bank vaults and in natural grottos. This resulted in a effective conservation. The expansion was then completed but unfortunately, there was an earthquake in 1999 and yet again, new renovations had to be made. Since 2004 the museum has been fully renovated and you will be able to enjoy the diversity and richness of the exhibitions when you visit the National Archaeological Museum.
What to see and do
The museum was created in a neoclassical style and was designed originally by German architect Lange then by a Saxon turned Greek architect, Ziller. It is very big and covers more than 8000 square meters. It houses five permanent collections and also several temporary exhibitions which guarantees you will appreciate at least one of them. While you visit the National Archaeological Museum you will see :
The prehistoric collection(6000 BC to 1050 BC)
includes the Neolithic, Mycenean and Cycladic collection and finds from the settlement of Thira. Significant exhibits include for example the royal tombs of Mycenae and the enigmatic cycladic marble figurines, coming from the Aegean islands and mainland Greece.
The sculpture collection (700BC to 500 BC)
includes more than 16 000 sculptures of various nature ; busts, alars, animals, coming from Attica, Eastern Stera Ellad, the Aegan islands but also Macedonia, Thrace and Cyprus.
The vase and minor objects collection (1100 BC to 500 BC)
includes the ancient Greek pottery evolution ; the famously recognized vases with geometric black and red figures, terracotta figurines.. The objects are ornamented with detailed paintings. The findings come from sanctuaries like the Sounion in Attica, Thermos in Aetolia, Aremis Orthis in Laconia, the Heraion at Perachora in Corinthia and the Heraion in Argolis.
includes mostly bronze. The shipwreck of Antikythera provided a large amount of very well conserved findings such as Artemission Jockey and the Mecanism ; a scientific instrument used for astronomical forecast.
Egyptian and near eastern antiquities collection (5000 BC to 500BC)
is a very unique collection, as it comprises rare pieces coming from expats in Egypt and holds a prominent position worldwide.
The museum also has conservation and cast workshops, laboratories and an underground library, as it is also a research center. Like most museum’s you will find during your visit at the National Archaeological Museum a café, that hosts artists and musical performances and a shop that offers a selection of rare books. The entrance to the café and shop is free without a ticket.
The National Archaeological museum will give you great insight on the evolution and interaction of the multiple artistic trends in ancient Greece. These objects will also offer you a fresh approach on what was the daily life of these people ; what were their beliefs and how did they practice them. To fully experience the quality of the three dimensional works come and visit the National archaeological museum as pictures don’t do justice to the true beauty of these pieces of art.
How to go to the National Archaeological museum ?
There are different ways to visit the National Archaeological Museum :
- By foot
If you’re staying in Athens, you will enjoy easy access to the National Archaeological Museum, situated only 10 minutes away from Omonia Square by foot.
Omonia or Victoria station then five minute walk
Β5, Α7, Α8, Β8, Β12, Γ12, 022, 035, 046, 060, 224, 605, 608, 622
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 13, 15, 18
There is no parking facilities on site, but you can try to find parking space on Mpoupoulinas Street, Zaimi Street and Alexandras Avenue.
The exact address is: Patission Street 44
National Archeological Museum : Opening hours and rates
During spring and summer (April 13th – October 31st) :
- Wednesday – Monday : 08:00 – 16:00
- Tuesday : 12:30 – 20:00
During autumn and winter (November 1st – April 12th) :
- Wednesday – Monday : 08:30 – 16:00.
- Tuesday : 13:00 – 20:00
The museum is closed on the following days :
25th and 26th of December, 1st of January, 25th of March, Orthodox Easter Sunday and 1st of May
- Full : 10€
- Reduced : 5€
- Reduced admission : Escorted parents on educational visits of primary school, Greek seniors, students from countries outside the EU
- Free admission : minors, students from the EU, cultural card holders, official guests of the Greek states
Three day special package :
- Full : 15€
- Reduced : 8€
(With the package you can visit the National Archaeological Museum, Epigraphic Museum, Numismatic Museum, Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens).
Entry is free on the 6th of March (In memory of Melina Mercouri), 25th of March (Greek National Holiday), 18th of April, International monuments day) 18th of May (International Museum Day), the last weekend of September, 28th of October (Greek National Holiday) and finallyn on the first Sunday of every month from November to March.
GOOD TO KNOW:
– Entry for persons with disabilities: there is a separate entrance for people with disabilities on the Vas.Heralkeiou street, and toilet facilities at the underground level and the first floor which is accessible with an elevator. There are also wheelchairs available to visit the National archaeological museum. There are special educational programs that are organized for people who have total or partial loss of vision (tactile tours and workshops), with deafness or that have other educational needs.
– Photography is allowed, as long as there is no flash and that the photos aren’t used for profit.
– The Unseen museum: when you visit the National Archaeological you only see a small selection of the museum’s archives. To prevent visitors from seeing only key pieces, antiquities are regularly taken out of storage rooms and displayed in small scale temporary exhibitions that highlight a very precise object in an original way.
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