Get Cultured At These Stunning Museums In Athens, Greece

You can’t visit Athens without taking time to experience the ancient culture still very much alive in the city. This could mean a trip to the Acropolis, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, or the ancient cemetery Kerameikos. Or, if you like culture with a side of A/C, you could visit one of Athens’ many stunning public museums.
Here’s a guide to the best of the bunch.

The National Archaeology Museum
Oktovriou 44, Athens

The National Archaeological Museum is the crown jewel of Greek museums. The largest museum in Greece, it is also one of the most important archaeological museums in the world. Visit to wander through thousands of years of history, from golden trinkets of the Myceneans, to Egyptian sarcophagi, to classical marble and bronze statues of the Greek gods. If you visit only one museum in Athens, make it this one. 

Museum of Cycladic Art
4 Neophytou Douka St, Athens

The Cycladic civilization was a Late Neolithic and Bronze Age culture that lived throughout the islands of the Aegean Sea. They predated and prefigured the world of classical Greece. This museum of stone sculptures, black figure pottery, and historical dioramas will bring you back to a time even deeper than you’d expect to find in Athens. Additionally, the museum houses contemporary art exhibits on their first floor. Make sure to visit the café.

The Jewish Museum of Greece
Nikis 39, Athina

The Jewish Museum of Greece is a little more off the beaten track than either the National Archaeological Museum or the Museum of Cycladic Art. Once you arrive, you’ll have to ring the doorbell to be let in, and you may have the place almost to yourself. This museum of three small floors documents thousands of years of Jewish history in Greece, up to the Second World War. Their exhibits include collections of Jewish ceremonial clothing and ritual goods as well as oral histories of Greece’s occupation by the Nazis. It’s a moving place rich with stories of human civilization’s foundational monotheism.

The Byzantine and Christian Museum
Leof. Vasilissis Sofias 22, Athina

The Byzantine and Christian Museum houses an incredible collection of Christian artifacts from Greece and Europe spanning from the 3rd century CE to the Medieval era. This includes hundreds of wondrous Byzantine icons and a very interesting section of pagan Greek works that pre-figured early Christian visual culture. The compound of the museum, with a courtyard and a café, is amazing even without the art. Visit this museum for a visual history of Christianity you can’t find anywhere else.

The Benaki Museum of Islamic Art
22 Agion Asomaton, Athens

Close out a day in the history of monotheism with a visit to the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art. This museum’s collection of thousands of pieces of art produced in the Islamic world is second to none. It will also help you situate the history of Greece against that of the Ottoman Empire, and bring you to a new appreciation of how these two cultures influenced each other and how that interchange still bears on our culture today.

The Benaki Museum
1 Koumpari, Athens

The Benaki Museum was endowed to Greece in 1930 by Antonis Benakis, an important Greek art collector. Today, the art collected over his lifetime is still housed in the family mansion, now a public site. Originally this museum included the works now in The Islamic Museum, until these began being exhibited in the satellite site. The exhibits in the Benaki Museum span prehistoric to modern times in Greece, and serve as a great counterpoint to the works exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum. Visit this museum for an important look into how Greek culture remembers and preserves itself, and immerse once more in its timeless history.

Zach Buck

Zach Buck

Zach Buck is a writer and editor currently living in South Korea. He serves as the official editor of Spatial Studies magazine HEADREST. In 2016 he released experimental digital archive game house.xct_ with Other Families, and it can be read about on otherfamilies.ca.

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