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THE Archeologikon Mousion holds more masterpieces of ancient art than anywhere else. Spanning perhaps 7,000 years, exhibits represent every period of ancient Greek history and every site underneath from the world of the ancient Greeks.
Located at Patission 44. Open Mon 12.30am7pm, Tues-Fri 8am-7pm, Sat-Sun 8.30am-3pm. Marble and bronze statues, vases and archaeological treasures from prehistoric times to the Byzantine era, including the acclaimed Minoan frescoes from Santorini. The best museum of Greek artifacts.
You will want to dedicate at least half a day to browsing through the fabulous treasury of sculpture, frescos, vases, jewelry, figurines, coins and everyday implements, and no matter how
The Mycenaean Room (no. 4) holds the famous gold death mask of an Achaean king. It was recovered from the royal chamber tombs at Mycenae in 1876 by Heinrich Schliemann, who was convinced it was that of Agamemnon, hero of the battle of Troy. In fact, the mask dates from the 16th century BC, at least three centuries earlier. Also look out for the 15th-century BC gold Vaphio cups, which depict the capture of wild bulls in a net, and the silver libation vessel in the shape of a bull’s head, with gold horns and a rosette.
An adjoining room has important works of early Sycladic Sculpture (2800-2300 BC), including a rare, standing male figure playing a double flute.
The museum’s statuary rates universal acclaim. In rooms 7, 8, 11 and 13 you can see the progression of kouroi (standing male figures) through the archaic period to the superb Kroisos tomb statue of 520 BC. Amongst other marble highlights are Phrasikleia (540 BC) the Attic maiden, and the head of Hygeia, goddess of health, possibly by Praxiteles, which is considered one of the finest works in Greek sculpture.
Many of the ground-floor rooms are lined with marble stele – gravestones with relief sculptures depicting poignant farewell to the dead.
In room 15 you’ll find the famous bronze of Poseidon (460 BC), standing poised to hurl his trident. It was dredged up out of the sea in 1928 by fishermen off the island of Euboea. The same men also discovered the bronze Jockey of Artmision (2nd century BC), urging on his branded steed, which is now on view in the Hall of the Stairs.
The Yoth from Antikythera (340 BC), another outstanding bronze, can be seen in room no. 28. The figure is believed to represent Paris apple, as it has been ascertained that his extended right hand once held a round object.
Other notable bronzes include the Head of a Philospher (3rd century BC) and the Man from Delos (100 BC).
At the top of the stairs is one of the museum’s prime attractions: vivid Minoan frescos estimated to be 3500 years old from the volcanic island of Thera (Santorini). Afisherman, boxing children, an antelope, and a spring landscape are among the graceful and sensitive portrayals of the great sea-going civilization of Crete. These frescos will one day be returned to the excavation site of Akrotiri, in keeping with the long-range plants of the Ministry of Culture to return some of the archaeological treasures to museums at their places of origin.
The upper floor houses an extensive collection of vases. Among the black-figure vases from the 6th century BC, watch for the famous jar showing Hercules fighting the centaur Nessos.
The Numismatic Museum, with its coin collection, can also be found here.
The museum lies just 10 minutes from Omonia Square, along 28 Oktovriou (Patission) Street. Descriptions are listed in English, French and German as well as Greek.
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Athens is Europe's southern-most capital city and the gateway to Greece and the ancient world. Its renowned hallmark is the gleaming marble of the monuments of the Acropolis, which rise triumphantly above the city, proud survivors of the ravages of man and time.
People have dwelt on this rock for some 5,000 years — a lineage so ancient as to make all other European cities seem young by comparison.
Below, in the ancient Agora, or marketplace, Socrates held his dialogues, and the system of democracy e know today had its beginning, making Athens the cradle of Western civilization. It is this rich history that continues, to act as a magnet for travellers throughout the world. Modern Athens is far removed from the elegant splendour of its classical ruins.
The sprawl of steel and concrete retches up into the surrounding hills as far as the eye can see. (Remarkably for a city of this size, there are no skyscrapers and under a dozen tall buildings.) Aesthetics have fallen by the wayside during the 20th century, for a massive influx of rural Greeks and repatriated countrymen from Turkey has made a necessity of rapid (and frenzied) growth.
Today, metropolitan Athens, along with the adjoining city and port of Piraeus, is home to more than 4 million people, a figure that equals nearly half the population of the entire country.
It is fitting, too, that the venerable monuments of Athens, built by the ancient citizens, should still stand in the viable heart of their descendants. Historian Thomas William Rolleston wrote: "The elements which in the most remote times have entered into nation’s composition endure through all its history, and help to mould that history, and to stamp the character and genius of the people."
Athens has always been a world crossroads. Having dealt with invaders throughout its history, the city has coped well with the tourist bombardment of recent years (Greece receives around 10 million visitors a year!). Even those heading for the islands often spend at least a night or two in Athens, and for many, this is a destination in its own right. If the urban din gets too much, mountain villages, get- away islands and beaches are easily accessible.
Athens, a city very much on the move, absorbs effortlessly its waves of visitors, while straining its Hellenic ingenuity for greater commercial and in industrial prominence. Yet in the end, regardless of how modern it becomes or the extent of the progress it achieves, it will always uphold the splendid heritage evoked by its very name.
One of the oldest remaining cities on the face of the planet, Athens has stood at the center of the world for thousands of years as a leader in philosophy, history, culture, and mythology. From places such as the Acropolis—often credited as the birthplace of modern civilization—with the Parthenon, the Erectheon, and temples to Zeus, Agora, Athena, and Dionysus, to places such as the National Archeological Museum or the harbor of Piraeus, Athens is a symbol of what Europe has been over the millennia: the birthplace of the humanities.
Classical Athens is how most people prefer to remember the city, and it is the basis for the tourism that forms the major industry of this Greek city. It was the centre for arts, philosophy, science, math, and more. Plato’s Academy was based here, as was Aristotle’s Lyceum, and it was here that democracy was first born. In fact, many people call this the cradle of Western civilization, and the proof of that has been well-preserved over the years. In addition, the city was host to the first modern Olympic Games back in 1896, hearkening back to the times when the ancient games had been hosted in Olympia from 776 B.C. to 393 A.D.
Panepistimiou (also called Venixelou), with several 19th-century neoclassical buildings, runs parallel with Stadiou. Either are a great way to walk from Syntagma Square to Omonia Square and catch some sights.
The first building you’ll pass is the former home of German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann (1822-90), who found the ancient palace of Troy and underneath the tombs at Mycenae. Up under roof you’ll see engraved ‘IIiou Melathron’ (palace on troy).
Further along you’ll find the Academy of Arts, the University and the National Library. Their sculpted, gilded facades mimis the classical style. Athena and Apollo stand atop the Ionic columns at the Academy, while Socrates and Plato sit at the entrance. The Library has nearly a million books and manuscripts, including amazing hand-illuminated Gospels of the 19th and 11th centuries.
Ringed by banks, deluxe hotels, generic fastfood eateries and travel agencies, Syntagma (Constitution) Square is the central reference point for the most visitors to Athens. It also makes a convenient rendezvous spot for Athenians working in the city centre. Orange trees, cypresses and palms somehow survive the fumes that are emitted by constant traffic swinging into Syntagma from eight major thoroughfares.
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