“Greeks don’t fight like heroes, heroes fight like Greeks”, said Winston Churchill and his words translate directly into the cultural establishments of Greece. Besides their absolutely fascinating history, the Greeks have managed to stay on the world map both in terms of tourism and culture. So, without further dithering about, let us hop right into the exploration of some of the most exquisite museums of fair Hellas!
1. Acropolis Museum:
Owned by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Acropolis Museum is one of the most important archaeological museums pertaining to Greek culture. Focused heavily on the findings of the Acropolis of Athens archaeological site, it spans centuries and centuries in terms of items: from Greek Bronze Age artefacts to relics from Roman and Byzantine Greece one can find anything there. Located at Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, Athens, the establishment was founded on 20 June 2009. With over 4,250 items in its collection, it boasts with an exhibition space of 14,000 square metres. The entry fee used to be a single Euro during the first year of its existence but it is 5 Euros now, so do plan your budget accordingly (however, the items that you can view there are well-worth every coin). Excavations at the adjoining archaeological site are still ongoing, so new items are regularly introduced into the roster. If you happen to be visiting Athens on International Museum Day (this usually happens around 18 May), know that the Acropolis Museum has no entry fee and it is open late into the night. Notable artefacts on display include: the Caryatids of Erechtheum, the Bust of Tiberius Julius Sauromates II, the Acropolis Kore, the Moschophoros, the Kritios Boy, and countless others. With all that in mind, we can do nothing else but urge you to become one of the 1 million people who visit the establishment each year.
2. Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art:
Known officially as the Nicholas P. Goulandris Foundation – Museum of Cycladic Art, the establishment was founded in 1986 to harbour some of the most exquisite artefacts pertaining to Cycladic art. Also located in Athens, the museum houses not only Cycladic pieces but Ancient Greek ones owned by Nicholas and Dolly Goulandris as well. Collecting masterworks from 1960 onwards, the couple was particularly interested in the Cyclades islands of the Aegean Sea. The permanent collection is housed in a building put up in 1985 (designed by Greek master architect Ioannis Vikelas) in the centre of Athens whilst the temporary collections are usually placed in the Stathatos Mansion (acquired in 1991) situated on the corner of Vassilissis Sofias Avenue and Herodotou Street. Definitely a must-see!
3. Archaeological Museum of Eleusis:
Moving out of the safe haven of the capital city of Athens, we arrive at Eleusis and its fascinating Archaeological Museum. Located within the bounds of the Eleusis archaeological site, the museum was built in 1890 according to the plans of the German master architect Kaverau (they were, of course, later expanded upon by Greek architect J. Mousis). Reaching back into the past as far as the Middle Helladic Era (2000-1580 BC), the museum even explores the ceremonies of the Eleusinian mysteries. Notable items on display include: the Protoattic amphora (dating back to the 7th century and depicting the beheading of Medusa by Perseus); the Fleeing Kore (stemming from the architectural design of the Sacred House); a full collection of pottery pertaining to the aforementioned Middle Helladic Era; and even a huge, headless statue of the goddess Demeter. Oh, and if you are a fan of sarcophagi, do not forget to check out a wonderful marble one within the bounds of the museum (wink)!
4. Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki:
Located in Thessaloniki (Central Macedonia), the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki is most indubitably one of the most extraordinary cultural establishments of its kind. Harbouring artefacts pertaining to the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods (these will mostly be from Thessaloniki or from Macedonia in general), it was founded in 1912. Housed in a building designed by Greek architect Patroklos Karantinos in 1962, it was provided with an extra wing in 1980 (harbouring findings from Vergina until 1997). Notable exhibits to keep a keen eye out for include: the statue of Harpocrates (dating back to the late 2nd century BC); the Head of Serapis (also from the 2nd century BC); the copy of “Unveiling” Aphrodite (421-420 BC); the Derveni Papyrus (from the 5th century BC); and countless others. Oh, and let us not forget about the depiction of Epona, the Gallo-Roman horse goddess (archaeologists postulate that this piece may have been introduced in Thessaloniki by Galerius). Do not miss out on this one because few establishments around the world offer such a window into the past as this!
Did you enjoy our list? Which of the aforementioned museums have you visited and what experiences have they left you with? Tell us all about it in the comment section below and be sure to come back from time to time for some interesting updates! Happy delving into the ancient days (wink)!