National Archaeological Museum Athens Boy Horse
The National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Photograph: Why Athens

Athens Museums 

Athens museums hold and protect of some of the world’s most precious collections. Home to the masterpieces of Archaic and Classical history, they are a treasure trove to the past. Numerous museums in Athens are housed in beautiful neo-classical stately mansions and buildings of the 1800’s. By contrast, the very modern structure of the Acropolis museum, designed by renowned New York architect Bernard Tschumi and Athenian Michael Fotiades, is perched over the city like a luminous light box.

Athens museums are not limited to public institutions; the Benaki and Cycladic Museums are both exemplary examples of expansive private collections that were established some years ago by wealthy Greeks. The Benaki Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Byzantine and Christian Museum and the Athens War Museum are all within walking distance of each other within the upmarket district of Kolonaki, where you can drop by for lunch after a morning exploring.

The Acropolis Museum

The Acropolis Museum opened in mid-2009 and was built to house the famous marble sculptures of the Acropolis and partly as a political gambit to persuade Britain to return the Parthenon marbles, which currently reside in the British Museum. You will find the famous Caryatids, the Head of Alexander the Great, and the Archaic Korres who were dedicated to goddess Athena.

The Byzantine and Christian Museum

This museum deserves to be visited not just because of its expansive collection but also because of the beautiful Tuscan style building in which it is housed. Set back from the road with beautiful gardens to enjoy a coffee and a little down time, it is an oasis of calm and an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. The museum includes a permanent exhibition of 1,700 years of Byzantine art.

Exhibitions

Throughout the year, cultural events and exhibitions are held at all the major Athens museums. Be sure to check out our ‘When’ page for full listings of current events.

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    7 things you must see at the National Archaeological Museum

    The National Archaeological Museum is the largest museum in Greece with some of the greatest collections of antiquities in the world. The museum was established in 1829 to house and protect antiquities from all over Greece and has operated from its neo-classical home in Athens since 1889. There are over 11,000 exhibits dating as far back as the Neolithic…

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    Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum

    Where: In the central suburb of Makrigianni, at the base of the Acropolis
    Why Go: One of the few museums in the world dedicated to contemporary jewellery and decorative arts
    We Loved: The visionary collections inspired by modern technology, astronomy, nature and medicine
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    The Acropolis Museum

    Where: Central, walking distance from Acropolis metro station
    Why Go: To see the Parthenon Gallery on level 3
    We Loved: The ancient city visible through glass panelled floors throughout the gallery
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    The Byzantine and Christian Museum

    Where: Central, walking distance from Evangelismos metro station
    Why Go: For the largest collection of Byzantine art
    We Loved: Rare 13th Century icons and the museum’s building and surrounding courtyard
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    Museum of Cycladic Art

    Where: Central, walking distance from Evangelismos metro station
    Why Go: One of the best collections of Cycladic art in the world
    We Loved: Cycladic figurines and the audio-visual installation depicting life in Antiquity
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    The Benaki Museum

    Where: Central, walking distance from Evangelismos metro station
    Why Go: A beautiful setting for one of the best private collections in Athens
    We Loved: The decorative objects used in daily life through out Greek history and the reconstruction of stately rooms found in 18th century mansions
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    Athens War Museum

    Where: Central, walking distance from Evangelismos metro station
    Why Go: A fascinating look at Greece’s war efforts through the ages
    We Loved: The outdoor exhibit that allows you to peer inside the aircrafts used by the Hellenic Air Force
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