Museums in Athens and Pireaus

Acropolis Museum

The Museum occupies the S.E. extremity of the rock of the Acropolis where the sanctuary of Pandion once stood. The Museum contains mainly pedimental sculpture, reliefs and statues found on the rock of the Acropolis, which formed part of the decoration of its buildings or were dedicated to the goddess Athena. Among the latter is the unique collection in the world of statues of female figures of the archaic era known as the “Korai” with the well known archaic smile, such as the Kore of Lyons, the Kore of Naxos, the Kore of Chios, the Peploforos Kore, the Kore of Antinor, the Kore of Euthidikos, etc. From the remaining votive offering sculptures, those of outstanding interest are the Moschoforos (man carrying a calf across his shoulders), Rampin's horseman, a hunting dog, the Boy by Kritias, the head of the blonde youth, etc. There are also sphinxes, four-horse chariots and many votive reliefs such as that of Lenormant, Athena in Meditation, etc.

Pedimental sculptures from various buildings on the Acropolis of the 6th century B.C. depict lions devouring a calf, the monster Typhon with three human heads and bodies watching the struggle between Hercules and Triton, the struggle of Hercules with the Lernaia Hydra, the introduction of Hercules to Olympus, etc. There are also four splendid pedimental figures from the battle of the giants (Gigantomahia) showing the goddess Athena and giants, which had adorned the eastern pediment of the temple built by the Peisistratids. In addition, there are some sections of the frieze of the Parthenon and of the Erechtheion as well as sections from the marble balustrade of the temple of Athena Niki. The slab from the frieze of the Parthenon, which shows Apollo, Artemis and Poseidon, is of exceptional beauty, probably being the work of Agorakritos, a pupil of Pheidias. Another beautiful slab from the temple of Athena Niki is that showing her undoing her sandal.

National Archaeological Museum of Athens

No. 1 Tossitsa Street
Closed on Mondays

The Museum displays finds from all parts of the ancient Greek world which date from Neolithic times to the last years of the Roman Empire.

Art of the Pre-Historic Period Up To 1100 B.C. This includes four pre-historic collections from Thessaly (mainly ceramics and clay figurines), the Cyclades Islands (mainly marble figurines and vases), Thera or Santorini (mainly frescoes) and the Mycenaean period (treasures from royal tombs, cups from the Vafio beehive to

Art from the Historic Period Sculpture and ceramics make up the main branch of the art of this period but there is also a variety of miniature arts, coins and goldsmith's work. Next to the originals of works, mainly of the classical period, are copies from the Hellenistic and Roman times.

The National Museum also houses:
  • The Epigraphic Collection
  • The Numismatic Collection
  • The Thera (Santorini Island) Collection

In the same building of the National Archaeological Museum there is an exhibition where copies and castings taken from objects in museums throughout Greece are sold.

The Byzantine and Christian Museum

22 Vassilissis Sofias Avenue
Closed on Mondays

The exhibits cover the early Christian, the Byzantine and the post-Byzantine periods and are divided into the following collections:

A rich collection of sculptures from various churches, mostly architectural elements but also some rare, large marble ikons showing the Virgin Mary in relief. Outstanding among these sculptures are the complex showing Orpheus, the marble balustrades with carvings of animals in combat, the marble plaque from Thessaloniki showing the three Apostles (this is an altar screen) and others.

A rich collection of ikons (portable. individual paintings and sections of altar screen decoration). Some of the best specimens of the Byzantine ikons exhibited are those of Panagia Glykofilousa from Bithynia, done in mosaic form, the rare wood-carved relief of Saint George from Kastoria, the ikon of the Archangel Michael and the well known ikon of the Crucifixion from Thessaloniki.

A number of frescoes, salvaged from demolished churches in Attica and the isiands have also been set up in the Museum.

There is a collection of fabrics and inscriptions from Coptic churches and, in the courtyard, stands a phiale which is a reproduction of a fountain represented in one of the mosaics at Dafni. One of the halls in the Museum has been converted into a small Basilica with nave and two aisles and another into a cruciform church with dome while a third hall has been converted into a post-Byzantine church.

The Benaki Museum

On the corner of Vassilissis Sofias Avenue and Koumbari Street
Closed on Tuesdays

It is founded on the private collection of Anthony Benakis and has since been enriched with several other private collections. Items exhibited are:

Works of Greek art from pre-historic times up to the modern era. The collection of gold ornaments is of particular interest and so are the two portraits from Fayoum, silver ecclesiastical vessels, Byzantine miniatures, Byzantine and post- Byzantine ikons by painters such as Damaskinos and Poulakis.

Works of Greek popular art with certain specimens of similar art from other countries, historic relies, historic archives, drawings of landscapes by foreign artists of the Romantic School, paintings of scenes and personalities in Greece's more recent history (aquarelles, lithographies, etc.) There are also some fine Greek embroideries and woodcarvings as well as Moslem and Coptic fabrics.

A collection of art miniatures from the region of the Eastern Mediterranean and the East (Asia Minor, Moslem and Chinese ceramics, etc.)

The entire reception room in the Museum is decorated in the carved wood panelling style of Kozani.

Museum of Greek Popular Art

No. 17 Kidathineon Street
Closed on Mondays

The Museum contains specimens of traditional arts and crafts which have their origins deep in Byzantine times. There are embroidered shrouds for the Good Friday bier, priest's robes, woodcarved crosses, covers for Bibles, ornaments, carved wooden seals, carved wooden spoons, Greek embroidery generally and specimens of paintings by Greek popular artists.

Historical and Ethnological Museum

13 Stadiou Street
Closed on Mondays

This Museum is housed in what used to be the old Parliament building. The Museum contains portraits of the heroes of the 1821 War of Independence, arms and other mementos of that war, the sword and helmet of Lord Byron, flags, historic documents, etc.

The Kanellopoulos Museum

On the corner of Theorias and Panos Streets
Closed on Mondays

The Museum houses a private collection and contains noteworthy exhibits which belong to two basic periods, pre- Christian and post-Christian. One of the most interesting groupings in the collection is that of Tanagra figurines in terracotta which represent various figures. They were discovered on the site of the ancient township of Tanagra and belong to the period 330 to 200 B.C.

The War Museum

On the corner of Vassilissis Sofias and Rizari Streets
Closed on Mondays

Weapons of various periods are exhibited, also uniforms, regimental flags, medals and decorations, ships models, aircraft, etc.

National Picture Gallery/Alexander Soutsos Museum

No. 50 Vassileos Konstandinou Avenue, opposite the Athens Hilton
Closed on Mondays

The paintings, sculptures and engravings of Greek artists provide the visitor with a complete picture of the develop- ment of Greek art from the early 19th century to the present day. A selection of post-Byzantine ikons as well as a collection of works by painters of the Ionian Islands, cover the transitional stage between Byzantine and Modern Greek Art.

The hall of this museum, where West European paintings from the Renaissance period through to creations by contemporary West European artists are exhibited, contains masterpieces by Domenico Theotokopoulos (El Greco), Rubens, Jordaens, Tiepolo, Caravaggio and the latest acquisition of the gallery “Greek Mounted Warrior” by Delacroix. Also works by Picasso, Dayer, Magritte, Brauner, Modigliani and others as well as Rodin's statue of the “Prodigal Son”. The open-air exhibition of sculpture consists of works by Greek sculptors of the 19th and 20th centuries. Finally, all periodical or retrospective exhibitions of the works of Greek and foreign artists are presented in a special hall throughout the year.

Piraeus Archaeological Museum

No. 31 Harilaou Trikoupi
Closed on Mondays

Exhibits include interesting finds of the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods. Of particular interest is the statue of Hermes of Kifissia, the bronze statue of Athena and two statues of Artemis.

Piraeus Maritime Museum

Akti Themistokleous, Freatida quarter of the port of Piraeus
Closed on Mondays

Exhibits include ship models from ancient to modern times, also busts, uniforms and clothes of heroes of the 1821 War of Independence, paintings of major naval engagements, etc.

The Goulandris Natural History Museum

13 Levidou Street, Kifissia, (Northern suburb of Athens)
Closed on Fridays

The Museum is a research centre for the flora, fauna, geology and paleontology of Greece.