Athens is a city that boasts a rich and diverse cultural heritage, dating back to ancient times. The Greek capital is home to countless museums and galleries that showcase the art, history, science, religion and mythology of this fascinating civilization. Whether you are interested in exploring the treasures of the Acropolis, admiring the masterpieces of contemporary artists, or learning about the Byzantine and Jewish communities, you will find something to suit your taste and curiosity in Athens. Here are some of the best museums and galleries in Athens that you should not miss on your next visit.
The Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis Museum is undoubtedly one of the most important and impressive museums in the world, as it houses all the surviving artefacts from the Acropolis, the sacred rock that dominates the cityscape. The museum’s modern and elegant architecture allows you to enjoy a stunning view of the Parthenon and its surroundings, while admiring the sculptures, friezes, pottery and other objects that reveal the glory and beauty of ancient Athens. The museum’s five permanent collections span five key historical periods, from the Archaic to the Roman era, and feature highlights such as the original Caryatids from the Erechtheion temple, the Parthenon Gallery with its 360-degree display of the metopes and pediments, and the Gallery of the Slopes with its glass floor that reveals the archaeological excavations below. The museum also has a cafe, a restaurant and a gift shop where you can relax and buy souvenirs.
The National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum is Greece’s largest and most significant collection of archaeological findings, covering a wide range of periods and regions. The museum is housed in a magnificent neoclassical building that was originally designed as a venue for the 1896 Olympic Games. The museum’s five permanent collections include thousands of spectacular objects that showcase the art, culture and technology of ancient Greece. Some of the most famous exhibits are the Mask of Agamemnon, the Antikythera Mechanism, the bronze statue of Zeus or Poseidon, the gold jewellery from Mycenae, and the frescoes from Santorini. The museum also has temporary exhibitions, educational programs, a library, a garden cafe and a shop.
The Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation
The Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation is one of Athens’ newest and most impressive museums, dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The museum opened its doors in 2019, displaying the vast and magnificent collection of Basil and Elise Goulandris, who devoted their lives to collecting masterpieces by Greek and international artists. The museum features works by Picasso, Monet, El Greco, Kandinsky, Degas, Chagall, Matisse, Bacon, Pollock, Miro, Warhol and many more. The museum also has temporary exhibitions, workshops, lectures, concerts and film screenings. The museum is located in the trendy Pangrati neighbourhood, close to many cafes and restaurants.
The Byzantine & Christian Museum
The Byzantine & Christian Museum is one of the most important museums in Greece for Byzantine and medieval art and culture. The museum is housed in a charming mansion that once belonged to the Duchess of Plaisance, a French-American supporter of Greek independence. The museum’s permanent collection consists of more than 25,000 artefacts that illustrate the development of Byzantine and Christian civilization from the 3rd to the 20th century. The museum’s exhibits include icons, frescoes, mosaics, manuscripts, jewellery, textiles, ceramics, coins and sculptures. The museum also has temporary exhibitions, a conservation laboratory, a library and a scenic courtyard cafe.
The Museum of Cycladic Art
The Museum of Cycladic Art is a unique museum that focuses on the art and culture of the Cycladic islands, a group of islands in the Aegean Sea that are known for their distinctive white-washed houses and blue-domed churches. The museum’s permanent collection consists of more than 3,000 objects that date from the 3rd millennium BC to the 6th century AD. The museum’s exhibits include the famous Cycladic figurines, which are stylized representations of the human form that influenced many modern artists such as Picasso and Modigliani, as well as pottery, jewellery, tools, weapons and other artefacts that reveal the daily life and beliefs of the ancient Cycladic people. The museum also has a collection of ancient Greek art, a collection of Cypriot art, temporary exhibitions, educational programs and a cafe.
Other museums and galleries in Athens
These are just some of the best museums and galleries in Athens that you can visit on your next trip. There are many more to discover, depending on your interests and preferences. Here are some other suggestions:
- The Benaki Museum – Museum of Greek Culture: A comprehensive museum that covers the history and culture of Greece from prehistoric times to the present day.
- The Jewish Museum of Greece: A museum that documents and preserves the history and heritage of the Greek Jewish community.
- The Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology: A museum that showcases the inventions and innovations of ancient Greek civilization.
- The Hellenic Motor Museum: A museum that displays a collection of classic and vintage cars from different eras and countries.
- The Panathenaic Stadium and its Olympic Museum: A museum that celebrates the history and spirit of the Olympic Games in the ancient and modern stadium where they were revived in 1896.
Athens is a city that will never cease to amaze you with its cultural treasures and attractions. No matter how long you stay or how many times you visit, you will always find something new and exciting to explore. So don’t hesitate to book your tickets and plan your itinerary for your next trip to Athens!