Since 2009 the fabulous Acropolis Museum has been open in the historical area of Makrygianni, some 300 meters from the Acropolis. The contents of the museum, or more specifically the missing contents, have long sparked a controversy, as so many pieces remain in the British Museum in London. All of this notwithstanding, the museum in Athens is superb and is highly recommended for EF groups visiting the city.
The building is a terrific balance of light and space, with glass floors allowing natural light to fully show off the exhibits and terrific viewing areas of the Acropolis hill itself. Part of the museum has been constructed to sit at the same level as parts of the Parthenon so as to provide excellent perspective. Finally, as the site covers a large area of an archaeological
dig there is plenty around to see in terms of ongoing excavation.
Inside you will find pieces from the Archaic period which was characterized by the development of the city-state and the transition from aristocracy to tyranny and, eventually, democracy. I appreciate this might all sound a little dry and couldn’t we just be shopping for souvenirs in the Plaka. But I know you can quickly appreciate that these are concepts which have captured our attention in recent weeks. This period is also characterized by great achievements in the economy, art and intellectual life. You will learn more of the main monuments that constitute the Classical Acropolis. These include the Propylaia which was the monumental entrance to the Acropolis and the temple of Athena Nike.
Elsewhere, one of the highlights of any visit is a chance to explore the Parthenon Gallery. At the gallery you can watch a video presentation about the Parthenon and the sculptural decoration of the monument. In the same area are ancient marble inscriptions recording detailed cost records of the construction of the Parthenon and the statue of Athena Parthenos. There is also a great amount of information on how democratic bodies functioned in the 5th century BC. Abraham Lincoln called it ‘government of the people by the people for the people’ and the idea came directly from the Greek concept of democracy. The ancient Greek word demokratia can be translated as ‘people-power’.
So, next time you are in Athens and enjoying a trip to the Acropolis hill, make sure to spend even a little time in this great museum, long anticipated and it has certainly delivered.