The new Acropolis Museum is 2009’s addition to Athens’ already impressive archeological area of the Acropolis. The new, sleek, and grandiose building holds over 4,000 artifacts from surrounding excavations. The museum is not only impressive to the eye, but its one-euro entrance fee is also impressive to the wallet.
Here’s a run down of what the upgrade brings:
New and improved
A mere 400-meter shift from its previous spot at the top of Acropolis, the new museum sits at the start of the hill’s slope atop ancient ruins of the Byzantines. To compensate for sitting directly on artifacts, the entrance’s glass floors allow visitors to view excavations directly under their feet.
The museum itself is dazzlingly modern and almost 14 times larger than the old museum (closed in 2007). A budget of about €130 million was invested in the four-level structure, providing chic displays, light-senitive glass walls, and illuminated open floors. The café level on the third floor provides a gorgeous view of Athens, and the terrace is an ideal escape from the bustle and hustle of the touristy Plaka district.
What to see
The layout of new Acropolis Museum follow’s a timeline that’s captivating and easy to follow. Small placards in English run throughout the levels, offering short and simple explanations for displays, time periods, and cultural formations.
The ground floor slopes upwards as vases, tools, toys and jewelry from the Neolithic period (around 3000B.C.) line the walls. Dozens of sculptures (from 600B.C. to 79B.C.) that were once votives to the Greek gods make up the second floor display. The layout lets visitors inspect pieces from all sides, from the stunning four Caryatids to other impressive models of Greek gods and heroes.
Perhaps the museum’s most magnificent display is the Parthenon exhibit on the top floor. A short informative video explains the Parthenon’s exhibit, history, and architecture in a simple and captivating way.
Both first timers and history buffs will ooh and ahh at the former Parthenon adornments of the metopes, frieze, and giant pediments. It’s a refreshing overview that’s fun and engaging for all visitors.
The best way to tackle the Acropolis
The Acropolis is as magnificent in size as it is in historical depth, and most of what is left in good condition remains indoors for protection. A good tip is to visit the new Acropolis Museum before trekking towards the Parthenon, ancient theaters and agoras; it does wonders to help visualize the past.
As a bonus the archeologists responsible for digging up the thousands of artifacts actually hang around inside the museum, waiting to give visitors a brief lesson about any questions that might arise.
The new Acropolis Museum is an excellent opportunity for visitors to wrap their heads around Greek history in a beautiful setting. It’s quite possibly the best bang for your euro on a Greek vacation.
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 8 AM to 8 PM. Closed Mondays.
See www.theacropolismuseum.gr for more details.