History & Archaeology museums in Greece
The National Archaeological Museum is the biggest museum of Athens and one of the most important in the world. It is situated in a majestic neoclassical building created by L. Lange and Ziller in the 19th century. The exhibits cover a large chronological and geographical span offering sample from many different periods and places of Greece.
The Cycladic Art Museum is located in two different buildings, next to each other which are connected by a glass-roofed corridor. The main building built in 1985 by the architect Ioannis Vikelas houses the permanent collections of the museum. The Stathatos Mansion, a neoclassical building created by the architect Ziller in 1895, is the newest addition of the museum and usually houses temporary exhibitions. Even if the museum has taken its name from its prominent Cycladic collection, the visitor will be pleasantly surprised by its other collections and mostly by the very well presented information on various artistic techniques and everyday life and customs of the Ancient Greeks.
The Benaki Museum is set in a neoclassical building which was completed in 1895 by the architecture Metaxas. It was known as Harokopos mansion until it was bought by the Benaki family in 1910. New wings were added to the original building which eventually in 1930 was transformed into a museum. The Benaki Museum holds several permanent collections. It also organizes interesting exhibitions usually of contemporary art.
The Numismatic Museum is in the house of the famous archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann. The building- designed by Schliemann’s friend Ziller- was completed in 1881. It is one of the few buildings of that era that remain intact and standing in Athens. It combines elements of an Italian Renaissance house and the neoclassical style that was popular in Greece at that period. Its interior is beautifully decorated with mosaics, murals and painted ceilings. The decoration of the mosaics is inspired by Schliemann’ s finding at the excavation of Mycenae. The murals and the ceilings imitate the paintings that were found in the Pompeii. The building’s beauty alone justifies a visit.
The museum of Keramikos is situated in the archaeological site of Keramikos. The entrance fee is both for the museum and the site.
At the site of Keramikos the visitor can see the walls of the ancient city of Athens and the main monumental gate to the town. The entrance to the city had at both sides two big towers that were used for protection against hostile armies. A small part of the Sacred road leading from the suburbs to the Sacred Rock of Acropolis can also be seen here. Next to the road there is the canal where the ancient river Iridanos flowed. Outside the city walls, on the site of Keramikos was the city's cemetery. The ancient Athenians had built a square at the edge of the cemetery. There, rituals and sport events were organized in honor of the dead.
The Byzantine and Christian Museum has a long history. It was officially founded in 1914, even though is existence is connected to the Christian Archaeological Society which was older. Initially the museum was housed in Villa Illisia, one of the few remaining buildings of 19th century in Athens. This building was completed in 1848 by the architect Stamatis Kleathis. It functioned as the winter home of the Sophie de Marbois-Lebrun, Duchess of Plaisance. In reality the Villa Illisia is a complex of buildings with an extended courtyard. The central building has two stores and externally is covered with marble. The whole complex combines the neoclassic style with romanticism and even with elements of the traditional Greek Architecture. Initially the museum was set in the central building. Nowadays, however the permanent collection is shown in an underground multi-level building made by Manos Perrakis, which is situated underneath the complex of Villa Illisia. The central building of the Villa will be restored and used as a space for temporary exhibitions.
In 1972 Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos donated their collection to the Greek State. The collection contains over 6.000 artifacts of the Ancient Greek Civilization covering a span of almost 5000 years. The visitor has the opportunity to admire diverse objects like tools and vases of the Neolithic period and folk jewelry of the 19th century.