With the highest ratio of museums to people anywhere in the world, Greece is a veritable culture spa. You will leave the country refreshingly up to date on your history. Plus a few pounds heavier, but that’s a different story altogether (damn you tasty loukoumades!). Athens is a living museum and it’s not hyperbole (hey another Greek word). Seeing as numerous layers of history are buried under thick sediment in various state of disrepair, Athens is continuously yielding artefacts like a mine produces minerals. It is downright surreal. Heck, Greece may just be the only country with a bigger concentration of archaeologists than lawyers. The Athens metro itself is nothing short of a miracle. Not because it was hard to build, but because the sheer amount of antiquities unearthed during the process was mind numbingly staggering. The process was laborious for both workers and the several archaeologists dispatched to each site. The Athens metro system is in fact a museum, with everything found displayed in situ in each station. We’re talking epic on a large scale.
So, naturally, with so much antiquity to show it’s only normal that there should be an abundance of museums. And galleries. Because Greeks love their art.
The Athens Archaeological Museum houses the biggest collection of ancient Greek artefacts outside of the British Museum. It is housed in an impressive Theophile Hansen neo classical. Just right the corner is the Epigraphical Museum.
For those wanting to view the Acropolis and everything about it, head to the Acropolis Museum, right across the Acropolis.
The Benaki Museum is world class and has lots of items from the period after the Greek Golden Age. Similarly, the Museum Of Cycladic Art tells you how the early bronze age settlements in Greece were organized.
The newly opened Museum of Modern Art, juxtaposed neatly on Syggrou avenue to the glistening Onassis and Niarchos endowments, is Athens’s answer to MoMa, and while its still early days, it has already benefited from a collaboration with the Documenta show in the summer.
This fall, there is more coming. The Goulandris Museum of Art, earmarked to open before December will house the biggest domestic collection of modern art from the homonymous Goulandris private stash. Picasso, Braque and Bacon fans take note.
For those interested in toys and everything about them, head to the new Benakis Toy museum. It houses numerous toys from yesteryear, including a wooden toy pendulum owned by Greek aristocracy.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Literally, you could spend a whole week in Athens and not even see half the stuff on display. And remember, that’s just the Athens museums. If you decide to take in everything, everywhere, you’d need a permanent resident permit.