Best Archaeological Museums of Greece

Travelers who love art and culture will find that Greece offer unlimited resources. Just about every little town in Greece has a small (or large) museum that houses the ancient finds unearthed in its vicinity. I make it a point to experience the archaeological museum of every town I visit while in Greece and I never regret the time spent in such institutions. If you are a dedicated traveler who visits Greece year after year, the multitude of museums are another resource you can explore to enrich your understanding of Greek culture (and western heritage by extend).

For most travelers however, those who plan only one visit to Greece certain museums offer the best opportunity to experience Greek culture in its totality.

National Archaeological Museum of Athens

The museum houses some of the best examples of Greek art. Artifacts from prehistoric Greece all the way up to Roman times are exhibited in its halls. Highlights include a large collection of Mycenaean artifacts, archaic Kouros statues, and masterpieces from the Classical and Hellenistic eras. This is by far the largest museum of Greece, and it shelters the best examples of Greek Art and Culture from the entire country. The building has been recently renovated in 2004, and some of its collections have been enhanced.


The Acropolis Museum (at the Acropolis of Athens)

A visit to the Acropolis should include a visit to the Museum on the site. If you love art, the Acropolis museum will not disappoint with its exhibition of mostly Archaic and Classical sculptures from the various Acropolis monuments. The highlights are the parthenon freeze, a large collection of Kouros and Kore statues, and the original Caryatides statues from the Erectheon. Now if the British government could return the Elgin marbles from London, one would be able to experience the entire Acropolis site in one visit.

 

Heraklion Museum in Crete

The best examples of Minoan art and culture have been collected in the Heraklion museum in Crete. Minoan civilization has been widely credited as the first European civilization and the artifacts it produced are dazzling in their quality. Highlights of the Heraklion museum include the Bull rython, the gold jewelry from Malia, and the beautiful frescoes from the palace of Knossos. Examples from the classical and Hellenistic periods are also exhibited at the museum.

 

Olympia Museum

The museum at ancient Olympia is a great place to spend a whole day strolling through its collection. Recently renovated in 2004, it is a pleasant building that shelters some of the best examples of ancient Greek Classical and Late Classical Greek art. Most visitors will marvel at Hermes of Praxiteles, and most art scholars will drool over the statues from the Temple of Zeus pediment and metopes.

Delphi Museum (from ancient-greece.org)

The museum at the ancient archaeological site of Delphi houses artifacts found during excavations at the site and should not be missed if you travel to Greece. Highlights of the museum include the "Charioteer of Delphi", a bronze statue of the severe style, and the two archaic Kouroi named Kleobis and Biton. Since the oracle of Delphi was so important for the politics of the entire Eastern Mediterranean, it was adorned by the best examples of art in ancient times, many of which have been unearthed and are now housed in the museum.

Museum of Prehistoric Art (in Santorini)

I visited the Museum of Prehistoric Art during my visit in Santorini, and I marveled at the variety and quality of its collection. While most travelers think mainly of the Classical and Hellenistic periods of Greek art and culture, there is a whole world of prehistoric art to be discovered in museums like this one. It houses a great deal of artifacts from the excavations at ancient Akrotiri, and its highlights include reconstructions of ancient houses with frescoes of joyous human and animal activity.

Vergina Royal Tomb

The royal tomb of Vergina have been renovated recently to become one of the most spectacular museums / archaeological sites of Greece. The rounded hillock, known as the Great Tumulus was created in ancient Greece to protect the tomb of the Macedonian king Philip II, father of Alexander the Great and others. Today, visitors who enter the tumulus enjoy an excellent exhibit of the artifacts found in the royal tombs alongside the tombs themselves. It is a great example of how the presentation of the artifacts in proximity to their original context allows for a unique experience and the best level of understanding.

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