Why a visit to the National Archeological Museum is a must

Why a visit to the National Archeological Museum is a must

Slated for a radical makeover by 2023 Pritzker winner, Sir David Chipperfield, the National Archaeological Museum has been slighted for the more popular Acropolis Museum. With exhibits spanning from the Stone Age to the Roman era, Tom Hall recommends a mandatory visit to take in one of the world’s most impressive collections of ancient and prehistoric art.

It is a peculiarity of long term residents of great capitals that they often take pride in not having visited the landmarks that they pass everyday. Many Londoners will tell you that they’ve never been to the Tower of London and barely know where St Paul’s is. They are missing out, as was I with the three year delay in visiting the National Archeological Museum in Athens. I did have one previous attempt that I aborted when I was confronted with a queue that stretched for hundreds of slow-moving metres. I filed it away under the increasing number of things for which I lack the patience but was thankfully informed that 6th March, the date of my previous attempt, is the memorial of Melina Mercouri, on which entry to many state owned sites and monuments is free. (It’s also free on the first Sunday of every month from November to March.)

I’m very glad that I tried again because after breezing through a queue-less and affordable entrance, I found myself in a world-class museum. The breadth of time covered by the exhibitions is breathtaking, from the prehistoric to the Roman periods, although the sweep of seventy-five centuries passes effortlessly with the intuitive layout and open spaces. There is something for everyone here from the grand and ceremonial to the minutiae of daily life. The thing that struck me as I wandered the halls was the timelessness of the human connections that the museum offers. Whether looking into the inlaid white irises of the bust of (probably) Bion the Borysthenite, rescued from the Antikythera shipwreck or staring in slightly intimidated admiration at the honed physique of the kouras from the archaic period, you feel you are connected to our shared distant past and it is a moving and surprisingly immediate and human experience. Perhaps the most startling connection I found was one of the first to see on entering, the golden funerary masks at a Mycenaean burial site of c.1500 bc. I was captivated by feeling that I was communing with an individual across the millenia. The “mask of Agamemnon” which has been brilliantly called “the Mona Lisa of pre-history” (Cathey Gere, historian) warrants a trip in it’s own right but with so much else to marvel at maybe you should plan to go twice.

November 1st – Μarch 31st:
Tuesday: 13:00 – 20:00
Wednesday-Monday: 08:30 – 15:30

April 1st – October 31st:
Tuesday: 13:00 – 20:00
Wednesday-Monday: 08:00 – 20:00


Admission fee:
6€ (November 1st – March 31st)
12€ (April 1st – October 31st)

e-Ticketing System


44, 28th of October (Patission) str., Athens 106 82


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