Art & the City: The National Archaeological Museum and Museio

Head to this part of town for a visit to one of the world’s most important institutions for ancient art, The Pedion tou Areos park, shopping, and dining.


The National Archaeological Museum (NAM) is such a vital part of its neighborhood that it has given its name (“Museio”) to the entire area. With more than 11,000 objects spread out over 8,000 square meters of interior space, this is one of the world’s most important repositories of ancient art and the largest such institution in Greece. Housed in a beautiful neoclassical 19th-century building, NAM is home to some to the most iconic ancient artifacts ever unearthed.

Wander through the centuries, from the 6th millennium BC to the 4th century AD, marveling at exhibits from prehistoric Thira and the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations through to the archaic, classical and Hellenistic eras, as well as rare discoveries from ancient Egypt, sculptures, figurines, pots and metalwork tools. Among the most well-known exhibit items is the “Spring Fresco,” created in the prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri on Santorini before that community was buried by an volcanic eruption; the early Cycladic marble figurine called “The Harpist of Keros” (2800-2300 BC); the gold funerary “Mask of Agamemnon” from Grave Circle A in Mycenae (16th century BC); a giant bronze statue from 460 BC that has been identified as depicting either Zeus or Poseidon; pieces of the mysterious Antikythera Mechanism (150-100 BC); and a monumental sculpture of a young horse rider known as the “Jockey of Artemision” (140 BC).

 

Before leaving the museum, be sure to take a look at its interior garden, restored a few years ago and planted with many indigenous plants and herbs, including oregano, thyme and dittany.

Exploring Museio, Exarchia and Kypseli

A short walk

The Pedion tou Areos is the most extensive public garden in the municipality of Athens, an oasis of calm nestled in the urban environment of the city center. This green space is shared by statues of kings, busts of Greek revolutionary heroes, and crowds of residents from the neighboring Kypseli, Gyzi and Omonia. After many years, the locals are rediscovering it as a vibrant cultural venue that periodically hosts art installations, concerts and festivals.

Info

44 28is Oktovriou (Patission)

Open: Tue 13:00-20:00, Wed-Mon 08:30-15:30

 

Admission: €6

namuseum.gr

There is a café in the museum.

The sourdough spot

The area around the Archaeological Museum doesn’t offer many notable options for food and drink, so you’ll have to walk approximately 10 minutes to the neighborhood of Exarchia instead. There, the Black Salami Microbakery, on eminently hip Zoodochou Pigis Street, specializes in bread and other baked products, all made with natural sourdough. Try the fluffy wild greens pie, the fragrant focaccia or the sandwich of the day. They also do a lovely brunch box with fresh bread and eggs, which you can enjoy on the spot or take with you on your walk.

Info

71 Zoodochou Pigis

Refuel with wine

Tanini Agapi Mou is an Exarchia wine bar offering exclusively Greek natural wines, all products of gentle vinification, a trend recently adopted by many bars and restaurants in Athens. Here, you can choose from 100 labels available by the glass and discover some rare varieties accompanied by recommended food pairings: Roditis with winter beetroot salad or fish tartare; Xinomavro or Mavroudi with fine Greek charcuterie. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with the clientele; they’re friendly.

Info

91 Ippokratous

Tel. (+30) 211.115.0145

Unisex and sustainable

Young designer Christina Christodoulou spent much of her childhood at her parents’ clothing workshop. She later studied art history at the Athens School of Fine Arts and went on to receive a Master’s Degree in textiles from the Swedish School of Textiles. A few years ago, after her return to Athens, she created “It’s a Shirt,” a brand of lovely, loose-fitting shirts for guys and girls, made from superior quality Greek fabrics chosen with sustainability in mind. Christina’s entire collection is available at her industrial-style showroom and boutique in Exarchia.

Info

67 Asklipiou, Exarchia 

itsashirt.gr

A classic hideout

If you’re looking for a genuinely cozy watering hole, head down Patission Street, away from the museum and towards the neighborhood of Kypseli, for about a kilometer or so. Au Revoir opened in 1958, making it the oldest bar in Athens. Designed by the renowned Greek modernist architect Aristomenis Provelengios, the bar has kept its totally 1960s decor intact. Actors, writers, artists, and journalists regularly frequented the bar before it became more widely known and began attracting a broader clientele. Order something classic, like an Old Fashioned or a Dry Martini.

Info

136 28th Oktovriou (Patission)

Tel. (+30) 210.823.0474 

Plant parenting

Kopria (“Manure”) opened in 2018 as Athens’s first trendy plant and garden store, selling those exotic photogenic plants you see in modern interior magazines or influential Instagram accounts, along with a wide range of gardening tools and accessories. The knowledgeable staff will be happy to recommend a plant for your home or a bouquet for that special occasion. The flower arrangements at this Exarchia shop look like items out of a fairy tale.

Info

30 Eresou & Zoodochou Pigis

Tel. (+30) 211.113.2535



Read More

Athens

Stylite Monks: The Unknown Column-Dwelling Holy Men of Athens

Twenty meters above the ground, the tops of the columns...


Athens

Beyond the Ordinary

Whether it’s dramatic history, architectural grace, or humble toil and...


Athens

10 Reasons to Hang Out in Neos Kosmos This Summer

The unassuming neighborhood is becoming a hotspot for foodies and...


Athens

Where to Brunch in Athens

Weekends in the city are made that much tastier with...


Greece Is Blog Posts

An Ode to Local Products

BY Yiouli Eptakili

No more avocado toast and croque-madames. From Thessaloniki to Crete...

read more >

How Can Greece Become a Gastro-Tourism Destination?

BY Yiouli Eptakili

It’s about more than just taking a trip...

read more >

Leaving Room in Greece for Everyone

BY Greece Is

Labor Day, this year September 5, marks the...

read more >