As one of the most culturally and historically significant cities in the world, there’s no shortage of Athens museums, art and culture to explore. The city offers up a treasure trove of museums, art galleries and performance experiences to educate, entertain, and enlighten you.
Enjoy a musical performance in the outdoor arena where people have witnessed theatre for thousands of years, discover ancient relics painstakingly excavated during archaeological digs all across Greece, or marvel at the intricacies of Islamic art. Athens features some of the most important and acclaimed museums in the world, all within easy reach of the city.
Housed in a beautiful Neo-Classical building near the National Gardens, the Benaki Museum features a collection of art and exhibitions that span Greek history. The original works and building were donated to the Greek people by the Benakis family, and have been added to over time to incorporate over 100,000 pieces. There are also additional satellite museums accommodating toys, Islamic art, and archives.
As one of the most important collections of Byzantine art in the world, the Byzantine and Christian Museum is home to rare collections of pictures, scriptures, pottery, fabrics and artefacts that date back to 3AD. Over 25,000 works are held within the museum’s care, collected from all over the Greek world and encompassing the Christian, Byzantine, Medieval, Post-Byzantine, and later periods.
The Museum of Islamic Art offers a fascinating insight into the Islamic influence within Greek culture. This museum incorporates two buildings and spans four floors, featuring artefacts, jewellery, scientific instruments, military regalia, and manuscripts. The works were donated as part of the Benakis family collection of items sourced from Egypt, Persia and Iran, and span the 7th to 19th centuries.
Considered one of the greatest museums in the world, the National Archaeological Museum Athens houses a vast collection of artefacts from locations all over Greece. Originally established to secure archaeological finds excavated in Athens in the 19th Century, it expanded to accommodate the most significant finds of the nation. It’s now home to sculptures, pottery, and items dating back to the late prehistoric period.
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus offers a unique and authentic insight into ancient Greek performance and culture. This outdoor concert arena dates back to the 2nd century and was the third odeon to be constructed in ancient Athens. Now it accommodates live music and theatre performances from its spectacular position on the south slope of the Acropolis.
The Museum of Cycladic Art features over 3,000 artefacts offering a window into the ancient civilisations of the Cycladic Islands. Originally the private collection of shipping magnate Nicholas Goulandris and his wife Dolly, it contains items dating back to 3200BC. Perhaps the most spectacular element of the museum is the semi-abstract Cycladic figurines that later inspired Cubist art and even the works of Picasso.