Ancient wonders found inside the New Acropolis Museum
CONTRIBUTED BY MICHELLE W., LEONBERG, GERMANY
A day inside the Acropolis Museum is fun for the entire family! A symmetrical glass building was built in 2009 on top of ruins, houses many artifacts from the Acropolis. There are glass floors as you inch closer to the to the entrance and can view archaeological work happening beneath your feet.
Situated across the street from the Acropolis gates, this ultra modern museum has interactive exhibits, a restaurant with terrace, a cafe, two gift shops, four of the original Caryatids maiden statues, loads of pottery, films and replicas of the pediment of the Parthenon.
TIP: If you have children, stop by the customer service booth after purchasing your museum tickets. Ask for the FREE family backpack. There are two backpacks to choose from and we got the “In Search of the Goddess Athena” backpack. Loaded with puzzles, a mini treasure hunt and a few other fun items, this will surely keep the kids engaged while you view the magnificent pieces of Greek artwork.
The museum consists of three levels. On Level one, the Pediment of Heratompedon from 570BC can be seen. The strangest of the three pediments is the three-headed demon with a snake tail holding the three elements-air, water and fire. Look at these pieces up close and marvel at the use of color. If you picked up a family backpack, there are a few statues on this level that will need to be completed. Also on this floor are pieces from the Roman and Archaic periods.
The most impressive and widely sought out piece of art for museum lovers is the 4 caryatids. The statues are located just behind the stairs from the main level. When we visited for the first time in 2013, the statues were undergoing cleaning and we could watch the museum staff carefully laser the grime off the statues. It was a marvelous sight! When we returned a year later, they had a video showing what delicate work the museum had to endure. Photography of the statues is allowed but under close guard to make sure you don’t get “too close” or touch.
On the second level houses a gift shop and restaurant. The gift shop is filled with books for all ages, postcards, journals and other knick-knacks. Books are available in a wide array of languages and the children’s section is straight back to the right. Our favorite book purchase for the kids was Usborne’s “Illustrated Stories from the Greek Myths”. We read the story of the Trojan horse during lunch at the restaurant to the left of the gift shop. My 4 year old son was so excited about this purchase the rest of the time at the museum, he was begging me to continue to read to him.
Find a free table inside or you eat out on the terrace. The view on the terrace is magnificent! Great food selection and all the waiters speak perfect English.
Continuing up the escalators up to the third level, the atrium is brightly lit to showcase the pediment of the Parthenon in miniature. If you’d like to watch a short video about the Parthenon, take a seat and relax. The most exciting part of your visit will soon commence. The Parthenon frieze is located in the center of this floor. It mimics the way the frieze wrapped around the Parthenon and showcases the Panathenaic annual procession, a grand celebration of the birth of Athens on each panel. Walk the entire “parade” to watch the celebration unfold before your eyes. Only 32 feet of the original 525-foot long frieze is housed here. There are women and children dancing, food offerings, men on horses, musicians, chariots and bulls all headed in the same direction.
I’m still in utter amazement that this artwork was created centuries ago and it boggles the mind how they could create such masterpieces without equipment that we have today. Keep an eye out for holes on the friezes. No longer there but when it was first created, they attached bronze pieces such as reins for a horse that gave more of a 3D look. There are some blank panels due to panels that were lost and unknown to archaeologists to what they looked like. There is ample seating along the windows to either gaze at the panels or at the Parthenon, seated grandly on the Acropolis.
TIP: Photography without flash is allowed in certain parts of the building and the museum staff will let you know where you cannot photograph.