After Turkey, we traveled to Greece for a few days. We figured, we’re in the area we might as well get to Athens. Magnificent Travel arranged everything for us to get to Athens from Cappadocia and have an enjoyable time in Athens.
Greece and Athens felt very different from Turkey and Istanbul. Athens is not as clean and orderly. There is graffiti everywhere, some of it clever and beautiful. About half of the shops in the city are closed. There are burnt out buildings. And, everyone we interacted with told us to be careful in certain neighborhoods because they were unsafe, especially at night.
Thankfully our hotel was in a prime location and walking distance from just about anything we would want to see.
Byzantine and Christian Museum
In an unassuming old mansion, is the fabulous Byzantine and Christian Museum. It doesn’t seem like it will be much from the outside other than a small collection in a beautiful old house, but this is deceivingly incorrect. The museum’s exhibition halls go down under the wings of the buildings housing an outstanding collection of art and artifacts.
As the name suggests, the museum highlights the history and art of the Byzantine Empire, which stretched across most of the classical world including Greece. The museum showcases fantastic pieces of art and describes the purpose and the evolution of art from Greek and Roman to Christian Byzantine.
A special exhibition was held in the main building with work on loan from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
National Archaeological Museum
As you might imagine, Greece has quite the history, and Athens, as the capital city, has a myriad of museums to preserve and share that history. One of the crown jewels of these museums is the National Archaeological Museum.
This is an older museum, but it is fantastic and definitely worth a visit. The collection is outstanding! You’ll see all of the Greek pottery you ever wanted, artifacts from older civilizations (Agamemnon’s death mask), amazing statuary and funerary artifacts, and more (the world’s oldest “computer” device). I particularly enjoyed the Odyssey exhibit that talked about individual journeys and the different phases of traveling by sea in Ancient Greece. The museum used pieces from throughout its collection to tell this story in a brilliant way.
Additionally, we spent time just wandering around the city. We saw some fantastic churches and ways of preserving ancient ruins while still building modern edifices.
Our tour that took us to the Acropolis also took us around the city first and showed us a few sights. We stopped at the Olympic Stadium, the first home of the modern Olympic Games. It was an ancient stadium that was restored for the purpose of the Games. We drove by the Temple of Zeus ruins and many other places that we later walked to.