Art Lover’s Guide to Athens
The gorgeous, ancient sculptures of Greece’s ruin-filled capital city have shaped European art for thousands of years. See below for the best ways to experience the city’s marble, gold, bronze masterworks—as well as some examples of more contemporary street art.
Parthenon—The epicenter of the Acropolis
No visit to Athens is complete without a pilgrimage to the Acropolis. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the site houses the spectacular Parthenon temple as well as a variety of other monuments. The carvings that once decorated the Parthenon’s facade have been removed, but many can be seen at the nearby Acropolis Museum.
Benaki Museum of Greek Culture—A collector’s masterwork
This museum offers a variety of pieces ranging from Greek and Roman sculpture to Byzantine icons and gold jewelry, all amassed by the collector Antonis Benakis. The museum’s foundation also runs other venues art lovers should put on their list, including the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art and 138 Pireos, a contemporary gallery.
National Archaeological Museum—Thousands of years of treasures
Greece’s defining archaeological museum offers a world-class selection of classical marble and bronze sculptures, as well as older artworks. Highlights include the golden mask once known as the Death Mask of Agamemnon, which dates back more than 3,500 years.
Museum of Cycladic Art—Ancient inspiration for modern artists
While Athens is known primarily for the statues and ruins of Ancient Greece, the works at this museum—some of which date back to the third millennium BC—serve as a reminder that the region’s history goes back to even earlier times. The slender, abstract forms showcased here have inspired the likes of Picasso, Modigliani, Giacometti, and Barbara Hepworth.
Street Art—Back to the future
If you’re looking to escape the ancient world and see a different, fresher side of Athens, join a street art tour. Exploring funky neighborhoods such as Exarchia with a local artist as your guide will snap you straight back to the 21st century.