The wealth of this museum would seem obvious, but it has not always been the case, as it was only founded in 1829, a year after the Greek parliament forbade looting and export of its ancient treasures. Ioánnis Kapodístrias, governor of the then young Greek State, decided to gather together all the masterpieces pertaining to Greek culture in an Archaeological Museum. At first situated in a former orphanage on Aegina island, off Athens, the museum was later moved to the capital, first to the Temple of Hephaestus (or Hephaisteion) facing the Agora, then to the Tower of the Winds, and lastly to Hadrian's library.
The present museum was built in 1874, but when it opened it proved too small to accommodate all its treasures, hence its successive enlargements. Today, the extensions are underground, beneath the pedestrian streets of the neighbourhood in fact. If you do not have a whole day to devote to it, which is what it deserves, focus on two of its wonders: the gold funeral mask of King Agamemnon and the Antikythera Mechanism. This mechanism, which dates from the 2nd century BC, describes the lunar and solar cycles with a watchmaker's precision and is the source of clock movements that we know today.
National Archaeological Museum
28is Oktovriou 44
106 82 Athens
+30 21 3214 4800 / +30 213 214 4856