The Acropolis Museum Athens, Greece

Photo of the Acropolis Museum in Athens

The Acropolis Museum, located at the foot of the Acropolis citadel, and focuses on the archaeological findings found there.  It is an essential part of the overall tour of the Acropolis and the Parthenon that sits atop that sacred nearby hill. This post is intentionally published in black and white, except for the map.

The below map will show where the Acropolis Museum (red dot) is located in Athens:

After you have visited the Parthenon and the ruins atop the Acropolis, it is an easy walk to the museum which is located along the southeastern slope of the Acropolis hill. The modern thoroughfare is lined with great homes along this ancient road that led up to the “sacred rock” in classical times.

The museum was designed by architect Bernard Tschumi and was established in 2009 to house the collection of some 4,250+ objects found around and on the Acropolis. Located about 310 yards (280 meters) from the Parthenon, it is only about 440 yards (400 meters) walking distance from that manmade wonder of the world.

The Acropolis Museum is the largest modern building erected in such close proximity to the actual archaeological site and is actually built atop ancient ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens. The location is close to shops, restaurants and public transportation. The entrance to the building is on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street and directly adjacent to the Akropoli metro station, the red line of the Athens Metro. Address: Dionysiou Areopagitou 15, Athina 117 42, Greece

The view of the Parthenon atop the Acropolis from the museum

The original museum was located on the Acropolis and was completed in 1874 before undergoing an extensive renovation and expansion in the 1950s. As many more excavations unearthed significantly more historical artifacts, it was soon clear that the original building was too small to store and properly display them all.

A diorama (above) on the inside of the museum will give you a perspective of the enormity of the Acropolis

One thing that you will take away from your visit to the Acropolis, and the museum, is the sheer size of the overall collection and the controversy that surrounds the majority of that collection. To start, from 1453 with the fall of Constantinople until the revolution in 1821 Greece was under the rule of the Ottoman Turks. The Ottoman controlled Greece and the entire middle east.

Above, the efficient Athens Metro at the Akropoli metro station

Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, a Scottish nobleman, was selected by the British as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire between 1799 and 1803. And here is where the controversy begins. In 1801 Bruce somehow obtained an official decree from the central government of the Ottoman Empire to remove artifacts from the Acropolis. The only stipulation was that he could not remove any that might interfere with the wall supports of the buildings.

Above, an 1893 photo of the Parthenon from Shepp’s Photographs of the World

Beginning in 1801 until 1812, Bruce and his agents began a systematic looting of sculptures from the Parthenon, the Propylaea, and the Erechtheum. The citizens of Athens and Greece protested, claiming that their history and identity was being stolen. And not all of Great Britain was in favor of the removal of so much Greek cultural history. Some, like the great English nobleman and poet, Lord Byron, compared the deplorable action to vandalism, looting, and thievery. However, despite the protests, the marbles, known as the Elgin Marbles, were then shipped to Britain with some being lost when a ship sank during a ferocious storm in the Aegean Sea.

Photography inside the Acropolis Museum is restricted to specific areas, pay attention to signs that are posted in those restricted areas.

In 1832 Greece gained its independence from the rule of the Ottoman’s and in an effort to regain its cultural identity, began several government-funded projects to restore its classical monuments. The Greek government formally expressed their objections of Thomas Bruces’ removal of the culturally priceless marbles from the Acropolis and the Parthenon, making a series of filings to insist they be returned.

On our tour, we learned that more than half of the items in the British Museum are artifacts that were stolen by the British ambassador, Thomas Bruce. And although many collectors claim that his tactics were perfectly legal, as they removed items with the approval of the Ottoman authorities, many disagree. The fact remains that many collections of Parthenon statuary and marble that are housed in the world’s museums today were acquired in this deplorable fashion.

The owl has been a defining feature of the Acropolis and the city of Athens for centuries.

The people of Greece continue to urge Britain to return the plundered marbles via diplomatic and political means. At one point British officials pointed out that there was no suitable facility in Greece to house the enormous collection should it be returned. Hence the further motivation that helped get the new Acropolis museum built.

Above, the amazing detail of the bust sculptures of ancient Greece in the Acropolis Museum

When you leave the museum, don’t forget to toss some loose change into the wishing well!

Above, two cool cats guard the Acropolis

Above, just outside the museum a man is asking for donations to help fund brain tumor awareness

After our tour of the Parthenon and the Acropolis Museum, our group headed to an area where we would finding something to eat for lunch. We ate kabobs from a small grill and while eating it on a table outside the restaurant we were approached by a ragged looking Gypsy woman who was accompanied by an equally ragged-looking child. I gave her a few coins. As we ate a couple of young Gypsy kids came by playing a small accordion and what looked like a handmade mandolin. I felt so sorry for them and gave them a few coins for their music. It made me so sad to see these kids begging for money.

Above, along the streets near the museum are many wonderful looking houses.

Below, there are numerous shops and restaurants very near the Acropolis Museum, our favorite was God’s Restaurant where the food is heavenly (pun intended!)

So I get it, not everyone likes to spend time in museums, and most wouldn’t consider putting a museum visit on their bucket list.  But for me, it’s an essential place to visit whenever I travel, especially to a new place.  It does give a better understanding of the people and the culture, and will help you get a better perspective of the history that lead up to this point in time.  It is an educational drop in your bucket.  

 

All photographs are the copyright of Jim Jackson Photography. Please contact me for authorization to use or for signed, high-resolution copies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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