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 all art pertaining to Greek culture in an Archaeological Museum. At first situated in a former orphanage of the Aegina island, off Athens, the museum was later transferred in the capital. First in the Temple of Hephaestus (or Hephaisteion) facing the Agora, then in the Tower of the Winds, and lastly in 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 made underground, particularly beneath the pedestrian streets of the neighbourhood. If you do not have a whole day to devote to it, which is what it deserves, focus on two of its wonders: the golden funeral mask of King Agamemnon and the Antikythera Mechanism.
This ancient analogue computer, 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