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Hire a car with Enterprise this summer and discover more of what Greece has to offer. From secluded beaches and local markets to charming hidden villages off the beaten track, unlock your holiday with Enterprise.
NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
This important museum, founded in 1829, houses more than 11,000 exhibits depicting Greek culture over thousands of years. The imposing neoclassical building contains the five major permanent collections as well as temporary exhibits.
The Benaki Museum houses Greek works of art from prehistory to modern time, as well as an extensive collection of Asian art. The Benaki family donated their house and their enormous collection of art and artifacts to Greece.
From the square, make your way through the pretty streets of the Plaka neighborhood to reach the Acropolis Museum. Take the long way around so you can admire a string of monuments en route, including the Gate of Athena, the Roman Forum, and the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Tripodon Street — the oldest street square in Europe. You’ll find the Acropolis Museum housed in a contemporary building, just below Acropolis Hill. You can book your ticket in advance, to move past the inevitable line and make sure you pay special attention to the top floor of the museum, which was built to be an exact mirror of the Acropolis itself and includes all of the sculptures that used to line the monument’s exterior. The subterranean part of the museum, where an entire neighborhood was found and excavated, is also worth a look.
MUSEUM OF CYCLADIC ART
If you’ve spent some time on any island in the Cyclades, you’re most likely familiar with the distinctively Cycladic flat-featured marble figurines. The two interconnected buildings of the Museum of Cycladic Art are an opportunity to study the significant Greek civilisation of the 3rd millennium BC. Its shop has a large collection of replica sculptures that make great souvenirs and gifts, while its recently renovated cafe has a contemporary yet typically Cycladic feel, just like the snacks it serves.
This is actually a complex of five fine museums. The central neoclassical building in Kolonaki – the Benaki Museum of Greek Culture – with its vast and well-organised collection, will take you down the path of Greek history, from ancient times through Byzantium to the mid-20th century. The industrial Pireos Annexe hosts contemporary and international art exhibits and boasts one of the best museum shops in the city.
NATIONAL HISTORICAL MUSEUM
Located in the building that was Greece’s first House of Parliament, the National Historical Museum collection covers the period since the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, with an emphasis on the 1821 Greek War of Independence from Ottoman rule. It’s pretty hard to miss due to the spectacular equestrian statue of one of the most prominent leaders of the revolution, Theodoros Kolokotronis, just outside the museum entrance.
As an interesting contrast to Athens’ splendid art institutions, the War Museum is dedicated to Greece’s earlier troubled times. From the Mycenaean era to the present, it exhibits war memorabilia of every kind, including a few vintage fighter jets that are parked permanently in its courtyard. The displays provide excellent food for thought, not only for military buffs but for pacifists, too.