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Athens - Day 2 - Museums and Wolves

GREECE | Saturday, 21 July 2012 | Views [429]

Panoramic view from Lycabettus

Panoramic view from Lycabettus

I've decided to visit a couple of museums first instead of going straight to the Acropolis. By visiting the museums, seeing the exhibits and learning about the exhibitions, hopefully it'll put some of the archaeological sites in perspective.

So first up is the National Archaeological Museum. Displaying everything from Pre-history through Mycaenaean, Archaic, Hellenistic and Roman periods. Plus sections on encounters between Greek and "foreign" cultures. Everything is well documented in English, not just for the artefacts, but also the equivalent of pages worth of explanation for each themed exhibition. Don't miss the Antikythera Mechanism, considered to be an early mechanical and computational device for calculating astronomical positions. Proudly exhibited in a section of it's own.

This statue of Zeus or Poseidon is the sources of many a poses by tourists:

A re-construction of the Antikythera Mechanism:

The museum is absolutely fantastic that does justice to the rich history of Greece. But really, there are so many great things to see, just browse the photo.

Then it's off to the Benaki Museum near Syntagma Square, a private museum showing much the same things as as the National Archaeological Museum, but with exhibits all the way up to the modern era. There's a special emphasis of foreign influences on Greece artifacts. Which makes a nice change. The building itself is also beautiful, having been the former mansion of Antonis Benakis. You can tell the guy a clear sense of aesthetics with the house arranged in a fairly regular pattern, making the exhibitions easy to navigate. I really liked this picture showing several scenes from the Bible

Close by is the Byzantine Museum. Housed in a quirky looking village mansion. The museum is mainly focused on Byzantine style Christain artworks of wood and stone sculptures, tapestries, potteries, frescoes and pretty much anything that can be turned into art. Definitely worth have a look even if you're not religiously inclined and just appreciate the artistry.

There's even a modern art piece:

It's about 1430 now and I'm ready for some action. A bit of hardcore hill climbing in 35c heat. If you want to escape the heat of Athens, you could do worse than climb up to the summit of Lycabettus Hill, the name means the place walked by wolves. At 277 metres, it's the highest point in the city and it only takes 20 minutes from the street level to the summit. So skip the funicular train up, just to prove "I still have it". You'll be reward with a true panoramic view of the city. It was however a painfully steep climb, even the starting point from the street level looks daunting:

There's an expensive cafe at the summit and even a cute little St. George's Church.

And not forgetting the view:

I spent over an hour at the summit, much of it recovering from the climb. With no energy for the climb down, it would have to be the train, but it's just my luck then that the ticket machine decides to crash. The supervisor made a few attempts at restarting to no avail, then gave up and was kind enough to let me take the ride down and pay there instead.


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