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Some tips for others planning to visit the Acropolis Museum in Athens

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Jun 1st, 2011, 06:43 AM
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Some tips for others planning to visit the Acropolis Museum in Athens

Perhaps some of these has been said before, but in case people are searching the Greece board for information on these, here is my take:

1) This new museum is one of the great cultural highlights of any European tour. The artifacts within are beautifully displayed and extraordinarily exciting to see. I saw dozens and dozens of ordinary tourists, from all different countries, fascinated by the labels and displays (everything has an English-langage label) and engaging in animated conversation with their travel partners about the stunning statues, architectectural fragments and mythological themes. Budget time to really learn from this museum. If you have already been to Athens and were thrilled, consider going back just to see this extraordinary place.

2) I wanted to buy a guidebook to the museum at the museum, and I was surprised to discover how really skimpy the bookstores inside the museum are and how inadequate the guidebook sold by the museum is. If your overall guidebook for Athens does not include a good guide to the museum, try to find one before you go.

3) By sheer happenstance, I ended up starting at the TOP FLOOR of the museum, and working my way down, and I am really glad I did. The top floor is the stunning Parthenon gallery, with a full-on view of the Acropolis out the window, and it is the crown jewel of the museum, and the entire reason the museum exists where it does. If you start on the ground floor, you will start with a detailed collection of shards and fragments arranged in chronological order, and a lot of archeological history, tracing the evolution of the Parthenon over time, and then you work your way up. But I noticed many people were too tired to really enjoy the third floor by the time they reached, having passed through many other galleries, and some probably gave in short shrift in favor of the cafeteria on the way up. So personally I recommend you read up on the Acropolis and the Parthenon before leaving home, and then head straight to the top floor for the start of your museum visit. If you give it a try and feel you don't like that approach, it is a simple enough matter to take the elevator down to the first floor and start anew. But if you start to feel tired, head to the top floor. Don't leave the museum without giving a thorough exploration.

4) The Archaic Gallery on the second floor is now one of the most beautiful sculpture galleries in Europe, to my eye now surpassing the interior courtyard of Louvre. It is on the second level, and also give yourself plenty of leisure to see it. Make sure you pass through it as well as the Parthenon Gallery if you see nothing else in the museum.

5) The first floor of the museum the day I was there was FRIGID with air conditioning, especially if you are dressed for walking about in the hot Athenian sun. I saw more than one woman in a thin top put on a wrap or overshirt. I highly recommend toting a wrap or shirt if you are woman. Men will probably be okay in a tee or ordinary shirt. Things warm up as you get to the windowed parts of the upper floors of the museum.

6) I had a very good meal at the terrace restaurant (baked eggplant with tomatoes, a delicious puree of beans from Santorini with lemon and caper leaves). It is probably a few euros more expensive than a souvlaki from a street vendor, but it is very nice and very convenient, and compared to other European destinations, food is Greece is always a terrific bargain.

7) I had an excellent stay at the Athens Gate, just a stone's throw from the museum and with a rooftop bar with beautiful views of the Acropolis and the Temple of the Olympian Zeus. I speak no Greek, and the staff was fluent in English and very charming and helpful.

PS: Perhaps the biggest issue people will need to decide is whether they want to visit the museum before or after they see the Acropolis, and whether they want to combine both on the same day. I can't really advise as to the first, because I had already been to the Acropolis several times before the new museum was built., and I only went to the museum during this trip. Because Athens can be so hot, I think most people will want to see the Acropolis in the morning or very late afternoon. If you go the Acropolis in the morning, I highly recommend you do the museum on a different day so as not to find yourself experience fatigue and overload. For real lovers of Greek culture, you honestly wouldn't be overdoing it to visit the museum, visit the Acropolis and revisit the museum if you have a couple of days in Athens.
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Jun 1st, 2011, 06:53 AM
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Some good points there, I'd just like to adda couple.
If you are visiting during the hottest months it's a great place to be in the afternoon, the hottest part of the day, as already said the Acropolis itself is best done early or late because of that, as well as the tour crowds.
The second point is for women, don't wear a skirt!!
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Jun 1st, 2011, 07:01 AM
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These are great points. We followed the "suggested" route and weren't too tired by the time we got to the 3rd floor, but we did the museum on a separate day from the Acropolis, which I think definitely makes a difference.

It wasn't that cold when we were there, but I wish I had the tip from yiassas to not wear a skirt before going. The floor goes from opaque to transparent without any warning!
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Jun 1st, 2011, 07:33 AM
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Great tips!!! Thank you, we will be there in mid-Sept!
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Jun 1st, 2011, 08:48 AM
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Great to know Zeppole, thanks. Hub and I were there in the 1980s and I don't believe the museum existed then (or we missed it somehow). A good reason to return.

Also at that time, one walked up a hill to get to the Acropolis. Some of the folks on our tour were unable to make the walk. Is there a more "knee-friendly" way now?
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Jun 1st, 2011, 09:13 AM
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Great tips, especially about starting at the top floor - thank you.

In terms of order, I've been pondering this. We don't have much time in Athens, and have been trying to decide whether we visit the Acropolis in the late afternoon of the first day and the museum the next morning, or vice versa. We'll be traveling with our children - any thoughts on whether seeing the museum first will help give context to the Acropolis, or the other way round? I visited the Acropolis before, but not the museum (and I'm really excited to see them both!!).
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Jun 1st, 2011, 09:54 AM
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txtree - when are you going? It could be really hot at the Acropolis in the afternoon.
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Jun 1st, 2011, 11:36 AM
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We'll be there June 15-16. Yes, it will be hot, so I was thinking of the Museum the afternoon of the 15th and the Acropolis first thing in the morning of the 16th. But I'll be with my restless kids, so it's not like we're going to be able to linger for hours and hours on the Acropolis anyway.
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Jun 1st, 2011, 11:50 AM
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TDudette
the Acropolis is always on the top of a hill, with great views over the greater area of Athens....this is still unchanged for the last 2.000 years....
Now since you have visited Athens 2 things have changed :
- the new Acropolis museum was build, it opened its gates on June the 20th 2009. The museum is located on the other side of the street, a 100 meters away from the entrance of the Acropolis.
- they finally installed an elevator at the Acropolis, for all the people who can't walk up the many steps.
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Jun 1st, 2011, 05:42 PM
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Zeppole,
Thanks for the great description of the museum - I'm saving this for our trip in September.
Paule
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Jun 1st, 2011, 05:57 PM
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the Acropolis is always on the top of a hill, with great views over the greater area of Athens....this is still unchanged for the last 2.000 years....

√rather snarky thing for you to say, clausar, and unnecessary. Your other 2 statements were on point.
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Jun 2nd, 2011, 12:47 AM
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I don't think clausar was snarky!
You said "Also at that time, one walked up a hill to get to the Acropolis" which implies you thought that might have changed!
Regarding the elevator, it is NOT for general use, it is for disabilities only, it can't be used just because you don't feel like the walk up the hill. While some disabilities are obvious, others are not, & proof will be needed. It is still a short walk to the elevator, then a few steps to it (if it's working, there is a heirolift for this part). The person with the disability/need of the elevator can take someone with them. I can vouch for this as I have used it with a Greek friend who had a disability card. It is also wise to call ahead (or get your hotel to do so).
I have also walked up many times & the easiest approach is from Dionysou Areopagitou. On the way down you can return the same way to go to the Musem, or take the other route & visit the Agora or down through Anafiotika. I have seen many walk UP this way, but it is much more strenuous than the other route.
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Jun 2nd, 2011, 01:09 AM
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oh yiassas, the route through Anafiotika is my favorite one!!
It's like being somewhere else , far away from Athens, on a small cycladic island!!
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Jun 2nd, 2011, 01:57 AM
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For those of you wondering what both me & clausar are talking about (Anafiotika) take a look at a few photos here,
http://www.flickr.com/photos/yiassas...7626210581946/
A really amazing place that is nothing like being in the middle of a city!
The reason it is like a Cycladic island is because the people who settled & built there came from the island of Anafi (hence the name Anafiotika).
Do try & incorporate it into an Acropolis visit (on the way down!), it leads into Plaka, so you could do a seperate visit if you wish.
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Jun 2nd, 2011, 02:28 AM
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I have just returned to my hotel room from the New Acropolis Museum. It is a beautiful setting for showing the antiquities that have remained from the Parthenon and the surrounding area below the Acropolis. I for one began at the bottom and worked my way to the top and having done so I do not think it really matters one way or the other where you start and where you finish.

I do recommend a stop in the restaurant for a snack or a drink. I had the feta/roasted red pepper sandwich which was particularly delicious. The staff is courteous and efficient and the area is great for looking over to the Acropolis with the Parthenon at the top. There are both indoor and outdoor areas for seating while you eat. If it's hot you might want to sit indoors where the A/C keeps it nice and cool.
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Jun 2nd, 2011, 02:56 AM
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Something that one should know is that the museum is open every Friday till 10 pm, and the restaurant till midnight.
The illuminated Museum at night looks fantastic, it could be combined with a walk to Thission, from where there is a wonderful view over the Acropolis.
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Jun 2nd, 2011, 07:38 PM
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This was just great report. I have been to Athens serveral times and to the Acropolis twice so for my next visit in Sept the museo is my only must do. Thanks for all the tips...I have copied them to my notes and will obey!!!
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Jun 2nd, 2011, 08:53 PM
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I'm really looking forward to visiting the new museum!

I'm still not clear, though, as to how long the lines are. Should I purchase advance tickets? We will be going on Sunday, 7/3.

Also still not sure which would be better to visit first -- the museum or the acropolis. We only have one day to visit both. We'll have two teenagers...

Thanks!
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Jun 5th, 2011, 12:26 AM
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Thank you for this timely information as we are visiting tomorrow. Very helpful!
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Jun 5th, 2011, 02:49 PM
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great tips! thanks!
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