More museums and places to visit:

The National Archaeological Museum open 0800-1900 €6/3

There are loos downstairs and a nice shady courtyard. Nescafé in paper cups €1.70 in stuffy smokey cafeteria, food not allowed outside. Good shop.

You need time and energy to do this justice but here are my favourites, in chronological order:

Straight ahead of the entrance room 4: the Mycenaean room,containing finds from Mycenae, Tyrins and Pylos. There is a good model of the citadel at Mycenae.
Here is the original gold from Mycenae, (you will see reproductions in the museum at Mycenae) it is absolutely fabulous. In pride of place are the stunning gold death masks, including the one which Schliemann declared was the mask of Agamemnon. It is in fact much earlier, dating from the 16th century BC. On the left are the gold sheet coverings from two dead babies (16th century BC). On the right are the wonderful gold and ivory bull rhyton and lion rhyton
I love the 13th century BC plaster mask (right) from Mycenae, possibly a goddess or sphinx, with painted features.

The frescoes from Tyrins are a fragment of the vivid wall paintings which decorated the Palaces.

Look out for the not very complete boar's tooth helmet, no. 6568, on the right hand side by the entrance to the side room. Homer describes these in the Iliad.

In case 9 are linear B tablets from Pylos, 90 syllabic signs, ideograms and numbers inscribed on damp clay with a sharp bone or metal stylus and left in the sun to dry. They were preserved by being baked in the fire which destroyed the palace and were critical to the decipherment of linear B by Michael Ventris and John Chadwick.

To the right of the Mycenaean room is the Cycladic room with examples from 3200 - 1100 BC including a harp player and flute player (the flute is broken and looks like binoculars!) and tiny violin shaped figurines 2800-2300 BC.

For many more of these lovely statues do visit the Cycladic museum.

I suggest you now go back to Rooms 7 & 8 (to the left of the ticket office) where there are lots of gorgeous kouroi (archaic statues) including in room 7 a massive kouros from Sounion and a life size one from Thira; note the different colour marbles. Here also is the most wonderful geometric funerary vase, the women with their hands raised in the mourning gesture.

In Room 8 is a lovely kore holding her chiton skirt, a lotus fruit in her hand, and a necklace, lots of red paint and decoration of rosettes stars meander and swastikas, 550-540 BC

Go from room 8 straight through to room 11 to see the last kouros, 500 BC. Now there is better understanding of anatomy, how muscles work, the shifting of weight from one leg to another, the arms are free; note the new short hair, and more realistic eyes and smile.

Room 12 to the left of room 11 contains the sculptures which weren't taken to Munich from the temple of Aphaia on the island of Egina.

Room 13: Jumping weights, no 1926, used to give athletes impetus.
A funerary base (right) of a kouros, no 3476, from the cemetery at Kerameikos shows scenes from the gymnasium. On one side two young men are wrestling, another is preparing to jump, and on the right an athlete is preparing the pit.
Another funerary base, no 3477, showing men playing hockey, 510-500 BC, would have marked the grave of an athlete.


Room 15: Now we reach the Classical period severe style with the famous bronze, c460 BC, of Zeus, with his thunderbolt (or Poseidon with his trident?). Room 16 some fine funerary vases.

Room 17: finds from the Argive Heraion including an akroterion, a head of Hera possibly the cult statue by Polykleitos of Argos

Rooms 18 to 27: lots of funeral steles of varying quality, they give a good picture of everyday people in the 4th century, some are very touching final farewell scenes.

Room 22: sculpture from sanctuary of Asklepios at Epídauros, including a lovely Nike akroterion from the west pediment of the temple of Artemis, Parian marble, late 4th century, and the akroterion of the temple of Asklepios, c380, showing a Nereid or Aura on a horse rising from ocean.

Room 24: Now the stele are really big. Eventually a law was brought in to constrain the size of funerary monuments!

Room 28: Bronze of young athlete possibly school of Praxitiles. c340-330, life size bronze of Paris c340-330; on the left look out for part of a marble disc with the head of a goddess [poss Aphrodite] c460.

Room 30: marble group of Aphrodite, Pan, Eros, 100 BC , from an Attik workshop - how very different to the kouroi we started with!


Room 31: bronze of Augustus in mature age riding a horse (missing.)

The lovely bronze horse and jockey, 2nd century BC, was found in the ship Room 31: bronze of Augustus in mature age riding a horse (missing.)


Room 48 Here are the outstanding wall paintings or frescoes from Thira (Santorini). Dating from the 16th century BC they were preserved beneath the pumice of the catastrophic volcanic eruption there in c1500 BC. The frescoes decorated the walls of houses in Akrotiri and give a picture of the culture and comfortable lifestyle of the town. Particularly beautiful are the paintings of antelopes, the fishermen and the 'Boxing Children'.

Rooms 49 - 56 contain vases from the 11th century BC to the 4th century BC.

In room 50 is a very fine Geometric krater (no 990) from Dipylon showing a burial scene; the body on a horse drawn carriage is surrounded by mourning women and below that a chariot race is depicted.

In room 52 look out for the clay replica of a house or temple (c680 BC) from the Argive Heraion and other small objects from the site. In showcase 45 is a lovely painting of a lamb being prepared for sacrifice.

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Mainly Peloponnese Itinerary