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Top 10 Cultural Spots in Athens

Athens has some of the world’s best museums and cultural centres. And with so many amazing classical and modern ones to choose from, we have rounded up 10 unmissable cultural spots for your next visit to the Greek capital. 

Benaki Museum

The Benaki Museum of Greek Civilization was founded by Anthony Benakis and donated to the Greek state in 1931. Here you will find a wonderful collection of Greek art and material culture in a geographical and evolutionary context, from prehistory to the present. There is a curated selection of ceramics, sculpture, and jewellery in Geometric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine collections. 

Numismatic Museum

The Numismatic Museum in Athens is one of the most important museums of Greece and houses one of the greatest collections of coins (ancient and modern) in the world. The museum itself is housed in the former mansion of Heinrich Schliemann, the famous archaeologist, formally known as Iliou Melathron.

Museum of Cycladic Art

The Museum of Cycladic Art in Kolonaki was inaugurated in 1986, features a 5,000-year-old artwork collection from the Cyclades Islands. It also displays countless pieces of art from Cyprus and Ancient Greece. Scattered over four floors, the exhibitions contain varied objects, all of which are displayed with information, making the visit even more interesting.  

National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum of Athens is the largest archaeological museum in Greece and one of the most important museums in the world; devoted to ancient Greek art. It was founded at the end of the 19th century to house and protect antiquities from all over Greece; displaying their historical, cultural and artistic value.

Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments 

Housed in an elegant nineteenth-century mansion erected in 1840, the Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments displays nearly 1,200 unusual instruments, dating from the 18th century to the present day; highlighting half-century of research and study by the famous musicologist Fivos Anoyanakis.

Acropolis Museum 

The Acropolis Museum, one of the most important museums in the world, houses the findings of only one archaeological site, the Athenian Acropolis. The museum was built to feature every artifact found on the rock and on the surrounding slopes, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece.

Byzantine and Christian Museum 

This is one of Greece’s national museums, which houses over 25,000 artifacts that relate to Early Christian, Byzantine, Medieval, post-Byzantine, and later periods. The pieces date from between the 3rd and 20th century AD and their provenance encompasses the entire Greek world, as well as regions in which Hellenism flourished. 

Theocharakis Cultural Foundation

The creation of the B. & M. Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music was an important development in the cultural life of Athens. Founded by Basil and Marina Theocharakis in 2004, it’s located opposite the Parliament, in the heart of the cultural, political, and commercial centre of the Greek capital. A café-restaurant, museum shop, and foyer with exhibition and display facilities are also open to the public.

Onassis Cultural Centre (OCC)

Onassis Cultural Center (Stegi) is a centre of arts in Athens created by the Onassis Foundations. With its productions and exhibitions, the OCC is a place of theatre, performance, dance, music, cinema, design, exhibitions, conferences, and lectures. It also hosts various festivals with local and international artists. The building itself is beautiful and on the roof terrace, you can visit the restaurant that offers a magnificent view of Athens.

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (SNFCC) 

 The Stavros Niarchos Cultural Centre opened up a few years back and has since become the most popular cultural spot for locals and international guests who come to see this sustainable, world-class cultural, educational, and recreational urban complex that includes a prestigious National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera, located within the Stavros Niarchos Park; an ideal place to spend the day with the family or friends. 

Greece’s 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Greece, with its rich history and culture, boasts a wide variety of monuments and archaeological sites. So it comes as no surprise there are currently 18 Greek monuments and areas given the distinction of being UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

In the list, 16 are cultural sites and two (Meteora and Mount Athos) are mixed, listed for both their natural and cultural significance. Currently, there are also 14 sites on the tentative list, all of which have been nominated and waiting to be added! 

Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae 

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios—a World Heritage Site since 1986—is one of the most important temples of Antiquity and sits in the mountainous region of Andritsaina and Figalia (Bassae). It is one of the best-preserved monuments of classical antiquity and an evocative and poignant testament to classical Greek architecture. The temple was built at the height of the Greek civilization in the second half of the 5th century BC (420-400 BC). 

Archaeological Site of Delphi

In Ancient Greece, Delphi was Greece’s most sacred place and was considered to be the navel of the world. The pan-Hellenic sanctuary of Delphi, where the oracle of Apollo spoke, was the site of the omphalos, the ‘navel of the world’. Blending harmoniously with the superb landscape and charged with sacred meaning, Delphi in the 6th century B.C. was indeed the religious centre and symbol of unity of the ancient Greek world.

Acropolis, Athens 

The Acropolis of Athens and its monuments are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization and form the greatest architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world.

Mount Athos

This is the spiritual capital of the Orthodox Christian world, consisting of 20 monasteries and approximately 2000 monks. An Orthodox spiritual centre since 1054, Mount Athos has enjoyed an autonomous statute since Byzantine times. The ‘Holy Mountain’, which is forbidden to women and children, is also a recognised artistic site.


A region of almost inaccessible sandstone peaks, monks settled on these ‘columns of the sky’ from the 11th century onwards. Twenty-four of these monasteries were built, despite incredible difficulties, at the time of the great revival of the eremetic ideal in the 15th century. Their 16th-century frescoes mark a key stage in the development of post-Byzantine painting.

Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki

Founded in 315 B.C., the provincial capital and seaport of Thessalonika was one of the first bases for the spread of Christianity. Among its Christian monuments are fine churches. Constructed from the 4th to the 15th century, the mosaics of the rotunda, Saint Demetrius and Saint David are among the great masterpieces of early Christian art.

Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus

In a small valley in the Peloponnesus, the shrine of Asklepios, the god of medicine, developed out of a much earlier cult of Apollo (Maleatas), during the 6th century BC at the latest, as the official cult of the city-state of Epidaurus. Its principal monuments, particularly the temple of Asklepios, the Tholos, and the Theatre – considered one of the purest masterpieces of Greek architecture – date from the 4th century.

Medieval City of Rhodes

The Order of St John of Jerusalem occupied Rhodes from 1309 to 1523 and came under Turkish and Italian rule. With the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Great Hospital, and the Street of the Knights, the Upper Town is one of the most beautiful urban ensembles of the Gothic period.

Archeological site of Mystras

Mystras, the ‘Wonder of the Morea‘, was built as an amphitheatre around the fortress erected in 1249 by the prince of Achaia, William of Villehardouin. Reconquered by the Byzantines, then occupied by the Turks and the Venetians, the city was abandoned in 1832, leaving only the breathtaking medieval ruins, standing in a beautiful landscape.

Archaeological Site of Olympia

The site of Olympia, in the Peloponnese, has been inhabited since prehistoric times. In the 10th century B.C., Olympia became a centre for the worship of Zeus. The Altis – the sanctuary to the gods – has one of the highest concentrations of masterpieces from the ancient Greek world.


According to Greek mythology, Apollo was born on this tiny island in the Cyclades archipelago. Apollo’s sanctuary attracted pilgrims from all over Greece and Delos was a prosperous trading port. The island bears traces of the succeeding civilizations in the Aegean world, from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the palaeochristian era. The archaeological site is exceptionally extensive and rich and conveys the image of a great cosmopolitan Mediterranean port.

Monasteries of Daphni, Hosios Loukas and New Mini of Chios

Although geographically distant from each other, these three monasteries belong to the same typological series and share the same aesthetic characteristics. The churches are built on a cross-in-square plan with a large dome. In the 11th and 12th centuries they were decorated with superb marble works as well as mosaics on a gold background, all characteristic of the ‘second golden age of Byzantine art’.

Insights Greece - Greece's 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos

Many civilizations have inhabited this small Aegean island, near Asia Minor, since the 3rd millennium B.C. The remains of Pythagoreion, an ancient fortified port with Greek and Roman monuments and a spectacular tunnel-aqueduct, as well as the Heraion, temple of the Samian Hera, can still be seen.

Archaeological Site of Aigai Vergina 

The city of Aigai, the ancient royal capital of Macedon, was discovered in the 19th century. It is located between the modern villages of Palatitsia and Vergina, in Northern Greece (Region of Hemathia). At Aigai was rooted the royal dynasty of the Temenids, the family of Philip II and Alexander the Great.

Archaeological Site of Mycenae and Tiryns

The archaeological sites of Mycenae and Tiryns are the imposing ruins of the two greatest cities of the Mycenaean civilization, which dominated the eastern Mediterranean world from the 15th to the 12th century B.C. and played a vital role in the development of classical Greek culture.

Historic Centre with Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on Patmos island

The small island of Pátmos is where St John the Theologian wrote both his Gospel and the Apocalypse. A monastery dedicated to the ‘beloved disciple’ was founded there in the late 10th century and it has been a place of pilgrimage and Greek Orthodox learning ever since. The fine monastic complex dominates the island. 

Old Town of Corfu

The three forts of the town on the Ionian island, designed by renowned Venetian engineers, were used for four centuries to defend the maritime trading interests of the Republic of Venice against the Ottoman Empire. The mainly neoclassical housing stock of the Old Town is partly from the Venetian period. As a fortified Mediterranean port, Corfu’s urban and port ensemble is notable for its high level of integrity and authenticity.

Archaeological Site of Phillippi 

The remains of this walled city lie at the foot of an acropolis in north-eastern Greece, on the ancient route linking Europe and Asia, the Via Egnatia. Founded in 356 BC by the Macedonian King Philip II, the city developed as a “small Rome” with the establishment of the Roman Empire in the decades following the Battle of Philippi, in 42 BC. Later the city became a centre of the Christian faith following the visit of the Apostle Paul in 49-50 AD. The remains of its basilicas constitute an exceptional testimony to the early establishment of Christianity.  

Source: whc.unesco

Cover image @Greeka

Exploring the Mycenaean Palace of Nestor

If you would like to explore the most well-preserved Mycenaean Palace in Greece, you should visit the Palace of Nestor, which reveals so much about the Mycenaean world and the royals that lived here during the 13th Century BC. 


Nestors Palace is found on a hill known as Ano Englianos, overlooking the Bay of Navarino, in the Peloponnese. It is found 6km inland and its set on the hill offers wonderful clear views of the coastline whichever way you look. It is located in Pylia, 4 kilometers south of the village of Chora on the hill of Epano Eglianos, which is about 14 km from Pylos.

History Behind the Palace

This extraordinary palace was built in the 13th Century BC by King Nestor, son of Neleus, who holds an important position in the Homeric epics. Nestor led Pylos to the Trojan War with 90 ships and is presented by Homer as a wise old man, whose opinion was always respected by the Achaeans. The palace was almost completely destroyed in the 12th century, by fire, however baked ceramic tablets were still found after the flames with rare information on them. 

The Buildings 

With a brand-new construction, including a new protective shelter, the Palace of Nestor permits visitors to truly experience the rich Mycenaean history. It is a complex made up of various buildings and consists of 105 ground floor apartments. It has four main buildings (central ones, wine store) and some smaller ones. The large rectangular “throne room” is considered to be the most important.

What You Will Find Here

Discover the walls of the palace, which were decorated with fine wall paintings. Very close to the palace, you will find the most impressive, largest excavated Mycenaean vaulted tomb of the area. It was built in c.1550-1500 BC. The Palace’s four buildings feature 2 levels arranged around a courtyard, including reception rooms, bedrooms, warehouses, a wine cellar, workshops, rooms for domestic servants, sewers and more.

Interesting Remains

You can explore the beautifully decorated round fireplace, the throne room, and a bathroom with a bathtub, as well as seeing numerous shelves with inscriptions. As you walk through the bi-level building you will come across abundant storage spaces, private apartments, stairwells, and skylights. The halls were decorated with remarkable wall paintings, while pictorial representations also decorated the palatial floors. The approximately 1000 clay tablets in Linear B script, which were brought to light during excavations in the wider area, confirm the site’s function as a financial, administrative, political, and religious centre.

Archaeological Museum of Chora 

The numerous archaeological findings from the site of the Palace of Nestor are kept at the Archaeological Museum of Chora, as well as the Archaeological Museum of Messenia. Here you will find collections that focus on the Mycenaean civilization. Some permanent exhibits at the museum include old jewellery from the vaulted tombs of Peristeria of Trifylia and there are also fascinating murals with amazing battle scenes. Mycenaeans were known for their trade of perfumed oils and big jars for storing oil, which you can also view.  

A: Ethniki Odos Kiparissias Pilou, Nestor 

Cover image by Maria Theofanopoulou 

The Athens Guide

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