Democratic Action on Show in Athens’ Agora Museum

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Ancient Agora of Athens, Αρχαία Αγορά της Αθήνας, Athens, Greece

Athens is full of surprises.  It had those sites which you know are going to be great to visit – like the Parthenon and its museum as well as the National Archaeological Museum – but then you have unexpected delights, like the museum at the Ancient Agora.

The museum is housed in the Stoa of Attalos, named after King Attalos II of Pergamon.  It was build it c150 BC as a gift to the city of Athens in thanks for the education that he had received there.  It was destroyed in 267 AD and became part of the fortification wall. The current building was reconstructed in the 1950s thanks to the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, with funding from the Rockefeller family.  It’s considered to be a faithful reconstruction, and as such it’s actually a shame we can’t explore more of it.  As it is, you walk inside the arches, and can go inside of the ground floor, which is where the museum exhibits are.

Originally, the stoa would have housed about twenty shops, over two levels.  With its colonnades it must have been a cool – in both senses – place to shop.  It’s enclosed, but airy and spacious, both qualities that are to be appreciated in a hot city like Athens.

There are some funerary relics on show which are similar to those you’ll find in other museums in the city, but what makes this museum unique is its collection of objects which demonstrate Greek politics in action.  It is incredible that we can actually stand in front of the fragment of the allotment machine, the water-clock and the countless ostraca.  I mean, these fragile objects have somehow survived through the centuries to tell their stories – it’s incredible and worth spending time on to really explore fully.

So In Summary

I really hadn’t expected to find so many fascinating objects in this museum.  It’s not exactly publicised as one of the must visit locations of the city, but actually, it is.  This is not just because some of these objects are truly unique, but because they are remains of what this particular patch of land did for this city and the Greek world.

Further Information

There is a fee to enter the site, which also lets you look round the museum.  There is a ticket you can get which allows you into all of the archaeological sites – it’s a bargain if you intend to them all.

There is a website, with limited information in English:

When I visited, we could only visit downstairs, but I gather you can also go upstairs.

How To Get There

For information about how to get to the Agora, please click through to my post here.

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