Athens – National Archeological Museum of Greece

Undoubtedly, Athens has the rather questionable distinction of being the most unattractive city in Europe. It’s ugly, dirty, dilapidated and run down.

During my brief stay, I decide to visit the archeological museum, which houses some of the few remaining bronze statues from the Greek period. The museum has a vast collection of artefacts on exhibit. Unfortunately though, it’s very old school, in the sense that there is only a brief description for every piece to explain what it is, and where it was found. So, rather than narrating, the museum just shows. It’s a bit like the Egyptian museum on Midan Tahrir in Cairo. The upshot, of course, is that if you don’t read up about ancient Greece ahead of your visit, you’re probably not going to know what half the stuff is that you’re looking at.

Below is one of the most prestigious pieces in the collection. Scholars are still debating whether this is a depiction of Poseidon or Zeus. The big question, of course, is what was he holding in his right hand. And thereby hangs a tail – or rather: a bolt of lightning or a trident?

Originally, the bronze statues had eyes that were made of ivory and amber (for the irises). Through the millenia, most of the figures lost their eyes. However, in those cases where they still do have eyes, it’s quite uncanny just how real the eyes make the facial expressions look.

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