Probably the country most associated with art is Greece. Temples that are the distinguishing features of the ancient world are everywhere, and maintain an aura of dignity that makes the country itself part of its history more than any other nation.
Anyone who visits Athens will see art treasures everywhere, with the Acropolis, containing the Parthenon, high above and visible from almost anyplace in the city. The beauty of its structures are everywhere through the countryside, and draw travelers from the rest of the world.
That the several wars that have concentrated on Athens, and on the country of Greece, have failed to wipe out its heritage is another treasure.
The now independent country takes pride not just in its past, but in its character. Though many of its artworks have been carted off home by other countries when they invaded and defeated Greek military bodies, what remains has been excavated and housed in distinguished museums of its own.
Near the University of Athens there is a recently completed Archeological Museum that holds treasures Greece’s own people have found and display for visitors there. The golden Mask of Agamemnon is only called that because it attracts attention, and the museum display points out that it comes from a different era entirely. The Artemision jockey stands on its own strength as a dramatic display of athletic pride and beauty. The many Koure and Kouri show the artists’ elevation of human form to majesty and individuals’ self-assertion.
Most visitors to Greece will be sure to see the Parthenon and the first Olympic stadium, and will include the bohemian culture of La Plaka. What has been discovered in the intensive research since the country won independence from other powers, though, contains treasures less commonly recognized and part of a growing familiarity with its past.
The Archaeological Museum has come about since Greece finally won independence by ushering its last king out of power in 1969. By coming into its own, the country has developed a pride in its own staunch character that outweighs its better known past. The park now owned by its people rather than by its many past rulers is a source of pride, as is the new museum that Greek cultural advocate Melina Mercouri enabled – for the purpose of eventually housing the art of the Parthenon that Lord Elgin carried off to the British Museum. For its innumerable rooms of collected works that celebrate many different societies’ and ages’ expressions of their highest concepts, a visitor to Athens should absolutely include the vast storehouse of artwork from their past that the Archaeological Museum embodies.
N.b.; title contains Edgar Allen Poe reference, ‘To the glory that was Greece…’