How would a visit of Thessaloniki be completed without looking at the ancient Macedonian Times? Visiting the Archaelogical Museum of Thessaloniki just feels like a must-do when you are in the city. You may at most excuse yourself by visiting the other big one in Northern Greece’s metropole, the Museum of Byzantine Culture (I did not have time to do that one). Here is a review.
Archaeological Museum – Location & Admission
The museum is located at the South-Eastern edge of the city center. Several other museums and attractions are closeby. When I walked through Thessalonki, this area (including some nice parks) gave me a really enjoyable time.
The adult admission is 8 Euro. The museum is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the summer months (April to October) with reduced winter opening times. You may buy a combined museum ticket for 15 EUR, which also includes the Museum of Byzantine Culture, the White Tower and the entrance to the Roman Agora (incl. museum), which you need to visit during three consecutive days. All exhibits are explained in Greek and English.
Archaeological Museum – Main Exhibition
The main exhibition displays the history of Macedonia over time. Thereby, it is split in three sections: you start with Towards the Birth of Cities in the very early ages of the region. The second section is called Macedonia from the 7th Century BC until Late Antiquity. You finally end up in Thessaloniki, Metropolis of Macedonia, which hosts a lot of statues and temple parts and is illustrating the life in Thessaloniki in ancient Greek times.
Archaeological Museum – The Gold of Macedon
I honestly haven’t read the map of the museum correctly at my visit – so just when I finished the main exhibition, I felt my visit was over. I was already flashed by what I saw so far and nearly missed the Gold of Macedon exhibition. As the name suggests, you will see a lot of gold in this section, but it is also in general about handcrafts on all kinds of material. I just loved the detailed works in the showcases.
One of the key exhibits is the Derveni Krater, which you see below – a very impressive work:
Extremely amazing and part of the UNESCO World Memory is the Derveni Papyrus, which is one of the oldest known and still preserved books in the world. So fascinating to see this one partially exhibited.
After these two amazing highlights, there are still a lot more items to see in the Gold section.
Archaeological Museum – Prehistoric Macedonia
In the basement of the museum, there is another massive number of artefacts dealing with the very old ages of Macedonia. You typically have comparably smaller items, but it is absolutely fascinating to watch them.
In this area, you also have a small augmented reality exhibition. If you for example place the frame in the first picture somewhere on the map, it will give you details on the area you just highlighted.
Archaeological Museum – Outdoor Exhibits
The museum is massive – and parts of the exhibits are even outside, around the museum. Here is where numerous sarcophagi and altars are stored. It is amazing that for some of them you even know who was buried in there and how the person(s) looked alike.
In the backyard of the museum, there is also an excavation of an old Roman villa. Some floor mosaics are quite well preserved. Apart A lovely place to relax, by the way.
Archaeological Museum – Shop & Services
Similar as in the Munich Egyptian Art Museum, the museum store does not only offer ordinary souvenirs, but also original historic items. I always feel like buying something there – knowing that on the one hand it might not be that “historically valuable”. On the other hand, ain’t it cool to have some piece of Greek culture in your living room?
The museum also has a cafe, but it is currently closed. Thus, there are only some snack machines on the lower level.
Archaeological Museum – My View
I generally love archaeological museums – and I feel a visit of Thessaloniki is not complete without visiting this place. It is massive, it is informative and it is just entertaining. I spent quite some time in there – and even though I might have been comparably quick, it has been quite a long visit. I might have had mixed emotions at the White Tower, the airport or the Olympic Museum. This one is just great, the collection just too rich – I absolutely recommend to visit it! You will love it!
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