All the treasures of the Acropolis under one (highly controversial) roof.
First mooted in 1976, the Acropolis Museum was delayed by endless wrangling between archaeologists, architects, and local authorities. Three architecture competitions were held – and scrapped – before Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi sealed the deal. His colossal concrete, steel, and glass structure has few fans (and many enemies) in Athens. From the outside, it dwarfs its surroundings; but the soaring interiors, flooded with natural light, let the artefacts take centre stage. When construction began, a 4th century BC settlement was unearthed on the site. It has been incorporated into the design through reinforced glass floors, so that visitors hover rather disconcertingly above the ruins. With more than 4,000 artefacts, the museum brings together all the surviving antiquities from the Acropolis for the first time – except those sections of the 160-metre Parthenon Frieze lopped off by Lord Elgin in the 19th century. Crude plaster casts stand in for the missing sections. Whether this €130 million showcase will help Greece’s campaign to wrestle the ‘Elgin marbles’ back from the British Museum remains to be seen. You can make up your own mind.