The city is a world centre of archaeological research. Apart from national institutions, such as Athens University, the Archaeological Society, several archaeological Museums, including the National Archaeological Museum, the Cycladic Museum, the Epigraphic Museum, the Byzantine Museum, as well as museums at the ancient Agora, Acropolis, and Kerameikos, the city is also home to the Demokritos laboratory for Archaeometry, alongside regional and national archaeological authorities that form part of the Greek Department of Culture.
Athens hosts 17 Foreign Archaeological Institutes which promote and facilitate research by scholars from their home countries. As a result, Athens has more than a dozen archaeological libraries and three specialized archaeological laboratories, and is the venue of several hundred specialized lectures, conferences and seminars, as well as dozens of archaeological exhibitions, each year. At any given time, hundreds of international scholars and researchers in all disciplines of archaeology are to be found in the city.
Athens’ most important museums include:
- the National Archaeological Museum, the largest archaeological museum in the country, and one of the most important internationally, as it contains a vast collection of antiquities
- the Benaki Museum with its several branches for each of its collections including ancient, Byzantine, Ottoman-era, and Chinese art and beyond
- the Byzantine and Christian Museum, one of the most important museums of Byzantine art
- the Numismatic Museum, housing a major collection of ancient and modern coins
- the Museum of Cycladic Art, home to an extensive collection of Cycladic art, including its famous figurines of white marble
- the New Acropolis Museum, opened in 2009, and replacing the old museum on the Acropolis. The new museum has proved considerably popular
Athens has been a destination for travellers since antiquity. Over the past decade, the city’s infrastructure and social amenities have improved, in part due to its successful bid to stage the 2004 Olympic Games. The Greek Government, aided by the EU, has funded major infrastructure projects such as the state-of-the-art Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, the expansion of the Athens Metro system, and the new Attiki Odos Motorway.