Underground public art
Athens has one of the most contemporary metro networks in Europe. It is clean and efficient and will get you to most of the interesting places across town. But don’t just rush through the stations. The construction of the network has brought to light significant archaeological finds dating from prehistoric times up to the 19th century CE.
The excavations for the metro’s extensions have also revealed parts of ancient walls, residential complexes and workshops, disposal areas with many finds, as well as a bridge and cemeteries across Attica.
The major excavation project that was carried out in the city centre (1992-1997) uncovered more than 30,000 archaeological finds. A selection of these is on display in mini-museums in the more central metro stations: Panepistimio, Syntagma, Acropolis, Evangelismos, Monastiraki, and Keramikos.
Syntagma station holds the most impressive collection including a Classical era sculpture foundry, a cemetery dating back to the sub-Mycenaean and Byzantine eras, a baths complex dating back to the Roman times, a section of the Peisistratian aqueduct, the bed of the Iridanos river and fragments of an ancient road that led to the suburbs.
A section of the cemetery with 1,200 tombs dating from the beginning of the 7th century BCE to Roman times was uncovered near Keramikos station. Τhe bed of the Iridanos river with ruins of buildings, workshops, graves and a network of water supply and sewage systems were revealed in the Monastiraki station. The excavation near the Acropolis Station carried out over an area of 2,500 square meters showed that the area was populated from the end of the 3rd millennium BCE up to the Byzantine era.
Apart from displaying archaeological treasures, the stations are also embellished with large-scale public art and design installations by the most significant modern and contemporary Greek artists. Make sure you look for the kinetic sculptures by renowned artist Takis at the Syngrou-Fix station, the neon sculptures by Greek-born American sculptor Chryssa in Evangelismos station, and the abstract sculptures by Greek-born American Stephen Antonakos in Ampelokipi station, among others.