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. Don’t just rush through the stations though. The construction of the network has brought to light significant archaeological finds, dating from the early Archaic to Byzantine times.
The excavations for the metro’s extensions have also revealed ancient temple walls, disposal areas with marble tomb stele, heads of statues and many copper coins, as well as bridges and cemeteries across Attica, proving that the wider Athens region, truly was the first metropolitan municipality in history.
The major excavation project that was carried out in the city centre (1993-2000) uncovered more than 50,000 archaeological finds. The greatest of them are 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 the Byzantine times, a baths complex dating back to the Roman times, a section of the Peisistranian Aqueduct, the bed of Iridanos River and fragments of an ancient road that led to the suburbs.
A section of a cemetery with over 1,000 tombs dating from the beginning of 7th century BC to Roman times was uncovered near Keramikos station. Τhe bed of Iridanos River with ruins of buildings, workshops, graves and a network of water supply and sewage systems were revealed in Monastiraki station. The excavation near the Acropolis Station carried out over an area of 2500 sq.m., illustrated that the area was populated from the end of the 3rd millennium BC.
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 Ambelokipi station, among others.