Explore the Museums of Plaka in Athens
Located on the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis in Athens, between Monastirake square and Syntagma square, Plaka is the historical neighborhood of the city. Featuring winding streets and alleyways, lined with neoclassical architecture, draped with multi-colored bougainvillea, dotted with potted plants and bathed in old-world charm, Plaka is visited by thousands of tourists every year and is always a hive of activity. Visitors who want to learn more about the history and culture of this ancient city can visit the museums located in Plaka, including the Museum of Greek Folk Art, the Frissiras Museum, and the Museum of Popular Music Instruments.
The Museum of Popular Music Instruments is home to a collection of musical instruments, some of which are more than 300 years old. There are around 600 musical instruments on display, with many more kept in storage. Included in the collection on display are lyres, flogheras, gaides, defia, koudounia, bouzoukia, souravlia, zournades, lalitsas and toubelekia. Among the many instruments used in Greek music over the centuries, the bouzoukia is one that is readily associated with Greek music. A descendent of the ancient Greek pandoura, the bouzoukia is a stringed instrument which, when plucked with a plectrum emits a sharp metallic sound, similar to a mandolin but with a lower pitch. Bouzoukia’s vary in shape, size, neck length and number of strings, but its sound is distinctive. Visitors to the museum will see a variety of these instruments, each a work of art with inlaid mother of pearl patterns. The lyre is an ancient Greek musical instrument that features prominently on pottery and paintings. The earliest known picture of a seven-stringed lyre was discovered in the sarcophagus of Hagia Triada near Crete, dating back to 1400BC, and lyres feature in Greek mythology.
Founded in 1918 as the Museum of Greek Handicrafts, the Museum of Greek Folk Art features an impressive collection of various forms of decorative arts. The museum is closely affiliated with the Tzistarakis Mosque in Monastiraki square. The Frissiras Museum in Plaka offers a more modern take on Greek and European art with more than 3,000 paintings and sculpture dedicated to the human form.