Last year, after our children had finished their school year, we decided to make them a gift for their good school performance and their excellent behaviour; A trip to Athens! It wouldn’t be of course the first time they visited Athens. But, as they grow up, I notice that they feel like they see some things again for the first time. We would spend three days in Athens, at our uncle’s and aunt’s (my sister Callie’s) home, together with their beloved cousin! Mainly, we would visit the Acropolis and the New Acropolis Museum. Through my post I would like to share with you the way I made my guided tour as mum-guide with the children (they were 5-10 years old). I didn’t want them to see just the Acropolis and the Erechtheion! I wanted to teach them everything they would see! I wanted them to appreciate their value! I didn’t want to make just another tour at the museum simply by looking at the statues. So I am sure that the way that the tour guide was made gave them something to remember!
It is common for children in Greece to learn, during the history class, about the golden age of Pericles, the Acropolis and the Parthenon, about Kouros and Kore, Athens and Sparta, so we wanted to give them an illustration of all these! The only way to do so, was to visit the important monuments of that era in Athens. My youngest son loves Mythology since his pre-school years and from all the things he heard from his sister about the 12 Olympian Gods. So, this visit was important for him! As for my little niece, she didn’t complain not even for a single moment, and together with her cousins she was listening, observing and participating, by replying as better as she could to my questions, despite she was only five years old at that time, given that her mum had already talked to her about the 12 Olympian Gods.
Our joy for that trip was double, since it would be the kids’ first trip ever with an airplane. So, our trip begun with the best vibes, because the children would get a new experience from another one means of transport! Of course we didn’t forget to take with us the bag with their toys, so that they won’t get bored not even for a minute. Therefore, dad’s job was to book the plane tickets for the whole family.
A visit to the Acropolis with our children
A mom-guide cannot go to the tour unprepared. For that reason, I combined my knowledge as a Greek, with all those I knew that my kids had learned at school, and all those I had read at the post of Mum Maria regarding the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. I didn’t hesitate to print some parts of, so that I would give them some brief information about what we were looking at, while walking up to the Sacred Rock of the Acropolis.They certainly knew already a lot about the Caryatides, and the myth about how Athens took its name after Goddess Athena gave to the Athenians an olive tree as a gift.
How did Athens get its name according to mythology?
According to mythology, the city of Athens was named after the struggle between the goddess Athena and Neptune to protect and name the city. The two rival gods ascended the rock on the Acropolis along with the other ten Olympian gods. They would be the judges in the dispute between the two gods and make the final decision. The fight was witnessed by the king of the city, Cekropas. Neptune first took part. He stood in the middle of the rock and with his trident gave a loud hit to the ground. From there a wave of salty water sprang up, forming a small lake.Then it was Athena’s turn to present her own gift. Plant an olive tree on the rock, which was full of fruit.
Zeus then declared the end of the race and told the other gods to compare the two gifts and decide who the city should be given. King Cekropas looked at the area from the Acropolis rock and noticed that there was plenty of salty water from the seas surrounding the city. Unlike the gift that Neptune offered, the olive tree of Athena was the first to sprout all over the country. This tree would also be useful as it would provide residents with food, oil and timber. Thus, the city was finally unanimously named “Athens” in honor of the goddess of wisdom
You can buy your tickets only from the ticket office at the entrance of the Acropolis You should definitely be patient, since the queue might be very long. Otherwise you can book a skip the line ticket here or a skip the line ticket with guided tour here. In all cases, prices vary depending on the time of year.
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Tips for your visit: During hot days, it is essential to bring hats with you, wear comfortable shoes that won’t slip and airy clothes. Fans and umbrellas aren also acceptable! It is also necessary to put some sunscreen on! Water is vital! If you also need more water you can get from the vending machines next to the ticket office. Exiting the Acropolis, at the entrance of Herodeon, there are also water taps to cool down and fill your bottles! But be careful! Take your hats off!
A guided tour to the Acropolis Museum by the parents
Booking our skip the line tickets from home was life saving! It meant that we wouldn’t have to wait, not even for a single minute, in the line at the Museum’s ticket office, with three children, after two hours in the Acropolis under extreme temperatures! We went to the specific counter, and the only thing we had to do was to get a free admission ticket for the children, (till 18 years old they have free entrance to the Museum as well as the Acropolis) so that they could pass through the barriers in the entrance, where they scan the bar code.
Click here to book your skip the line tickets. After choosing the date, time and number of adults for whom you are booking the tickets, you continue with the payment.
- Free tickets onsite: EU under-18s, EU-students, non-EU kids under 5
- Reduced tickets onsite: EU-seniors 65+, non-EU students + teachers, non-EU under-18s
- Free entry: 6 & 25 Mar, 18 May, 28 Oct
See also here:
Assistant to our tour was the Museum’s Family Backpack and the quest booklets. From what I have heard, they usually don’t give both. But since the children had different ages I asked for the booklet for the Olympian Gods. The truth is that I didn’t hesitate to become a guide despite their different age. And I can tell you that I aroused the interest of all three kids. If you don’t know enough about the exhibits, the backpack and the booklet can be very helpful!
There are three Family Backpacks:
- The Parthenon Sculptures (8-12 years old)
- Archaic Colors (8-11 years old)
- In Search of the Goddess Athena (6-9 years old)
The backpack we borrowed that is aimed at 8-11 year-old children, had to do with the archaic statues and the colours used by the ancient people to paint them. It includes the Game of Discovering Details on the archaic sculptures, where colour is preserved in them, the Painting Box, that contains original mineral colours and pencils for the children to colour the Peplos Kore (we were given three copies), the DOMINO with some of the designs, in a freely selected colour variety, that decorated the clothes and earrings of the archaic Korai, as well as cards with related information and pictures.
Together with the backpack, the booklets we got at the museum’s entrance helped our guided tour a lot.
- “Counting 1 to 10 at the Acropolis Museum” (5-8 years old)
- “An invitation to the Olympian Gods at the Acropolis Museum” (8-10 years old)
We took the booklet about the 12 Gods and it was very interesting even for our little Melita. The booklet is like a treasure hunt. It guides the children to the Museum while they are looking for the 12 Gods among the exhibits. Of course, the sequence of the exhibits in the booklets is according to the sequence of the exhibits per museum part. Don’t imagine children running delirious around the museum searching for statues!
-Can you find the Pot of the picture with Hermes? Where is Hermes on the pot? Do you know its symbols? Hermes is the God…
-Here is Goddess Athena at the pediment with the gigantomachy. Whom is she fighting with? What is she wearing? Which are her symbols?
-Look for the relief in the photo. Who are these two women? Perhaps Goddess Demeter with Persephone? Do you remember their story to tell it to us?
-Now it’s Marys’ turn. Can you find the sculpture of the picture? Perhaps it is not as big as you think! What are we watching in this performance? Which are the symbols of God Mars?
These are few questions of what I was asking, explaining or heard by the children! I was so satisfied, because they knew already a lot from school and now they had the opportunity to see them in person!
Even the Caryatids, for whom they have learned a lot at school, were a pleasure to see! Not the copies of the Erechtheion, but the original ones. They felt so sad about the fact that one Caryatid is not in Greece…!
Info: From the Museum’s entrance till the part with the Caryatids photos are strictly forbidden, while at the rest of the museum they are allowed but without flash.
More questions to the archaeologists
At some parts of the museum there are archaeologists helping us by giving extra information, answering to our question with a smile and willingness.
Some rest at the Restaurant of the Acropolis Museum
During our short break at the restaurant of the Acropolis Museum we had the chance to play with the kids with the backpack’s toys. They were remarkably entertaining even for our little girl. This time dad took things in hand, since I needed to take a break!!
Did you know that the ancient Greek sculptures of the ancient era were coloured?
The ancient Greek sculptures were coloured in many vivid colours, which were made out of minerals. The sculptors highlighted the shapes they created by colouring them. For the colouring they mixed the dyestuffs in pigment form with melted hot wax or egg. With specific tools they placed it on the surface of the sculpture after having smoothened it.
The Family Backpack also included many cards with information, just like the aforementioned, that give the opportunity even to the parents, who don’t know about these subjects, to discuss with their children and learn all together. There are also cards with pictures with details from sculptures (eyes, coloured surface, legs, etc.) that children can keep during the guided tour and search to which sculpture they belong.
The library and the museum’ s souvenir shop
Of course we didn’t forget to pay a visit not only to the library with the outstanding view to the Caryatids, but also to the Museum’s shop to buy books for souvenirs. Thanos picked the book “Little visitor at the Acropolis Museum” which is interactive, Mary picked the book “The pigeons and the world of marble”, while I made a gift to Melita the book “Paris and Helen of Troy”.
Read also to find more information about the Acropolis Museum
The Glass Hall
Our visit to the museum came to its end on its last floor! This room is magical! The so-called Glass Hall! Sincerely, as much as I try to describe it to you, my attempt will still be insufficient. It is tremendous to look through the glasses at the Parthenon on top of the Acropolis, whilst looking at another one inside the museum, with its original sculptures on the pediments and the frieze of the temple. And between these two…you and your family…admiring the grandeur of your ancestors.
The kids where looking through the binoculars (from the backpack) at the details of the frieze or were painting the archaic statues with a view to the Parthenon.
I didn’t want to leave! I could stay there for the whole day! The kids were excited and after the tour they started painting. We hardly took them out of the hall!
There were only few things left of the museum we hadn’t seen…at least for that day!
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- A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
- Athens, Parthenon!!
- A walk at picturesque district of Anafiotika below the Acropolis of Athens
- The most beautiful street in Athens
- Athens, up to Filopappou Hill admiring Acropolis
In fact, if a parent has time and willingness, they can stay at the museum for hours on end with their children, who will participate in a good mood and much interest! A trip can’t be less than an opportunity not only for entertainment, but also for education!