Athens is certainly very rich in museums. You can find a museum dedicated to every age in Greek history. Given that I had seen a lot of Ancient Greece, I decided toward the end of my stay to see something more modern, although ‘modern’ is relative here. I’m talking about the Byzantine period, from 500AD onward. It was when Christianity first became the religion of the state, and when glorious pieces of art were first created in support of it. Many of these can be seen at the Byzantine Museum.
As you can see, it has galleries full of beautiful Christian icons from the last 1500 years.
Most have been taken from abandoned churches and monasteries – a good thing since works like this should be preserved, and seen. Unlike in Western Europe, where churches and cathedrals are tourist attractions, Greek Orthodox churches are rarely open to the public outside of worshipping hours, so places like this museum were the only chance I had of seeing these icons while in Greece.
As you can see, the style of these works is, I think, much more intimate than those in the large Cathedrals of the UK. Perhaps it reflects the kind of worship and prayer of the East, where one’s relationship with God throughout history has and always will be a personal thing.