Greece // Athens and around //

The National Gallery

Despite housing some 9500 paintings the National Gallery is a bit of a disappointment. Its core collection is of Greek art from the sixteenth century to the present, and of the artists shown here only El Greco is well known outside Greece. One of the few modern painters to stand out is Nikos Hatzikyriakos-Ghikas (Ghika), well represented on the ground floor. On the mezzanine is a small group of canvases by the primitive painter Theophilos. Perhaps more interesting is the large temporary exhibition space, often hosting major travelling exhibitions. Near the National Gallery lie what are believed to be the fourth-century BC foundations of Aristotle’s Lyceum – where he taught for thirteen years and to which Socrates was a frequent visitor. Surrounded by museums, this seems an appropriate place for it, but important as the discovery is for scholars, there’s nothing actually to see.