CAMU in Athens
A Meditative Promenade
In the center of Athens, CAMU is part of a larger, open museum. From one of Athens’ best-known pedestrian boulevards, Dionysiou Arepagitou, which tracks the southern slope of the Acropolis, a short walk up Theorias Street leads to CAMU, in the corner of Theorias and Panos streets, a route characterised by Paul Canellopoulos as a “meditative promenade”.
Uniquely positioned, CAMU is in direct conversation with the northern slope of the Acropolis, as well as many archaeological sites.
A number of exceptional monuments dominate the wider area of the Acropolis, including the Theatre of Dionysus the Areopagite, the Ancient Agora, Hadrian’s Library, the Roman Agora, the National Observatory of Athens, the Hill of the Muses and Philopappou Hill. The small Byzantine church of Saint Nicholas (from the 16th or 17th century) used to stand adjacent to the Museum. In the 18th century, the Ottomans constructed the “Wall of Ypapanti” to protect the Acropolis Castle, and converted the church into a “bastion”, a tower built into the wall. It was named “Tabya of the Lion”, in other words the “Lion Bastion”. This not only gave its name to the surrounding area, but it was also the main entrance to the Acropolis during Ottoman times. Today, only some sparse ruins of this important monument survive.
Along with CAMU, a number of other Museums are located in the area, including the Acropolis Museum, the History Museum of the University of Athens, the Museum of Modern Greek Culture, as well as the Museum of Greek Folk Art and the Tzisdarakis Mosque.
The Museum’s Neighbourhood
The neighborhoods that surround the Museum reveal the historical and social evolution of the city of Athens. With CAMU as a starting point, the visitor can explore and witness Greek history and art through the streets of the Athenian center.
Plaka is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, situated on the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis. When Athens became the capital of the modern Greek state in 1834, Plaka emerged as the center of the city. The upper class of the period initially chose the neighborhood to locate their mansions. While now Plaka has been mostly declared an archaeological site, it still remains a vibrant part of the city, attracting many visitors each year, who wish to explore its archaeological and cultural past, present and future.
In between Plaka and the Ancient Agora once stood the neighborhood of Rizokastro, which is no longer particularly well known. It is an old upper-class district, on the northern side of the Acropolis, its name meaning “at the root of the Castle”. Rizokastro was also the name of the medieval fortification of Athens, a part of which has been revealed and is being preserved today in CAMU’s basement.
Very close to CAMU is the unique neighborhood of Anafiotika. Picturesque and brimming with a Cycladic energy, the district was created informally by craftsmen, builders and carpenters, most of whom had moved to Athens from the island of Anafi in the mid-19th century to assist with the reconstruction of city.
The visitor becomes witness to Greek history and culture in the ages, not only through CAMU’s unique collection of antiquities, but also in the streets of its neighborhood as well.