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Acropolis Museum a tourist hot spot for Athens

Tourists are flocking to the newly opened Acropolis Museum in Athens this summer, despite the annual exodus of Athenians on vacation to Greece's islands and countryside.

Dimitrios Pantermalis, director of the new Acropolis Museum, told Xinhua in a recent interview that the new museum attracted more than 250,000 visitors from all over the world in the first month since its opening on June 20.

He said, with more than 14,000 square meters of exhibition space, the new museum was about 10 times larger than its predecessor, ensuring many new delights would be discovered among its expanded exhibits.

Unlike the old museum, visitors did not have to queue up and move together along a single route through the building. Now, it was possible to explore the museum in a more relaxed and informal way, with the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of ancient sculptures and artifacts up close.

The new Acropolis Museum is located some 300 meters from the Acropolis. It is a modern building with glass walls and floors. Visitors can enjoy the antiquities from the ancient temples while looking at the Acropolis through the glass.

From the underground excavations to the stunning Parthenon Gallery on the third floor, the museum offers visitors a refreshing, absorbing experience from top to bottom.

A visit to the museum is a pleasant, satisfying experience from the moment visitors step into the building, due to the museum's courteous, receptive staff, air-conditioned environment and a splendid collection of unique artifacts that reveal the fascinating story of the ancient Athenian Acropolis in all of its complexity.

This fresh approach is apparent even before entering the museum. The first displays visitors encounter are the excavated exposed remains of a 4th-7th century AD Athenian neighborhood, visible through glass panels beneath the museum's entrance.

Passing over these foundations into the lobby, visitors can move back in time. After the ticket turnstiles, the floor slopes upward to a wide staircase in reflection of the rising ground around the Acropolis.

The cafeteria, multimedia center and VIP lounge are located on the second floor of the museum. Outside the cafeteria is a big balcony where you can have coffee or meals with a splendid view of the Acropolis right ahead of you.

"We have always tried our best to make this new museum friendly to people and a pleasant place to stay, not only for people to visit the museum, but also for people to have coffee, meet friends and even read here," Pantermalis said.

He said he and his colleagues were now working hard to make the underground excavations more interesting and organized. He said this new museum inside the Acropolis Museum will be open to visitors in about a year's time.

(Xinhua News Agency AUgust 11, 2009)