It's impossible to miss the glass-and-concrete façade of this 21,000-square-meter (226,000-square-feet), startlingly modern museum—there's nothing else like it within miles of the Acropolis. The museum's top floor houses the all-important Parthenon Gallery. On display is all that that was left behind in Greece of the Parthenon frieze, or 36 of the 115 original panels. Beside the original panels are stark white plaster casts of the panels taken (stolen, most Greeks would say) to England, where they have been on view as the "Elgin Marbles" in London's British Museum for more than two centuries. The Acropolis museum is often crowded, which makes it difficult to take in the great number of artifacts, statues, sculptures, and free-standing objects on display. If possible, arrive at least 15 minutes before the museum opens to be among the first, or an hour before it closes, when the museum may be less thronged. The facility was built for two reasons. The first was to have a place to put 4,000 items (10 times more than in the previous Acropolis museum) on display. The second reason was a bit more complicated: The museum is a pointed reminder of what is not on display and represented here by those plaster casts. Greek hopes spring eternal that someday the marbles will return to the city from where English Lord Elgin took them in 1801. Until then, many of the loveliest items on view are tiny and displayed in small cases, and when tour groups press through, it can be hard even to see the cases, let alone their contents. The museum shop and café are both excellent, and you get a smashing view of the Acropolis from the terrace. Have a look at the basement and subterranean excavations, which reveal both ancient and early Christian settlements of Byzantine Athens. Allow at least 2 hours for your visit, with a break at the café