Capital of Greece

The oldest inhabited city in the world, the cradle of democracy and Western civilization as we know it today, was begun as a small fortified village built on top of the Acropolis rock as far back as 3.000 years B.C.

Its first name was Kekropia deriving from its mythical founder and first King Kekrops until such time as the competition between the god Poseidon and the goddess Athena, as to who would become protector of the young and rising city, was won by Athena, who offered the gift of the olive tree and gave the city her name.

The city of Athens grew from a small fortified habitation on top of the Acropolis rock into one of the most powerful city -states of the ancient world and produced some of the most famous philosophers, artists and writers, their names world famous through the history of the human race. There are few who dont know the names of Socrates, Plato, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Phidias and many, many more. Through the centuries, Athens absorbed the near-by smaller towns, finally dominat-ing the whole of Attica, creating one of the most powerful alliances in ancient Greece. In time, Athens abolished royalty and became the first democracy in the world, a fact that helped it to grow even more, becoming so powerful that was able to fight off foreign invaders like the ancient Persians and with the assistance of other Greek cities, to win famous battles such as those of Marathon and Salamis, a preamble to the final conquest of Persia by one of the world's greatest soldiers and statesmen, Alexander the Great.

As is natural, Athens is full of museums and archaeological sites of the utmost interest, as more or less, is all of Greece, and one can almost follow the glory that Athens was through a visit to the Acropolis museum, the National Archaeological museum, the museum of Keramikos and naturally the ancient Acropolis where one of the architectural wonders of the world, the Parthenon, the temple devoted to the goddess Athena, can be seen and admired.

After the conquest of Greece by the Romans, the importance of Athens started to wane and by the time the 1,100 year Byzantine Empire fell to be succeeded by 400 years of Turkish rule, Athens became little more than a village. As an example, the population of Athens in 1834, when it was declared capital of the newly liberated state of Greece, was about 12.000. From then on, Athens grew steadily to the very large city that it is today boasting a population for the whole area of around 4 million.

Modern Athens, as you will see in the pages that follow, is a cosmopolitan city which offers the foreign visitor unlimited possibilities for excursions, sightseeing, night life - you name it, Athens has it.

Literally thousands of traditional eating places, tavernas, with or without music but always good, inexpensive food can be found in the city and its suburbs, along with hundreds of restaurants of every style and nationality. Numerous nightclubs vie for the visitor's attention with the uniquely. Athenian type of open-air cinemas and theatres. All types of shopping is available, from the famous Athens flea market, Monastiraki, to the most sophisticated boutiques. Thousands of bars, pubs, and snack - type eating places, including the famous souvlaki stands, are to be found, ready to service the needs of a great variety of customers.

Today's Athens, is a modern city, but it still has its aura of ancient glory which becomes evi-dent when one takes an evening stroll in the old city.

Athens is a place to see and experience. It may not be what it once was, but it still has a lot of unique experiences to offer, especially to those ready, willing , and able to understand and appreciate its unalterable beauty.


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