Athens, the capital and largest city in Greece, dominates the Attica periphery: as one of the world’s oldest cities, its recorded history spans at least 3,000 years.
No other city has contributed more to the civilization of mankind than Athens. It is the place where Socrates was born, Plato, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and many others. It is the place that humanism and democracy were born. The intellectual light that Athens created will always be alive. Today the Greek capital, Europe’s 8th largest conurbation, is rapidly becoming a leading business center in the European Union.
This bustling and cosmopolitan metropolis with an urban population of 3.3 million and a metropolitan population of about 3.8 million people is central to economic, financial, industrial, political and cultural life in Greece. The city proper has a land area of 39 km² (15 sq mi), while the urban agglomeration of Athens spans 412 km² (159 sq mi).
athens2Ancient Athens was a powerful city-state. A center for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato’s Akademia and Aristotle’s Lyceum, Athens was also the birthplace of Socrates, Pericles, Sophocles and its many other prominent philosophers, writers and politicians of the ancient world. It is widely referred to as the cradle of Western Civilization, and the birthplace of democracy, largely due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC on the rest of the then known European continent.
The heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, portrayed through a number of ancient monuments and artworks; the most famous of all the Parthenon on the Acropolis, standing as an epic landmark of western civilization.
The city also retains a vast variety of Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a small number of remaining Ottoman monuments projecting the city’s long history across the centuries. Landmarks of the modern era are also present, dating back to 1830 (the establishment of the independent Greek state), and taking in the Greek Parliament (19th century) and the Athens Trilogy (Library, University, and Academy).
Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it welcomed home the Summer Olympics, with great success.