ATHENS

Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts And eloquence.

~John Milton

Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. It is one of the world’s oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years, and its earliest human presence starting somewhere between the 11th and 7th century BC.

It is in many ways the birthplace of Classical Greece, and therefore of Western civilization. The design of the city is marked by Ottoman, Byzantine, and Roman civilizations.

It is a large cosmopolitan metropolis and central to economic, financial, industrial, maritime, political and cultural life in Greece. It is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Acropolis of Athens and the medieval Daphni Monastery. It was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics.

History of Athens

Athens first appears on the pages of history around 1400 B.C., at which time it was already a major cultural center of the Mycenaean civilization. It has been continuously inhabited for at least 7000 years. Beginning as early as 900 B.C., it became a leading trade center within the Greek world, owing to its central location, possession of the heavily fortified Acropolis and its quick access to the sea.

By the beginning of the 6th Century B.C., the foundations of democratic reforms were laid in Athens by Solon, and full democracy was achieved by 508 B.C. under Cleisthenes. By this time also, the Athenian navy had grown large and powerful enough to assist the Ionian regions of Asia Minor in their rebellion against Persian rule, which lasted from 499 to 493 B.C.

The revolt ultimately failed, however, and Athens’ support of the rebels incensed King Darius of Persia to the point of launching an all-out invasion of Greece in 492 B.C. Athens and Sparta led a coalition of Greek city-states against the invaders and defeated them, but Athens was nonetheless sacked twice by the Persians before the war’s end.

Following the Greek War of Independence and the establishment of the Greek Kingdom, it was chosen as the capital of the newly independent Greek state in 1834, largely because of historical and sentimental reasons.

In 1834, it became Greece’s capital, and in 1896, it hosted the first modern Olympics. In 1922, after the Greco-Turkish War, many Ionian refugees flooded into Athens, and the city also grew exponentially during the 1950’s and 60’s. Today, it is a metropolis and a major world tourist attraction.

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