Inside Athens

Athens is one of the world’s most culturally endowed cities and holds the promise of cosmopolitan pursuits as well as many entertainment and educational possibilities.


Athens is the country’s most important cultural, commercial and industrial centre, with some 4 million people living in the capital and its suburbs. Omonia and Syntagma Squareare are the city’s most crowded points, Plaka, Monastiraki and Thission are the districts that attract both tourists and locals since they represent the most beautiful and best preserved parts of the old city. Kolonaki, the most and boasts the most luxurious and expensive shops. Koukaki, Mets, Pagrati, Ghazi, Votanikos, Kerameikos are the most up-and-coming neighbourhoods, where old neo-classical homes are restored and their cultural and nightlife offerings are multiplying steadily. Kypseli is the third most densely populated district per square metre in the world. The northern suburbs have the most modern high-rise office blocks and shopping centres and they also claim tree-lined streets with large villas surrounded by spacious gardens. The western suburbs are composed of working-class neighbourhoods and the city’s factories. Eastern Attica is famed for its tavernas and rotisseries, and it also has a number of summer houses. Southern Attica, the Athenian Riviera, from Neo Faliro to Sounion, is the most important summer retreat for both locals and visitors, with its beaches, nightclubs, second homes and luxury hotels. Nevertheless, its ancient and more recent monuments, its museums, its sights, its attractive, lively traditional districts, the wonderful sunny Attic climate, and its fascinating past are more than enough reasons to spend some time here.


Athens has been inhabited since the Neolithic era and around 4000 BC the hill of the Acropolis and the area around the Ilissos river saw their first settlements. The Mycenaean period was as brilliant here as in the Peloponnese. The palace belonging to the city’s ruler was built on the Acropolis in the late 15th c. BC. By the late 13th c., fortifications had been erected and the locals were living peacefully with Ionian tribes who had entered the Greek mainland. Four centuries later, the various settlements of Athens were united and the city-state was born. From 1050 to 700 BC, the foundations were laid for a civilization that would contain the seeds of Western thought and art. During the Archaic period, authority passed from the king to the hands of the aristocracy and in 624 BC Dracon established a legal system, which was replaced in 594 by that of Solon. Kleisthenes became chief archon in 508-507 BC, while Pericles ruled from 460 to 429 BC. This period would come to be known as the Golden Age when Athens rose to its zenith in terms of cultural, intellectual, economic and political achievements. The city became the centre of the ancient world, arousing envy in the Spartans and Corinthians.
Thus in 431 BC, the Peloponnesian War broke out between the Spartans and Athenians, with victory eventually falling to the Spartans. In 404 BC the Athenians were forced to destroy their walls and surrender their ships. The Macedonians respected the ancient city although the Athenians resisted their expansionist plans and fought against them at Cheronea in 338 BC. After the Roman conquest, Athens became part of the Roman empire. Later, under the emperor Hadrian mainly, it regained some of its former glory. Franks, Burgundians, Catalans, Venetians and Byzantines took turns ruling it, until it passed to Ottoman domination in 1458 AD.
In 1833, the city was liberated once and for all after a series of uprisings. By then it was just a village, devoid of any lustre, yet on 1 December 1834 it was declared the capital of the new Greek state. It was rebuilt according to new specifications and reclaimed its place as the centre of the Hellenic world. It has paid for the privilege with galloping growth since the Second World War when it was flooded with new residents from the Greek countryside seeking jobs, schools and hospitals.

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