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Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica periphery and it is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years.Classical Athens was a powerful city-state.A centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum,it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy,argely 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.Today a cosmopolitan metropolis, modern Athens is central to economic, financial, industrial,political and cultural life in Greece and it is rated as an alpha- world city.In 2008, Athens was ranked the world's 32nd richest city by purchasing power and the 25th most expensive in a UBS study.

The heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, represented by a number of ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon, widely considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. The city also retains a vast variety of Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of remaining Ottoman monuments projecting the city's long history across the centuries. Athens is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Acropolis of Athens and the medieval Daphni Monastery. Landmarks of the modern era, dating back to the establishment of Athens as the capital of the independent Greek state in 1833, include the Hellenic Parliament (19th century) and the Athens Trilogy consisting of the National Library of Greece, the Athens University and the Academy of Athens. Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics.Athens is home to the National Archeological Museum, featuring the world's largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, as well as the new Acropolis Museum.

An etiological myth explaining how Athens acquired this name was well known amongst ancient Athenians and even became the theme of the sculpture on the West pediment of the Parthenon. Both Athena and Poseidon requested to be patrons of the city and to give their name to it,so they competed with one another for the honor,offering the city one gift each.Poseidon produced a salt water spring by striking the ground with his trident, symbolizing naval power Athena created the olive tree,symbolizing peace and prosperity.The Athenians, under their ruler Cecrops, accepted the olive tree and named the city after Athena.

The oldest known human presence in Athens is the Cave of Schist which has been dated to between the 11th and 7th millennium BC.Athens has been continuously inhabited for at least 7000 years.By 1400 BC the settlement had become an important centre of the Mycenaean civilization and the Acropolis was the site of a major Mycenaean fortress whose remains can be recognised from sections of the characteristic Cyclopean walls.Unlike other Mycenaean centers,such as Mycenae and Pylos, it is not known whether Athens suffered destruction in about 1200 BC, an event often attributed to a Dorian invasion, and the Athenians always maintained that they were "pure" Ionians with no Dorian element. However, Athens, like many other Bronze Age settlements, went into economic decline for around 150 years following this.

How to Reach

By Air

Athens is served by the state-of-the-art Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (AIA) located near the town of Spata, in the eastern Messoghia plain,some 35 km east of Athens.The airport was awarded the "European Airport of the Year 2004" Award.Intended as an expandable hub for air travel in southeastern Europe,it was constructed in a record 51 months costing 2.2 billion euros,and employing a staff of 14,000.An express bus service is provided, connecting the airport to the metro system,and 2 express bus services connect the airport to the port at Piraeus and the city centre respectively. Eleftherios Venizelos accommodates 65 landings and take-offs per hour,with its 24 passenger boarding bridges,144 check-in counters and broader 1,614,587 sq ft main terminal,and a commercial area of 75,347 sq ft which includes cafes,duty-free shops,and a small museum.

By Train

The third line, not run by the Athens Metro, is the ISAP,the Electric Railway Company.This is the Green line of the Athens Metro as shown on the adjacent map,and unlike the red and blue routes running entirely underground,ISAP runs either above-ground or below-ground at different sections of its journey.This same operation runs the original metro line from Piraeus to Kifisia it serves 22 stations,with a network length of 25.6 km (15.9 mi),an operating staff of 730 and a fleet of 44 trains and 243 cars,and a daily occupancy rate of 600,000 passengers.

By Bus

Ethel or Thermal Bus Company,is the main operator of buses in Athens. Its network consists of about 300 bus lines which span the entire Attica Basin,with an operating staff of 5,327,and a fleet of 1,839 buses.Of those 1,839 buses 416 run on compressed natural gas,making up the largest fleet of natural gas-powered buses in Europe.Besides being served by a fleet of natural-gas and diesel buses, the Athens metropolitan area is also served by trolleybuses or electric buses,as they are referred to in the name of the operating company. The network operated by Electric Buses of the Athens and Pireaus Region,or ILPAP,consists of 22 lines with an operating staff of 1,137.All of the 366 trolleybuses are equipped to enable them to run on diesel in case of power failure.

Key places to visit
Temple of Olympian Zeus, Philopappos Monument, National Archaeological Museum, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Old Acropolis Museum, National Garden of Athens, Nea Filadelfeia, Kolonaki Square


Places to Visit

Temple of Olympian Zeus

Also known as the Olympieion or Columns of the Olympian Zeus, is a colossal ruined temple in the centre of the Greek capital Athens that was dedicated to Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. Construction began in the 6th century BC during the rule of the Athenian tyrants, who envisaged building the greatest temple in the ancient world, but it was not completed until the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD some 638 years after the project had begun. During the Roman periods it was renowned as the largest temple in Greece and housed one of the largest cult statues in the ancient world.

Philopappos Monument

Is an ancient Greek mausoleum and monument dedicated to Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes Philopappos or Philopappus (65–116 AD) a prince from the Kingdom of Commagene.It is located on Mouseion Hill in Athens,Greece,southwest of the Acropolis.Philopappos died in 116,and his death caused great grief to his sister Julia Balbilla,citizens of Athens and possibly to the imperial family.As a dedication to honor the memory of Philopappos, Balbilla with the citizens of Athens erected a tomb structure on Mouseion Hill near the Acropolis of Athens.His marble tomb monument is still known as the Philopappos Monument, and the hill is today known as Philopappos Hill.

National Archaeological Museum

In Athens houses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity.It is considered one of the great museums in the world and contains the richest collection of artifacts from Greek antiquity worldwide.It is situated in the Exarhia area in central Athens between Epirus Street, Bouboulinas Street and Tositsas Street while its entrance is on the Patission Street adjacent to the historical building of the Athens Polytechnic.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Is a stone theatre structure located on the south slope of the Acropolis of Athens. It was built in 161 AD by Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla. It was originally a steep-sloped amphitheater with a three-story stone front wall and a wooden roof, and was used as a venue for music concerts with a capacity of 5,000.Andrea Bocelli gave a concert at the Odeon of Herod Atticus, in September 2010, attended by George Papandreou, the prime minister of Greece and Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens, among others. All proceeds were donated to help cure cancer.

Old Acropolis Museum

was an archaeological museum located in Athens,Greece on the archeological site of Acropolis.It is built in a niche at the eastern edge of the rock and most of it lies beneath the level of the hilltop, making it largely invisible.It was considered one of the major archaeological museums in Athens. Due to its limited size,the Greek Government decided in the late 1980s to build a new museum.The New Acropolis Museum is now built at the foot of the Acropolis.In June 2007 the old museum closed its doors so that its antiquities could be moved to their new home,which opened on 20 June 2009.

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