Athens Greece

When it comes to history, civilization, culture, architecture, mythology, democracy and philosophy, there is no more ideal city for which to reference than Athens Greece. One of the oldest cities in the world, the recorded history of Athens dates back over 3,000 years. It is the birthplace of democracy and the cradle of Western Civilization where arguably the greatest minds of ancient times were found. Today, Athens Greece is a booming metropolis, where the past meets the present, and it is among the most popular tourist destinations on the European continent. Athens is both the capital of Greece and the country’s largest city, and it is named in honor of the Greek goddess Athena, daughter of Zeus.

Athens
Athens

Visitors to Athens Greece will find an exciting display of architecture with stunning examples of varying styles. Greco-Roman and Neo-Classical buildings dating back to Ancient Athens share city space with modern edifices, and no structure is more iconic to Athens than the Parthenon. Athens has it all, and besides offering a wealth of history, travelers to this great city will find some of the best beaches in Greece, world-class dining and shopping opportunities, a vibrant city center and enviable nightlife. Athens’ surrounding suburbs pick up where the main city leaves off, and the mountains and hills found in and around Athens, such as Lykavittos Hill, are popular grounds for diverse activities.

Ancient Athens reached its zenith in glory and continental influence in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. During this time, philosophers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were exploring and expanding knowledge and reason, and famous Greek tragedians such as Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus were penning some of the greatest literary classics. During the Golden Age of ancient Athens, the city benefitted from the influence and rule of Pericles, who was born in 495 BC and died in 429 BC. Pericles was so profoundly influential on Athenian society that the historian Thucydides dubbed him “the first citizen of Athens”. Ancient Athens rose to greatness much as a result of Pericles’ promotion of literature and the arts, and he is responsible for initiating the construction of most of the structures found atop the Acropolis today. Suggested Athens itineraries no doubt start at the Acropolis for a glimpse of the Parthenon and surrounding structures. Ideally, visitors will also make a stop at the Acropolis Museum. Persian occupation of Athens in 480 BC lasted for only a brief time, and during their hold on Athens, much of the Acropolis and its treasures were destroyed. Many of the articles that help to chronicle the history of Athens were found centuries later, and they contribute to the bulk of the Acropolis Museum’s collection. The history of Athens can be quite a bit to wrap your head around and a visit to the Benaki Museum helps the visitor to Athens put the pieces together.

Athens Greece is both hip and historic, chic and down to earth, and it is a city with a wealth of attractions that offer a myriad of things to do. Athens has more theatrical stages than any other city in Europe, and besides drama, top music events visit the city year round. Central Athens has seen a rebirth of sorts and the city center is more alive and well than other. Among the top Athens Greece attractions for shoppers, both native and foreign, are Ermou Street and the Sunday Plaka flea market. The Plaka neighborhood is the oldest of Athens, and its streets are predominantly closed to anything but foot-traffic. Plaka is a highly-commercialized hub of restaurants and shops, and among its archaeological sites is the Tower of the Winds. Ermou Street connects to the city’s central square of Syntagma, and it is among the most expensive retail streets in the world. Syntagma Square offers plenty to do and see, including the Parliament building with its Sunday changing of the guard, and within walking distance are the neighborhoods of Plaka, Monastiraki and Kolonaki, as well as many of the city’s most famous sites.

Deciding when to go to Athens pretty much depends on whether you mind the weather. Greece enjoys a fairly temperate Mediterranean climate, yet its proximity to alpine territory makes for the occasional snowfall each winter. It does get hot in the summer, and although recent strides to control pollution in Athens have been highly successful, the summer heat and dry conditions can cause Los Angeles-like conditions at times. During the summer, much of the Athens clubs and crowds head to the city’s alluring beaches. Nature lovers on a trip to Athens should consider heading to the surrounding mountains, such as Mount Parnitha. Mount Parnitha is a protected National Park, and hiking and mountain biking in and around the Athens-area mountains is quite popular among the city’s residents. There is one guarantee when it comes to Athens, and that is the fact that there truly is something for everyone here.

Top image: Tobiasvde (flickr), CC BY-SA 2.0

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