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Athens is the capital city of Greece. It is a modern, big city as the capitals of other European countries are, and more than a million people live in Athens and its suburbs. But Athens is also one of the most important cities of history. Thousands of years ago, when most of the men on earth were still ignorant savages, the learning and the science and the art of today had their start in Athens . About five thousand years ago, men first built a city where Athens stands today. They built the city around a rocky hill about four hundred feet high.
On this hill they built walled-in fortifications called an acropolis, about which there is a separate article. The people lived around the hill and farmed the land. If an enemy attacked, they could all go to the Acropolis for safety. All cities in those ancient times passed under the rule of one king after another, fought and lost many wars, sometimes were conquered and ruled by neighbouring peoples, and sometimes conquered the neighbouring peoples and ruled them. For hundreds of years, Athens rose and fell in this way.
But about three thousand years ago-not long after the year 1000 B.C. – the people of Athens began to develop a civilisation greater than the world had known before. The first step toward this was the Greek language as the Athenians learned to use it. No other language then had the words needed to write great books of science as well as great poetry and other literature. The poetry of Homer, written in this language, is still as great as any that has ever been written. In the hundreds of years that followed, the drama was born in the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and others. Three of the greatest philosophers of all time, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, taught and wrote in this Greek language.
Laws written in this language, by the great statesman Solon and others, gave Athens one of the earliest democratic governments. The Greek language is still used by scholars throughout the world. Athens became a democracy in 508 B.C. The two hundred years that followed were the times of its greatest glory. During this period the sculptor Phidias and other Athenian sculptors built the magnificent buildings on the Acropolis and carved statues that are still models of beauty. The people elected their own leaders. Athens was a ” city-state ,” which means that it was a city but also an independent country. There were many slaves, however. In 338 B.C., Athens was conquered by King Philip of Macedon, a neighbouring country in Greece. (Philip was the father of Alexander the Great, who conquered almost the entire civilised world.)
After it fell under the rule of Macedon, Athens did not become big and independent again for more than two thousand years. The Romans ruled it, then a series of conquerors until the Turks made it part of Turkey about four hundred years ago. Athens became just a small town. In the year 1834, the entire country of Greece became independent again and Athens was made the capital. It began to grow, and now is a great city again. It is the seat of the Greek Orthodox Church (also called the Orthodox Catholic Church), and the capital of the kingdom of Greece. About two thirds of all the manufacturing in Greece is done in and near Athens . The remains of many of the great buildings of ancient Athens , including the Acropolis, can still be seen there. During World War II, the Germans occupied Greece and captured Athens , but it was not damaged.
Pay homage to Athen’s most impressive legacy- the Acropolis, haggled with
the merchants in the old Turkish bazaar around Monastiraki Square and Explored the 19th-century quarter of Plaka…all before noon. Now you are ready to drink like Dionysus.
Where to crash
Styled by trendy designer Karim Rashid, the hotel has such features as a glowing-pink cube in the entrance, a rotating collection of contemporary art in the rooms, and digitally
programmed door signs.
What’s a Flagrant without checking out the nightlife?
Bars are the staple of Greek nightlife, with new establishments opening every week. In summer, many of the most popular spots, especially dance clubs, move to temporary venues along the coast (check with your hotel concierge on seasonal whereabouts of clubs).
Frequented by the under-30 crowd, these clubs are usually huge, lively, and packed.
Getting to them can be a nightmare, especially on weekends, when the coastal road, Poseidonos, becomes a kilometers-long traffic jam.
Most bars stay open at least until 3 AM. Drinks are rather steep (around EUR6) but generous, and often there is a surcharge on weekend nights at the most popular clubs. Foreigners usually get in automatically; large groups of single men may have some trouble on a busy night. Most clubs and bars do not take credit cards for drinks.
From September to May, Athen’s beautiful people make an appearance at Central to see and be seen in the cool, creamy interior while enjoying cocktails and sushi.
From May to September, Central is closed in town; it reopens on the coast as Island, which is dreamily decked out in gauzy linens and directly overlooks the Aegean.
with notes from Fodors and USA Today
Let us now visit the church of Kapnikarea. The simplest way to get there, is to return to Plateia Syntagmatos (Constitution Square) and then turn right into Odos Ermou. A few minutes’ walk along this street will bring us to this famous church.
Actually, Kapnikarea consists of two churches: the original structure, dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin, a mid-eleventh century cruciform building with a dome supported by four columns with Roman capitals, and a nave with a smaller dome, dedicated to St. Barbara, which was later added on the north. In the twelfth century the two churches were joined into one and an exonarthex with series of gabled roofs and four large bays separated by columns was added on the west. The charming little porch on the south also dates from the twelfth century. The mosaic of the Madonna and Child over the portal is, however, of modern workmanship.
The name “Kapnikarea” is of doubtful origin. Though it is generally believed that this name is derived from the occupation of its putative founder, a collector of the hearth-tax (hearth equals smoke) others contend that the name is a corruption of Kamoucharea, by which the church was also known, probably from its proximity to a weaver of Kamouchas, a Byzantine term for cloth woven with golden threads.
Let us now turn back into Odos Ermou, walking in the direction of Plateia Syntagmatos (Constitution Square), and take the first turn on the right; this will bring us to Plateia Mitropoleos.
Athens Airport is a sophisticated and a contemporary transportation hub. The airport is a civilian port for all the passengers entering and exiting the city of Athens. The airport serves as a significant seat of Olympic Air. It successfully acts as the terminal for around 16 million passengers each year. The airport has been named after the eminent Greek Statesman Eleftherios Venizelos.
The airport serves as a significant passage to Asia and the Middle East countries. You will be amazed to know that this contemporary and cosmopolitan airport has been certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration. If you are arriving in Greece, you can conveniently pick up a car hire Athens Airport to get a perfect start to your holiday.
The present airport is in the same place as the previous one. It was outdated and really needed to be updated. The towns of Markopoulo, Koropoi, Spata and Loutsa are well connected by the airport. And it is now known as one of the busiest airports in Europe. In 2006 the airport was felicitated with a Skytrax award as it was recognized as one of the best airports in Southern Europe.
One of the uncomplicated and economical ways of travelling the city is car hire Athens Airport. The city of Athens still has the ruins and the monuments of the Roman and the Byzantine monarchs that had ruled the city. The tourists are allured by the rich and the expansive cultural heritage of the city. Car hire Athens Airport is the best way to navigate the city. The nearby tourist attractions can be easily reached and viewed by car hire Athens Airport.
Athens is known as a contemporary and an idyllic destination for vacations with plethora of tourist spots and attractions. The colorful history of the city is still clearly visible by the historical and cultural imprints in the city. The mesmerizing monuments, enchanting churches and scenic location allures tourists all over the world to the city.
The tourists should view the neoclassical architectural brilliance dominating the historic city of Athens. The ancient yet sturdy building of the Athens Academy is a masterpiece and the beautifully constructed National library that has successfully housed timeless books, journals and other literary classics.
The tourist will have a great time shopping as Athens has many reputed stores, and wonderful beaches that result in entertaining tourists. The most beautiful and sun-kissed beaches include Vouliagmeni, Varkiza, Kavouri and so on. The scenic beauty, the lush green patches in the city and the impeccable architectural beauties make the city one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the world.
Athens, the capital of Greece is well connected to major international cities. The International Airport of Athens’, Eleftherios Venizelos, was inaugurated in March 2001 and was built to cater to the needs of a modern world. It is located 23 miles northeast of the city. It has 157 check-in counters and two runways that are 2.5 miles each. The airport can accommodate close to 600 flights a day. It has conference facilities, a post office, a hotel, courier service, banks, currency exchanges, ATMs and many stores and restaurants.
There are 5 international airports in Greece. They are situated in the major cities of the country namely, Athens, Corfu (Ionian), Heraklio (in Crete), Kos (Dodecanese) and Thesaloniki (near the region of Halkidiki). Some Greek islands are not directly accessible by flights. The best way to travel to these Islands is by organizing for a cab transfer from the Athens airport. The airfares to Greece between June and September and during holidays are comparatively more expensive. The weekend flights are also expensive. Of recent, many charter flights have begun operating to and from Greece. Most charter flights operate during summer.
Olympic Airways is the national airline of Greece. It operates daily flights from New York City and Boston to Athens. The approximate flight time from Athens to Los Angeles is 15 hours and from Athens to New York, 13 hours; Most European airlines connect North American cities with Greece via major European cities. Direct flights also operate from major European cities to Macedonia International Airport in Thesaloniki, Northern Greece, as well as to Corfu (Kerkira), Grete and Rhodes.
American and Canadian citizens entering Greece for a period of less than 3 months require a valid passport. There is no need to get a visa, though. Passport and visa requirements vary for tourists of different nationalities, and should be checked well in advance of the trip.
The writer Charles Caleb Colton once said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and this saying has now found its way in to common usage. Its message is clear and almost undeniable – and something that must make Athens feel a proud city.
The capital of Greece – and the country’s largest city to boot – is one of the world’s oldest cities with recorded history going back around 3400 years. In that time it has been a center for arts, philosophy and architecture and has been admired and copied from afar.
Such is the reputation of Athens that other cities around the world often try to use it to boost their own standing. In total, there are 28 cities or towns outside Greece that have incorporated Athens into their nickname.
There is an “Athens” for each of the four major compass points (including a bonus historical Athens of the West) as well as an “Athens” for many different countries, eras, American states and hemispheres.
Each has their own reason for the nickname – although some, such as the Scottish town of Troon being known as the ‘Athens of Ayrshire’ – are a little less clear.
Jyvaskyla – the ‘Athens of Finland’ – is so named because it is a city of learning, as Athens was once with the teachings of philosophers Plato, Aristotle, Socrates and many others; still popular material in curriculum today. The Massachusetts capital, Boston, is known as the ‘Athens of America’ and Colombia’s capital, Bogota, is the ‘Athens of South America’ for similar reasons. Edinburgh – the Scottish capital and the ‘Athens of the North’ – was a major center during the Enlightenment in the 18th century – while another American city (Nashville, Tennessee) is known as the ‘Athens of the South’ because of an abundance of colleges and universities in the area.
The Russian city of Tomsk had a high emphasis on education and by the outbreak of World War II every 12th citizen was a student – causing it to be dubbed the Siberian Athens.
The Italian city of Florence holds the title of the ‘Athens of the Middle Ages’ as it is considered to be the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance – a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe from the end of the 1200s to the start of the 17th century.
Other Athenian cities with cultural significance include the Indian city of Madurai (the Athens of the East), Sarospatak in Hungary (the Athens of the Bodrog – a river that runs through Hungary and Slovakia) and Lexington, Kentucky (Athens of the West).
With all this attention and willingness to be associated with the Greek capital, it’s clear to see the reason why so many flights to Athens are jam-packed with tourists wishing to see the sights that have inspired so many places around the world.
The information contained within this article is the opinion of the author and is intended purely for information and interest purposes only. It should not be used to make any decisions or take any actions. Any links are included for information purposes only.
Nightlife is Great here particularly in the core. You may likewise have a great time on one of the well-organized beaches, that are just four km. away from
You should visit likewise, the Parliament, where the kings of Greece used to reside. It now houses the Greek parliament from 1933 & it is placed at the constitution square.
The National gardens are as well very nearby. You could go up Lycabetus hill wherever there are several restaurants, cafes & shops.
The Panathenean stadium has great meaning as the 1st modern Olympic Games were carried there in 1896.
You can visit Monastiraki that is packed of little shops with Greek artifacts, Plaka with its old neoclassical houses & narrow streets full of little cafes & eating places, taverns & bars. On the other hand there is the National Archaeological museum & the National Gallery of Art. Two of the richest areas of
The heart of
So you thought that visiting Athens, Greece is all about historical monuments, museums and a dazzling nightlife? Well, think again. Athens has some natural surroundings that would astound you all within reach from your accommodation. In fact, everywhere you look there is a hill or mountain you can climb. Next time you’re in town, pack some hiking boots as well, they might come in handy. After all, this country is famous for its natural beauty.
If you open any map of the city, you will notice the mountainous regions surrounding Athens. Attika, where Athens is located, is made up of mountains, valleys and ridges. The city lies nestled in the central plain; also known as the Attica Basin. Four mountains look over Athens. To the west, lies Mount Aegaleon and to the east mount Hymettus. The other two mountains overshadow the northern suburbs of the city. Mount Penteli to the northeast and Mount Parnitha to the north. Of the four, Mount Parnitha is the tallest standing at over 1400 metres, which has also been declared a national park.
Mount Parnithais a breathtaking mountain range comprised of thick pine wood forest and wildlife. It is only 35 km out of the city and can be reached by car or public transport. It is one of the popular winter destinations for Athenians as well as visitors. In the summer, you can explore the mountain on bike and in the winter in boots or even skis. Its plentiful paths will lead you to its many caves, brooks and breathtaking views of the city below. Be prepared to meet a huge variety of flowers, bird species and foxes. If you are lucky, you might even meet some of the deer that call this place home.
Mount Pendeli, on the other hand, may be lacking in forest after some devastating fires stripped most of the mountain bare. However, it is a mountain of great historical importance; it is where the ancient Athenians mined the marble for the Parthenon. It is also home to the famous Davelis cave; a place few people dare visit. Shrouded in mystery and superstition, it is known for strange sightings, sounds and a creature that haunts deep within. Taking a trek up this mountain and be rewarded by the remains of its ancient past and panoramic view of the city, the mountain range and the sea.
Mind you, you do not have to go that far for a good hike. Right in the centre of the city lies Mount Lykabettus. This is basically a hill made of limestone that protrudes out of the heart of the concrete jungle. It has a rich green landscape at the base with a white top; a perfect contrast to the backdrop of the sparkling blue sky. The climb is quite challenging and few are willing to take the risk, but once on top, the view will astound you. Lay back and enjoy a coffee at the cafe as you watch the sunset behind the Acropolis.
Before you decide to make your way back to your room, take in the view a little more. Watch the Parthenon and the rest of the city light up. Look around you and notice the shadows of the mountains as they retire their glory for the night. Finally, walk through the many local neighborhoods and breathe in the faint floral scents of their blooming gardens.
The heart of present day Athens is fashionable Plateia Syntagmatos which lies below the imposing mass of the Old Royal Palace. Plateia Syntagmatos, which translated means Constitution Square, commemorates the constitution granted by Othon I in a proclamation from the balcony of the Palace on the night of 3rd September 1843.
The OLD ROYAL PALACE, which since 1935 has housed the Parliament, was designed as the residence of King Othon, at his own and his father’s expense, by the Bavarian architect Friedrich Garther and built between 1834 and 1842.
At the foot of the west facade of the Old Palace is a large square bounded on three sides by walls on which, in evocation of the ancient custom of hanging the victor’s shield in the temple, are set bronze shields flanked by the names of the many victories won by Hellenic arms since National Independence. Built into the center of the retaining wall is the TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER, a relief impressive in its simplicity, which depicts a dying hoplite. This work is by the sculptors Constantinos Demetriades (1881-1943) and Phokion Rok (1886-1942), and was unveiled on 25th March (National Independence Day) 1932.
South of Plateia Syntagmatos lies Leophoros Amalias, which is so called after King Othon’s consort, who, with the horticulturist Friedrich Schmiedt, created the delectable retreat adjoining the Old Royal Palace that we know today as the NATIONAL GARDEN. The National Garden is open daily from sunrise to sunset and the shade of its multitudinous trees provides a cool and peaceful oasis in the heart of the city.
On the east side of the Garden are the busts of Capodistrias and Jean-Gabriel Eynard, a great Swiss philhellene who donated large sums of money to the cause of Greek Independence. Both these busts are the work of the famous Pelopennesian loannis Kossos. Other busts in the National Garden are those of three leading Greek poets of the 19th century: Dionysius Solomos of Zante, who is considered the national poet; Aristotle Valaoritis, also a native of the Ionian Islands, and Jean Moreas, which was the nom-de-plume of loannis Papadiamantopoulos, an Athenian who lived the greater part of his life in Paris.
Contiguous to the National Garden is a large public park called ZAPPEION after the brothers Evangelos and Constantinos Zappas of Epirus, who donated it with its splendid exhibition hall to the Nation. On either side of the entrance to the exhibition hall stand statues of the donors, that of Evangelos by loannis Kossos; that of Constantinos by Georgios Vroutos. Among the many pieces of statuary by famous sculptors is the bust of loannis Varvakis by the master Leonidas Drossis. Varvakis is best known as the founder of the renowned boys’ school, the Lykeion Varvakeion, for the endowment of which he bequeathed his huge fortune. Other busts include those of Constantinos Paparrighopoulos, the greatest historian of Modern Greece, of Stephan Dragoumis, the most prominent political personality during the Macedonian struggle (1903-1909), and of George Souris, the leading satirical poet of his times.
A short distance from Plateia Syntagmatos, on the right of Odhos Panepistimiou, we come to a Renaissance edifice of Italian inspiration. This is the NUMISMATIC MUSEUM, which contains a rich collection of Greek, Roman and Byzantine coins, cameos and seal-stones. Built by the noted architect Erst Ziller in 1878, it was the private residence of the illustrious archaeologist Henry Schliemann.
Still keeping on the right-hand side we come to a five-storeyed building situated at the corner of this street and Odhos Omirou. Here are the premises of the ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY, built entirely in marble. The classical motif of the magnificent bronze door with its richly painted and gilded surround and the ceiling coffered in a delicate blue and gold deserve the greatest admiration. Besides creating the first National Archaeological Museum the Society, which was founded in 1837, has excavated sites all over the country.
Immediately after the Archaeological Society’s premises stands the ROMAN CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL. As the Latin inscription shows, the cathedral was begun in 1853, completed in 1887, and dedicated to St. Dionysius Areopagite. It is a three-naved basilica designed by Leo von Klenze (1784-1864), Bavarian Court architect and master-plan ner of modern Athens, and built under the direction of Lysander Kaftanzoglou (1811-1885), the outstanding Greek architect of the period.
Adjoining this edifice is the OPHTHALMIC HOSPITAL, a Byzantine-style construction designed by Theophil Hansen (1813-1891, the younger of two Danish brothers, both distinguished architects), in 1847, and completed by Lysander Kaftanzoglou four years later.
Just beyond the Ophthalmic Hospital is an ensemble of neo-Classical buildings: on the right the Academy, in the middle the University, and on the left the National Library. All three were gifts to the Nation from wealthy patriots; they are the most sumptuous monuments of Modern Greece.
The HELLENIC ACADEMY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES, a meticulously accurate reproduction of an edifice of the Classical period erected in the graceful Ionic order by Theophil Hansen at the expense of Baron Georgios Sinas, was begun in 1859 and completed in 1875.
The nine sculptured pediments and all the statues before the Academy are the work of the Athenian master Leonidas Drossis. The relief in the central pediment, which portrays The Birth of Athena, and the two gigantic statues of Apollo (right) and Athena (left) standing on tall columns, one on either side of the principal facade, are particularly impressive. The seated figures flanking the short flight of steps leading to the portico represent the philosophers Socrates (right) and Plato (left).
The portico consists of a double row of columns. The coffered ceiling is painted in bright blue and gold and the door opening into the vestibule has a surround of classical inspiration executed in brilliant color and gilding. A statue of the donor Baron Sinas stands on the right of the vestibule, while the interior of the Academy Hall is decorated with eight superb panels by the Oldenburg painter Christian Griepenkerl (1839-1916), depicting scenes from the Myth of Prometheus.
Visitors to the University will be surprised to see a statue of William Ewart Gladstone, standing on the right of the lawn surrounding the forecourt. The dedication on the plinth of this statue immortalizes the prominent part played by the great British statesman in the deliverance of Epirus and Thessaly from Turkish oppression, and their return to the Motherland in 1881.
The statues at the top of the steps leading to the entrance commemorate the great philologist Korais (1748-1833), ardent patriot and “father” of the Modern Greek literary language (right), and Capodistrias (1776-1831), first Head of State (1827-1831) and one of the major architects of modern Greece.
The UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS was founded in 1836, and was initially established in a large house which Schaubert and Cleanthes had built in Plaka (the old quarter of Athens) when they first came to Athens in 1831. This building, at the corner of Odhos Prytaneiou and Odhos Tholou, is still standing and is converted into a museum devoted to the earlier history of the University. The present University buildings were designed by Christian Hansen and the foundation stone laid by King Othon in 1839. The central building was ready for use in 1842, but owing to lack of funds, the buildings as a whole were not completed until 1850.
A colonnade with a handsome portico in Pentelic marble fronted by two Ionic columns with gilded capitals, and a coffered ceiling in blue and gold in harmony with the classical motif of a painted and gilded door surround, gives access to the interior of the main building.
On the upper part of the wall a fresco by the celebrated Austrian painter Karl Rahl (1812-1865) shows the resurgence of arts and sciences under King Othon. Statues of two national heroes, Patriarch Grigorios and the martyred poet Rhigas Pheraios, stand respectively at the right and left angles of the facade.
The NATIONAL LIBRARY, which is built of Pentelic marble on a foundation of poros, consists of a central building in the form of a Doric temple, with two wings. It was planned by Theophil Hansen in 1887 and the work executed under the supervision of Ernst Ziller, at the expense of the Valianos brothers of Cephalonia in 1901. A statue of one of these munificent benefactors, Panayis, stands outside the central building, and those of his two brothers Andreas and Maris inside the entrance hall. All three statues are the work of Georgios Bonanos.
The eminent philologist Andreas Moustoxidis on the island of Aegina formed the nucleus of the Library in 1827. The books were brought to Athens in 1833 and stored in the beautiful church of St. Eleutherius (the “Little Cathedral”). In 1842 they were removed to the first floor of the central building of the University – which had just been completed – where they remained until the National Library was inaugurated in 1903.
In recent years many fine nineteenth century buildings have been demolished and unimaginative concrete structures built on the sites, so that with the exception of the Ionian Bank of Greece on one corner of Odhos Pezmazoglou and the former buildings of the Arsakeion College for Girls (founded in 1836) on the other corner over the Doric portico, built at the expense of Apostolos Arsakis of Epirus in 1848, nothing remains of the splendid buildings that once lined both sides of this street of central Athens.
Continuing along Odhos Panepistimiou for a short distance, we turn right into Odhos Patission. A few hundred meters further down, on our right, stands a construction in the finest Pentelic marble, in which two educational institutions of University status are established: The POLYTECHNIC SCHOOL (Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Naval, Chemical and Mining Engineering, Architecture, and Topography) and the SUPERIOR SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS (Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Engraving, etc.). Two wings in the Doric order serve as propylaea to the central building of two storeys, the lower erected in the Doric order, the upper in Ionic. This edifice is the work of Lysander Kaftanzoglou, who built it between 1862 and 1880, and owes its name -METSOVION POLYTECHNEION- to the fact that the principal donors Nicholaos Stournaras, Michalis Tositsas and his widow Helen, were natives of Metsovo in Epirus.