Read about the city

Athens is one of the world's great historical cities with an ancient heyday about 2,500 years ago. The influence of the Greeks on the whole world in the form of democracy, science and the arts was led from Athens, and as a tourist in the city one immediately and almost all the historical elements are felt.

Today, Athens has just under 4 million inhabitants. The city is modern and laid out according to a town plan that was developed after Greek independence in 1834. Straight streets and large squares are part of the elegant 19th century town, but here too there are very clear roots back to ancient times; among other things through the impressive neoclassicalism in which many public buildings were erected.

The Acropolis is the top attraction of the city and the country, and the beautiful temple ruins with the Parthenon at the head are high on the Acropolis cliff above the city, and they can be seen knowing. A trip to this is a must, and beneath the building lies the remains of the entire ancient city. The large and distinguished Acropolis Museum provides insight into the ancient Acropolis with beautiful finds and excavated effects.

Just a few steps away you enter Plaka, one of the most atmospheric neighborhoods in central Athens. In the narrow streets there are many of the tavernas whose Greek food is for some the best of the whole visit to the Greek capital.

Other attractions

Annunciation Cathedral, Athens

  • The Annunciation Cathedral/Καθεδρικός Ναός Ευαγγελισμού της Θεοτόκου: This is the cathedral of Athens, and it is also simply called the Great Metropolis. The church was founded in 1842 when King Otto and Queen Amalia laid the first stone. Marble from 72 former churches was used for the cathedral walls.
  • National and Capodistrian University of Athens/Eθνικό και Καποδιστριακό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών: This is the University of Athens, founded in 1837 by King Otto as the first in Greece. Today, it has grown to be one of the largest educational institutions in the country.

Olympieion, Athens

  • Olympieion/Ολυμπιείον: Temple Olympieion is also known by the Temple of the Olympian Zeus/Ναός του Ολυμπίου Διός, and it was for a long time the largest temple in Greece. Construction of the colossal temple was started in the 5th century BC, but it was not completed until the year 131.
  • Athens Academy/Aκαδημία Αθηνών: Athens Academy is the Greek National Academy and is one of the most important research institutions in the country. It was founded in 1926 and is headquartered in Theophilus Hansen's beautiful neoclassical building, completed in 1885.

Roman Agora, Athens

  • Roman Agora/Ρωμαϊκή Αγορά: In the Roman Empire, the city forums were the political and commercial centers, and it was no different for Athens. The Roman agora is preserved as beautiful ruins where you can see the Tower of the Winds and the Gate of Athena Archegetis.
  • Monastiraki Square/Πλατεία Μοναστηράκι: Monastiraki Square is one of the most vibrant in the Greek capital. It is located right by the old Roman trading center and is named after the small Pantanassa Church that can be seen on the square. The church belonged to a now disused monastery and was called Small Monastery or Monastiraki in Greek.

Greek Parliament, Athens

  • Greek Parliament/Βουλή των Ελλήνων: Greece's current parliament building was built in the years 1836-1843 in neoclassical style as royal palace of King Otto I and Queen Amalia. After the abolition of the monarchy in 1924, the castle had various uses before it became a parliament building in 1934.

National Library, Athens

  • National Library of Greece/Βαλλιάνειος Εθνική Βιβλιοθήκη: The Greek National Library was built in the period 1888-1902 according to drawings by Danish Theophilus Hansen. The building was designed in beautiful neoclassical temple style.
  • Panathinaiko Stadium/Παναθηναϊκό Στάδιο: Between the hills of Agra and Ardetto, in 566 BC created a stadium to hold the Panathenaic Games, the ancient Olympic Games in honor of the goddess Athena. The current marble stadium dates back to Herod Atticus' stadium from the 100s, and is a reconstruction that was completed for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
History overview

    [expand title="Read about city history" id="historie2" swaptitle="Hide content"]
    Early History and Democracy
    Athens history begins with the Greeks' settlements of the mainland several thousand years ago. This part of the story is not documented, so historical events cannot be ascertained with certainty.

    Theseus is attributed to having assembled the cities of Attica under Athens during this time, thereby establishing the city's dominant position, which will continue throughout the following times. Around the year 1000 BC the city of Athens experienced increasing material prosperity and a significant development in, for example, art and pottery.

    About 600 BC economic and social reforms were implemented. During the same period, trade increased abroad, and Athens expanded its territory, including the island of Salamis. The city was a highlight in ancient times, but the time was also marked by a settlement in the nobility of the time, not least economic conditions in property rights.

    The 500s BC was marked by changing rulers and tyrants in power in Athens. Towards the end of the century, the nobility, together with the city state of Sparta, fought against the burgeoning popular desire for co-determination, which was stated by Kleisthenes. Kleisthenes ended up gaining power, and he gave in 507 BC the power of the people in the form of the world's first democracy. There was representation of many social classes under the new state order; even the slaves.

    The Persian attack
    Greece is called the cradle of democracy, and already in the years after 507 BC democracy and its institutions evolved continuously. The Citizens' Assembly met, and in Athens in the past, power struggles were muted.

    From the outside, the threat came primarily from Persia and Emperor Darius, and several battles were fought between the Athenians and the Persians. In 490 BC were the Persian armies close to Athens, but were fought back at the Battle of Marathon. Darius' successor as Persian ruler was called Xerxes, and 10 years later he sent a large fleet against Athens, which again overcame the Persian attack. However, Athens had been attacked and the city suffered significant damage.

    The Great Age in the 400s BC
    Decades after the Persian attack in 480 BC was characterized by a rising democratic spirit and a high degree of positive self-understanding in Athens. It was in contrast to Sparta, which was not a democracy. There was disagreement between Athens and both Sparta and Persia, and it came to several fights. Athens' navy dominated the sea, and land on the Peloponnese from Sparta also succeeded. In 445 BC however, the Athenians found it convenient to make peace with the Spartans, and Athens had to renounce conquests on the Peloponnese.

    During the same period, Athens had built a solid new defense of the capital, including walls from Athens to the port city of Piraeus. With the large fleet, the city-state had also formed alliances with, for example, several Ionian islands, and all the states and cities subject to Athens paid money to the city.

    In order to avoid Persian attacks, the Deli Sea Federation had been formed. Athens, which had emerged from the Persian wars, became the leading city state in the federation. Over the years, more and more assignments moved to Athens, so in reality a larger state was led by and from Athens. The financial payments from other states in the Union were used to erect several new buildings on the Acropolis to replace those that the Persians had destroyed. This time was the height of Athens at that time, and a building like the Parthenon manifested the power of Athens.

    However, several disputes soon followed, and in 431 BC. erupted the Peloponnesian War, with the Athens empire facing city states on the Peloponnese with Sparta at the forefront. The war started when Athens intervened in a settlement between the city of Corinth and its rebel colony Kerkyra. Athens ruled the sea, but could not resist the repeated onshore attacks carried out by the Peloponnesians in the following years. Athens also launched a campaign in 415-413 BC, which devastated the state, which over the years also lost allies and thereby revenue. The war ended with a peace in 404 BC, when Athens was forced to destroy defenses, surrender its navy and settle under Sparta. Politically, the Spartans deployed the so-called 30 tyrants as a replacement for Athens's democracy, but the oligarchs' government could not hold, and in 403 BC. democracy was reinstated.

    Victory of Sparta and Recession
    With a humiliating peace treaty in 404 BC Athens would have had to rely on Sparta, which generally showed some handiness in dealing with its alliance partners. This allowed the Athenians, together with Thebes and Corinth, to start the Corinthian War in 395 BC. The Sparta's fleet was destroyed in 394 BC, and subsequent allies with Athens also won victories on land. The war was won and a peace agreement was concluded in 387 BC. With it, Athens gained its freedom and retained some territorial possessions.

    After the victory over Sparta, Athens regained its leading military status for a while and rebuilt a large navy and gained many allies, but with King Philip II of Macedonia's coronation in 359 BC. started from the north a conquest journey south towards Athens. The final battle in which the Greeks lost to Philip II's Macedonian armies was fought at Khaironaia in 338 BC. Thereafter, Athens had to recognize Philip II as the leader of the Greek country.

    Philip II's son, Alexander the Great, ruled in Athens over an extensive Macedonian / Greek kingdom. Alexander the Great died in 323 BC after successful conquests in Asia and Egypt, where he founded Alexandria, among others.

    The reign of the Macedonians lasted well over a hundred years, and during most of that period democracy was working in Athens. For short periods, Macedonian leaders introduced other and more authoritarian governments, but democracy was the pervasive political system in the city. Athens was liberated from the supremacy of the Macedonians in 229 BC, after which the city became part of the Achaean League.

    The era of the
    Roman Empire The Roman Empire was at this time an increasing power factor around the Mediterranean, and in the period 211 BC to 167 BC Rome fought three wars against Macedonia, and Athens was on the side of the Romans. It benefited Athens, which was given new land.

    The Roman Empire prevailed over Macedonia, but the kingdom grew significantly more. In 146 BC Rome had subordinated itself to all Greece and also Athens, which maintained a form of independent freedom; however, subject to a superior Roman rule with provinces. However, Athens was nearing a devastation that was going to cost the city dearly.

    Athens took part in internal strife in the Roman Empire, and during the First Mithradic War, Athens was home to General Archelaos, who fought against Rome. Roman General Sulla won after fierce battles in 87 BC, after which Athens' defenses and industry were destroyed. It adversely affected the city's economy and status for a long period.

    However, Athens remained a university city, with Plato's Academy having been here since the 380s BC. In spite of a poorer economy, it gave the city the attention of the Romans; also among the emperors. Thus, Athens' ancient history and cultural heritage gave rise to new growth under Emperor Hadrian, who ruled in the years 117-138. The emperor built new in Athens, thereby flourishing for a time.

    For centuries, however, was a changeable period in the history of Athens. The Romans initiated major building projects, yet the importance of the city dwindled; especially in relation to Thessaloniki. Christianity was introduced and plunder of Athens occurred several times; for example by the Goths in the year 267 and by Alarik I's troops in 395.

    In the year 330, the Roman emperor Constantine moved the capital from Rome to the Greek city of Byzans, changing its name to Constantinople. In 395, the Roman Empire was divided into the Austro-Roman respectively. the Western Roman Empire. In the following centuries, Athens was exposed to several attacks. As a university city, grants continued to Athens, and so the greatness of antiquity was almost stopped when Emperor Justinian I closed Plato's Academy in 529 AD.

    Medieval Athens
    After the demise of Plato's Academy, Athens was quickly reduced to a city of no interest and publicity. The many monuments and edifices of antiquity still stood and were maintained by the Christian Church, which erected some former pagan temples for churches. By the middle of the 8th century, Athens had become the seat of an archbishop, enabling the city to retain some of its formerly significant spirituality.

    Otherwise, the coming of the Middle Ages was a time when Athens and the city's population were poorer, and the regime and the rulers changed several times. In 1204, Constantinople fell for Frankish Crusaders, and Athens came under 107 years of Frankish rule. In 1387, Florentine Nerio Acciajouli became leader of the city, and he settled as former ruler of the Acropolis. Under Acciajouli, a Greek-Catholic archbishop was appointed, acting in addition to the Roman Catholic, who since the Franks had also had a seat on the Acropolis.

    In the coming time, Athens came under changing rule. Venetians and Turks fought for power, which the Acciajoulians could, however, retain mainly until 1458, when the Turkish Ottomans came.

    The Ottoman Centuries
    After a relatively peaceful period under Italian rule, in 1458, Athens was occupied by the Muslim Turks who ruled from Sultan Mehmet II's Constantinople. The conquest brought nearly 400 years of Turkish supremacy over Athens.

    The Great Temple Parthenon was converted into a mosque and a harem was also erected on the Acropolis. It was clear that the Turks would manifest power, but the Greeks were given freedom to cultivate their Christian faith, and economically Athens was not taxed in a way that stalled development.

    The Ottoman Empire gradually became weaker, and in the 19th century it could not maintain its Greek territories, characterized by the desire for freedom of the occupying Turks. It was also during this time that the British Thomas Bruce, known as Lord Elgin, gained the Turkish authorities' acceptance of removing priceless art treasures from the Parthenon outside the will of the Greeks.

    Increasing opposition to the Turks ended in 1821 with an independence war, which ended after a long struggle with Greece's recognition as an independent kingdom in 1830. Athens became the capital four years later and the Bavarian prince Otto was inaugurated as Greek king.

    The Free and Independent Greece
    In the new and independent Greek country, Athens was the natural choice as the capital. It was the cultural, economic and administrative center of the country, and there was a tremendous construction work in connection with the many new institutions to be built in the new state. In addition, there was a rebuilding after the Ottoman era, when Athens' great cultural heritage had not been maintained and archaeologically maintained, as the Greeks started it in the latter half of the 19th century.

    A new city plan for a larger expansion of Athens was developed in the area north of the Acropolis. The plan included rectangular streets, large squares and many new buildings. To the east the Syntagma square was planned, and to the north Omonia was to be established, and the Greek royal palace was thought here, though it was to be erected at Syntagma. It was a large-scale plan for the city, which in 1833 had just about 4,000 inhabitants.

    The Greek state did not simply initiate archaeological work in Athens, for example, removing new buildings on the Acropolis. Many other places in Greece were also newly built, which happened among other things with the Corinth Canal and a general expansion of the railway network.

    In ancient times, Olympic games were held, and the same kind of games started in Athens in the 1860s with such success that the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896 in Athens. It happened at the newly constructed marble-panate stadium, which was inspired by ancient buildings.

    The 20th Century to Today
    The beginning of the new century continued when the 19th century ended. There was considerable activity in Athens during those years, and in 1906 the Olympic Games returned to the city in the form of the Anniversary Games, which were held to mark the decade of the first modern games.

    In 1914, World War I broke out, and the war caused the Ottoman Empire to collapse, among other things. After the war, battles between Greece and Turkey remained. The fighting started in May 1919 and lasted until October 1922, not least because of the Greeks' desire to regain the Greek territories of Asia Minor. The western allies had given Greece these views, but the result was despite the fact that the territories became part of the Republic of Turkey.

    A consequence of the Greco-Turkish war was that a large exchange of people between Greece and Turkey took place. For Athens, this meant that new districts were being built to house some of the many Greeks who had to move from Greek territories in Asia Minor. Due to the exchange, Athens's population increased from 473,000 to 718,000.

    With World War II, Athens and Greece entered a new great war. During this war, the country was attacked by Italy and subsequently occupied by German, Bulgarian and Italian troops. The Germans occupied Athens, which was liberated in 1944. During the war, a strong communist army had been built, and a civil war between communists and royalists was fought in the years 1944-1949.

    After the end of the long civil war, Athens and other major Greek cities grew as a result of the urbanization that drew people from rural areas to work in the cities. As the capital, Athens was the most attractive and it grew these years.

    The civil war was over, but Greece had not become politically stable for that reason. From 1952 to 1967, a number of unstable governments led the country. In April 1967, the military took power in Athens, and a number of colonels headed a military junta, which King Constantine eight months later tried to oust. This was unsuccessful, and the king was set aside and had to go into exile.

    The military junta led the country until 1974, when Greek democracy was reinstated. In 1975, the country was given a new constitution and just six years later Greece became part of the European Community. The membership led to increased investment in the country and not least in Athens business.

    The Greek capital came back into the spotlight in 2004, with the city hosting the Olympic Games again. For the occasion, Athens' infrastructure was greatly expanded, including a new airport, new metro lines and new sports facilities. The games were a great success and they provided new economy and tourism to the city.

    In recent years, despite the international economic downturn and much discussion about the Greek economy, new visitors have nevertheless been built to the delight of the many visitors who flock to Athens to become acquainted with the world of antiquity. An example of this is the distinguished Acropolis Museum, which has excellent collections and exhibitions from the Acropolis 'and thus Athens' long history.
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Athens, Attica, Greece

Top attractions

Acropolis, Athens

  • Acropolis/Ακροπόλεως: The Acropolis of Athens is an icon of Greece, and it is a magnificent plant set above the Greek capital on a 150 meter/490 feet high mountain. The name Acropolis means the high city, and it was once a city within the city. Today there are many beautiful sights such as the Parthenon Temple.
  • Acropolis Museum/Μουσείο Ακροπόλεως: The Acropolis Museum's exciting exhibitions are spread over several floors, showing themes and eras around the history of the Acropolis.

Parthenon, Athens

  • Parthenon/Παρθενών: The Parthenon is a magnificent temple on the Acropolis. It stands as the landmark of Athens and Greece, and it is one of the world's most famous buildings. It is a marble temple built 447-438 BC in honor of the goddess Athena.
  • Hefaistos 'Temple/Ναός Ηφαίστου: Hefaistos' Temple is the best-preserved Doric temple in Greece. It was built in the years 449-415 BC and basically stands as if it could still be used. From the 600s to 1834, the building served as a church.

Plaka, Athens

  • Plaka/Πλάκα: Plaka is located at the northeastern foot of the Acropolis Hill. Plaka is one of Athens's old and very cozy neighborhoods. Here there are narrow streets and small squares with various sights and lovely restaurants.
  • National Archaeological Museum of Greece/Εθνικό Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο: The National Archaeological Museum in Athens offers exciting experiences from Greece's distinguished history. It is one of the world's finest museums of its kind with lots of ancient treasures, sculptures, vases and much more.

Lycabettos, Athens

  • Lycabettos/Λυκάβηττος: Lykabettos is the highest hill of Athens with a peak reaching 277 meters/908 feet. You can take a funicular to the top, from where there are stunning views of Athens; eg to the Acropolis. Here you can also see St. George's Chapel, built 1782-1785.
Trips in the area

Piraeus, Greece

  • Piraeus/Πειραιάς: Piraeus is the port city of Athens, and is conveniently located by metro from the capital city center. One arrives at Piraeus' railway station, which in itself is worth a look. From here, the city opens up with cozy streets and many wonderful restaurants along the water.
  • Glyfada/Γλυφάδα: Glyfada is one of Athens' most fashionable suburbs along the coast, and on a hot day, a visit here can be refreshing. Here are beaches, and a little to the south you can jump into warm water in Lake Vouliagmeni.

Cape Sounion, Greece

  • Cape Sounion/Σούνιο Ιερό Ποσειδώνος και Αθηνάς: At the southern tip of the Attica Peninsula one can experience one of the world's most beautiful temples. It is a Poseidon Temple/Ναός του Ποσειδώνα, located at the top of the 60-meter/196 feet-high mountain of Cape Sounion.

Dafni Monastery, Athens

  • Dafni/Δάφνι: Located on the northwestern edge of Athens, is the Dafni Monastery / Μονή Δαφνίου, a highlight of the Byzantine building style. You can e.g. experience are series of fine mosaics in the monastery buildings.
  • Eleusis/Ελευσίνα: Eleusis northwest of Athens was founded around the year 2000 BC. The city developed into a large fortified area and its religious importance in the Greek area gradually increased.

Corinth Canal, Greece

  • Corinth Canal/Διώρυγα Κορίνθου: In ancient times, the site of the present Corinth Canal was used to transport boats and one would be able to save a lot of sailing time by building a canal. It was dug between 1881 and 1893 and has a length of 6.3 kilometers/3.9 miles.
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  • Athens Metro Mall, Leoforos Vouliagmenis 276 / Λεωφορος Βουλιαγμενης 276,
  • Athens Heart Mall, Piraeus 180, Tavros / Πειραιώς 180, Ταύρος,
  • River West, Par. Leoforou Kifisou 96-98, Egaleo / Παρ. Λεωφορου Κηφισου 96-98, Αιγαλεω,
  • Hondos Center, Ermou 39 / Ερμου 39,
  • Empoli Outlet, Ifigenias 73 / Ιφιγενείας 73,
  • Shopping streets: Ermou / Ερμου, Aeolou / Αιολου, Academias / Ακαδημιας, Monastiraki / Μοναστηρακι, Plaka / Πλακα, Kolonaki / Κολωνακι
With kids
  • Amusement park: alloú párko / αλλού πάρκο, Agios Ioannis Rentis / Άγιος Ιωάννης Ρέντης,
  • Railway Museum: Sidirodromikó Mouseío Athinón / Σιδηροδρομικό Μουσείο Αθηνών, Siokou 4, Sepolia / Σιώκου 4, Σεπόλια,
  • Zoo: Attikó Zoologikó Párko / Αττικό Ζωολογικό Πάρκο, Yalou, Spata / Υαλού, Σπάτα,
  • Beaches: Along the street Leoforos Posidonos / λεωφόρος ποσειδώνος
Practical info

    • Athens Metro Mall, Leoforos Vouliagmenis 276 / Λεωφορος Βουλιαγμενης 276,
    • Athens Heart Mall, Piraeus 180, Tavros / Πειραιώς 180, Ταύρος,
    • River West, Par. Leoforou Kifisou 96-98, Egaleo / Παρ. Λεωφορου Κηφισου 96-98, Αιγαλεω,
    • Hondos Center, Ermou 39 / Ερμου 39,
    • Empoli Outlet, Ifigenias 73 / Ιφιγενείας 73,
    • Shopping streets: Ermou / Ερμου, Aeolou / Αιολου, Academias / Ακαδημιας, Monastiraki / Μοναστηρακι, Plaka / Πλακα, Kolonaki / Κολωνακι