One of the most ancient cities of the world, Athens Greece is famous as the birthplace of democracy. With a history of over 3,000 years, Athens is the best town for sightseeing. According to the myth, the city took its name after Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom and daughter of Zeus. She was the protector of the city and in fact, the temple of Parthenon on the Acropolis is dedicated to her.
The first traces of Athens date from the Mycenaean period, while it reached its peak after at the 5th century BC, known as the Golden Century of Pericles, the Athenian statesman who has inspired so many innovations for his homeland and led it to its glory. From as early as the 8th century BC, Athens was gradually developing into an important city-state for Greece, giving emphasis on culture and its naval power. But it was in the 5th century BC when great political formations were made, new buildings were constructed, including the Acropolis, the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion and the Ancient Agora, and victorious imperials wars took place so that Athens would obtain new economical sources.
However, after the Peloponnesian War and the defeat from Sparta, Athens started to decline. In the 2nd century BC, it was conquered by the Romans and gained some of its old glory, but in the Byzantine times, the city was frequently raided by northern tribes and fell into decline again.
Athens became the official capital of Greece in 1834, after a decision of King Otto. That time, Greece had just survived from a long fight for independence, the modern Greek state had just been formed and the people needed a symbol to connect modern Greece to the glorious ancient years. This is why Athens became the capital of the country and reformation plans started immediately. European architects were called to come to Greece and rebuild the capital. At that time, impressive Neoclassical buildings were constructed, including the Greek Parliament, the Greek University and the Academy of Athens.
All these ancient, Byzantine and Neoclassical sightseeing makes Athens a great town to visit. The Olympic Games of 2004 improved the image of the town, with nice transportation means and the reconstruction of old buildings. Although the center of Athens might at first discourage visitors with its disorganized appearance, there are places of historical beauty to visit, such as Plaka, Monastiraki, and Thissio.
A visit to Athens is not certainly complete without a visit to the Acropolis and the New Acropolis Museum, the Ancient Agora, and the Roman Agora. A very convenient town for walking as all sights are in close distance to each other, Athens is also a great place to travel with kids.
Except for the capital of Greece, Athens is also a transportation hub, as it has an International Airport and it is located so close to the port of Piraeus, the main gateway to the Greek islands. In the region of Attica, there are two more ports, Rafina and Lavrion, that also serve ferries to the Greek islands.