Welcome to Athens

Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece, as well as one of the most ancient cities in the world. Its residents have included Aristotle and Plato, and other world-famous philosphers, intellectuals, and academics. Athens is also known for its many ancient sites, such as the Parthenon.

This travel guide will go through everything you need to know before traveling to Athens, Greece. Sit back and enjoy.

Map of Athens


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Top attractions

Acropolis Hill and Parthenon

The Acropolis of Athens is a hill in Athens on which sits the Parthenon Temple, and several other ancient sites.

Acropolis, Greece by Alex Galenko on 500px.com

Acropolis Museum

The Acropolis Museum is an archaelogical museum in Athens focusing on the ancient treasures surounding the Acropolis.

Acropolis Museum by Zisimos Zizos on 500px.com

Syntagma Square

Syntagma Square is a popular gathering place and the central square of Athens.

Syntagma Square by Yhun Suarez on 500px.com

Temple of Olympian Zeus

The Temple of Olympian Zeus is an ancient ruined Hadrian-era temple.

View of the Temple of Olympian Zeus by Júnior Braz on 500px.com

Plaka

Plaka is a historic neighborhood and tourist hotspot, in Athens.

Athens by milan gonda on 500px.com

Anafiotika

Anafiotika is a famous Athenian neighborhood, that is known for its restaurants and delicious food.

Historic Athens district by Zisimos Zizos on 500px.com

Panathenaic Stadium

The Panathenaic Stadium is an ancient Olympic stadium in Athens.

PANATHENAIC STADIUM ATHENS 3 by Avraham Bar on 500px.com

Monastiraki

Monastiraki is an area of Athens that is known for its markets.

Panaghia Kapnikaréa Church

Panaghia Kapnikaréa Church is a beautiful Byzantine-era church of the 11th century, in Athens.

Weather and Climate

Athens, situated in Greece, has a typical Mediterranean climate with very warm summers.

Question: What is the ideal time to visit Athens?

Answer: The best time to visit Athens is from March to May.

ATHENS WEATHER

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History

Although Athens has been inhabited since Neolithic times, the first civilization to form in the region was the Mycenaean civilization. The Acropolis was the site of a major Mycenaean fortress, during this time. Athens quickly grew into one of the largest urban centers in the Greek World, and was ruled by a land-owning aristocracy led by a king. The king and his council met on the Hill of Aries. Athens also quickly expanded and gained control of a large portion of the Attic Peninsula. After civil unrest starting in the 7th century BCE, the king ordered reforms to the constitution and democratic reforms started to take shape. The new constitution forbid the enslavement of Athenian citizens, and the city state gradually became more democratic.

The first aqueduct tunnel was constructed in Athens in the 4th century BCE and civil unrest followed in the 3rd century, with a series of dictatorships and assassinations. This changed with the reforms of Cleisthenes who prioritized local government and each Athenian citizen having a voice over politics. Athens also became a rival of the city state, Sparta, and the two militaries frequently clashed. Athens eventually defeated Sparta but it was trapped in a long cold war with the city state of Thebes, formerly an Athenian ally.

In the 4th century BCE, Athens also faced external pressure from Iran, leading to the Greco-Persian Wars. In the period between the Greco-Persian wars and the Macedonian Conquest, Athens became an international center for intellectualism, philosophy, and academics. Figures such as Plato and Aristotle, Socrates and Aristophenes, resided within the city. Great monuments like the Parthenon were constructed during this time. Athens lost its independence with the rise of Macedonia and Alexander the Great, but soon fell under Roman rule. The Roman leadership appointed a series of dictators, known as tyrants, to manage Athenian affairs. Athens was invaded and destroyed by a German kingdom known as the Heruli, in the 3rd century. After the Roman Empire collapsed, Athens joined the Byzantine Empire, and was governed from Istanbul, then known as Constantinople.

During the Byzantine era, the Latin language declined and Greek became the primary language spoken in Athens. Many works of art and statues were taken from Athens to build and adorn Istanbul. Athens was also not keen on adopting Christianity as the rest of the Greek World did, and maintained paganism for several centuries. Athens was frequently raided by Arab Muslims in the 8th and 9th centuries, and was also conquered and partially destroyed by Western Europeans during the Crusades.

Starting in the 13th century, Athens was ruled by the French, and later the Spanish. For a brief period, Athens fell under Italian rule. Athens was captured by the Ottoman Turks in 1458, and was ruled by Sultan Mehmed II. Under Ottoman rule, the population of Athens swiftly declined and in the 16th century it became “just a small country town” with an impressive history. In the 17th century, the Turks began storing explosives, gun powder, and ammunition in the city. For a brief time, Athens was occupied by the Italians again, but Turkish control was soon restored.

In the 18th century, Athens prospered once again, and many tourists, especially from the UK, visited the city. After Greece became independent, Athens became its capital, and a prince of Bavaria, became the country’s king. Many important buildings were constructed in the 19th century such as the University of Athens, National Library of Greece, and the Presidential Palace. During World War One, Athens was occupied by the Germans, and after the occupation the civil war between democrats and communists severely damaged the city, as did the later outbreak of the Greco-Turkish War. Athens grew steadily after the end of the Second World War, and after Greece joined the European Union, more funding was allocated to ambitious infrastructure projects.

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