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Plaka / Athens (click to enlarge)
 


Athens' Academy
 


Athens' Archaeological Museum
 


Athens Adrian's Gate
 


Columns of Olympian Zeus, Athens
 

Athens

Athens is the capital of Greece, one of the most ancient cities in the world, with a recorded history dating back to 3200 BC, a center of the arts, knowledge and philosophy, seat of Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum, the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy. The city’s heritage from the classical era has for centuries been evident, represented by ancient monuments and works of art, the most famed being the Parthenon, a milestone of ancient Western civilization. Also preserved in the city are Roman and Byzantine monuments as well as a small number of Ottoman monuments.

Athens boasts 17 foreign archaeological institutes or schools which propagate and facilitate archaeological research in the country. The city is home to such major international museums as the National Archaeological Museum, one of the foremost archaeological museums of the world with the largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities from the Neolithic until the Roman period, the Museum of Cycladic Art, with striking exhibits of the Cycladic civilization from the 3rd millennium BC, the Epigraphic Museum, the biggest of its kind in the world with 14,078 inscriptions mainly written in Greek by early historians up until the early Christian years, the unique international New Acropolis Museum, the Numismatic Museum, the Museum of the City of Athens and the museums of the Ancient Agora, the Byzantine and Christian Museum, one of the most important international museums of Byzantine art, and the Archaeological Museum of Keramikos. Academy of Plato, Areios Pagos, Kapnikarea, Philopappos Hill, Diogenes’ Lantern, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Pnyx, the Roman Agora, as well as various sections of the historical center of Athens that include a large number of fine neoclassical buildings, the capital’s commercial districts, the museum showcases of the Athens metro, Lykabettus Hill—all of this and more comprises a significant part of the attractions that help both the foreign and the Greek visitor to get to know better this truly unique capital city. Finally, there are numerous public and private museums that focus on Greek culture and the arts, including the Benaki Museum, the Nikos Hadjikyriakos Gikas Gallery and the P. & A. Kanellopoulos Museum. The Botanical Garden of Ioulia and Alexandrou Diomidous with a variety of natural ecosystems is the largest Botanic Garden in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Athens has been a travel destination from antiquity right up to the present day. It is also the city that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 in the Panathenaic Stadium. In 2004, 108 years later, Athens hosted the revival of the Olympic Games. Plaka, one of the most famous districts of Athens, was once the heart of the ancient city, nestled around the Acropolis hill; today it remains a number one tourist destination, together with the other very old districts of Theseion and Monastiraki. The hub of the modern-day city is Syntagma (Constitution) Square in front of the stately Greek Parliament building, housed in the old Royal Palace and bordered by the National Gardens. Neoclassical buildings, as mentioned above, are to be found scattered around the city center, these including the Academy of Athens, the University of Athens and the National Library, the Zappeion Mansion, the Numismatic Museum of Athens, also known as the Iliou Melathron or Schliemann Mansion, a creation of Ernst Ziller, the Old Parliament Mansion, the Kostis Palamas Building, and much more.

Athens has 148 theaters, more than any other city worldwide, among them the ancient Odeon of Herod Atticus which each summer hosts the Athens Festival, the National Theater, as well as such music centers as the Athens Megaron Concert Hall which attracts world famous performers. The Athens Planetarium is one of the largest and best equipped digital planetariums in the world. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, in the district of Faliro in the southern suburbs of Athens, is an environmentally sustainable, internationally acclaimed educational, arts and recreation complex which includes the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Lyric Scene (Opera House), as well as the unique 170,000 sqm Stavros Niarchos Park.

Of particular interest are certain suburbs of the northern part of Athens, such as the verdant suburb of Kifissia with its modern, luxury apartment buildings and the Goulandri Natural History Museum, and Maroussi with the Yiannis Tsarouchis Museum and the Spatharion Shadow Theater Museum.


National Library / Athens


Athens Old Parliament


SNFCC / Athens


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