What is Athens: the history of the city, sights, photos

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What is Athens: the history of the city, sights, photos
What is Athens: the history of the city, sights, photos

What is Athens? This is a city that is the capital of Greece. Famous for its ancient history and glorious past. It attracts the attention of tourists with famous monuments of architecture, myths and legends, as well as an unusual culture.

Where is the city of Athens?

Where is this amazing place? The city of Athens is located in the southeast of Greece, or rather, in the coastal prefecture of Attica. It is surrounded by mountains on three sides:

  • Pendels;
  • Parnita;
  • Egaleo.

Washed by the waters of the Aegean Sea. Throughout the year, the capital is warmed by the rays of the Balkan sun. The ancient city of Athens has a very unusual and complex relief. It was formed from twelve hills and many plains.

History of the city of Athens

Many are interested in them as an archaeological and cultural center of antiquity. Beautiful Athens… What city in the world can boast such a significant contribution to the culture of mankind as this one? According to historical facts, the city was named after the goddess Athena, who was famous for her wisdom and military strategy.

In one of the legends it is said that a dispute arose between Athena and the god of the sea Poseidon. They both wantedrule the ancient city. To resolve this issue, the court of the gods took place. It was decided that the ruler would be the one who brought the city the most valuable gift. Poseidon struck with his trident, thanks to which a source of sea water appeared in the rock. When the goddess struck with a spear, an olive tree sprouted from the ground. The court decided that the victory must be given to her. This is how the famous city of ancient Greece, Athens, appeared.

It was in this city that democracy was born. World-famous sages and philosophers were born here, while others came here to get an education. Answering the question of what Athens is, we can safely say that this is an open-air temple created by the greatest geniuses. Even today you can look at the remains of architectural masterpieces. Various amphitheaters, sacred temples, beautiful mountains and mysterious caves still amaze tourists to this day. Archaeological excavations, which gave us the Acropolis and not only, also cause a feeling of admiration among those who came to see them.

There is no other place like Greece and the city of Athens that has had a huge impact on the history of civilization. It was here that such great philosophers as:

  • Socrates;
  • Aeschylus;
  • Plato;
  • Euripides;
  • Sophocles.

This is one of the most ancient cities, because even in the I millennium BC. e. he was the most influential of all existing in the state. During this period, the heyday of Greek civilization falls. The "Golden Age of Greece" lasted throughout the 5th-4th centuries BC. e. Citywas the main cultural and scientific center of the Western world. It was thanks to him that Western civilization further developed. The best poets, artists, scientists, philosophers, playwrights and sculptors lived in Athens.

The Greek city of Athens was founded in ancient times. In 490 BC. e., when the Greco-Persian war took place, the famous Battle of Marathon took place 40 km from Athens. The inhabitants of the city, together with the Plataeans, defeated the army of the Persians, despite the fact that it was superior in numbers, and this happened under the leadership of Miltiades.

However, ten years later, Athens faced an attack by Xerxes I, as a result of which the sanctuary on the Acropolis was destroyed. In 480 BC. e. there was a battle at Salamis, after which the fleet of Persia was destroyed by Themistocles on September 20, and its ruler had to flee.

In 431 B. C. e. the war came to Greece again. Athens and Sparta are the cities between which the confrontation began. Due to the fact that the city was suffering from the plague, he failed to win. As a result, the fortress walls were completely destroyed. Even today, remains of the city's fortifications are still being found, especially on the banks of the Piraeus.

After these events, the city began to flourish again and was a center of education and science, but this continued until the late Roman period.

In 86 B. C. there was another capture of the city. The army under the command of Sulla staged a months-long siege of Athens, after which the soldiers robbed the city for three days. Sulla wanted to completely destroy it, but he was visited by a delegation of the Athenians, whoreminded him of how great this city had been in the past. The ruler listened to them and changed his mind.

Due to the fact that the Byzantine Empire adopted Christianity, in 529 AD. e. famous philosophical schools of the city were closed. As a result, the cultural center, which had been such for thousands of years, lost its value and gradually turned into a provincial town.

The rebirth of the city of Athens falls on the XI-XII centuries. The capital acquired many new Byzantine churches, and this period was called the Golden Age in the development of the art of the empire. At this time, the city was enriched by trade, like Corinth with Thebes. Over time, Athens became the main center for the manufacture of soaps and paints.

In the future, the best knights of Italy, Byzantium, and also France fought for the rule of the city - from the 13th to the 15th centuries. Then the power over Athens passed to the Ottoman Empire, which was then led by Sultan Mahmed the Second Conqueror. It happened in 1458. The Sultan was greatly impressed by the beauty and grandeur of the ancient architecture, so he forbade anyone to touch the ruins. And the Parthenon became the main mosque of Athens.

The Ottoman Empire began to weaken at the end of the 17th century. The population has decreased significantly, and the quality of life has become much worse. Because of this, the Turkish authorities did not take care of the ancient buildings so much, and the Parthenon served as a warehouse for weapons. During the Venetian siege of the city, the temple was badly damaged, as a shell hit it. The powder kegs that were stored in it exploded.

When Athens was proclaimedthe capital of Greece, their population was 5,000 inhabitants. It happened on September 18, 1883. It was from that day on that the city of Athens was the capital of the Greek kingdom. Over the next decade, it gradually turned into a modern town.

1896 is remembered in history as the year of the First Summer Olympic Games. Then in the 1920s there was another rapid growth of the city. At that time, many new quarters were built, which were intended for Greek refugees. As a result of World War II, the capital was occupied, so there was a lack of food for some time.

City attractions

What is Athens? First of all, it is an ancient city that was the scientific and cultural center of Greece. It is famous for its many interesting sights, which come to see from all over the world. Let's take a closer look at the most famous attractions in Greece, the city of Athens, photos of which will be presented below.

Plaka District

Athens - the city of the state of Greece, whose history is connected with antiquity. Therefore, it is necessary to get acquainted with it from an inspection of its most famous sights. The Plaka area is one of them. It is located under the ancient hill of the Acropolis.

This is the most beautiful and oldest historical area of Athens. Walking along the narrow streets, which are decorated with flowers and greenery, the tourist seems to be returning to the past, and time stops. Every traveler should definitely visit this area to see what traditional Greek houses used to look like.

Alsoyou should visit some small tavern to experience all the hospitality of Greece.

Plaka area
Plaka area

Famous Acropolis

After walking through the old district, you must not be too lazy and climb the famous Acropolis. Most likely, you have heard about this rock, which has a flat top, and a classic Greek temple is located on it. In the past, there were many different sculptures and sanctuaries on the mountain, but only such temples as the Erechtheion, the Parthenon and the temple of Nike Apteros have survived to this day.

In addition, the hill offers an amazing view of the entire capital, which seems to be scattered below. Looking around the temples, you can get acquainted with the ancient culture of Ancient Greece, as well as learn a lot of interesting things about its history.

The famous Acropolis hill
The famous Acropolis hill

Archaeological Museum of Athens

The country itself and its capital are called a large open-air museum, which is not surprising. However, in order to get better acquainted with the rich architectural and cultural heritage, you should visit the archaeological museum of the city. It has more than 20,000 exhibits that will tell you about different eras, from early civilizations to antiquity.

Here there are a large number of figurines, bronze items and jewelry, household utensils, as well as ancient ceramics. Therefore, everyone should visit it to learn more about the ancient Greek culture and the history of the city of Athens.

Dionysus Theater

Many people know about the existence of Greek amphitheatres, and the most ancient of themlocated in Athens. His photo is presented below. The famous theater of Dionysus was built in the 5th century BC. e. The room was designed for 17,000 spectators who visited it to watch the performances of Aristophanes, Sophocles and Aeschylus.

These days, tourists love to visit the theater to check out its fantastic acoustics. For example, if one person says something while standing in the orchestra, then the other, who is on the very top row, will definitely hear it. If you don't believe me, check it out yourself.

Theater of Dionysus
Theater of Dionysus

Tower of the Winds

Despite its romantic name, the purpose of the tower of the winds was more than mundane - it was a weather station. This valuable architectural monument was built in the 1st century BC. e., so it is a must visit.

Also, there is a hydraulic clock that indicates the time by the sun. Particular attention should be paid to the friezes of the tower, which depict the gods of the wind, and below them is the marking of the dial, since the tower once served as a giant clock.

Temple Parthenon

First of all, this is the greatest monument of ancient Greek culture, which impresses with its size and majestic view.

Made of marble, it was dedicated to Athena. According to legend, Zeus wanted to get rid of his daughter, who was still in the womb, so he decided to swallow them whole. However, she did not give him rest. Because of this, the supreme god wished to remove her from her head. When this happened, Athena was in armor, and in her handholding sword and shield. The father decided to build a huge temple for his warlike daughter, the construction of which continued for fifteen years.

Temple of the Parthinon
Temple of the Parthinon

Port of Piraeus

Can you imagine Greece without the sea? The history of the state is closely connected with this element. If you have visited Greece, then be sure to go to the Athenian port of Piraeus. Book yourself a walking tour of the port to learn interesting stories and stories about its past and present life.

It also offers a magnificent view of the capital. Fresh sea air, blue sky, the sound of the sea and a beautiful view of scattered white houses will not leave anyone indifferent.

Port of Piraeus
Port of Piraeus

National Garden

The National Garden is one of the quietest places in the city where you can relax and unwind. It will not be difficult to get to it, because the garden is located not far from Syntagma Square, almost immediately behind the Parliament.

Here there is a pond that gives its coolness, as well as shady alleys that hide tourists from the heat. The garden is proud of its ancient ruins, the remains of ancient mosaics and columns that have survived to this day. In addition, here you can visit the botanical museum, as well as a mini-zoo, so there will definitely be something to do here.

Museum of Folk Art

Greece is not just a place where many ancient temples and statues have gathered. To get to know this state from the other side, you need to visit the museum, which presents exhibits of Greek folk art.

Only here you can appreciate the whole variety of Greek folk crafts. There are various products made of metal, wood, as well as clay, which are decorated with inlay and carving. There is a whole hall, which is completely filled with traditional carnival costumes. Among other things, there are weapons and an exposition of silver items. There are also puppets from the national theater called Karagiozis, which depict scenes taken from the daily life of the city and its inhabitants.

Museum of Cycladic Art

Fans of constantly learning something new should definitely visit the Museum of Cycladic Art. With it, you can learn about the culture and life of those civilizations that lived on the coast of Cyprus and the Aegean Sea.

Most attention is drawn to the collection of figurines that depict everyday scenes from the life of ancient people. For example, household activities, hunting, family scenes. Also here is the rarest Cypriot antiques - gold, bronze, silver and glass items of amazing work.

Temple of Zeus

The largest temple of Athens, the photo of which can be seen below, is the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The width of the temple was 40 m, and the length was 96 m. The construction of the building began in the 6th century BC. e., and the work was completed in the II century AD. e. The temple had columns, the height of which reached 104.17 m. Today, only 15 columns can be seen, the 16th fell to the ground due to a storm that occurred in 1852. She is still lying in the same place.

The structure was first excavated in 1889-1896. ATfurther excavations were carried out by Greek and German archaeologists. Nowadays, its ruins are considered one of the most important historical sights of the city.

Temple of Olympian Zeus
Temple of Olympian Zeus

Cape Sounion and Temple of Poseidon

Locals and tourists love to visit Cape Sounion. Walking around this romantic place is recommended in the evening.

People come here to watch the beautiful sunset, which becomes even more unique due to the fact that the ruins of the temple of Poseidon are located nearby. By the way, on one of the columns of the temple there is an autograph that belongs to Lord Byron.

Lycabettus Hill

For lovers of climbing, the city has the highest hill called Lycabettus. Its height reaches 277 m above sea level.

Acropolis and Lycabettus can be compared with two huge pillars that rise above the capital of Greece. This place offers an amazing view of the city and the Acropolis, which is beautifully illuminated by spotlights in the evening. Also on top of the hill is the white-stone chapel of St. George, which was built in the 19th century.

Amazing Agora

If you have been to the Acropolis, then descending from the northern side, you must visit the Agora. This attraction ranks third in the list of those who are interested in the history of the city.

In the past, the market place was located here, so the Agora in our time is an important center of the social life of the ancient city. Here it is worth seeing the Temple of Hephaestus, which is very wellpreserved, as well as the gallery of Attalus.

Acropolis Museum

You should pay attention to the history of the construction of this structure. One of the reasons it was decided to build the museum was that Greece had long wanted to get the artifacts back. The latter were kept in the British Museum, and got there due to the fact that they were taken out of the country by Lord Elgin.

The British did not want to return the artifacts, explaining that in Greece there is no special building that can provide decent conditions for the preservation of valuable things. Therefore, the Greeks built a museum that corresponded to all modern technologies, but they failed to return the lost one.

However, despite this, the museum has something to see, so it is worth a visit. In addition, the building has a very interesting design, which seems to be floating in the air. This was done in order not to harm the ancient artifacts that are under it.

Temple of Hephaestus

One of the most popular attractions among tourists in the city of Athens, the photo of which is below. It is located on the northwestern side of the Agora. For centuries, the temple looked like an Orthodox church. Over time, it was recognized as a national historical monument, inside which a museum was equipped. In the last century, the structure was restored to its original form.

This temple is the best preserved. It was built from durable marble. Previously, historians, as well as archaeologists, were sure that the temple was erected in honor of Theseus. This is due to the fact that on the walls of the buildingthere are pictures of it. However, statues of Athena and Hephaestus were later discovered inside the attraction, so experts abandoned their previous statements.

There is a souvenir shop near the temple where tourists can buy interesting and unusual things that remind them of the majesty of this place.

Temple of Hephaestus
Temple of Hephaestus

Constitution Square

Syntagma is the tourist center of the city of Athens. Also called Constitution Square. This place will not be missed by any tourist, because it is located in the very center of the city.

The square has its own attraction - the monument to the unknown soldier, which was erected in 1932, when the country celebrated Independence Day.

Tourists' favorite entertainment is watching the changing of the guards of the National Guard, who are dressed in military uniform. There is a changing of the guard every hour, so be sure to check out this colorful show.

Stay recommendations

In order to see all the sights that were planned, as well as to spend your vacation calmly and without problems, you need to read some recommendations for staying in Greece:

  1. Check in advance the opening hours of city exhibitions and museums. After all, their work schedule may change, and on some holidays they may even be closed.
  2. Be very careful when crossing the street as local drivers are not very familiar with traffic rules.
  3. This is the most expensive taxi in all of Greece. If the drivercannot tell you the exact amount of the trip, and asks for more than 30 euros, it is better to refuse it.
  4. This is a very calm city where you can walk around even at a late time and not be afraid that something bad will happen. There are many 24-hour establishments here that are a must-visit to see Athens at night.
  5. Any service personnel must be rewarded for the services that have been rendered to you. In cafeterias and restaurants, tips are approximately 10-15%.
  6. Smokers can have complete peace of mind in this city as smoking is allowed everywhere. It is almost impossible to find prohibition signs.
  7. In city pharmacies you will not only be consulted, but will also have your blood pressure measured for free.
  8. Most of the beaches here are public. But pay attention to the fact that if there are umbrellas and sun loungers on the coastal zone, then most likely you have to pay for equipment rental.
  9. Women should refrain from walking alone in remote parts of Athens. It is recommended to do this accompanied by someone.

Now you know what Athens is. An amazing city, the history of which is admirable. Ancient sights, reminiscent of its majesty and significance, you will certainly like it. If you love to travel, then be sure to visit here to feel the spirit of antiquity and admire the best creations of great people.