What is there to say about the cradle of civilization?
In an attempt to express our admiration, we invite you to have a look at a world map. Then, hide the part were Greece stands, and imagine the world without its contribution to the –western world. Would there have been Democracy? Or, Philosophy? Theater? Olympics? Mathematics? Or even, Christianity? Would we have the privilege of using the thesaurus of the Greek language in science and in so much more? Would we be who we are?
It might seem as exaggerations but one who has studied some basic history of the region, knows it is not. Democracy has not a clearer symbol than the most perfect and imitated building ever built, the Parthenon, whose roof stands on the columns as parallelism for the “system-roof” and the “people- columns”. Philosophy and theatrical plays had the liberty of thriving grace to centuries of progressive legislation. Athletics were born initially as an opportunity to promote life, health, piece and binding between the members of the city society or the city-states of ancient Greece. Christianity would not have had the same impact if the most long lived empire ever, Byzantium(a.k.a. the Eastern Roman Empire), had not been the first to “adopt” and straighten the teachings of Christ through the scriptures.
The immensity of the Greek civilization has one every day proof.: Half the words we use in Latin and Slavic related languages have a Greek rout (grace to Great Alexander’s love for his Greek identity). So, even when you say “kiss me”, you are actually speaking the words of Homer’s Odyssey (Odysseus said to Penelope when he finally returned and faced her!).
So, indeed, the above comes from a Greek, but is there anyone to object to the fundamental service of Greece to the world?
Off course, you will visit Athens and Greece not only for the rich history and culture, documented in attractions, museums, streets, historic buildings and to its welcoming and worm people, but also for the absolutely fabulous landscapes, the gorgeous sandy beaches and the sunny crystal waters of the mythical islands and the picturesque mainland, the colorful sunsets and for the world famous Greek cuisine and parties.
Athens offers all you can imagine, it is really “breathtaking”, as mentioned by the official campaign of the city currently: one can say that the world is a small place, only after visiting Athens.
It is estimated that the city of Athens has been established as a city since 1400 B.C. It was build around the acropolis hill, just like all other ancient cities, due to the grate strategic importance hills had at those ages. Around 800 B.C. the city was united and for the first time, we find the Panathinaia, the leading fest of Athens in honour of the goddess Athena. Around 8th and 7th centuries, the four tribes of the Athenian population rotate in power, in 624 B.C. the legislation of Dracontas consists of the famously strict laws, and Klisthenis in 508 B.C. laid the foundations for the Athenian Democracy.
The city reached to its prime around the "golden century" of Athenian Democracy, (the 5th century B.C.), a while after Periklis (490-429 B.C.) took charge of the Democratic Party and the First Peloponnesian War came to an end. It is the era of the Parthenon, Socrates, the Sophists, and the three great dramatists, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides for whose plays we still crowd at the cashier office of the Athens Festival every summer, as well as the Ancient theatre in Epidavros, where most revivals are staged.
The unique spiritual and artistic flourishing of Athens come to its decay as a result of the Second Peloponnesian War (431-421 B.C. and 416-404 B.C.), the humiliating Athenian defeat in Sicily by the Lakedemonians, followed by the prosperous period of the greek city sate of the Macedonian Dynasty and the Roman domination.
The rising of the Eastern Roman Empire, Byzantium, was rapid. The need for a safer seat led the Roman Empire to the establishment of a second capital, Constantinople, in 323 AD, around which Greek population was concentrated and thrived. The new empire adopted Christianity and rejected the previous pagan religion, destroying statues, temples and symbols, although eventually handed down the torch of the antiquity treasures for the European enlightenment period.
Within the long history of Byzantine ruling in the region, the Greek language and civilization was past on, Christianity was divided in 2 main directions, Orthodoxy and Catholicism and waves of eastern tribes were held back, maintaining the borders of the eastern world.
In 1204, due to internal malfunction, corruption, weariness of wars against eastern tribes and abandonment of the navy, the city was assaulted and weakened by the western crusaders, and in 1453 it finally fell in the hands of the Ottomans. The Greek population lived under Turkish occupation for about 400 years, during which the language, the religion, the history and the culture survived.
Early in 19th century the circumstances allowed the Greek Revolution to manifest and the region was liberated, little by little, from the Turks. In 1834 the Greek State was established. In 1896 the first modern Olympic Games took place in the Stadium Kalimarmaro that stands wonderfully even today. The greatest politician of the 20th century, Eleftherios Venizelos, achieved great improvements for the State in internal and external affairs. In 1922 during the war against Turkey to regain the Minor Asia region were the Greek population was the crushing percentage, Greece was defeated and sustained in the Aegean, as border between the 2 nations. The two World Wars found Greece involved, standing by the side of the winners. Greece went through German Occupation and later dictatorship. In 1974 Democracy was re-established. In 1981 Greece accomplished the E.U. membership and in 2001 entered the Eurozone. In 2004 Athens hosted with remarkable success the Olympic Games.
ATTRACTIONS – SIGHTSEEING
The Parthenon was build by the architects Kallikrates and Iktinos between 447 and 438 BC. It was built as part of Pericles' great construction program and was the ultimate expression of this achievement, showing the Athenian people at their zenith. It was a public dedication, offered by the Athenians to their patron goddess Athena Parthenos (Athena the Virgin), in thanks for the city's salvation and Athenian victories in the Persian Wars. It is the biggest building of the hill, but there are also other religious buildings on the hill, sich as: the Temple of Athena Nike (a small, elegant, Ionian, amphiprostyle temple, built by the architect Callicrates in 426-421, on an earlier tower of the Mycenaean walls, dedicated both to the patron goddess Athena and to the prehistoric goddess Nike, protector of the entrance).
The Temple of Brauronian Artemis , the Chalkotheke, the Erechtheum (Ionian style in 421 BC, dominates the north side of the Sacred Rock. It is complex and elaborate in its structure, and equally complex in its symbolism).
In spite of the adventures of the Parthenon during it’s 25 centuries of life, its sight still provokes grate awe. It became a church during the years of the Byzantine Empire, a mosque, during the Ottoman occupation and a storage facility for Turkish gunpowder later. In 1687 the Venetians bombarded it from below. A cannon ball hit the gun powder and blew it up, and in 1806 the British Ambassador Lord Elgin stripped the Parthenon of it’s decoration taking these exquisite works back to England with him, in what has been called "the greatest art theft in history". Hence the condition of the remaining, the restoration of which, took more that 30years and was nor presented naked (etached from any technical means).
The New Acropolis Museum is a jewel among the modern museums of the world and hosts the rich collection of findings of the area and imitations in distinctive color of the stolen decoration, screaming “bring them back”.
The theatre of Herod Atticus built by the Romans in 161 AD.
The Ancient Agora where once the great philosophers Socrates and Plato preached and great rhetoric speeches were delivered.
The National Archaeological Museum popular thanks to its enormous collection of famous treasures, such as those unearthed from Mycenae by Heinrich Schliemann and the staggering array of sculpture including the earliest known Greek figurines dating from around 2,000 BC; frescoes from the volcanic island of Santorini.
The old district of Athens, right below the Acropolis hill is the gathering place for travelers and tourists, particularly in the warm Athens evenings. Strolling the narrow streets of the Plaka flanked by ancient monuments, Byzantine churches and mosques, stately mansions, and inviting tavernas with vine-covered courtyards, makes a pleasant diversion.
Kolonaki and Lykavittos Hill: the fashionable regions, very close to the center. Excellent shopping strolls around the neo-classical buildings.
Syntagma Square is the heart of modern Athens. Houses the Parliament Building (built in 1840 as the royal palace). Tourists flock to photograph the unusually presidential guards at the palace with the skirted and pom-pommed shoos who change shifts ceremonially every hour.
Also serves as the gate to access to all the major attractions of Athens, particularly the 'museum mile' along Queen Sophia Avenue, which runs (Benaki Museum,Museum of Cycladic Art and the Byzantine Museum).