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Acropolis of AthensGreek ParliamentZappeion HallAthens Olympic Sports ComplexMonastirakiAerial view from LycabettusAthens
Coat of Arms of Athens.svg
Ιοστεφές άστυ (the violet-crowned city)
Το κλεινόν άστυ (the glorious city)
Greece relief location map.jpg
Red pog.svg
Location within Greece
Europe relief laea location map.jpg
Red pog.svg
Location within Europe
Coordinates: 37°59′02.3″N23°43′40.1″E / 37.983972°N 23.727806°E / 37.983972; 23.727806 Coordinates: 37°59′02.3″N23°43′40.1″E / 37.983972°N 23.727806°E / 37.983972; 23.727806
Geographic region Central Greece
Administrative region Attica
Regional unit Central Athens
  Type Mayor-council government
   Mayor Giorgos Mproulias
  Municipality38.964 km2 (15.044 sq mi)
412 km2 (159 sq mi)
2,928.717 km2 (1,130.784 sq mi)
Highest elevation
338 m (1,109 ft)
Lowest elevation
70.1 m (230.0 ft)
 (2012) [1]
  Rank 1st urban, 1st metro in Greece
  Urban density7,500/km2 (19,000/sq mi)
3,781,274 [2]
Demonym(s) Athenian
Time zone UTC+2 (EET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal codes
10x xx, 11x xx, 120 xx
Telephone 21
Vehicle registration Yxx, Zxx, Ixx
Patron saint Dionysius the Areopagite (3 October)

Athens ( /ˈæθɪnz/ ATH-inz; [3] Greek : Αθήνα, romanized: Athína [aˈθina] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); Ancient Greek : Ἀθῆναι, romanized: Athênai [atʰɛ̂ːnai̯] ) is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years [4] and its earliest human presence starting somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennium BC. [5]

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Romanization of Greek is the transliteration (letter-mapping) or transcription (sound-mapping) of text from the Greek alphabet into the Latin alphabet. The conventions for writing and romanizing Ancient Greek and Modern Greek differ markedly, which can create confusion. The sound of the English letter B was written as β in ancient Greek but is now written as the digraph μπ, while the modern β sounds like the English letter V instead. The Greek name Ἰωάννης became Johannes in Latin and then John in English, but in Greek itself has instead become Γιάννης; this might be written as Yannis, Jani, Ioannis, Yiannis, or Giannis, but not Giannes or Giannēs as it would have been in ancient Greek. The masculine Greek word Ἅγιος or Άγιος might variously appear as Hagiοs, Agios, Aghios, or Ayios, or simply be translated as "Holy" or "Saint" in English forms of Greek placenames.


Classical Athens was a powerful city-state that emerged in conjunction with the seagoing development of the port of Piraeus. A center for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, [6] [7] it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, [8] [9] largely because of its cultural and political impact on the European continent, and in particular the Romans. [10] In modern times, Athens is a large cosmopolitan metropolis and central to economic, financial, industrial, maritime, political and cultural life in Greece.

Classical Athens city-state in ancient Greece

The city of Athens during the classical period of Ancient Greece was the major urban center of the notable polis (city-state) of the same name, located in Attica, Greece, leading the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and the Peloponnesian League. Athenian democracy was established in 508 BC under Cleisthenes following the tyranny of Isagoras. This system remained remarkably stable, and with a few brief interruptions remained in place for 180 years, until 322 BC. The peak of Athenian hegemony was achieved in the 440s to 430s BC, known as the Age of Pericles.

Polis ancient Greek social and political organisation

Polis, plural poleis literally means city in Greek. It can also mean a body of citizens. In modern historiography, polis is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, and thus is often translated as "city-state". These cities consisted of a fortified city centre (asty) built on an acropolis or harbor and controlled surrounding territories of land (khôra).

Piraeus Place in Greece

Piraeus is a port city in the region of Attica, Greece. Piraeus is located within the Athens urban area, 12 kilometres southwest from its city centre, and lies along the east coast of the Saronic Gulf.

Athens is a global city and one of the biggest economic centres in southeastern Europe. It has a large financial sector, and its port Piraeus is both the largest passenger port in Europe, [11] [12] [13] [14] and the second largest in the world. [15] while at the same time being the sixth busiest passenger port in Europe. [16] The Municipality of Athens (also City of Athens), which actually constitutes a small administrative unit of the entire city, had a population of 664,046 (in 2011) [1] within its official limits, and a land area of 38.96 km2 (15.04 sq mi). [17] [18] The urban area of Athens (Greater Athens and Greater Piraeus) extends beyond its administrative municipal city limits, with a population of 3,090,508 (in 2011) [19] over an area of 412 km2 (159 sq mi). [18] According to Eurostat [20] in 2011, the functional urban area (FUA) of Athens was the 9th most populous FUA in the European Union (the 6th most populous capital city of the EU), with a population of 3.8 million people. Athens is also the southernmost capital on the European mainland.

A global city, also called a power city, world city, alpha city or world center, is a city which is a primary node in the global economic network. The concept comes from geography and urban studies, and the idea that globalization is created, facilitated, and enacted in strategic geographic locales according to a hierarchy of importance to the operation of the global system of finance and trade.

The terms city limit and city boundary refer to the defined boundary or border of a city, usually in the United States. The area within the city limit is sometimes called the city proper. The terms town limit/boundary and village limit/boundary mean the same as city limit/boundary, but apply to towns and villages. Similarly, the term corporate limit is a legal name that refers to the boundaries of municipal corporations. In some countries, the limit of a municipality may be expanded through annexation.

Eurostat statistics agency of the European Union

Eurostat is a Directorate-General of the European Commission located in Luxembourg. Its main responsibilities are to provide statistical information to the institutions of the European Union (EU) and to promote the harmonisation of statistical methods across its member states and candidates for accession as well as EFTA countries. The organisations in the different countries that cooperate with Eurostat are summarised under the concept of the European Statistical System.

The heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, represented by ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon, considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. The city also retains Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of Ottoman monuments. Athens is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Acropolis of Athens and the medieval Daphni Monastery. Landmarks of the modern era, dating back to the establishment of Athens as the capital of the independent Greek state in 1834, include the Hellenic Parliament and the so-called "architectural trilogy of Athens", consisting of the National Library of Greece, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and the Academy of Athens. Athens is also home to several museums and cultural institutions, such as the National Archeological Museum, featuring the world's largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, the Acropolis Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Benaki Museum and the Byzantine and Christian Museum. Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics, making it one of only a handful of cities to have hosted the Olympics more than once. [21]

Classical Greece Period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC

Classical Greece was a period of around 200 years in Greek culture. This Classical period saw the annexation of much of modern-day Greece by the Persian Empire and its subsequent independence. Classical Greece had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and on the foundations of Western civilization. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, scientific thought, theatre, literature and philosophy derives from this period of Greek history. In the context of the art, architecture, and culture of Ancient Greece, the Classical period corresponds to most of the 5th and 4th centuries BC. The Classical period in this sense follows the Greek Dark Ages and Archaic period and is in turn succeeded by the Hellenistic period.

Ancient monument monument of ancient days

In British law, an ancient monument is an early historical structure or monument worthy of preservation and study due to archaeological or heritage interest. The term differs from the American term "national monument" in that U.S. National Monuments are comparatively few in number and may include natural formations; British ancient monuments are by definition manmade.

Parthenon Former temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece

The Parthenon is a former temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron. Construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although decoration of the building continued until 432 BC. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered the zenith of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian democracy and Western civilization, and one of the world's greatest cultural monuments. To the Athenians who built it, the Parthenon and other Periclean monuments of the Acropolis were seen fundamentally as a celebration of Hellenic victory over the Persian invaders and as a thanksgiving to the gods for that victory.


Athena, patron goddess of Athens; (Varvakeion Athena, National Archaeological Museum) Athena Varvakeion - MANA - Fidias.jpg
Athena, patron goddess of Athens; (Varvakeion Athena, National Archaeological Museum)

In Ancient Greek, the name of the city was Ἀθῆναι (Athênai, pronounced  [atʰɛ̂ːnai̯] in Classical Attic) a plural. In earlier Greek, such as Homeric Greek, the name had been current in the singular form though, as Ἀθήνη (Athḗnē). [22] It was possibly rendered in the plural later on, like those of Θῆβαι ( Thêbai ) and Μυκῆναι ( Μukênai ). The root of the word is probably not of Greek or Indo-European origin, [23] and is possibly a remnant of the Pre-Greek substrate of Attica. [23] In antiquity, it was debated whether Athens took its name from its patron goddess Athena (Attic Ἀθηνᾶ, Athēnâ, Ionic Ἀθήνη, Athḗnē, and Doric Ἀθάνα, Athā́nā) or Athena took her name from the city. [24] Modern scholars now generally agree that the goddess takes her name from the city, [24] because the ending -ene is common in names of locations, but rare for personal names. [24] During the medieval period, the name of the city was rendered once again in the singular as Ἀθήνα. However, after the establishment of the modern Greek state, and partly due to the conservatism of the written language, Ἀθῆναι [aˈθine] became again the official name of the city and remained so until the abandonment of Katharevousa in the 1970s, when Ἀθήνα, Athína, became the official name.

Attic Greek Ancient Greek dialect

Attic Greek is the Greek dialect of the ancient city-state of Athens. Of the ancient dialects, it is the most similar to later Greek and is the standard form of the language that is studied in ancient Greek language courses. Attic Greek is sometimes included in the Ionic dialect. Together, Attic and Ionic are the primary influences on Modern Greek.

Homeric Greek is the form of the Greek language that was used by Homer in the Iliad and Odyssey and in the Homeric Hymns. It is a literary dialect of Ancient Greek consisting mainly of Ionic and Aeolic, with a few forms from Arcadocypriot, and a written form influenced by Attic. It was later named Epic Greek because it was used as the language of epic poetry, typically in dactylic hexameter, by poets such as Hesiod and Theognis of Megara. Compositions in Epic Greek may date from as late as the 3rd century BC, though its decline was inevitable with the rise of Koine Greek.

Thebes, Greece Place in Greece

Thebes is a city in Boeotia, central Greece. It played an important role in Greek myths, as the site of the stories of Cadmus, Oedipus, Dionysus, Heracles and others. Archaeological excavations in and around Thebes have revealed a Mycenaean settlement and clay tablets written in the Linear B script, indicating the importance of the site in the Bronze Age.

According to the ancient Athenian founding myth, Athena, the goddess of wisdom, competed against Poseidon, the God of the Seas, for patronage of the yet-unnamed city; [25] they agreed that whoever gave the Athenians the better gift would become their patron [25] and appointed Cecrops, the king of Athens, as the judge. [25] According to the account given by Pseudo-Apollodorus, Poseidon struck the ground with his trident and a salt water spring welled up. [25] In an alternative version of the myth from Vergil's Georgics , Poseidon instead gave the Athenians the first horse. [25] In both versions, Athena offered the Athenians the first domesticated olive tree. [25] [26] Cecrops accepted this gift [25] and declared Athena the patron goddess of Athens. [25] [26]

Poseidon Ancient Greek god of the sea, earthquakes and horses

Poseidon was one of the Twelve Olympians in ancient Greek religion and myth, god of the sea, storms, earthquakes and horses. In pre-Olympian Bronze Age Greece, he was venerated as a chief deity at Pylos and Thebes. His Roman equivalent is Neptune.

Cecrops I mythical character

Cecrops was a mythical king of Attica which derived from him its name Cecropia, having previously borne the name of Acte or Actice. He was the founder and the first king of Athens itself though preceded in the region by the earth-born king Actaeus of Attica. Cecrops was a culture hero, teaching the Athenians marriage, reading and writing, and ceremonial burial.

The Bibliotheca, also known as the Bibliotheca of Pseudo-Apollodorus, is a compendium of Greek myths and heroic legends, arranged in three books, generally dated to the first or second century AD.

Different etymologies, now commonly rejected, were proposed during the 19th century. Christian Lobeck proposed as the root of the name the word ἄθος (áthos) or ἄνθος (ánthos) meaning "flower", to denote Athens as the "flowering city". Ludwig von Döderlein proposed the stem of the verb θάω, stem θη- (tháō, thē-, "to suck") to denote Athens as having fertile soil. [27]

In classical literature, the city was sometimes referred to as the City of the Violet Crown, first documented in Pindar's ἰοστέφανοι Ἀθᾶναι (iostéphanoi Athânai), or as τὸ κλεινὸν ἄστυ (tò kleinòn ásty, "the glorious city"). In medieval texts, variant names include Setines, Satine, and Astines, all derivations involving false splitting of prepositional phrases. [28] Today the caption η πρωτεύουσα (ī protévousa), "the capital", has become somewhat common.


Tondo of the Aison Cup, showing the victory of Theseus over the Minotaur in the presence of Athena. Theseus was responsible, according to the myth, for the synoikismos ("dwelling together")--the political unification of Attica under Athens. Kylix Theseus Aison MNA Inv11365 n1.jpg
Tondo of the Aison Cup, showing the victory of Theseus over the Minotaur in the presence of Athena. Theseus was responsible, according to the myth, for the synoikismos ("dwelling together")—the political unification of Attica under Athens.
The earliest coinage of Athens, circa 545-525/15 BC ATTICA, Athens. Circa 545-525-15 BC.jpg
The earliest coinage of Athens, circa 545-525/15 BC

The oldest known human presence in Athens is the Cave of Schist, which has been dated to between the 11th and 7th millennia BC. [5] Athens has been continuously inhabited for at least 7,000 years. [29] [30] By 1400 BC the settlement had become an important centre of the Mycenaean civilization and the Acropolis was the site of a major Mycenaean fortress, whose remains can be recognised from sections of the characteristic Cyclopean walls. [31] Unlike other Mycenaean centers, such as Mycenae and Pylos, it is not known whether Athens suffered destruction in about 1200 BC, an event often attributed to a Dorian invasion, and the Athenians always maintained that they were pure Ionians with no Dorian element. However, Athens, like many other Bronze Age settlements, went into economic decline for around 150 years afterwards.

Coat of Arms of the Duchy of Athens during the rule of the de la Roche family (13th century) Coat of Arms of the Duchy of Athens (de la Roche family).svg
Coat of Arms of the Duchy of Athens during the rule of the de la Roche family (13th century)

Iron Age burials, in the Kerameikos and other locations, are often richly provided for and demonstrate that from 900 BC onwards Athens was one of the leading centres of trade and prosperity in the region. [32] The leading position of Athens may well have resulted from its central location in the Greek world, its secure stronghold on the Acropolis and its access to the sea, which gave it a natural advantage over inland rivals such as Thebes and Sparta.

Delian League, under the leadership of Athens before the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC Map athenian empire 431 BC-en.svg
Delian League, under the leadership of Athens before the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC

By the 6th century BC, widespread social unrest led to the reforms of Solon. These would pave the way for the eventual introduction of democracy by Cleisthenes in 508 BC. Athens had by this time become a significant naval power with a large fleet, and helped the rebellion of the Ionian cities against Persian rule. In the ensuing Greco-Persian Wars Athens, together with Sparta, led the coalition of Greek states that would eventually repel the Persians, defeating them decisively at Marathon in 490 BC, and crucially at Salamis in 480 BC. However, this did not prevent Athens from being captured and sacked twice by the Persians within one year, after a heroic but ultimately failed resistance at Thermopylae by Spartans and other Greeks led by King Leonidas, [33] after both Boeotia and Attica fell to the Persians.

The Roman Agora and the Gate of Athena in Plaka district. The Roman Agora of Athens with the Gate of Athena Arhegetis.jpg
The Roman Agora and the Gate of Athena in Plaka district.

The decades that followed became known as the Golden Age of Athenian democracy, during which time Athens became the leading city of Ancient Greece, with its cultural achievements laying the foundations for Western civilization. The playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides flourished in Athens during this time, as did the historians Herodotus and Thucydides, the physician Hippocrates, and the philosopher Socrates. Guided by Pericles, who promoted the arts and fostered democracy, Athens embarked on an ambitious building program that saw the construction of the Acropolis of Athens (including the Parthenon), as well as empire-building via the Delian League. Originally intended as an association of Greek city-states to continue the fight against the Persians, the league soon turned into a vehicle for Athens's own imperial ambitions. The resulting tensions brought about the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC), in which Athens was defeated by its rival Sparta.

By the mid-4th century BC, the northern Greek kingdom of Macedon was becoming dominant in Athenian affairs. In 338 BC the armies of Philip II defeated an alliance of some of the Greek city-states including Athens and Thebes at the Battle of Chaeronea, effectively ending Athenian independence. Later, under Rome, Athens was given the status of a free city because of its widely admired schools. The Roman emperor Hadrian, in the 2nd century CE, ordered the construction of a library, a gymnasium, an aqueduct which is still in use, several temples and sanctuaries, a bridge and financed the completion of the Temple of Olympian Zeus.

By the end of Late Antiquity, the city experienced decline followed by recovery in the second half of the Middle Byzantine Period, in the 9th to 10th centuries CE, and was relatively prosperous during the Crusades, benefiting from Italian trade. After the Fourth Crusade the Duchy of Athens was established. In 1458 it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and entered a long period of decline.

The Temple of Olympian Zeus with river Ilisos by Edward Dodwell, 1821 Temple of Iupiter Olympios in Athens (1821).jpg
The Temple of Olympian Zeus with river Ilisos by Edward Dodwell, 1821
The Stadiou Street in Central Athens in 1908. Athens Stadiou street 1908.jpg
The Stadiou Street in Central Athens in 1908.

Following the Greek War of Independence and the establishment of the Greek Kingdom, Athens was chosen as the capital of the newly independent Greek state in 1834, largely because of historical and sentimental reasons. At the time, it was reduced to a town of about 4,000 people in a loose swarm of houses along the foot of the Acropolis. The first King of Greece, Otto of Bavaria, commissioned the architects Stamatios Kleanthis and Eduard Schaubert to design a modern city plan fit for the capital of a state.

The first modern city plan consisted of a triangle defined by the Acropolis, the ancient cemetery of Kerameikos and the new palace of the Bavarian king (now housing the Greek Parliament), so as to highlight the continuity between modern and ancient Athens. Neoclassicism, the international style of this epoch, was the architectural style through which Bavarian, French and Greek architects such as Hansen, Klenze, Boulanger or Kaftantzoglou designed the first important public buildings of the new capital. In 1896, Athens hosted the first modern Olympic Games. During the 1920s a number of Greek refugees, expelled from Asia Minor after the Greco-Turkish War, swelled Athens's population; nevertheless it was most particularly following World War II, and from the 1950s and 1960s, that the population of the city exploded, and Athens experienced a gradual expansion.

The Entry of King Otto in Athens, Peter von Hess, 1839. Peter von Hess - The Entry of King Othon of Greece in Athens - WGA11387.jpg
The Entry of King Otto in Athens, Peter von Hess, 1839.

In the 1980s it became evident that smog from factories and an ever-increasing fleet of automobiles, as well as a lack of adequate free space due to congestion, had evolved into the city's most important challenge. A series of anti-pollution measures taken by the city's authorities in the 1990s, combined with a substantial improvement of the city's infrastructure (including the Attiki Odos motorway, the expansion of the Athens Metro, and the new Athens International Airport), considerably alleviated pollution and transformed Athens into a much more functional city. In 2004 Athens hosted the 2004 Summer Olympics.


Athens sprawls across the central plain of Attica that is often referred to as the Athens or Attica Basin (Greek: Λεκανοπέδιο Αττικής). The basin is bounded by four large mountains: Mount Aigaleo to the west, Mount Parnitha to the north, Mount Pentelicus to the northeast and Mount Hymettus to the east. [34] Beyond Mount Aegaleo lies the Thriasian plain, which forms an extension of the central plain to the west. The Saronic Gulf lies to the southwest. Mount Parnitha is the tallest of the four mountains (1,413 m (4,636 ft)), [35] and has been declared a national park.

Athens is built around a number of hills. Lycabettus is one of the tallest hills of the city proper and provides a view of the entire Attica Basin. The meteorology of Athens is deemed to be one of the most complex in the world because its mountains cause a temperature inversion phenomenon which, along with the Greek Government's difficulties controlling industrial pollution, was responsible for the air pollution problems the city has faced. [30] This issue is not unique to Athens; for instance, Los Angeles and Mexico City also suffer from similar atmospheric inversion problems. [30]

The Cephissus river, the Ilisos and the Eridanos stream are the historical rivers of Athens.


The Lycabettus Hill from the Pedion tou Areos park. Lycabetus hill from Areos park, Athens, Greece - panoramio.jpg
The Lycabettus Hill from the Pedion tou Areos park.

By the late 1970s, the pollution of Athens had become so destructive that according to the then Greek Minister of Culture, Constantine Trypanis, "...the carved details on the five the caryatids of the Erechtheum had seriously degenerated, while the face of the horseman on the Parthenon's west side was all but obliterated." [36] A series of measures taken by the authorities of the city throughout the 1990s resulted in the improvement of air quality; the appearance of smog (or nefos as the Athenians used to call it) has become less common.

Measures taken by the Greek authorities throughout the 1990s have improved the quality of air over the Attica Basin. Nevertheless, air pollution still remains an issue for Athens, particularly during the hottest summer days. In late June 2007, [37] the Attica region experienced a number of brush fires, [37] including a blaze that burned a significant portion of a large forested national park in Mount Parnitha, [38] considered critical to maintaining a better air quality in Athens all year round. [37] Damage to the park has led to worries over a stalling in the improvement of air quality in the city. [37]

The major waste management efforts undertaken in the last decade (particularly the plant built on the small island of Psytalia) have greatly improved water quality in the Saronic Gulf, and the coastal waters of Athens are now accessible again to swimmers. In January 2007, Athens faced a waste management problem when its landfill near Ano Liosia, an Athenian suburb, reached capacity. [39] The crisis eased by mid-January when authorities began taking the garbage to a temporary landfill. [39]


Athens has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csa). The dominant feature of Athens’ climate is alternation between prolonged hot and dry summers and mild winters with moderate rainfall. [40] With an average of 432 millimetres (17.0 in) of yearly precipitation, rainfall occurs largely between the months of October and April. July and August are the driest months when thunderstorms occur sparsely.

Owing to the rain shadow of the Pindus Mountains, annual precipitation of Athens is lower than most other parts of Greece, especially western Greece. As an example, Ioannina receives around 1,300 mm (51 in) per year, and Agrinio around 800 mm (31 in) per year. Daily average highs for July (2001–2018) have been measured at 34.9 °C or 94.8 °F, [41] but some parts of the city may be even hotter, in particular, western areas due to a combination of industrialization and a number of natural factors, knowledge of which has existed since the mid-19th century. [42] [43] [44]

Athens is affected by the urban heat island effect in some areas which is caused by human activity, [45] [46] altering its temperatures compared to the surrounding rural areas, [47] [48] [49] [50] and leaving detrimental effects on energy usage, expenditure for cooling, [51] [52] and health. [46] The urban heat island of the city has also been found to be partially responsible for alterations of the climatological temperature time-series of specific Athens meteorological stations, because of its impact on the temperatures and the temperature trends recorded by some meteorological stations. [53] [54] [55] [56] [57] On the other hand, specific meteorological stations, such as the National Garden station and Thiseio meteorological station, are less affected or do not experience the urban heat island. [47] [58]

Athens holds the World Meteorological Organization record for the highest temperature ever recorded in Europe, at 48.0 °C (118.4 °F), which was recorded in the Elefsina and Tatoi suburbs of Athens on 10 July 1977. [59] Athens has the highest daily mean temperature of any major European city and capital (19.5 C), as well as the lowest precipitation (~400 mm).



Changing of the Greek Presidential Guard in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Syntagma Square. Atenas, Tumba del Soldado Desconocido 3.jpg
Changing of the Greek Presidential Guard in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Syntagma Square.

The municipality of Athens, the city centre of the Athens Urban Area, is divided into several districts: Omonoia, Syntagma, Exarcheia, Agios Nikolaos, Neapolis, Lykavittos, Lofos Strefi, Lofos Finopoulou, Lofos Filopappou, Pedion Areos, Metaxourgeio, Aghios Kostantinos, Larissa Station, Kerameikos, Psiri, Monastiraki, Gazi, Thission, Kapnikarea, Aghia Irini, Aerides, Anafiotika, Plaka, Acropolis, Pnyka, Makrygianni, Lofos Ardittou, Zappeion, Aghios Spyridon, Pangrati, Kolonaki, Dexameni, Evaggelismos, Gouva, Aghios Ioannis, Neos Kosmos, Koukaki, Kynosargous, Fix, Ano Petralona, Kato Petralona, Rouf, Votanikos, Profitis Daniil, Akadimia Platonos, Kolonos, Kolokynthou, Attikis Square, Lofos Skouze, Sepolia, Kypseli, Aghios Meletios, Nea Kypseli, Gyzi, Polygono, Ampelokipoi, Panormou-Gerokomeio, Pentagono, Ellinorosson, Nea Filothei, Ano Kypseli, Tourkovounia-Lofos Patatsou, Lofos Elikonos, Koliatsou, Thymarakia, Kato Patisia, Treis Gefyres, Aghios Eleftherios, Ano Patisia, Kypriadou, Menidi, Prompona, Aghios Panteleimonas, Pangrati, Goudi and Ilisia.

  • Omonoia, Omonoia Square, (Greek : Πλατεία Ομονοίας) is the oldest square in Athens. It is surrounded by hotels and fast food outlets, and contains a train station used by the Athens Metro and the Ilektrikos, named Omonoia station. The square is the focus for celebration of sporting victories, as seen after the country's winning of the Euro 2004 and the EuroBasket 2005 tournaments.
    Aiolou Street in the Centre. On the left is the building of the National Bank of Greece. 20090801 athina04.jpg
    Aiolou Street in the Centre. On the left is the building of the National Bank of Greece.
  • Metaxourgeio (Greek : Μεταξουργείο) is a neighborhood of Athens. The neighborhood is located north of the historical centre of Athens, between Kolonos to the east and Kerameikos to the west, and north of Gazi. Metaxourgeio is frequently described as a transition neighborhood. After a long period of abandonment in the late 20th century, the area is acquiring a reputation as an artistic and fashionable neighborhood following the opening of art galleries, museums, restaurants and cafés. [1] Local efforts to beautify and invigorate the neighborhood have reinforced a sense of community and artistic expression. Anonymous art pieces containing quotes and statements in both English and Ancient Greek have sprung up throughout the neighborhood, bearing statements such as "Art for art's sake" (Τέχνη τέχνης χάριν). Guerrilla gardening has also helped to beautify the area.
    Apartment buildings near Kolonaki Square. Kolonaki Square 2.jpg
    Apartment buildings near Kolonaki Square.
  • Psiri and Gazi – The reviving Psiri (Greek : Ψυρρή) neighbourhood – also known as Athens's "meat packing district" – is dotted with renovated former mansions, artists' spaces, and small gallery areas. A number of its renovated buildings also host fashionable bars, making it a hotspot for the city in the last decade, while live music restaurants known as "rebetadika", after rebetiko, a unique form of music that blossomed in Syros and Athens from the 1920s until the 1960s, are to be found. Rebetiko is admired by many, and as a result rebetadika are often crammed with people of all ages who will sing, dance and drink till dawn.
  • The Gazi (Greek : Γκάζι) area, one of the latest in full redevelopment, is located around a historic gas factory, now converted into the Technopolis cultural multiplex, and also includes artists' areas, small clubs, bars and restaurants, as well as Athens's "Gay village". The metro's expansion to the western suburbs of the city has brought easier access to the area since spring 2007, as the blue line now stops at Gazi (Kerameikos station).
  • Syntagma, Syntagma Square, (Greek : Σύνταγμα/Constitution Square), is the capital's central and largest square, lying adjacent to the Greek Parliament (the former Royal Palace) and the city's most notable hotels. Ermou Street, an approximately one-kilometre-long (0.62-mile) pedestrian road connecting Syntagma Square to Monastiraki, is a consumer paradise for both Athenians and tourists. Complete with fashion shops and shopping centres promoting most international brands, it now finds itself in the top five most expensive shopping streets in Europe, and the tenth most expensive retail street in the world. [60] Nearby, the renovated Army Fund building in Panepistimiou Street includes the "Attica" department store and several upmarket designer stores.
    Neoclassical Houses in the historical neighbourhood of Plaka. Plaka 6552.jpg
    Neoclassical Houses in the historical neighbourhood of Plaka.
  • Plaka, Monastiraki, and ThissionPlaka (Greek : Πλάκα), lying just beneath the Acropolis, is famous for its plentiful neoclassical architecture, making up one of the most scenic districts of the city. It remains a prime tourist destination with tavernas, live performances and street salesmen. Nearby Monastiraki (Greek : Μοναστηράκι), for its part, is known for its string of small shops and markets, as well as its crowded flea market and tavernas specialising in souvlaki. Another district known for its student-crammed, stylish cafés is Theseum or Thission (Greek : Θησείο), lying just west of Monastiraki. Thission is home to the ancient Temple of Hephaestus, standing atop a small hill. This area also has a picturesque 11th-century Byzantine church, as well as a 15th-century Ottoman mosque.
  • Exarcheia (Greek : Εξάρχεια), located north of Kolonaki, is the location of the city's anarchist scene and as a student quarter with cafés, bars and bookshops. Exarcheia is home to the Athens Polytechnic and the National Archaeological Museum; it also contains important buildings of several 20th-century styles: Neoclassicism, Art Deco and Early Modernism (including Bauhaus influences).[ citation needed ]
  • Kolonaki (Greek : Κολωνάκι) is the area at the base of Lycabettus hill, full of boutiques catering to well-heeled customers by day, and bars and more fashionable restaurants by night, with galleries and museums. This is often regarded as one of the more prestigious areas of the capital.

Parks and zoos

The entrance of the National Gardens, commissioned by Queen Amalia in 1838 and completed by 1840 20140410 60 Athens National Gardens (13824726745).jpg
The entrance of the National Gardens, commissioned by Queen Amalia in 1838 and completed by 1840

Parnitha National Park is punctuated by well-marked paths, gorges, springs, torrents and caves dotting the protected area. Hiking and mountain-biking in all four mountains are popular outdoor activities for residents of the city. The National Garden of Athens was completed in 1840 and is a green refuge of 15.5 hectares in the centre of the Greek capital. It is to be found between the Parliament and Zappeion buildings, the latter of which maintains its own garden of seven hectares.

Parts of the city centre have been redeveloped under a masterplan called the Unification of Archeological Sites of Athens, which has also gathered funding from the EU to help enhance the project. [61] [62] The landmark Dionysiou Areopagitou Street has been pedestrianised, forming a scenic route. The route starts from the Temple of Olympian Zeus at Vasilissis Olgas Avenue, continues under the southern slopes of the Acropolis near Plaka, and finishes just beyond the Temple of Hephaestus in Thiseio. The route in its entirety provides visitors with views of the Parthenon and the Agora (the meeting point of ancient Athenians), away from the busy city centre.

The hills of Athens also provide green space. Lycabettus, Philopappos hill and the area around it, including Pnyx and Ardettos hill, are planted with pines and other trees, with the character of a small forest rather than typical metropolitan parkland. Also to be found is the Pedion tou Areos (Field of Mars) of 27.7 hectares, near the National Archaeological Museum.

Athens' largest zoo is the Attica Zoological Park, a 20-hectare (49-acre) private zoo located in the suburb of Spata. The zoo is home to around 2000 animals representing 400 species, and is open 365 days a year. Smaller zoos exist within public gardens or parks, such as the zoo within the National Garden of Athens.

Urban and suburban municipalities

View of Vila Atlantis, in Kifissia, designed by Ernst Ziller. Bila Atlantis 3473.jpg
View of Vila Atlantis, in Kifissia, designed by Ernst Ziller.
Beach in the southern suburb of Alimos, one of the many beaches in the southern coast of Athens Alimos - panoramio (33).jpg
Beach in the southern suburb of Alimos, one of the many beaches in the southern coast of Athens

The Athens Metropolitan Area consists of 58 [19] densely populated municipalities, sprawling around the municipality of Athens (the city centre) in virtually all directions. For the Athenians, all the urban municipalities surrounding the city centre are called suburbs. According to their geographic location in relation to the City of Athens, the suburbs are divided into four zones; the northern suburbs (including Agios Stefanos, Dionysos, Ekali, Nea Erythraia, Kifissia, Maroussi, Pefki, Lykovrysi, Metamorfosi, Nea Ionia, Nea Filadelfeia, Irakleio, Vrilissia, Melissia, Penteli, Chalandri, Agia Paraskevi, Galatsi, Psychiko and Filothei); the southern suburbs (including Alimos, Nea Smyrni, Moschato, Kallithea, Agios Dimitrios, Palaio Faliro, Elliniko, Glyfada, Argyroupoli, Ilioupoli, Voula and Vouliagmeni); the eastern suburbs (including Zografou, Dafni, Vyronas, Kaisariani, Cholargos and Papagou); and the western suburbs (including Peristeri, Ilion, Egaleo, Koridallos, Agia Varvara, Chaidari, Petroupoli, Agioi Anargyroi and Kamatero).

The Athens city coastline, extending from the major commercial port of Piraeus to the southernmost suburb of Varkiza for some 25 km (20 mi), [63] is also connected to the city centre by a tram.

In the northern suburb of Maroussi, the upgraded main Olympic Complex (known by its Greek acronym OAKA) dominates the skyline. The area has been redeveloped according to a design by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, with steel arches, landscaped gardens, fountains, futuristic glass, and a landmark new blue glass roof which was added to the main stadium. A second Olympic complex, next to the sea at the beach of Palaio Faliro, also features modern stadia, shops and an elevated esplanade. Work is underway to transform the grounds of the old Athens Airport – named Elliniko – in the southern suburbs, into one of the largest landscaped parks in Europe, to be named the Hellenikon Metropolitan Park. [64]

Many of the southern suburbs (such as Alimos, Palaio Faliro, Elliniko, Glyfada, Voula, Vouliagmeni and Varkiza) known as the Athens Riviera, host a number of sandy beaches, most of which are operated by the Greek National Tourism Organisation and require an entrance fee. Casinos operate on both Mount Parnitha, some 25 km (16 mi) [65] from downtown Athens (accessible by car or cable car), and the nearby town of Loutraki (accessible by car via the Athens – Corinth National Highway, or the suburban rail service Proastiakos).

2009-02-19 Yachthafen Glyfada 03.jpg
Coastline of Palaio Faliro


The mayor of Athens Giorgos Kaminis (right) with the ex Prime Minister of Greece, George Papandreou Jr.(left). Sunantese me ton Demarkho Athenaion, Giorgo Kamine.jpg
The mayor of Athens Giorgos Kaminis (right) with the ex Prime Minister of Greece, George Papandreou Jr.(left).

The large City Centre of the Greek capital falls directly within the municipality of Athens, which is the largest in population size in Greece. Piraeus [66] also forms a significant city centre on its own, within the Athens Urban Area and being the second largest in population size within it, with Peristeri and Kallithea following.

Athens Urban Area

View of the Athens urban area and the Saronic Gulf. Attica 06-13 Athens 36 View from Lycabettus.jpg
View of the Athens urban area and the Saronic Gulf.

The Athens Urban Area today consists of 40 municipalities, 35 of which make up what is referred to as the Greater Athens municipalities, located within 4 regional units (North Athens, West Athens, Central Athens, South Athens); and a further 5, which make up the Greater Piraeus municipalities, located within the regional unit of Piraeus as mentioned above. The densely built up urban area of the Greek capital sprawls across 412 km2 (159 sq mi) [18] throughout the Attica Basin and has a total population of 3,074,160 (in 2011).

The Athens municipality forms the core and center of Greater Athens, which consists of the Athens municipality and 34 more municipalities, divided in four regional units (Central, North, South and West Athens), accounting for 2,641,511 people (in 2011) [1] within an area of 361 km2 (139 sq mi). [18] Until 2010, these four regional units made up the abolished Athens Prefecture. The municipality of Piraeus, the historic Athenian port, with its 4 suburban municipalities make up the regional unit of Piraeus, which in turn forms Greater Piraeus.

Greater Athens and Greater Piraeus with part of East and West Attica regional units combined make up the continuous built up Athens Urban Area (Greek : Πολεοδομικό Συγκρότημα Αθηνών) [67] [68] , also called the Urban Area of the Capital (Greek : Πολεοδομικό Συγκρότημα Πρωτεύουσας) or simply Athens (the most common use of the term), spanning over 412 km2 (159 sq mi), [69] with a population of 3,090,508 people as of 2011. The Athens Urban Area is considered to form the city of Athens as a whole, despite its administrative divisions, which is the largest in Greece and one of the most populated urban areas in Europe.

Municipalities of Greater Athens
Central Athens :1. City of Athens 2. Dafni-Ymittos 3. Ilioupoli 4. Vyronas 5. Kaisariani 6. Zografou 7. Galatsi 8. Filadelfeia-Chalkidona
West Athens :
29. Egaleo
30. Agia Varvara
31. Chaidari
32. Peristeri
33. Petroupoli
34. Ilion
35. Agioi Anargyroi-Kamatero
Athens Municipalities g2.jpg
North Athens :
9. Nea Ionia
10. Irakleio
11. Metamorfosi
12. Lykovrysi-Pefki
13. Kifissia
14. Penteli
15. Marousi
16. Vrilissia
17. Agia Paraskevi
18. Papagou-Cholargos
19. Chalandri
20. Filothei-Psychiko
South Athens :21. Glyfada 22. Elliniko-Argyroupoli 23. Alimos 24. Agios Dimitrios 25. Nea Smyrni 26. Palaio Faliro 27. Kallithea 28. Moschato-Tavros
Athens Urban Area
Regional units :
Central Athens:
*     Athens municipality
*     Other municipalities
      North Athens
      South Athens
      West Athens
Athens-Piraeus Conglomeration.svg

Athens Metropolitan Area

View of Athens and the Saronic Gulf from the Philopappou Hill. Filopappou Hill or Hill of the Muses in Athens.jpg
View of Athens and the Saronic Gulf from the Philopappou Hill.

The Athens Metropolitan Area spans 2,928.717 km2 (1,131 sq mi) within the Attica region and includes a total of 58 municipalities, which are organized in 7 regional units (those outlined above, along with East Attica and West Attica), having reached a population of 3,737,550 based on the preliminary results of the 2011 census. Athens and Piraeus municipalities serve as the two metropolitan centres of the Athens Metropolitan Area. [70] There are also some inter-municipal centres serving specific areas. For example, Kifissia and Glyfada serve as inter-municipal centres for northern and southern suburbs respectively.


The Athens Urban Area within the Attica Basin from space E Athena apo psela.jpg
The Athens Urban Area within the Attica Basin from space
Athens population distribution Population Density in Athens.PNG
Athens population distribution

Population in modern times

The seven districts of the Athens municipality Athens districts numbered.svg
The seven districts of the Athens municipality

The municipality of Athens has an official population of 664,046 people. [1] The four regional units that make up what is referred to as Greater Athens have a combined population of 2,640,701. They together with the regional unit of Piraeus (Greater Piraeus) make up the dense Athens Urban Area which reaches a total population of 3,090,508 inhabitants (in 2011). [19] As Eurostat the FUA of Athens had in 2013 3,828,434 inhabitants, being apparently decreasing compared with the pre-economic crisis date of 2009 (4,164,175) [20]

The municipality (City) of Athens is the most populous in Greece, with a population of 664,046 people (in 2011) [1] and an area of 38.96 km2 (15.04 sq mi), [17] forming the core of the Athens Urban Area within the Attica Basin. The current mayor of Athens is Georgios Broulias. The municipality is divided into seven municipal districts which are mainly used for administrative purposes.

As of the 2011 census, the population for each of the seven municipal districts of Athens is as follows: [71]

For the Athenians the most popular way of dividing the city proper is through its neighbourhoods such as Pagkrati, Ambelokipi, Exarcheia, Patissia, Ilissia, Petralona, Koukaki and Kypseli, each with its own distinct history and characteristics.

Population of the Athens Metropolitan Area

The Athens Metropolitan Area, with an area of 2,928.717 km2 (1,131 sq mi) and inhabited by 3,753,783 people in 2011, [1] consists of the Athens Urban Area with the addition of the towns and villages of East and West Attica, which surround the dense urban area of the Greek capital. It actually sprawls over the whole peninsula of Attica, which is the best part of the region of Attica, excluding the islands.

Classification of regional units within Greater Athens, Athens Urban Area and Athens Metropolitan Area
Regional unit Population (2011)
Central Athens 1,029,520Greater Athens
Athens Urban Area
Athens Metropolitan Area
North Athens 592,490
South Athens 529,826
West Athens 489,675
Piraeus 448,997Greater Piraeus
East Attica 502,348
West Attica 160,927

Population in ancient times

Mycenean Athens in 1600–1100 BC could have reached the size of Tiryns; that would put the population at the range of 10,000 – 15,000. [72] During the Greek Dark Ages the population of Athens was around 4,000 people. In 700 BC the population grew to 10,000. In 500 BC the area probably contained 200,000 people. During the classical period the city's population is estimated from 150,000–350,000 and up to 610,000 according to Thucydides. When Demetrius of Phalerum conducted a population census in 317 BC the population was 21,000 free citizens, plus 10,000 resident aliens and 400,000 slaves. This suggests a total population of 431,000. [73] [74] [75] [76] [77] [78] [79] [80] [81] This figure is highly suspect because of the lopsided number of slaves and does not include free women and children and resident foreigners: an estimated based on Thucydides is: 40,000 male citizens, 100,000 family members, 70,000 metics (resident foreigners) and 150,000-400,000 slaves. However the numbers would include Attica and not just Athens the city. [77]

The ancient site of Athens is centred on the rocky hill of the acropolis. In ancient times the port of Piraeus was a separate city, but it has now been absorbed into the Athens Urban Area. The rapid expansion of the city, which continues to this day, was initiated in the 1950s and 1960s, because of Greece's transition from an agricultural to an industrial nation. [82] The expansion is now particularly toward the East and North East (a tendency greatly related to the new Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport and the Attiki Odos, the freeway that cuts across Attica). By this process Athens has engulfed many former suburbs and villages in Attica, and continues to do so. The table below shows the historical population of Athens in recent times.

YearCity populationUrban populationMetro population
18334,000 [83]
187044,500 [83]
1896123,000 [83]
1921 (Pre-Population exchange)473,000 [30]
1921 (Post-Population exchange)718,000 [83]
1971867,0232,540,241 [84]
1991772,0723,444,3583,523,407 [85]
2001745,514 [86] 3,165,823 [86] 3,761,810 [86]
2011664,0463,090,5083,753,783 [19]

Government and politics

The Hellenic Parliament Griechisches Parlament nachts (Zuschnitt).jpg
The Hellenic Parliament
The Presidential Mansion, formerly the Crown Prince Palace, in Herodou Attikou Street. Presidential Mansion in Athens.jpg
The Presidential Mansion, formerly the Crown Prince Palace, in Herodou Attikou Street.
The Maximos Mansion, official office of the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, in Herodou Attikou Street. Former Royal Palace (Athens).jpg
The Maximos Mansion, official office of the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, in Herodou Attikou Street.
The Athens City Hall in Kotzia Square was designed by Panagiotis Kolkas and completed in 1874. DimarchioAthinas.JPG
The Athens City Hall in Kotzia Square was designed by Panagiotis Kolkas and completed in 1874.
The Embassy of France in Vasilissis Sofias Avenue. Athens, Greece - panoramio (163).jpg
The Embassy of France in Vasilissis Sofias Avenue.
The Italian Embassy in Vasilissis Sofias Avenue. Italian Embassy DSC 1058a-1.jpg
The Italian Embassy in Vasilissis Sofias Avenue.

Athens became the capital of Greece in 1834, following Nafplion, which was the provisional capital from 1829. The municipality (City) of Athens is also the capital of the Attica region. The term Athens can refer either to the municipality of Athens, to Greater Athens, or to the entire Athens Urban Area.

International relations and influence

Twin towns – sister cities

Athens is twinned with: [88]


Other locations named after Athens

Flag of the United States.svg United States
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Canada
Flag of Costa Rica.svg Costa Rica
Flag of Germany.svg Germany
  • Athenstedt, Saxony-Anhalt (pop. 431)                
Flag of Honduras.svg HON
Flag of Italy.svg ITA
Flag of Poland.svg POL
Flag of Ukraine.svg UKR

Economy and infrastructure

Ermou street, the main commercial street of Athens, near the Syntagma Square. Odod-ermou-athens.JPG
Ermou street, the main commercial street of Athens, near the Syntagma Square.

Athens is the financial capital of Greece. According to data from 2014, Athens as a metropolitan economic area produced 129.62 billion US-dollars as GDP in PPP, which consists nearly a half of the production for the whole country. In the list with the strongest economic metropoles of the world Athens was ranked that year 102nd, while the GDP per capita for the same year was 32.484 US-dollars. [99]

Athens is one of the major economic centres in south-eastern Europe and is considered as a regional economic power in Europe generally. The port of Piraeus, where big investments by COSCO have already been delivered during the recent decade, the completion of the new Cargo Centre in Thriasion [100] , the expansion of the Athens Metro and the Athens Tram, as well as the projected metropolitan park in Elliniko and other economic projects are the economic landmarks of the upcoming years.

Important Greek companies are Mytilineos Holdings, Titan Cement, Folli Follie, Jumbo S.A., OPAP and COSMOTE have their headquarters in the metropolitan area of Athens, while multinational companies such as Ericsson, Siemens, Motorola, Samsung, Microsoft, Novartis, Mondelez and Coca-Cola have their regional research and development headquarters also there.

The 28-storey Athens Tower, which houses offices, was completed in 1971 and is the tallest building in Greece. Athens Tower 1.jpg
The 28-storey Athens Tower, which houses offices, was completed in 1971 and is the tallest building in Greece.

The banking sector is represented by National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank, while the Bank of Greece is also situated in the city centre. The Athens Stock Exchange, the only in Greece, has been severely hit by the Greek government-debt crisis and the decision of the government to proceed into capital controls during summer 2015. As a whole the economy of Athens and Greece has been severely hit with today's data showing a change from long recession to growth of 1.4% in 2017. [101]

Tourism is also a great contributor for the economy of the city, which is considered as one of the top destinations in Europe for city-break tourism and is also the gateway for excursions to the islands or the mainland. Greece attracted 26.5 million visitors in 2015, 30.1 million visitors in 2017 and over 33 million in 2018, making Greece one of the most visited countries in Europe and the world, and contributing 18% to the nation's Gross Domestic Product. Athens welcomed more than 5 million tourists in 2018 and 1,4 million of them were "city-breakers" (in 2013 the city-breakers were only 220.000). [102] [103]


Athens metropolitan railway network (metro and proastiakos) Public transport map of Athens.png
Athens metropolitan railway network (metró and proastiakós)

Athens is serviced by a variety of transportation means, forming the largest mass transit system of Greece. The Athens Mass Transit System consists of a large bus fleet, a trolleybus fleet that mainly serves Athens's city center, the city's Metro, a commuter rail service [104] and a tram network, connecting the southern suburbs to the city centre. [105]

Bus transport

OSY (Greek : ΟΣΥ) (ODIKES SYGKOINONIES) which is subsidiary company of OASA (Athens urban transport organisation), is the main operator of buses and trolleybusses in Athens. Its network consists of about 300 bus lines and 22 trolleybus lines which span the Athens Metropolitan Area, [106] with a fleet of 1,839 buses and 366 trolleybuses. [107] Of those 1,839 buses 416 run on compressed natural gas, [107] making up the largest fleet of natural gas-powered buses in Europe [108] and all trolleybusses are equipped to enable them to run on diesel in case of power failure. [109]

International links are provided by a number of private companies. National and regional bus links are provided by KTEL from two InterCity Bus Terminals, Kifissos Bus Terminal A and Liosion Bus Terminal B, both located in the north-western part of the city. Kifissos provides connections towards Peloponnese, North Greece, West Greece and some Ionian Islands, whereas Liosion is used for most of Central Greece.

Athens Metro

Athens Metro train (3rd generation stock) 20140622-Anthoupoli-62D304 (7872).jpg
Athens Metro train (3rd generation stock)

The Athens Metro is operated by STASY S.A (STATHERES SYGKOINONIES S.A) which is a subsidiary company of OASA (Athens urban transport organisation) and provides public transport throughout the Athens Urban Area. While its main purpose is transport, it also houses Greek artifacts found during construction of the system. [110] The Athens Metro has an operating staff of 387 and runs three metro lines; namely the Green (line 1), Red (line 2) and Blue (line 3) lines, which the first were constructed in 1869, and the other two largely during the 1990s, with the initial sections opened in January 2000. The line 1 for the most part runs at ground level and the other two (line 2,3) routes run entirely underground and a fleet of 42 trains consisting of 252 cars operate within the network, [111] with a daily occupancy of 1,353,000 passengers. [112]

The Green Line (line 1) serves 24 stations, and forms the oldest line of the Athens metro network. Runs from Piraeus station to Kifissia station and covers a distance of 25.6-kilometre (15.9 mi). There are also transfer connections with the Blue (line 3) at the Monastiraki station and with Red (line 2) at Onomoia and Attiki stations.

The Red Line (line 2) runs from Anthoupoli station to Elliniko station and covers a distance of 17.5 km (10.9 mi). [111] The line connects the western suburbs of Athens with the southeast suburbs, passing through the center of Athens. The Red line has transfer connections with the Green (line 1) at Attiki and Omonoia Square stations. There are also transfer connections with the Blue (line 3) at the Syntagma Square station and with the Tram at Syntagma Square, Sygrou-Fix and Agios Ioannis stations.

The Blue Line (line 3) runs from the western suburbs, namely Agia Marina to the Egaleo station, through the central Monastiraki and Syntagma stations to Doukissis Plakentias avenue in the northeastern suburb of Halandri, covering a distance of 16 km (10 mi), [111] then ascending to ground level and reaching Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, using the Suburban Railway infrastructure and extending its length to 39 km (24 mi). [111] The spring 2007 extension from Monastiraki westwards, to Egaleo, connected some of the main night life hubs of the city, namely the ones of Gazi (Kerameikos station) with Psirri (Monastiraki station) and the city centre (Syntagma station). Extensions are under construction to the west southwest suburbs of Athens, reaching the port of Piraeus. The new stations will be Agia Barvara, Koridallos, Nikaia, Maniatika, Piraeus and Dimotiko Theatro station. The stations will be ready in 2021 (the first three will open in Winter 2020), connecting the biggest port of Greece, Piraeus Port ,with the biggest airport of Greece the Athens International Airport.

Commuter/suburban rail (Proastiakos)

Suburban rail 20070523-4124-NERATZIOTISA.jpg
Suburban rail

The Athens commuter rail service, referred to as the "Proastiakós", connects Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport to the city of Kiato, 106 km (66 mi) [113] west of Athens, via Larissa station, the city's central rail station and the port of Piraeus. The length of Athens's commuter rail network extends to 120 km (75 mi), [113] and is expected to stretch to 281 km (175 mi) by 2010. [113]


Vehicle of the Athens Tram. Glyfada-Tram.jpg
Vehicle of the Athens Tram.

Athens tram is operated by STASY S.A (STATHERES SYGKOINONIES S.A) which is a subsidiary company of OASA (Athens urban transport organisation). Has a fleet of 35 Sirio type vehicles [114] which serve 48 stations, [114] employ 345 people with an average daily occupancy of 65,000 passengers. [114] The tram network spans a total length of 27 km (17 mi) and covers ten Athenian suburbs. [114] The network runs from Syntagma Square to the southwestern suburb of Palaio Faliro, where the line splits in two branches; the first runs along the Athens coastline toward the southern suburb of Voula, while the other heads toward the Piraeus district of Neo Faliro. The network covers the majority of the Athens coastline. [115] Further extensions are planned towards the major commercial port of Piraeus. [114] The expansion to Piraeus will include 12 new stations, increase the overall length of tram route by 5.4 km (3 mi), and increase the overall transportation network. [116]

Athens International Airport

The new Athens International Airport, that replaced the old Hellinikon International Airport, opened in 2001. 2012-02-29 12-06-25 Greece Athina Spata.jpg
The new Athens International Airport, that replaced the old Hellinikon International Airport, opened in 2001.

Athens is served by the Athens International Airport (ATH), located near the town of Spata, in the eastern Messoghia plain, some 35 km (22 mi) east of Athens. [117] The airport, awarded the "European Airport of the Year 2004" Award, [118] is intended as an expandable hub for air travel in southeastern Europe and was constructed in 51 months, costing 2.2 billion euros. It employs a staff of 14,000. [118]

The airport is served by the Metro, the suburban rail, buses to Piraeus port, Athens' city centre and its suburbs, and also taxis. The airport accommodates 65 landings and take-offs per hour, [117] with its 24-passenger boarding bridges, [117] 144 check-in counters and broader 150,000 m2 (1,614,587 sq ft) main terminal; [117] and a commercial area of 7,000 m2 (75,347 sq ft) which includes cafés, duty-free shops, [118] and a small museum.

In 2018,the airport handled 24,135,736 a huge increase over the last 4 years,In 2014, the airport handled 15,196,369 passengers, an increase of 21.2% over the previous year of 2013. [119] Of those 15,196,369 passengers, 5,267,593 passed through the airport for domestic flights, [120] and 9,970,006 passengers travelled through for international flights. [120] Beyond the dimensions of its passenger capacity, ATH handled 205,294 total flights in 2007, or approximately 562 flights per day. [121]

Railways and ferry connections

Athens is the hub of the country's national railway system (OSE), connecting the capital with major cities across Greece and abroad (Istanbul, Sofia and Bucharest).The Port of Piraeus connects Athens to the numerous Greek islands of the Aegean Sea, with ferries departing, while also serving the cruise ships that arrive. Rafina and Lavrio act as alternative ports of Athens, connects the city with numerous Greek islands of the Aegean Sea, Evia and Cesme in Turkey [122] [123] , while also serving the cruise ships that arrive.


Interchange at the Attiki Odos airport entrance Attiki-odos1.jpg
Interchange at the Attiki Odos airport entrance
View of Hymettus tangent (Periferiaki Imittou) from Kalogeros Hill Attica 06-13 Hills of Hymettus 18 view.jpg
View of Hymettus tangent (Periferiaki Imittou) from Kalogeros Hill

Two main motorways of Greece begin in Athens, namely the A1/E75, which crosses through Athens's Urban Area from Piraeus, heading north towards Greece's second largest city, Thessaloniki; and the A8/E94 heading west, towards Patras, which incorporated the GR-8A. Before their completion much of the road traffic used the GR-1 and the GR-8.

Athens' Metropolitan Area is served by the motorway network of the Attiki Odos toll-motorway (code: A6). Its main section extends from the western industrial suburb of Elefsina to Athens International Airport; while two beltways, namely the Aigaleo Beltway (A65) and the Hymettus Beltway (A64) serve parts of western and eastern Athens respectively. The span of the Attiki Odos in all its length is 65 km (40 mi), [124] making it the largest metropolitan motorway network in all of Greece.


Facade of the Academy of Athens Akademie von Athen.jpg
Facade of the Academy of Athens

Located on Panepistimiou Street, the old campus of the University of Athens, the National Library, and the Athens Academy form the "Athens Trilogy" built in the mid-19th century. Most of the university's workings have been moved to a much larger, modern campus located in the eastern suburb of Zografou. The second higher education institution in the city is the Athens Polytechnic School, found in Patission Street. This was the location where on 17 November 1973, more than 13 students were killed and hundreds injured inside the university during the Athens Polytechnic uprising, [125] against the military junta that ruled the nation from 21 April 1967 until 23 July 1974.

The National Library of Greece. Griechische Nationalbibliothek.jpg
The National Library of Greece.

Other universities that lie within Athens are the Athens University of Economics and Business, the Panteion University, the Agricultural University of Athens and the University of Piraeus. There are overall ten state-supported Institutions of Higher (or Tertiary) education located in the Urban Area of Athens, these are by chronological order: Athens School of Fine Arts (1837), National Technical University of Athens (1837), National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (1837), Agricultural University of Athens (1920), Athens University of Economics and Business (1920), Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences (1927), University of Piraeus (1938), Harokopio University of Athens (1990), School of Pedagogical and Technological Education (2002), University of West Attica (2018). There are also several other private colleges, as they called formally in Greece, as the establishment of private universities is prohibited by the constitution. Many of them are accredited by a foreign state or university such as the American College of Greece and the Athens Campus of the University of Indianapolis. [126]


From the Temple of Olympian Zeus to the Lycabettus hill, as seen from the roof terrace of the "Royal Olympic" hotel, Athens, Greece. From Temple of Olympian Zeus to Lycabetus Athens Greece.jpg
From the Temple of Olympian Zeus to the Lycabettus hill, as seen from the roof terrace of the "Royal Olympic" hotel, Athens, Greece.

Archaeological hub

The Temple of Hephaestus in the Ancient Agora in central Athens. Temple of Hephaestus.jpg
The Temple of Hephaestus in the Ancient Agora in central Athens.
The Artemision Bronze or God of the Sea, that represents either Zeus or Poseidon, is exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum. Bronze Zeus or Poseidon NAMA X 15161 Athens Greece.jpg
The Artemision Bronze or God of the Sea, that represents either Zeus or Poseidon, is exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum.
The Cathedral of Athens (Athens Metropolis). Metropole Athenon 3321.jpg
The Cathedral of Athens (Athens Metropolis).
The Caryatides (Karuatides), or Maidens of Karyai, as displayed in the new Acropolis Museum. One of the female sculptures was taken away from the Erechteion by Lord Elgin and is kept in the British Museum. Porch of the Maidens (Caryatids) 2.jpg
The Caryatides (Καρυάτιδες), or Maidens of Karyai, as displayed in the new Acropolis Museum. One of the female sculptures was taken away from the Erechteion by Lord Elgin and is kept in the British Museum.

The city is a world centre of archaeological research. Along with national institutions, such as the Athens University and the Archaeological Society, there are multiple archaeological Museums including the National Archaeological Museum, the Cycladic Museum, the Epigraphic Museum, the Byzantine & Christian Museum, as well as museums at the ancient Agora, Acropolis, Kerameikos, and the Kerameikos Archaeological Museum. The city is also home to the Demokritos laboratory for Archaeometry, alongside regional and national archaeological authorities that form part of the Greek Department of Culture.

Interior of the Academy of Athens, designed by Theophil Hansen. Academy of Athens - interior.jpg
Interior of the Academy of Athens, designed by Theophil Hansen.

Athens hosts 17 Foreign Archaeological Institutes which promote and facilitate research by scholars from their home countries. As a result, Athens has more than a dozen archaeological libraries and three specialized archaeological laboratories, and is the venue of several hundred specialized lectures, conferences and seminars, as well as dozens of archaeological exhibitions, each year. At any given time, hundreds of international scholars and researchers in all disciplines of archaeology are to be found in the city.


The Zappeion Hall Attica 06-13 Athens 27 Zappeion.jpg
The Zappeion Hall
Two apartment buildings in central Athens. The left one is a modernist building of the 1930s, while the right one was built in the 1950s. Aigyptou Square Athens.JPG
Two apartment buildings in central Athens. The left one is a modernist building of the 1930s, while the right one was built in the 1950s.

Athens incorporates architectural styles ranging from Greco-Roman and Neoclassical to modern times. They are often to be found in the same areas, as Athens is not marked by a uniformity of architectural style. A visitor will quickly notice the absence of tall buildings: Athens has very strict height restriction laws in order to ensure the Acropolis hill is visible throughout the city.

For the greatest part of the 19th century Neoclassicism dominated Athens, as well as some deviations from it such as Eclecticism, especially in the early 20th century. Thus, the Old Royal Palace was the first important public building to be built, between 1836 and 1843. Later in the mid and late 19th century, Theophil Freiherr von Hansen and Ernst Ziller took part in the construction of many neoclassical buildings such as the Athens Academy and the Zappeion Hall. Ziller also designed many private mansions in the centre of Athens which gradually became public, usually through donations, such as Schliemann's Iliou Melathron.

Beginning in the 1920s, Modern architecture including Bauhaus and Art Deco began to exert an influence on almost all Greek architects, and buildings both public and private were constructed in accordance with these styles. Localities with a great number of such buildings include Kolonaki, and some areas of the centre of the city; neighbourhoods developed in this period include Kypseli. [127]

In the 1950s and 1960s during the extension and development of Athens, other modern movements such as the International style played an important role. The centre of Athens was largely rebuilt, leading to the demolition of a number of neoclassical buildings. The architects of this era employed materials such as glass, marble and aluminium, and many blended modern and classical elements. [128] After World War II, internationally known architects to have designed and built in the city included Walter Gropius, with his design for the US Embassy, and, among others, Eero Saarinen, in his postwar design for the east terminal of the Ellinikon Airport.

Urban sculpture

The Old Parliament House, now home to the National History Museum. View from Stadiou Street. The Old Parliament House in Athens now hosting the National Historical Museum. View from Stadiou Street..jpg
The Old Parliament House, now home to the National History Museum. View from Stadiou Street.

All over the city can be found several statues or busts. Apart from the neoclassicals by Leonidas Drosis at the Academy of Athens (Plato, Socrates, Apollo, Athena), other notable include the statue of Theseus by Georgios Fytalis at Thiseion, of philhellenes like Lord Byron, George Canning and William Gladstone, the equestrian statue of Theodoros Kolokotronis by Lazaros Sochos in front of the Old Parliament, statues of Ioannis Kapodistrias, Rigas Feraios and Adamantios Korais at the University, of Evangelos Zappas and Konstantinos Zappas at Zappeion, of Ioannis Varvakis at the National Garden, the "woodbreaker" by Dimitrios Filippotis, the equestrian statue of Alexandros Papagos at Papagou district and various busts of fighters of Greek independence at the Pedion tou Areos. A significant landmark is also the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Syntagma.


The National Archaeological Museum in central Athens Nat arc mus ath 09.jpg
The National Archaeological Museum in central Athens
The Acropolis Museum The Acropolis Museum.jpg
The Acropolis Museum

Athens' most important museums include:


The Athens Hilton. Hilton athens.jpg
The Athens Hilton.

Athens has been a destination for travellers since antiquity. Over the past decade, the city's infrastructure and social amenities have improved, in part because of its successful bid to stage the 2004 Olympic Games. The Greek Government, aided by the EU, has funded major infrastructure projects such as the state-of-the-art Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, [129] the expansion of the Athens Metro system, [61] and the new Attiki Odos Motorway. [61]

Athens was voted as the third best European city to visit in 2015 by European Best Destination. More than 240,000 people voted.

Entertainment and performing arts

Athens is home to 148 theatrical stages, more than any other city in the world, including the ancient Odeon of Herodes Atticus, home to the Athens Festival, which runs from May to October each year. [130] [131] In addition to a large number of multiplexes, Athens plays host to open air garden cinemas. The city also supports music venues, including the Athens Concert Hall (Megaro Moussikis), which attracts world class artists. [132] The Athens Planetarium, [133] located in Andrea Syngrou Avenue, in Palaio Faliro [134] is one of the largest and best equipped digital planetaria in the world. [135] [136] The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, inaugurated in 2016, will house the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera. [137]


The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, home of the Greek National Opera and the new National Library, at night during Christmas. Snfcc Last Days Of Christmas Season (241583579).jpeg
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, home of the Greek National Opera and the new National Library, at night during Christmas.

The most successful songs during the period 1870–1930 were the so-called Athenian serenades (Αθηναϊκές καντάδες), based on the Heptanesean kantádhes (καντάδες 'serenades'; sing.: καντάδα) and the songs performed on stage (επιθεωρησιακά τραγούδια 'theatrical revue songs') in revues, musical comedies, operettas and nocturnes that were dominating Athens' theatre scene.

Notable composers of operettas or nocturnes were Kostas Giannidis, Dionysios Lavrangas, Nikos Hatziapostolou, while Theophrastos Sakellaridis' The Godson remains probably the most popular operetta. Despite the fact that the Athenian songs were not autonomous artistic creations (in contrast with the serenades) and despite their original connection with mainly dramatic forms of Art, they eventually became hits as independent songs. Notable actors of Greek operettas, who made also a series of melodies and songs popular at that time, include Orestis Makris, Kalouta sisters, Vasilis Avlonitis, Afroditi Laoutari, Eleni Papadaki, Marika Nezer, Marika Krevata and others. After 1930, wavering among American and European musical influences as well as the Greek musical tradition. Greek composers begin to write music using the tunes of the tango, waltz, swing, foxtrot, some times combined with melodies in the style of Athenian serenades' repertory. Nikos Gounaris was probably the most renowned composer and singer of the time.

In 1923, after the population exchange between Greece and Turkey, many ethnic Greeks from Asia Minor fled to Athens as a result of the Greco-Turkish War. They settled in poor neighborhoods and brought with them Rebetiko music, making it popular also in Greece, which became later the base for the Laïko music. Other forms of song popular today in Greece are elafrolaika, entechno, dimotika, and skyladika. [138] Greece's most notable, and internationally famous, composers of Greek song, mainly of the entechno form, are Manos Hadjidakis and Mikis Theodorakis. Both composers have achieved fame abroad for their composition of film scores. [138]



The Olympic Stadium of Athens with the characteristic rooftop designed by Santiago Calatrava, especially for the 2004 Olympics. Olympic Stadium - panoramio (1).jpg
The Olympic Stadium of Athens with the characteristic rooftop designed by Santiago Calatrava, especially for the 2004 Olympics.

Athens has a long tradition in sports and sporting events, serving as home to the most important clubs in Greek sport and housing a large number of sports facilities. The city has also been host to sports events of international importance.

Athens has hosted the Summer Olympic Games twice, in 1896 and 2004. The 2004 Summer Olympics required the development of the Athens Olympic Stadium, which has since gained a reputation as one of the most beautiful stadiums in the world, and one of its most interesting modern monuments. [139] The biggest stadium in the country, it hosted two finals of the UEFA Champions League, in 1994 and 2007. Athens' other major stadium, located in the Piraeus area, is the Karaiskakis Stadium, a sports and entertainment complex, host of the 1971 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Final.

Athens has hosted the EuroLeague final three times, the first in 1985 and second in 1993, both at the Peace and Friendship Stadium, most known as SEF, a large indoor arena, [140] and the third time in 2007 at the Olympic Indoor Hall. Events in other sports such as athletics, volleyball, water polo etc., have been hosted in the capital's venues.

Athens is home to three European multi-sport clubs: Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, AEK Athens. In football, Olympiacos have dominated the domestic competitions, Panathinaikos made it to the 1971 European Cup Final, while AEK Athens is the other member of the big three. These clubs also have basketball teams; Panathinaikos and Olympiacos are among the top powers in European basketball, having won the Euroleague six times and three respectively, whilst AEK Athens was the first Greek team to win a European trophy in any team sport.

Other notable clubs within Athens are Athinaikos, Panionios, Atromitos, Apollon, Panellinios, Ethnikos Piraeus, Maroussi BCE and Peristeri B.C.. Athenian clubs have also had domestic and international success in other sports.

The Athens area encompasses a variety of terrain, notably hills and mountains rising around the city, and the capital is the only major city in Europe to be bisected by a mountain range. Four mountain ranges extend into city boundaries and thousands of miles of trails criss-cross the city and neighbouring areas, providing exercise and wilderness access on foot and bike.

Beyond Athens and across the prefecture of Attica, outdoor activities include skiing, rock climbing, hang gliding and windsurfing. Numerous outdoor clubs serve these sports, including the Athens Chapter of the Sierra Club, which leads over 4,000 outings annually in the area.

Sports clubs

Notable sport clubs based inside the boundaries of Athens Municipality
Panellinios G.S. 1891Basketball, Volleyball, Handball, Track and Field and others Kypseli Panhellenic titles in Basketball, Volleyball, Handball, many honours in Track and Field
Apollon Smyrni 1891
(originally in Smyrni)
Football, Basketball, Volleyball and others Rizoupoli Earlier long-time presence in A Ethniki
Ethnikos G.S. Athens 1893Track and field, Wrestling, Shooting and others Zappeion Many honours in Athletics and Wrestling
Panathinaikos 1908
(originally as Football Club of Athens)
Football, Basketball, Volleyball, Water Polo, Track and Field and others Ampelokipoi One of the most successful Greek clubs, many titles in several sports
Ilisiakos 1927Football, Basketball Ilisia Earlier presence in A1 Ethniki basketball
Asteras Exarchion 1928 (originally as Achilleus Neapoleos)Football, Basketball Exarcheia Earlier presence in A1 Ethniki women basketball
Ampelokipoi B.C. 1929 (originally as Hephaestus Athens)Basketball Ampelokipoi Earlier presence in A1 Ethniki basketball
Thriamvos Athens 1930 (originally as Doxa Athens)Football, Basketball Neos Kosmos Panhellenic title in women Basketball
Sporting B.C. 1936Basketball Patisia Many Panhellenic titles in women Basketball
Pagrati B.C. 1938Basketball Pagrati Earlier presence in A1 Ethniki

Beside the above clubs, inside the boundaries of Athens municipality there are some more clubs with presence in national divisions or notable action for short periods. Some of them are PAO Rouf (Rouf) with earlier presence in Gamma Ethniki, Petralona F.C.(el) (Petralona), football club founded in 1963, with earlier presence in Beta Ethniki, Attikos F.C.(el) (Kolonos), football club founded in 1919 with short presence in Gamma Ethniki, Athinais Kypselis  [ es ] (Kypseli), football club founded in 1938 with short presence in Gamma Ethniki, Gyziakos (Gyzi), basketball club founded in 1937 with short presence in Beta Ethniki basketball and Aetos B.C.(el) (Agios Panteleimonas), basketball club founded in 1992 with earlier presence in A2 Ethniki Basketball. Another important Athenian sport club is the Athens Tennis Club founded in 1895 with important offer for the Greek tennis. [141]

Olympic Games

1896 Summer Olympics
Fencing before the king of Greece at the 1896 Summer Olympics. Castaigne - Fencing before the king of Greece, 1896 Summer Olympics.jpg
Fencing before the king of Greece at the 1896 Summer Olympics.
The Panathenaic Stadium of Athens (Kallimarmaron) dates back to the 4th century BC and has hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. The Panathenaic Stadium of Athens.jpg
The Panathenaic Stadium of Athens (Kallimarmaron) dates back to the 4th century BC and has hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.

1896 brought forth the revival of the modern Olympic Games, by Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin. Thanks to his efforts, Athens was awarded the first modern Olympic Games. In 1896, the city had a population of 123,000 [83] and the event helped boost the city's international profile. Of the venues used for these Olympics, the Kallimarmaro Stadium, and Zappeion were most crucial. The Kallimarmaro is a replica of the ancient Athenian stadiums, and the only major stadium (in its capacity of 60,000) to be made entirely of white marble from Mount Penteli, the same material used for construction of the Parthenon.

1906 Summer Olympics

The 1906 Summer Olympics, or the 1906 Intercalated games, were held in Athens. The intercalated competitions were intermediate games to the internationally organized Olympics, and were meant to be organized in Greece every four years, between the main Olympics. This idea later lost support from the IOC and these games were discontinued.

2004 Summer Olympics
10,000-meter final during the 2004 Olympic Games 10,000-meter final during the 2004 Olympics.jpg
10,000-meter final during the 2004 Olympic Games

Athens was awarded the 2004 Summer Olympics on 5 September 1997 in Lausanne, Switzerland, after having lost a previous bid to host the 1996 Summer Olympics, to Atlanta, United States. [21] It was to be the second time Athens would host the games, following the inaugural event of 1896. After an unsuccessful bid in 1990, the 1997 bid was radically improved, including an appeal to Greece's Olympic history. In the last round of voting, Athens defeated Rome with 66 votes to 41. [21] Prior to this round, the cities of Buenos Aires, Stockholm and Cape Town had been eliminated from competition, having received fewer votes. [21]

During the first three years of preparations, the International Olympic Committee had expressed concern over the speed of construction progress for some of the new Olympic venues. In 2000 the Organising Committee's president was replaced by Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who was the president of the original Bidding Committee in 1997. From that point forward, preparations continued at a highly accelerated, almost frenzied pace.

Although the heavy cost was criticized, estimated at $1.5 billion, Athens was transformed into a more functional city that enjoys modern technology both in transportation and in modern urban development. [142] Some of the finest sporting venues in the world were created in the city, all of which were fully ready for the games. The games welcomed over 10,000 athletes from all 202 countries. [142]

The 2004 Games were judged a success, as both security and organization worked well, and only a few visitors reported minor problems mainly concerning accommodation issues. The 2004 Olympic Games were described as Unforgettable, dream Games, by IOC President Jacques Rogge for their return to the birthplace of the Olympics, and for meeting the challenges of holding the Olympic Games. [142] The only observable problem was a somewhat sparse attendance of some early events. Eventually, however, a total of more than 3.5 million tickets were sold, which was higher than any other Olympics with the exception of Sydney (more than 5 million tickets were sold there in 2000). [143]

In 2008 it was reported that most of the Olympic venues had fallen into disrepair: according to those reports, 21 of the 22 facilities built for the games had either been left abandoned or are in a state of dereliction, with several squatter camps having sprung up around certain facilities, and a number of venues afflicted by vandalism, graffiti or strewn with rubbish. [144] [145] These claims, however, are disputed and likely to be inaccurate, as most of the facilities used for the Athens Olympics are either in use or in the process of being converted for post-Olympics use. The Greek Government has created a corporation, Olympic Properties SA, which is overseeing the post-Olympics management, development and conversion of these facilities, some of which will be sold off (or have already been sold off) to the private sector, [146] while other facilities are still in use just as during the Olympics, or have been converted for commercial use or modified for other sports. [147] Concerts and theatrical shows, such as those by the troupe Cirque du Soleil, have recently been held in the complex. [138]

Things to do

  1. Explore the Acropolis
  2. Go sightseeing at the National Archaeological Museum
  3. Explore the ancient Agora of Athens
  4. Go sightseeing at the Acropolis Museum
  5. Explore the Panathenaic Stadium & Olympic Stadium
  6. Experience the change of guard ceremony at Syntagma Square
  7. Go sightseeing at the temple of Hephaestus
  8. Visit the museum of Cycladic
  9. Wander around Plaka


See also

Related Research Articles

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Attica Region of Ancient Greece

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Outline of Athens Overview of and topical guide to Athens

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Athens:


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