The city of Athens was one of the major populated center of ancient Greece and the Mediterranean area in ancient times, leaving a profound trace in the cultural and political history of Europe and the Western world.
Athens was a city-state, the first in the history of humanity to adopt a democratic political system. It is also considered the cradle of the theatre, philosophy, historiography, pedagogy and politics, understood as the
active participation of citizens. It was born in Attica, a territory rich in agricultural and mineral resources, already at the time of the Mycenaean there was a fortified citadel there; but Athens proper was born in the eighth century BC with the Egyptian king Cecrops and among his sovereigns he could number Aegeus and Theseus. In modern times Athens is the name of the capital of Greece. The city in its largest metropolitan area has close to 5,000,000 inhabitants (almost 50% of the Greek population). Today’s Athens overlooks the Argosaronic Gulf with a very long coastline and occupies a large basin limited to the east by Mount Imetto, to the north by Mount Pendeli and to the west by a series of low hills (Mount Aigaleo). To the North West stands the imposing bulk of Mount Parnitha, an alpine-looking mountain on whose summit there is a large hotel with a casino attached.
The first place you should visit in Athens is of course the Acropolis. From the top of the sacred rock, as the Greeks call it, you can practically breathe the magnificence of ancient Greece. Do not think, however, that you will be alone up there. Other archaeological sites are the agora, the market with the temple dedicated to Hephaestus, in good condition, the temple dedicated to Zeus and the arch of Hadrian. The interesting museums are, among others, the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, the Folklore Museum, the Ceramics Museum (Keramikos), the Byzantine Museum, the Music Museum, the War
Museum, the Museum of Benaki etc. In all there are about 50 museums in Athens. A popular area for shopping, eating or drinking is Plaka, just below the acropolis. It is considered a fairly touristy area, here you can get an idea of old Athens, with low buildings and narrow streets. In Monastiraki there is and incredible bazaar, between Hephaestou street and around the small square.
In Sintagma you can visit the tomb of the unknown soldier. Here you can see the guards in their uniform features, the Euzones, and if you are lucky you will witness the slow and complicated ceremony of changing the guard. You can also feed the pigeons here. Interestingly, there was a monument
to the unknown soldier also in ancient Athens. The work, Megaron Mousikis, offers wonderful shows, but even more beautiful is the Theater of Herod Atticus, just below the Acropolis. Athens is one of the main tourist
destinations in Greece, and thousands of visitors come here every year for at least a couple of days before embarking on the journey to the islands or other tourist resorts in the country.