Athens, the capital of Greece, is among the oldest cities in the world. Its recorded history goes back to 3200 BCE. Ancient Athens, initially a settlement on the Acropolis, developed in the 6th century BCE into an all-powerful city-state. During the classical period, it became the center of the arts, knowledge, and philosophy, the seat Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum. It is widely referred to as the birthplace of democracy. Often, Athens, and more generally Greece, is called the “cradle of Western civilization”.
The heritage of the classical period is still apparent in the city, as reflected in its ancient monuments and works of art, with the universally-known Parthenon, considered to be the emblematic monument of ancient Western civilization and its most brilliant monument, dedicated to the goddess Athena, protector of the city. It is among the world’s most recognizable monuments and is admired as a global symbol of the lasting values of excellence, democracy, and art.
On the foothills of the Acropolis lies the Pnyx, where the ancient city’s popular assembly met to decide on the important issues affecting the city from the 6th century BCE through the end of the 4th century BCE. Close to the Pnyx lies the ancient Agora (marketplace), an open area to the northwest of the Acropolis, a gathering place for men, a focal point for athletics, art, the spiritual and political life of the ancient city, but mainly as its economic center.
Also preserved in Athens are monuments of Rome and Byzantium, the medieval Daphne Monastery which, along with the Acropolis, have been designed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, along with a small number of Ottoman monuments.