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As I am sure many will know, Athens is the capital and largest city in Greece and is one of the oldest cities in the world with a recorded history of approx. 3,500 years. It is often known as the cradle of Western civilization due to the many political and cultural achievements that occurred here during the classical Greek period (5th-4th centuries BC)and the influence they had on the rest of Europe. The city contains a wealth of heritage not only from the classical era (the Parthenon being world famous) but also from other times such as those of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Today, Athens is a large metropolis of over 3 million people and forms the economic, financial and political centre of Greece. The city held the first modern Summer Olympic Games in 1896 (the original ancient games originating in Greece) and again later in 2004. It is also home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites - the Acropolis of Athens and the medieval Daphni Monastery. Anyway, that's a very limited  piece about Athens for now. Further reading here.

A few of my photos and some brief text follows. The duration of my stay in the city was far from adequate and it is certainly one of the (several) cities I could quite happily return to and explore in more depth.

The Parthenon (Above). The Parthenon is a former temple dedicated to the goddess Athena and is the most famous of the remains of several ancient buildings of immense historical and architectural significance to be found on The Acropolis of Athens; The Acropolis itself being an ancient citadel located on a high rocky hill overlooking the city. The Parthenon was constructed from 447-438 BC (with further decoration continuing until 432 BC) during a time when the Athenian Empire was flourishing. Built in the Doric style, it is the most important construction of Classical Greece that can be seen today and it has come to symbolise the historical significance of Ancient Greece as the cradle of Western civilisation. With a long history, a couple of events of note are from 1687 when the building suffered partial destruction by a Venetian bombardment which ignited an Ottoman ammunition dump inside the building and also, famously, the controversial removal of some of the surviving marble sculptures by the 7th Earl of Elgin in 1806. For further reading (from a Greek point of view, that is), click here. Some more photos of the Parthenon and views from the Acropolis can be found lower down the page.

Panathenaic Stadium (Above). The Panathenaic Stadium is located in the central district of Pangrati and was originally built in ca. 566 BC (and rebuilt in marble in 329 BC). Since then it has also undergone several renovations as a modern Olympic venue. It's role is multipurpose hosting celebratory occasions and concerts as well as athletic events. Also known as the Kallimármaro (' beautifully marbled'), it is the only stadium in the world built entirely out of marble and one of the oldest in the world. Originally, it seated about 80,000 spectators and today holds 45,000. As well as being used for the first modern Summer Olympic Games in 1896, it hosted archery and the was the finish of the Marathon during the 2004 Olympics. Significantly, the Panathenaic Stadium is where the Olympic flame handover ceremony takes place before every Olympic Games.

Evzones (Above). Noted for their uniforms and unique posturing, these are members of an elite infantry corps in the Greek army. Today, they may be found  guarding  the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Presidential Mansion and the gate of their camp. For further information on the Evzones and the changing of the guard, see here.

Old Royal Palace (Above). This has housed the Greek (Hellenic) Parliament since 1934.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus (Above). This is a stone theatre located on the southwest slope of the Acropolis. Originally built in 161 AD by the Athenian magnate Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, it was destroyed in 267 AD, but restored with marble in the 1950's. In modern times, performances here have been by many notable classical singers, as well as performances by more contemporary artists.

Theatre of Dionysus (Above). This theatre is located on the southern slope of the Acropolis and was an important part of the lives of Greeks in ancient Athens. It is sometimes considered the birthplace of European theatre; the venue was built at around the same time theatre and drama were being pioneered during the times of classical Greek civilisation. Lost for many years, The Theatre of Dionysus has been known about since the 1700s and its remains were excavated from 1838 onwards by The Greek Archaeological Society. In 2009, it was announced by the Greek authorities would perform a partial restoration of this exceptional Athenian (and global) heritage site.

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