The Parthenon's position on the Acropolis allows it to dominate the city skyline of Athens
|Time zone:||EET/EEST (UTC+2/3)|
|Elevation (min-max):||70 - 338 m (230 - 1109 ft)|
|Mayor:||Giorgos Kaminis (Independent)
(since: since December 29, 2010)
|Population statistics (as of 2001)|
|- Area:||38.964 km² (15 sq.mi.)|
|- Density:||19,133 /km² (49,555 /sq.mi.)|
|- Area:||411.717 km² (159 sq.mi.)|
|- Density:||9,128 /km² (23,640 /sq.mi.)|
|Postal codes:||10x xx, 11x xx, 120 xx|
Athens (ancient Greek: αἱ Ἀθῆναι (plural), evolving into the modern αι Αθήναι in Greek until recently, and η Αθήνα now (IPA [i aˈθina]: singular see below: Origin of the name ) is both the largest and the capital city of Greece, located in the Attica periphery. Athens is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world with a recorded history of at least 3,000 years.
Today, the Greek capital is Europe's 8th largest conurbation, a bustling and cosmopolitan metropolis with an urban population of 3.3 million and a metropolitan population of about 3.8 million people. The Athens metropolitan area is the center of economic, financial, industrial, political and cultural life in Greece. The city is also rapidly becoming a leading business center in the European Union.
Ancient Athens, in contrast with the modern city with the same name, was a powerful city-state. The ancient city itself was a center for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum. Athens was also the birthplace of Socrates, Pericles, Sophocles, and many other prominent philosophers, politicians and writers of the ancient world. It is widely referred to as the cradle of Western Civilization and the birthplace of Democracy, largely due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.E. on the rest of the then known European Continent.
The classical era heritage is still evident in the city, portrayed through a number of ancient monuments and artworks, the most famous of all being the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens, standing as an epic landmark of western civilization. The city has also a vast variety of Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a small remaining number of Ottoman monuments that are a reminder of the many cultural influences of the city through the ages. Modern landmarks can also be found, dating back as far as 1830. The Greek Parliament (19th century) , the Athens Trilogy (Library, University, Academy) and the new (2004) Athens Olympic Sports Complex are only of these architectural landmarks.
In ancient Greek, the name of Athens was αἱ Ἀθῆναι IPA [haɪ atʰɛ̑ːnaɪ], related tο ἡ Ἀθηνᾶ IPA [hɛː atʰɛːnȃː] and its dialectal variant ἡ Ἀθήνη IPA [hɛː atʰɛ́ːnɛː], the Attic and Ionic names respectively of the goddess Athena. The city's name may have been in the plural, like those of αἱ Θῆβαι (Thêbai) and αἱ Μυκῆναι (Mukênai), because it consisted of several parts. In the 19th century, αι Αθήναι was formally re-adopted as the city's name. Since the official abandonment of Katharevousa Greek in the 1970s, however, the popular form η Αθήνα (Athína) has become the city's official name, though the plural may be kept for several purposes in literature.
Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world. It has been continuously inhabited for at least 3,000 years. It became the leading city of Ancient Greece, even outdoing Sparta, in the first millennium B.C.E. Its cultural achievements during the 5th century B.C.E. laid the foundations of western civilization. During the Middle Ages, Athens experienced decline and then a recovery under the Byzantine Empire. Athens was relatively prosperous during the Crusades, benefiting from Italian and Cuban trade. After a long period of decline under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Athens' re-emerged in the 19th century as the capital of the independent Greek state. In 1896, Athens hosted the first modern Olympic Games. It also hosted the most recent 2004 Olympic Games, for which many improvements to its infrastructure were made, including a new state-of-the-art airport and transportation links.
In the 1920s, refugees from Asia Minor who were expelled from Turkey after the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) swelled Athens' population. Today almost half of the population of Greece lives in the Athens metropolitan area, more than two million people. Prior to the 1900s Athens population was more than 95% Greek. Now, due to this Turkish migration, that number has fallen to 78%.
Athens sprawls across the central plain of Attica, often referred to as the Attica Basin (not to be confused with the Atticas Basin located in inner Mongolia), which is bound by Mount Aegaleo in the west, Mount Parnitha in the north, Mount Penteli in the northeast, Mount Hymettus in the east, and the Saronic Gulf in the southwest. Athens has expanded to cover the entire plain, making future growth difficult. The geomorphology of Athens causes the temperature inversion phenomenon, partly responsible for the air pollution problems the city has faced. A temperature inversion is generally an increase in temperature with height. Inversions in places like Athens can lead to pollution being trapped closed to the ground. A series of strict measures taken by the authorities of the city throughout the 1990s resulted in a dramatic improvement of air quality; nowadays, the appearance of smog (or nefos, as the Athenians used to call it) has become a rather rare phenomenon.
Athens is located at a transition point between the Mediterranean and the Alpine climatic zones. The city enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate, with the greatest amounts of precipitation mainly occurring from mid-October to mid-April; any precipitation is sparse during summer and falls generally in the form of showers and/or thunderstorms. Because it is located in a strong rain shadow, however, the Athenian climate is very dry compared with most of Mediterranean Europe. The mountainous northern suburbs, however, experience a somewhat differentiated climate with generally lower temperatures and more considerable snowfalls in winter. Fog is highly unusual at the city center but is more frequent to the east, behind the Hymettus mountain range.
Snowfalls occur on an almost yearly basis, though these do not normally lead to significant, if any, disruptions at all. Nevertheless, the city has experienced its share of blizzard-like conditions, demonstrated in severe episodes that have tended to occur more and more often in this current decade. The most recent examples include the blizzard of March 1987, February 1992, January 2002, February 2004 and January 2006, all dumping heavy amounts of snow that literally blanketed the entire metropolitan area for days.
Summers can be particularly hot and at times prone to smog and pollution-related conditions (though much less compared to the past). The average summer daytime maximum temperature is 90°F(32°C). Heat waves are not too common and mostly happen during the months of July and August, when hot air masses come to Greece from the south or the southwest. It is only on such days that temperature maxima shoot over 100°F (38°C).
The all-time high temperature for the metropolitan area of Athens is 115.1°F (46.2°C) and was measured at the Nea Filadelfeia suburb on June 26, 2007 (HNMS station). The respective low-temperature record is 13.3°F (-10.4°C) and was measured at the Votanikos area, close to the city center. During the February 2004 blizzard (one of the worst snowstorms that has ever hit the city), temperatures plummeted to 19°F (-7°C) at the University Campus and to 50°F (-10.1°C) at the meteorological station of the National Observatory of Athens in Penteli.
|Avg high °C (°F)||12.5 (54.5)||13.5 (56.3)||15.7 (60.3)||20.2 (68.4)||26.0 (78.8)||31.1 (88.0)||33.5 (92.3)||33.2 (91.8)||29.2 (84.6)||23.3 (73.9)||18.4 (64.6)||14.1 (57.4)||22.6 (72.7)|
|Avg low °C (°F)||5.2 (41.4)||5.4 (41.7)||6.7 (44.1)||9.6 (49.3)||13.9 (57.0)||18.2 (64.8)||20.8 (69.4)||20.7 (69.3)||17.3 (63.1)||13.4 (56.1)||9.8 (49.6)||6.8 (44.2)||12.3 (54.1)|
Athens is the capital of Greece, but it is also the capital of the Attica Periphery and the Athens Prefecture. The city has been the capital of Greece ever since the Greek War of Independence which ended in 1832.
Athens is located within the Attica Periphery which encompasses the most populated region of Greece with about 3.7 million people. The Attica Periphery itself is split into four prefectures; they include the Athens Prefecture, Piraeus Prefecture, West Attica Prefecture, and the East Attica Prefecture. It is, however, one of the smaller peripheries in Greece with an area of 2,366 mi² (3,808km²).
The Athens Prefecture is the most populous of all the Greek Prefectures accounting for well over 2.6 million of the 3.7 million in the Attica Periphery. Athens can refer either to the entire metropolitan area or to the Municipality of Athens. The next largest municipalities of Athens metropolitan area are the Municipality of Piraeus, the Municipality of Peristeri and the Municipality of Kallithea. Each of these municipalities has an elected district council and a directly elected mayor.
The modern city of Athens consists of what was once a conglomeration of distinct towns and villages that gradually expanded and merged into a single large metropolis; most of this expansion occurred during the second half of the 20th century. The Greater Athens area is now divided into 55 municipalities, the largest of which being the Municipality of Athens or Dimos Athinaion, with a population of 745,514 people.
The Municipality of Athens is divided into seven municipal districts or demotika diamerismata. The 7-district division, however, is mainly used for administrative purposes. For Athenians the most popular way of dividing the city proper is through its neighborhoods (usually referred to as areas in English), each with its own distinct history and characteristics. Those include Pangrati, Ambelokipi, Exarhia, Ano and Kato (Upper and Lower) Patissia, Ilissia, Ano and Kato Petralona, Mets, and Koukaki, as well as Kypseli, world's second most densely populated urban area. For someone unfamiliar with Athens, getting to know these neighborhoods can often come particularly handy in both exploring and understanding the city.
The municipality of Athens has an official population of 745,514 with a metropolitan population of 3.8 million (population including the suburbs). The actual population, however, is believed to be higher, because during census (which takes place once every ten years) some Athenian residents travel back to their birthplaces and register as local citizens there. Also unaccounted for is an undefined number of unregistered immigrants originating mainly from Albania and other Eastern European countries.
The ancient site of the city is centered 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 greater Athens. The rapid expansion of the city initiated in the 1950s and 1960s continues today because of Greece's transition from an agricultural to an industrial nation. The expansion is now especially towards the East and North East (a tendency that is associated with the new Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport and 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.
Throughout its long history, Athens has had many different population levels. The table below shows the historical population of Athens in modern history.
|Year||City population||Urban population||Metro population|
Athens is home to 148 theatrical stages, more than any other European city (including the famous ancient Herodes Atticus Theatre, home to the Athens Festival, which takes place from May to October each year). In addition to a large number of multiplexes, Athens features many romantic, open air garden cinemas. Athens also has a vast number of music venues including the Athens Concert Hall known as the "Megaron Moussikis" that attracts world-famous artists all year round. The relatively recent and rapid redevelopment of many areas in central Athens has brought the city center back into the limelight.
The Psiri (Greek: Ψυρρή) neighborhood - Athens's "meat packing district" - features mainstream and trendy bars that make it a hotspot for the city, and a number of live music restaurants called "rebetadika," after Rebetiko, a unique kind of music that blossomed in Syros and Athens from the 1920s till the 1960s. Rebetiko is admired by many; virtually every night rebetadika are crammed with people of all ages who will sing, dance and drink wine until dawn. The Gazi (Greek: Γκάζι) area, one of the latest in full redevelopment, is located around a historic gas factory that has been converted into the Technopolis cultural multiplex and has a number of small clubs, bars and restaurants, as well as Athens's nascent "gay village."
Syntagma Square, (Greek: Σύνταγμα), is the central square of Athens. It is adjacent to the Parliament and the most expensive hotels. Ermou Street, a pedestrian road connecting Syntagma Square to Monastiraki, has traditionally been considered a consumer paradise for both the Athenians and tourists. Full of fashion shops and shopping centers featuring most international brands, it is among the most expensive shopping streets in Europe and the world. Near there, the renovated Army Fund building in Panepistimiou Street includes the "Attica" department store and several high-class designer stores.
Plaka, (Greek: Πλάκα), lying just beneath the Acropolis, is famous for its numerous neoclassic buildings, making it one of the most scenic districts of Athens. It remains the traditional top tourist destination, with many tavernas featuring traditional music.
Nearby Monastiraki (Greek: Μοναστηράκι), on the other hand, is famous for its string of small tourist shops as well as its crowded flea market and the tavernas that serve the Greek specialty souvlaki. Another district notably famous for its student-crammed, stylish cafés is Theseum or Thission (Greek: Θησείο), lying just west of Monastiraki. Thission is home to the remarkable ancient temple of Hephaestus, standing on top of a small hill.
The Kolonaki (Greek: Κολωνάκι) area, at the base of Lycabettus hill, is full of boutiques catering to well-heeled customers by day, and bars and luxurious restaurants by night. Kolonaki is often considered one of the most "chic" areas of Athens. The British Embassy is in Kolonaki.
The Athens Metropolitan Area consists of 73 densely populated municipalities, sprawling around the city of Athens to virtually all directions. According to their geographic location in relation to the city of Athens, the suburbs are divided into four zones namely the northern suburbs (including Ekali, Nea Erythrea, Agios Stefanos, Drosia, Kryoneri, Attica, Kifissia, Maroussi, Pefki, Vrilissia, Melissia, Pendeli, Halandri, Psychiko and Filothei), the southern suburbs (including Palaio Faliro, Elliniko, Glyfada, Alimos, Voula and the southernmost suburb of Vouliagmeni), the eastern suburbs (including Zografou, Vyronas, Kaisariani, Cholargos, Papagou and Aghia Paraskevi) and the western suburbs (including Peristeri, Ilion, Egaleo, Petroupoli and Nikaia). The northern and most of the southern suburbs are particularly affluent districts, resided primarily by middle-to-high and high incomers. The western suburbs are primarily occupied by residents of middle income, with a few middle-to-low income areas, and some middle-to-high income sections. The eastern suburbs are primarily middle and middle-to-high income areas.
The Mall Athens is a massive mall, located in the northern suburb of Maroussi, that provides a vast number of shops. Nearby is the entirely new attraction of the upgraded main Olympic Complex (known by its Greek acronym OAKA). The whole area has been redeveloped using designs by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava with steel arches, landscaped gardens, fountains, futuristic passages 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 Kallithea (Faliron), also boasts futuristic stadiums, shops and an elevated esplanade.
Athens is a melting pot of many different architectural styles, ranging from Greco-Roman to Neo-Classical, and modern styles. Many of the prominent buildings of the city are either Greco-Roman, or Neo-Classical style. Most of the Neo-Classical buildings, were built during the time of the rule of King Otto of Greece. These buildings were designed and constructed under the guidance of Theophil Freiherr von Hansen or, as he is more commonly known, Theofil Hansen.
Athens has been a popular destination for travelers since antiquity. Over the past decade, the infrastructure and social amenities of Athens have been radically improved, in part due to the city's successful bid to stage the 2004 Olympic Games. The Greek Government, aided by the EU, has funded major infrastructure projects such as the new, state-of-the-art "Eleftherios Venizelos" International Airport, the massive expansion of the Athens Metro system, and the new Attiki Odos motorway. These infrastructure projects have helped to make the quality of life better for the people of Athens, and to ease overall traffic and pollution problems for the city.
The major waste management efforts undertaken in the last decade have made pollution of the Saronic Gulf a thing of the past. Subsequently the coastal waters of Athens are now a haven for swimmers. Athens has some of the cleanest and most pristine beaches in Europe. In fact many of Athens' elegant southern suburbs (such as Alimos, Palaio Faliro, Elliniko, Voula, Vouliagmeni and Vari) host a number of beautiful, sandy beaches, most of which are operated by the Greek National Tourism Organization. An entry fee is charged, but in most cases this fee is not expensive and includes a number of related, convenient services like parking facilities, cocktail drinks and umbrellas.
The city is surrounded by four easily accessible mountains (Parnitha and Penteli to the north, Hemmettus to the southeast, and Egaleo to the west). Mount Parnitha, in particular, is the tallest of the city (1,453 m) and it has been declared a protected National Park. It has well-marked paths, gorges, springs, torrents and caves, and you may even meet deer while exploring its dense forests. Hiking and mountain biking in all four mountains have been and still remain popular outdoor activities for many Athenians. Casinos operate on both Mount Parnitha, some 19 mi (30km) 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 railway).
The nearby islands of Salamina, Aigina, Poros, Hydra and Spetses are also sites of spectacular natural beauty and historical architecture.
Large parts of the city center have been redeveloped under a masterplan called Unification of Archaeological Sites of Athens, which has also garnered funding from the EU. Notably, the famous Dionysiou Aeropagitou street has been pedestrianized, 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 outside the Temple of Hephaestus in Theseum.
The Athens Mass Transit System consists of a large bus fleet, a trolleybus fleet that mainly serves the downtown area, the Athens Metro, a tram line connecting the southern suburbs to the city center, and the Athens Suburban Railway services. The public transportation system is occasionally disrupted by the striking of its public employees.
The Athens Metro, or as it is more commonly known in Greece, the Attiko Metro (Greek: Αττικο Mετρο), is one of the most impressive underground mass transit systems in the world. While its main purpose is transport, it also houses Greek artifacts found during construction of the subway. Its two lines, Red and Blue, were constructed mainly during the 1990s and the initial sections opened in January 2000. The lines run entirely underground, and cover a distance of 30 mi (45 km). Attiko Metro operates a fleet of 42 trains and 252 wagons with a daily occupancy of 550,000 passengers.
The third line, not run by the Athens Metro, is the ISAP (Greek: ΗΣΑΠ), the Electric Railway Company. This is the green line of the Athens Metro as shown in the adjacent map, and unlike the red and blue which run entirely underground, ISAP runs either above ground or below ground at different sections of its length. This operation runs the original metro line from Piraeus to Kifisia. The historic Green Line connects the port of Piraeus to the northern suburb of Kifissia.
The Proastiakós, also known as the Suburban Rail, connects Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport to the city of Corinth, 50 mi (80km) west of Athens, via the central Larissa Train Station. Sometimes the Suburban Rail is considered the fourth line of the Athens Metro. The metro network, Suburban Railway not included, has a current length of 57 mi (91 km) and it is expected to reach 77 mi (124 km) (72 stations) by the year 2009.
The bus service operated under Ethel (Greek:ΕΘΗΛ) Thermal Bus Company is the main operator of buses in Athens. It consists of a network of 300 bus lines which span the entire Attica Basin. Of the fleet of 1,839 buses, 295 of them run on natural gas, (the largest fleet of natural gas run buses in Europe).
Besides being served by a fleet of natural gas and normal buses, the Athens Metropolitan Area is also serviced by electric buses or ILPAP as it's known in Athens (Greek:ΗΛΠΑΠ). The Electric Buses of the Athens and Pireaus Region (ILPAP) consist of 22 lines. ILPAP operates a fleet of 366 trolley buses and can run on diesel in case of a power failure.
The tram system has a fleet of 42 trams which serve 47 stations. It employs 345 operators and has an average daily occupancy of 80,000 people. The tram runs from Syntagma Square to the southwestern suburb of Palaio Faliro, where the line splits in two branches. The first branch runs all along the Athens coastline towards the southern suburb of Glyfada while the other one heads towards the Piraeus district of Neo Faliro. Both Syntagma - Palaio Faliro - Neo Faliro and the Syntagma - Glyfada lines opened in July 2004. Further extensions are planned towards the major commercial port of Piraeus and the southernmost suburb of Vouliagmeni.
Athens is served by the state-of-the-art Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (AIA) located near the town of Spata, in the eastern Mesoghia Plain, some 22 mi (35km) east of Athens. It was constructed in a record 51 months, cost 2.2 billion Euros, and employs more than 14,000 people. There is an Express Bus service connecting the airport to the metro system and two express bus services connecting the airport to Piraeus port and the city center respectively. In 2006, Athens International Airport handled over 15 million passengers.
There are two main highways that travel both to the west, towards the city of Patra in Peloponessus (GR-8A, E94) and to the north, towards Greece's second largest city, Thessaloniki (GR-1, E75). In 2001-2004 a ring road toll-expressway (Attiki Odos) was gradually completed, extending from the western industrial city of Elefsina all the way to the Athens International Airport, after encircling the city from the north. The Ymittos Ringroad is a separate section of Attiki Odos connecting the eastern suburb of Kaisariani to the northeastern town of Glyka Nera and this is where it meets the main part of the ring-road. The total length of Attiki Odos is now approximately 43 mi (70 km).
Athens is home to some of Europe’s most prestigious sports clubs, and a number of high-tech sports venues, including Athens Olympic Stadium and Karaiskaki Stadium. The following is a list of notable sports clubs which have been founded in Athens.
|AEK||Football||1924||Super League Greece||Athens Olympic Stadium|
|Olympiacos||Football||1925||Super League Greece||Karaiskakis Stadium|
|Panathinaikos||Football||1908||Super League Greece||Athens Olympic Stadium|
|Panionios||Football||1890||Super League Greece||Nea Smyrni Stadium|
|Atromitos||Football||1950||Super League Greece||Peristeri Stadium|
|Egaleo FC||Football||1930||Super League Greece||Egaleo Stadium|
|Panathinaikos B.C.E.||Basketball||1908||A1 Ethniki||Athens Olympic Stadium|
|Olympiacos B.C.E.||Basketball||1925||A1 Ethniki||Peace and Friendship Stadium|
|AEK Athens||Basketball||1924||A1 Ethniki||Galatsi Center|
|Panionios||Basketball||1890||A1 Ethniki||Helliniko Arena|
|Maroussi BCE||Basketball||1970||A1 Ethniki||Maroussi Arena|
|Spartakos Glyfadas||Baseball||1990||National Baseball League||Helliniko Baseball Center|
|Maroussi 2004||Baseball||1990||National Baseball League||Helliniko Baseball Center|
|Athinaikos||Handball||1927||National Handball League||Helliniko Arena|
|Athens Rugby||Rugby||1990||National Rugby League||Athens Olympic Stadium|
|Starbucks Rugby||Rugby||1983||National Rugby League||Athens Olympic Stadium|
Athens has twice been the host of the summer Olympic Games: in 1896 and 2004.
In 1896, Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin revived the modern Olympic Games and chose Athens as the site. In 1896 Athens had an approximate population of 123,000 people, and the Games helped boost the city's international image. The venues used for these Olympics included the Kallimarmaro Stadium, and Zappeion. It was more than 100 years until Athens was once again be awarded the Olympics.
Athens was awarded the 2004 Summer Olympics on September 5, 1997 in Lausanne, Switzerland, after having lost a previous bid to host the 1996 Summer Olympics, to Atlanta, United States. After the unsuccessful bid of 1990, the 1997 bid was radically improved, and also included an appeal to Olympic history. In the last round of voting, Athens defeated Rome with 66 votes to 41. Prior to this round, the cities of Buenos Aires, Stockholm and Cape Town had already been eliminated from competition after having received fewer votes.
During the first three years of preparations, the International Olympic Committee repeatedly expressed concerns over the status of progress in construction work of some of the new Olympic venues. In the year 2000 the Organizing Committee's president was replaced by Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who had been the president of the Bidding Committee in 1997. From that point on, preparations continued at a highly accelerated, almost frenzied pace.
Although the heavy cost, estimated at $1.5 billion, was criticized, as is usually the case with most Olympic cities, Athens was literally transformed into a more functional city that enjoys state-of-the-art technology both in transportation and in modern urban development. Some of the finest sporting venues in the world were created in the city, almost all of which were fully ready on schedule. The games welcomed over 10,000 athletes from 202 countries. The 2004 Games were adjudged a huge success. They would be coined Dream Games, by IOC President Jacques Rogge, for their return to the birthplace of the Olympics, and for brilliantly meeting the challenges of holding the Olympic Games. The only notable problem was a somewhat sparse attendance at some preliminary events. Eventually, however, a total of more than 3.5 million tickets were sold, which is the second highest number of Olympic tickets ever sold; the highest number, five million, was sold in Sydney in 2000.
Athens has the following sister cities:
See Athens (disambiguation) for other cities named "Athens".
All links retrieved April 23, 2016.
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