Athens is the capital and the biggest city in Greece. It dominates the entire Attica region and is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a history spanning more than 3,400 years. Today, it has turned to be the largest economic center in Southern Europe, a global city featuring lively restaurants, historic sites, parks, bars, and much more.
10 Facts About Athens To Know About
Athens holds a special place in the history of Western Civilization. Though it is blessed with an incredible history and a rich culture, there are many known and unknown facts about Athens. So, here is a compilation for you to check out.
When we talk about the best places to visit in Athens, Acropolis is a spot that always tops one’s bucket list. Located on the rocky outcrop of Athens, Acropolis is an incredible citadel that features the greatest architectures of the historical world.
But not many know that it also has the world’s oldest weather station, located at its base. It is also called the Tower of the Winds, which has an octagonal marble structure, dating back to 2000 years.
Many archaeologists believe that this place once had a hydraulic-powered water clock, with water running down to steep Acropolis hills so that people living in Athens could tell the exact time even at nighttime.
Lord Elgin, who brought a few Parthenon’s sculptures to London, also wanted to bring this clock structure. However, he was denied. After two centuries, it was opened to the public for the first time in 2016.
So, there are valid reasons why Greeks take theaters so seriously because it comes from the tradition itself. Their traditional theaters date back to the time when Athens had its first democracy. Athens was home to about 148 theatrical stages, which was more than the Broadway and West End combined.
Yes, that’s true. The National Archaeology Museum was built in the 19th century. Besides being so old, it is also one of the world’s largest antiquities museums.
It is retained in a remarkable Neoclassical building, occupying a space of 8,000 square meters. From prehistoric times to recent antiquity, it gives a complete outline of Greek civilization.
With so many historical attractions in Athens, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus is something to make a note of. Though it has stone theaters much similar to Eastern Europe, this is the largest of them all.
Apart from being big, not many know that it was built as early as 160 AD. Later, it was renovated during the 1950s. Another fascinating fact about this tourist spot is that popular performers like Elton John, Andrea Bocelli, Motserrat Caballe, Goran Bregovic, and Jose Carreras have performed on this historic stage.
According to Wikipedia, Athens origins date back to 3000 years. The earliest presence of humans was known to be somewhere between the 11th and 7th B.C.
Classical Athens was one of the most powerful city-states, which emerged in aggregation with the port of Piraeus (seagoing development). A hub for philosophy, learning arts, and home to Aristotle’s Lyceum & Plato’s Academy, Athens is extensively referred to as the birthplace of democracy and cradle of Western civilization.
6. Cave of Schist – the oldest reported human presence in Athens
Cave of Schist is one of the oldest known sites of human presence in Athens and has been inhabited continuously for 7,000 years.
In 1400 BC, the Cave of Schist turned out to be a vital hub for the Mycenaean civilization whereas the Acropolis was a major hub for Mycenaean fortress.
Unlike other Mycenaean centers like Pylos and Mycenae, it is not known if Athens actually suffered any destruction in around 1200 BC. Athens, however, like other Bronze-age settlements were economically declined for 150 years.
7. Boasts 17 archaeological institutions
It is not surprising that Athens is one of the biggest centers for archaeology and historical subjects in the world. It is home to 17 Foreign Archaeological institutions.
Yes, you heard that right. Contrary to the belief, the first-ever Olympic Games were held at a place called Olympia, in Peloponnese, during 776 B.C. and was not in Athens. However, Athens already had its own set of games since 566 B.C., which was called the Panathenaic Games.
Legends said that Poseidon & Athena, the God of the sea had a battle on who would become the city’s patron. Each offered a special gift to the city to decide who gave the better. Poseidon offered water and a horse whereas Athena gifted an olive tree. Athena’s gift won, and legends say that’s how Athens got its name.
10. Chosen as Greece’s capital city for sentimental & historic reasons
After the foundation of the Greek Kingdom following the Greek War of Independence, Athens was selected as the Greek’s capital in 1834, mainly due to sentimental and historical reasons.
It was abridged to a small town of just 4,000 people who resided along the foot of the Acropolis. Otto of Bavaria, Greece’s first King commissioned two architects Eduard Schaubert & Stamatios Kleanthis to design a plan for Athens picturing it to be a modern city so that it is apt for a state’s capital.
The initial plan for this city had a triangle-defined Acropolis, an ancient cemetery of Kerameikos and a new palace for the Bavarian king (which is where the Greek Parliament sits now). This was done to emphasize the steadiness between ancient and modern Athens.
Athens hosted its first-ever modern Olympic Games in 1896. In the 1920s, many Greek refugees, banished from Asia after the Greco-Turkish War, amplified the population of Athens.
Nevertheless, it was only during World War II, and in 1950s & 1960s, the city’s population exploded, and that’s exactly when Athens saw a steady expansion.