Athens is the capital of Greece and also the nation’s largest city. Its metropolitan area is home to about 4 million of the country’s 11.3 million inhabitants, and Athens is also a very popular tourist destination. The recorded history of Athens spans around 3,400 years.
Many visitors arrive to Athens to explore its classical era heritage. There is a number of ancient monuments and works of art still present in Athens, including the world famous Parthenon. Athens also contains plenty of monuments from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman eras.
Athens is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Acropolis of Athens and the Daphni Monastery, and it is also one of the world’s main centers of archaeological research. Three of the city’s most prominent hubs for archeological research are Athens University, the Archeological Society and the Demokritos laboratory for Archaeometry. There is a long row of archeological museums to visit for archaeologically inclined tourist, including the National Archeological Museum, The Byzantine Museum, the Cycladic Museum, the Epigraphic Museum, and the on-site museums located at Agora, Acropolis and Kerameikos.
Ever since the dawn of archeology, archeologists from abroad have traveled to Athens and the city is today home to 17 foreign archaeological institutes and hundreds of scholars and researchers from all over the world. There is also over a dozen archeological libraries and you can easily spend an entire vacation listening to archeological lectures and attending conferences, seminars and exhibitions here. The scientific atmosphere has also lead to the construction of one of the largest and best equipped digital planetaria in the world, the Athens Planetarium on Andrea Syngrou Avenue.
Athens is home to about 150 theatrical stages, including the renowned Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a stone theater structure built on the southern slop of the Acropolis of Athens in 161 AD. This is where you can enjoy the Athens Festival from May to October every year. When it comes to movie theaters Athens has its fair share of modern multiplexes, but visitors and Athenians looking for a more unique experience tend to flock to the open air garden cinemas.
Athens has hosted the modern Summer Olympic Games twice, first in 1896 and then in 2004. Since the 20004 Summer Olympics, the Athens Olympic Stadium has been acknowledged as one of the most beautiful stadia in the world, and it did for instance host the UEFA Champions League final in 2007. Athens has another major stadium as well, the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus which, among many other things, has hosted the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup Final.
Athens is the only major European city bisected by a mountain range, giving it an unique outlay. It is actually no less than four mountain ranges that extend into city boundaries and this capital is crisscrossed with miles of trails that can be explored on foot and bike. Outside of Athens, it is possible to engage in a wide variety of outdoor activities such as rock climbing, hang gliding and skiing.