Greece's Capital Athens

Greece’s Capital Athens

The Greek capital Athens is the country’s economic, administrative and financial center. With the most important port in Greece, Piraeus, Athens is an ever-growing metropolitan area. The city is a tourist magnet with its important ancient sites such as the Acropolis and the Greek National Museum. Athens is considered the cradle of democracy and was one of the world’s centers of power in ancient times. See for European smallest capitals.

The capital of Greece has around 655,000 residents – almost 4 million people live in the metropolitan area, including the port city of Piraeus. Athens is located in the historic Attica countryside, 5 km from the sea. The city is traversed by the up to 338 m high Turkish Mountains, which include the Lycabettos and the Acropolis with its famous temples. Athens is surrounded by the mountains Hymettos, Pentelikon, Parnes and Aegaleos.

The lively business and trading city is together with Piraeus the most important financial and economic center of Greece. Textile companies, chemical plants, oil refineries and shipyards in particular are located here.

Athens is also the cultural center of the country with a university, technical university, important museums such as the National and Acropolis Museum and also the seat of the head of the Greek Orthodox state church.

The city, with its numerous ancient sites, is a top tourist destination. Athens has an international airport (Hellenikon) and is connected to the large port of Piraeus by highways and trains. A new airport is being built northeast of Athens near Sparta.

A major problem is the heavy air pollution in the metropolitan agglomeration. The three main causes are the heavy traffic, the industrial facilities around the capital and the outdated heating systems that run on low-quality fuels with high sulfur content.

The smog cloud, called “Nefos” in Athens, is particularly troubling for the elderly and sick. According to one study, up to six deaths per day can be traced back to smog.

Air pollution is also increasingly affecting ancient buildings. A large-scale renovation program has been underway since 1977 to save the Acropolis and other sites from destruction. At the Parthenon, the walls and pillars were taken apart and the rusting iron brackets z. B. replaced by titanium or other rustproof metals.

Other works of art were replaced by copies. The supporting figures of the Korenhalle of the Erechtheion, the caryatids, are all copies. The originals are now in the Acropolis Museum. Since July 1995, the Greek Ministry of the Environment has issued special regulations for the capital and put a summer smog ordinance into force, which provides for driving bans at certain times. This often happens in low wind inversion weather conditions, when the hood of haze cannot escape over the city. Awarding the 2004 Summer Olympics to Athens could induce politicians to take even more serious measures to improve the situation.


In ancient times Athens was the capital of Attica. The oldest part is the Acropolis, which over the centuries has been equipped with more and more important creations of Greek architecture.

After the destruction in 480 BC BC by the Persians PERIKLES had the Parthenon and the Propylaea rebuilt under the direction of PHIDIAS. The Temple of Nikes and the Erechtheion followed later. The city, rich in magnificent buildings, spread out around the castle hill, including the halls and temples around the agora, many city gates, the Dionysostheater on the southern slope of the Acropolis and the Olympieion.

THEMISTOKLES had a 6.5 km long wall ring built around the city. PERIKLES connected them with the port of Piraeus by building the “Long Walls”.

From the Byzantine and later the Turkish times there are hardly any buildings worth mentioning today. Below the Acropolis, only the Plaka, the rather small-town-looking old town, has survived from this period.

After the liberation from Turkish rule, King OTTO I had a representative royal seat built in the 19th century based on the classical model of Munich. The university, academy and library date from this period. Later the Technical University, the National Museum and the Castle on Syntagama Square were added. However, many classicist buildings were sacrificed to the construction of high-rise buildings after 1950.


Settlement on the Acropolis can be traced back to the Neolithic. After centuries of unification processes in Attica, Athens became the outstanding city-state. In archaic and pre-classical times, this state went through a process of development from monarchy to democracy with a strong aristocratic upper class. According to the DRAKONS legislation around 624–621 BC Chr. Created especially SOLON from 594 the foundations of Athenian democracy , which after a period of tyranny in the Staatsordung of Kleisthenes 508 found their form. With the establishment of the Attisch-Delischen Seebund 477 Athens maintained its supremacy in ancient Greece until it was shaken by the Spartans in the Peloponnesian War and finally smashed in 338. After the turn of the century, Athens was first a Roman, then a Byzantine provincial capital. It lost more and more of its luster under changing rule and deteriorated under the Ottomans to the point of complete insignificance. It was only under OTTO I (King of Greece) in 1834 that Athens became the capital of Greece and the king’s residence.

Greece's Capital Athens