Athens Travel Blog› entry 12 of 19 › view all entries
Athens (pronounced /ËˆÃ¦Î¸É™nz/; Greek: Î‘Î¸Î®Î½Î± Athina, IPA: [aËˆÎ¸ina]), the capital and largest city of Greece, dominates the Attica periphery: as one of the world's oldest cities, its recorded history spans at least 3,000 years.
The Greek capital has a population of 745,514 (in 2001) within its administrative limits and a land area of 39 kmÂ² (15 sq mi). The urban area of Athens extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3.
Classical Athens was a powerful city-state. A centre 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 its many other prominent philosophers, writers and politicians 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 5th and 4th centuries BC on the rest of the then known European continent.
The heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, represented by a number of ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon on the Acropolis, widely considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. The city also retains a vast variety of Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of remaining Ottoman monuments projecting the city's long history across the centuries. Landmarks of the modern era are also present, dating back to 1830 (the establishment of the independent Greek state), and taking in the Greek Parliament (19th century) and the Athens Trilogy (Library, University, and Academy). Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics, with great success.
The word Acropolis, although Greek in origin and associated primarily with the Greek cities Athens, Argos, Thebes, and Corinth (with its Acrocorinth), may be applied generically to all such citadels, including (Rome, Jerusalem, Celtic Bratislava, many in Asia Minor, or even Castle Rock in Edinburgh.
The most famous example is the Acropolis of Athens, which, by reason of its historical associations and the several famous buildings erected upon it (most notably the Parthenon), is known without qualification as the Acropolis.
Because of its classical Greco-Roman style, the ruins of Mission San Juan Capistrano's Great Stone Church in California, United States has been called the "American Acropolis".
Other parts of the world developed other names for the high citadel or alcÃ¡zar, which often reinforced a naturally strong site. In Central Italy, many small rural communes still cluster at the base of a fortified habitation known as La Rocca of the commune.
The term acropolis is also used to describe the central complex of overlapping structures, such as plazas and pyramids, in many Mayan cities, including Tikal and CopÃ¡n.