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Athens History

Athens, historic city and capital of Greece, is the place where most classical intellectual and artistic ideas originated. The early history of the city is interwoven with myths, making it hard to distinguish between facts and fiction. Inhabited since the Neolithic Ages, as revealed by pottery found around the Acropolis, the city went through a dark age and emerged in the 8th century. During the period of peace, Athens became the center of arts, with ceramics depicting scenes from everyday life and mythology. For two centuries, aristocrats and generals ruled the city and it was not until the 5th century that Athens became the pinnacle of the classical era. Some of the most impressive monuments on the Acropolis date from that century. It is during those times that drama and literature first appear with the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. Phidias and Myron exquisitely craft divine sculptures and it is notable that some of the most famous Greek historians, like Thucydides and Xenophon live during this time. 

The city loses its glory with the Peloponnesian wars and Sparta takes over the Athenian territories during the 4th century. The time is now, for three of the greatest philosophers to come to life and action.  Socrates, Plato and Aristotle! In the 5th and 6th centuries, however, after the formal establishment of Christianity and the abolition of pagan worship, churches began to be built. The 7th–10th century was a dark time for Athens. The city is almost never mentioned in the history of the period, and archaeological remains are few. In the 11th and 12th centuries a measure of prosperity returned, when the Roman emperors take over and in the city of Athens “spring” graceful buildings!

The period that follows finds Athens and most of Greece under the Ottoman rule, until the War of Independence that broke out in 1821. In 1834 Athens becomes the capital of new Greece, again and in 1896 the city hosts the first Olympic Games of modern history. The city steadily grows during late 19th and 20th century before falling down again under the German occupation. In 2004 Athens hosts again, with great succession, the Olympic Games! 

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