Travelers who expect to be greeted by lone standing relics of ancient Greece will be awestruck by the sprawling urban metropolis of today’s Athens. The capital city is an explorer’s paradise as historic gems are embedded within the modern day melee and cultural nuances of a turbulent past are written between the lines of concrete and the sparkling blue Aegean Sea. Everywhere in Athens is a testament to why this mythic peninsula is considered the cradle of Western civilization and modern democracy.
Of particular interest, Athens received a much needed facelift in preparation for the 2004 Olympics. Notorious for its nefos (smog) resulting from rapid growth and congestion following World War II and the Cold War, Athens realized the need to clean up its act when it became clear that historic monuments were eroding at an alarming rate due to acid rain from air pollution. Due to this Olympic makeover, it is extremely easy to navigate around the well marked streets in English and Greek and transportation has never been more streamlined.
Ancient Greece reached its societal peak in the 1st century BC when magnificent monuments like the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike were constructed on the fortified Acropolis and Socrates and Plato developed their Western thinking schools of thought. While most of the major attractions from the time period are in the center of the city, travel in the outskirts of Athens will bring encounters with many significant locations from this time period. Marathon, of the famous battle (and today’s 26.22 mile race), is just northeast of Athens and the ancient Mycenaean excavation site at Velatouri is to the south, boasting the unearthed Thorikos theatre. While the Grecian period is omnipresent, Greece has fascinating Turkish and Persian cultural influences as a result of many wars and takeovers until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the 20th century.
Club Hopping or Island Hopping?
In the spring and summer evenings, enjoy the caf