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Lying to the west of the Agora, along Ermou Street, is the ancient cemetery Keramikos. Off the beaten tourist track, you can explore the extensive ruins and sculpted tombs in relative peace.
This was the burial site of important Athenians, and the collection of rich jewellery, gold, glass and ceramics found in their graves, dating back to the 7th century BC, indicates their statues.
These items are on display in the cemetery’s small museum, which with its strikingly beautiful painted vessels and unusual offering channels and figurines is a real gem for pottery lovers.
This terraced hillside is the location of the Acropolis Sound and Light performances. The Pnyx – meaning ‘tightly packed space’ – is where the free citizens of 5th-century BC Athens met in democratic assembly.
At that time, the rocky platform here was the site of the Stone of Vima, an ancient Speaker’s Corner, where people gathered to hear the likes of Pericles, Themistocles and Demosthenes hold forth.
Athens is Europe's southern-most capital city and the gateway to Greece and the ancient world. Its renowned hallmark is the gleaming marble of the monuments of the Acropolis, which rise triumphantly above the city, proud survivors of the ravages of man and time.
People have dwelt on this rock for some 5,000 years — a lineage so ancient as to make all other European cities seem young by comparison.
Below, in the ancient Agora, or marketplace, Socrates held his dialogues, and the system of democracy e know today had its beginning, making Athens the cradle of Western civilization. It is this rich history that continues, to act as a magnet for travellers throughout the world. Modern Athens is far removed from the elegant splendour of its classical ruins.
The sprawl of steel and concrete retches up into the surrounding hills as far as the eye can see. (Remarkably for a city of this size, there are no skyscrapers and under a dozen tall buildings.) Aesthetics have fallen by the wayside during the 20th century, for a massive influx of rural Greeks and repatriated countrymen from Turkey has made a necessity of rapid (and frenzied) growth.
Today, metropolitan Athens, along with the adjoining city and port of Piraeus, is home to more than 4 million people, a figure that equals nearly half the population of the entire country.
It is fitting, too, that the venerable monuments of Athens, built by the ancient citizens, should still stand in the viable heart of their descendants. Historian Thomas William Rolleston wrote: "The elements which in the most remote times have entered into nation’s composition endure through all its history, and help to mould that history, and to stamp the character and genius of the people."
Athens has always been a world crossroads. Having dealt with invaders throughout its history, the city has coped well with the tourist bombardment of recent years (Greece receives around 10 million visitors a year!). Even those heading for the islands often spend at least a night or two in Athens, and for many, this is a destination in its own right. If the urban din gets too much, mountain villages, get- away islands and beaches are easily accessible.
Athens, a city very much on the move, absorbs effortlessly its waves of visitors, while straining its Hellenic ingenuity for greater commercial and in industrial prominence. Yet in the end, regardless of how modern it becomes or the extent of the progress it achieves, it will always uphold the splendid heritage evoked by its very name.
One of the oldest remaining cities on the face of the planet, Athens has stood at the center of the world for thousands of years as a leader in philosophy, history, culture, and mythology. From places such as the Acropolis—often credited as the birthplace of modern civilization—with the Parthenon, the Erectheon, and temples to Zeus, Agora, Athena, and Dionysus, to places such as the National Archeological Museum or the harbor of Piraeus, Athens is a symbol of what Europe has been over the millennia: the birthplace of the humanities.
Classical Athens is how most people prefer to remember the city, and it is the basis for the tourism that forms the major industry of this Greek city. It was the centre for arts, philosophy, science, math, and more. Plato’s Academy was based here, as was Aristotle’s Lyceum, and it was here that democracy was first born. In fact, many people call this the cradle of Western civilization, and the proof of that has been well-preserved over the years. In addition, the city was host to the first modern Olympic Games back in 1896, hearkening back to the times when the ancient games had been hosted in Olympia from 776 B.C. to 393 A.D.
Wander around the sprawling ruins of the ancient marketplace, where democracy and philosophy had their beginnings.
The museum within holds a large collection of pots, coins, household objects and pottery fragments (ostraka), on which the Athenians wrote names of prominent men they wanted to vote into exile. Also here are a huge bronze shield taken from the Spartans during the Peloponnesian War and a klirotirion, and unusual device for relegating public duties by lot – and important feature of ancient Athenian democracy.
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Graphic showing average weather in Daphni Monastery in Celcius and Centimeters (Change to Farenheit and Inches)
|Month||Temp °C||Rainfall Cm||Temp °F||Rainfall Inches|
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