Athens, the capital of Greece, is certainly the most glorious and exulted of all ancient Greek cities, having the longest and most colorful history dominated by victories in grand battles, and later on, its cultural achievements and the role it played in the founding of the western civilization.

The claiming of the goddess of wisdom Athena of the city is a popular mythological tale, where she competed with the sea god Poseidon. Poseidon created a spring by striking his trident on ground, a promise of naval power; while Athena gifted the people with an olive tree, a promise of wealth and peace. The people favored Athena’s gift and named their city Athens. In history, Athens was originally composed of 10 separate cities called the “Athenses.”

AthensThe Athenians claimed pure descendancy from the Ionian tribe, one of the three tribes of the original Hellenes, the people of ancient Greece. Though ancient Athens occupied a small area, it was situated on the pedestal of the Acropolis, an imposing flat-topped rock formation that served as a fort. Walls further solidified the city. Athens’s layout was a true model of modern civilization, with an agora (marketplace), Pnyx (assembly hall), and the Parthenon (Temple of Athena which served as the first worship center or church). Male Athenians engaged in voting during elections for the city’s assembly officers.

Athens enjoyed prestige during the height of the Mycenaean civilization in Greece in 1400 BC, but was conquered by the Dorian tribe in 1200 BC. It gradually recovered its position in central Greece in 9th century BC. The first millennium marked the rule of the Kings of Athens who maintained council in the Hill of Ares. From this monarchial rule, Athens developed a system of political structure with a city chief, archons (heads of public offices) and polemarchs (military officers).

Athens GreeceAthens was embattled by waves of invaders like the Byzantines, Latins, and the Ottoman Empire. In 1832, the Bavarian Prince Otto was given right over Greece as King and moved back the capital to Athens. Today, Athens retains its popularity from its ancient achievements and is among the top tourist destinations in the world.