The place where philosophy, tragedy, democracy, dialectics and Olympic Games were born!
There’s something peculiar about this place, not only confirmed by the fact that some 5,000 years ago the first settlers came and stayed atop the Acropolis hill. 1,500 years later they managed to come down and start building what was to become one the grandest cities of ancient times.
It reached its grand heights in the 5th century BC, during the Classical period of ancient Greece.
The legendary leader Pericles listened carefully when the Delphi Oracle declared that Acropolis must not be inhabited by earthly humans, but instead must be turned into a grand monument to Gods.
Ancient Olympic Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, Greece
Pericles led the city into its finest hour, building Parthenon and the whole Acropolis. The Classical period saw Plato, Aristotle and Socrates teaching and developing philosophy, arts and culture.
Playwrights Sophocles and Euripides, historian Herodotus, physician Hippocrates lived and worked then and there (just think of how many times you’ve heard these names, or have taken them for granted – yes, that’s all Classical Athens).
Olympic Games were staged for the first time in the grandiose Panathenaic Stadium. All the grandiose artifacts that the world admires today are dating back to this spectacular period of this grand city’ Golden Era.
The magnificent Acropolis rising above Athens
The higher you rise, the mightier you fall, and that’s what happened to Athens as it came under Roman Empire, when its light started to fade.
In the Byzantine Empire it was reduced to almost a village-like place, as Constantinople became the center of the Empire.
It developed a bit due to Crusades as it was conveniently located on the way from Italy, but that was more or less it, nothing much.
And then finally in 15th century, it came under the Ottoman empire, and the curtains were drawn.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the ancient amphitheater, still very much in use today
However, in 1834 Athens became the capital city of Greece after the War of Independence, and that’s when it started taking off again.
It developed so much, in fact, that the main problems became traffic jams, pollution and over-urbanisation in some areas, which have been successfully managed and reduced in recent years.
Today, one can stare at the completely modernized face of this city after it was developed for the 2004 Olympic Games, and realize how much ancient and modern go well together.
Contrast and compare its modern Piraeus port with the Acropolis, or traditional taverns of Plaka neighborhood with super-chic cafes and clubs, and you’ll be swept away by this ever changing city.
This is definitely a must see spot on your Mediterranean cruise, one that will take you back to the 5,000 year-old world!
Where is Athens?
- 6.8 miles/ 11 km from Piraeus, Greece
- 105 miles/ 169 km from Mykonos, Greece
- 311.3 miles/ 511 km from Thessaloniki, Greece
- 211.8 miles/ 341 km from Heraklion, Greece
- 434.9 miles/ 700 km from Skopje, Macedonia
- 425 miles/ 684 km from Skopje Airport, Macedonia
- 20.5 miles/ 33 km from Athens International Airport, Greece
Things to See
- Acropolis Museum
- Theatre of Dionysos
- Theatre of Herodes Atticus
- Agora and the Roman Agora
- Panathenaic Stadium
- National Archeological Museum
- Syntagma square, Omonia square, Ermou street
There are of course many beaches around Athens. Schinias to the north, Legrena or Glyfada to the south are some examples, with some very nice rocky beaches on Hydra island.
Cruise and Stay Holidays in Athens
If you’re cruising the Mediterranean by ship, this city is a prime destination if you would like to have a cruise and stay holiday.
You can fly in a couple of days before or fly out a couple of days after your cruise, but make sure you plan to stay those couple of days in this magnificent city.
Athens has quite a choice of hotels and apartments, and you can walk to most of the famous monuments, making the most of your stay here.
It’s definitely worth organizing your trip like this if you can – you will not regret it!
We wish you a fantastic Mediterranean cruise!