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Athens (// ATH-inz; Greek: Αθήνα, romanized: Athína [aˈθina] ⓘ; Ancient Greek: Ἀθῆναι, romanized: Athênai (pl.) [atʰɛ̂ːnai̯]) is a major coastal urban area in the Mediterranean and it is both the capital and the largest city of Greece. With its urban area's population numbering over three million, it is also the eighth largest urban area in the European Union. Athens dominates and is the capital of the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years, and its earliest human presence beginning somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennia BC. The city was named after Athena, the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom.
τὸ κλεινὸν ἄστυ, tò kleinòn ásty ("the glorious city")
τὸ ἰοστεφὲς ἄστυ, tò iostephès ásty ("the violet-crowned city")
City of Wisdom
City of Reason
|Geographic region||Central Greece|
|Regional unit||Central Athens|
|• Type||Mayor–council government|
|• Mayor||Kostas Bakoyannis (New Democracy)|
|• Capital city and municipality||38.964 km2 (15.044 sq mi)|
|• Urban||412 km2 (159 sq mi)|
|• Metro||2,928.717 km2 (1,130.784 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||338 m (1,109 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||70.1 m (230.0 ft)|
|• Capital city and municipality||643,452|
|• Rank||1st urban, 1st metro in Greece|
|• Urban density||7,400/km2 (19,000/sq mi)|
|• Metro density||1,200/km2 (3,200/sq mi)|
|GDP (Nominal) (2020)|
|• Total||€75.1 billion|
|• Per capita||€20,600|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (EET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+3 (EEST)|
10x xx, 11x xx, 120 xx
|Vehicle registration||Yxx, Zxx, Ixx|
|Patron saint||Dionysius the Areopagite (3 October)|
|Major airport(s)||Athens International Airport|
Classical Athens was a powerful city-state. It was a centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, and the home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum. It is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, largely because of its cultural and political influence on the European continent—particularly Ancient Rome. In modern times, Athens is a huge cosmopolitan metropolis and central to economic, financial, industrial, maritime, political and cultural life in Greece. In 2023, Athens metropolitan area and its surrounding municipalities (consisting the regional area of Attica) had a population of approximately 4.2 million.
Athens is a Beta-status global city according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, and is one of the biggest economic centers in Southeastern Europe. It also has a large financial sector, and its port Piraeus is both the 2nd busiest passenger port in Europe, and the 13th largest container port in the world. The Municipality of Athens (also City of Athens), which constitutes a small administrative unit of the entire urban area, had a population of 698.567 (in 2023) within its official limits, and a land area of 38.96 km2 (15.04 sq mi). The Athens metropolitan area or Greater Athens extends beyond its administrative municipal city limits as well as its urban agglomeration, with a population of 4,207,281 (in 2023) over an area of 2,928.717 km2 (1,131 sq mi). Athens is also the southernmost capital on the European mainland.
The heritage of the Classical Era is still evident in the city, represented by ancient monuments, and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon, considered a key landmark of early Western culture. The city also retains Roman, Byzantine and a smaller number of Ottoman monuments, while its historical urban core features elements of continuity through its millennia of history. Athens is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Acropolis of Athens and the medieval Daphni Monastery. Landmarks of the modern era, dating back to the establishment of Athens as the capital of the independent Greek state in 1834, include the Hellenic Parliament and the Architectural Trilogy of Athens, consisting of the National Library of Greece, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, and the Academy of Athens. Athens is also home to several museums and cultural institutions, such as the National Archeological Museum, featuring the world's largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, the Acropolis Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Benaki Museum, and the Byzantine and Christian Museum. Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it hosted the 2004 Summer Olympics, making it one of the few cities to have hosted the Olympics more than once. Athens joined the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities in 2016.