Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years.
Athens has been continuously inhabited for at least 7000 years. By 1400 BC the settlement had become an important center of the Mycenaean civilization and the Acropolis was the site of a major Mycenaean fortress whose remains can be recognised from sections of the characteristic Cyclopean walls. Unlike other Mycenaean centers, such as Mycenae and Pylos, it is not known whether Athens suffered destruction in about 1200 BC, an event often attributed to a Dorian invasion, and the Athenians always maintained that they were "pure" Ionians with no Dorian element. However, Athens, like many other Bronze Age settlements, went into economic decline for around 150 years following this.
The heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, represented by a number of ancient monuments and works of art. The most famous of all being the Parthenon, widely considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. The Parthenon is a temple in the Athenian Acropolis dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their protector. Its construction began in 447 BC and was completed in 438 BC, although decorations of the Parthenon continued until 432 BC. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered to be the culmination of the development of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art.
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is another famous ancient monument. The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a stone theatre structure located on the south slope of the Acropolis of Athens. It was built in 161 AD by Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, Aspasia. It was originally a steep-sloped amphitheater with a three-story stone front wall and a wooden roof, and was used as a venue for music concerts with a capacity of 5,000.
The neighborhood of Plaka is the old historical neighborhood of Athens, clustered around the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis, and incorporating labyrinthine streets and neoclassical architecture. Plaka is built on top of the residential areas of the ancient town of Athens. It is known as the "Neighbourhood of the Gods" due to its proximity to the Acropolis and its many archaeological sites.
Moreover, landmarks of the modern era, dating back to the establishment of Athens as the capital of the independent Greek state in 1833, are located in the city center. The Hellenic Parliament (19th century) and the Athens Trilogy consisting of the National Library of Greece, the Athens University and the Academy of Athens are such landmarks.
The most important museums of Athens include: The New Acropolis Museum, opened in 2009, and replacing the old museum on the Acropolis. The Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock and on its feet, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. It also lies on the archaeological site of Makrygianni and the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens. Nearly 4,000 objects are exhibited over an area of 14,000 square metres.
The National Archaeological Museum, the largest archaeological museum in the country, and one of the most important internationally, as it contains a vast collection of antiquities; its artifacts cover a period of more than 5,000 years, from late Neolithic Age to Roman Greece; The Benaki Museum with its several branches for each of its collections including ancient, Byzantine, ottoman-era and Chinese art and beyond; The Byzantine and Christian Museum, one of the most important museums of Byzantine art; The Numismatic Museum, housing a great collection of Greek coins; The Museum of Cycladic Art, home to an extensive collection of Cycladic art, including the famous figurines made of white marble.