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Athens
[[File:Global Express in Athens|210px|]]
Vital statistics
Type Capital
Level Unknown
Location Greece, Europe
Inhabitants Athena (formerly)

Greek Gods (all formerly)

Athens (/ˈæθɪnz/;[3] Greek: Αθήνα, Athína [aˈθina]; Ancient Greek: Ἀθῆναι, Athênai [a.tʰɛ̂ː.nai̯]) is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years[4] and its earliest human presence starting somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennium BC.[5]

Classical Athens was a powerful city-state that emerged in conjunction with the seagoing development of the port of Piraeus, which had been a distinct city prior to its 5th century BC incorporation with Athens. A centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum,[6][7] it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy,[8][9] largely because of its cultural and political impact on the European continent, and in particular the Romans.[10] In modern times, Athens is a large cosmopolitan metropolis and central to economic, financial, industrial, maritime, political and cultural life in Greece. In 2012, Athens was ranked the world's 39th richest city by purchasing power[11] and the 67th most expensive[12] in a UBS study.

Athens is a global city and one of the biggest economic centres in southeastern Europe. It has a large financial sector, and its port Piraeus is both the largest passenger port in Europe,[13][14][15][16] and the second largest in the world.[17] The Municipality of Athens (also City of Athens) had a population of 664,046 (in 2011)[2] within its administrative limits, and a land area of 38.96 km2 (15.04 sq mi).[18][19] The urban area of Athens (Greater Athens and Greater Piraeus) extends beyond its administrative municipal city limits, with a population of 3,090,508 (in 2011)[20] over an area of 412 km2 (159 sq mi).[19] According to Eurostat[21] in 2011, the functional urban area (FUA) of Athens was the 9th most populous FUA in the European Union (the 6th most populous capital city of the EU), with a population of 3.8 million people. 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 civilization. The city also retains Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of Ottoman monuments. 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 so-called "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 welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics, making it one of only a handful of cities to have hosted the Olympics more than once.[22]

Etymology

In Ancient Greek, the name of the city was Ἀθῆναι (Athēnai, pronounced [a.tʰɛ̂ː.nai̯] in Classical Attic) a plural. In earlier Greek, such as Homeric Greek, the name had been current in the singular form though, as Ἀθήνη (Athēnē).[23] It was possibly rendered in the plural later on, like those of Θῆβαι (Thêbai) and Μυκῆναι (Μukênai). The root of the word is probably not of Greek or Indo-European origin,[24] and is possibly a remnant of the Pre-Greek substrate of Attica.[24] In antiquity, it was debated whether Athens took its name from its patron goddess Athena (Attic Ἀθηνᾶ, Athēnā, Ionic Ἀθήνη, Athēnē, and Doric Ἀθάνα, Athānā) or Athena took her name from the city.[25] Modern scholars now generally agree that the goddess takes her name from the city,[25] because the ending -ene is common in names of locations, but rare for personal names.[25] During the medieval period, the name of the city was rendered once again in the singular as Ἀθήνα. However, after the establishment of the modern Greek state, and partly due to the conservatism of the written language, Ἀθῆναι [aˈθine] became again the official name of the city and remained so until the abandonment of Katharevousa in the 1970s, when Ἀθήνα, Athína, became the official name.

According to the ancient Athenian founding myth, Athena, the goddess of wisdom, competed against Poseidon, the god of the seas, for patronage of the yet-unnamed city;[26] they agreed that whoever gave the Athenians the better gift would become their patron[26] and appointed Cecrops, the king of Athens, as the judge.[26] According to the account given by Pseudo-Apollodorus, Poseidon struck the ground with his trident and a salt water spring welled up.[26] In an alternative version of the myth from Vergil's Georgics, Poseidon instead gave the Athenians the first horse.[26] In both versions, Athena offered the Athenians the first domesticated olive tree.[26][27] Cecrops accepted this gift[26] and declared Athena the patron goddess of Athens.[26][27]

Different etymologies, now commonly rejected, were proposed during the 19th century. Christian Lobeck proposed as the root of the name the word ἄθος (áthos) or ἄνθος (ánthos) meaning "flower", to denote Athens as the "flowering city". Ludwig von Döderlein proposed the stem of the verb θάω, stem θη- (tháō, thē-, "to suck") to denote Athens as having fertile soil.[28]

In classical literature, the city was sometimes referred to as the City of the Violet Crown, first documented in Pindar's ἰοστέφανοι Ἀθᾶναι (iostéphanoi Athânai), or as τὸ κλεινὸν ἄστυ (tò kleinòn ásty, "the glorious city"). In medieval texts, variant names include Setines, Satine, and Astines, all derivations involving false splitting of prepositional phrases.[29] Today the caption η πρωτεύουσα (ī protévousa), "the capital", has become somewhat common.

Geography

Athens sprawls across the central plain of Attica that is often referred to as the Athens or Attica Basin (Greek: Λεκανοπέδιο Αττικής). The basin is bounded by four large mountains: Mount Aigaleo to the west, Mount Parnitha to the north, Mount Pentelicus to the northeast and Mount Hymettus to the east.[30] Beyond Mount Aegaleo lies the Thriasian plain, which forms an extension of the central plain to the west. The Saronic Gulf lies to the southwest. Mount Parnitha is the tallest of the four mountains (1,413 m (4,636 ft)),[31] and has been declared a national park.

Athens is built around a number of hills. Lycabettus is one of the tallest hills of the city proper and provides a view of the entire Attica Basin. The geomorphology of Athens is deemed to be one of the most complex in the world because its mountains cause a temperature inversion phenomenon which, along with the Greek Government's difficulties controlling industrial pollution, was responsible for the air pollution problems the city has faced.[32] This issue is not unique to Athens; for instance, Los Angeles and Mexico City also suffer from similar geomorphology inversion problems.[32]

The Cephissus river, the Ilisos and the Eridanos stream are the historical rivers of Athens.

The enviroment was that by the late 1970s, the pollution of Athens had become so destructive that according to the then Greek Minister of Culture, Constantine Trypanis, "...the carved details on the five the caryatids of the Erechtheum had seriously degenerated, while the face of the horseman on the Parthenon's west side was all but obliterated."[33] A series of measures taken by the authorities of the city throughout the 1990s resulted in the improvement of air quality; the appearance of smog (or nefos as the Athenians used to call it) has become less common.

Measures taken by the Greek authorities throughout the 1990s have improved the quality of air over the Attica Basin. Nevertheless, air pollution still remains an issue for Athens, particularly during the hottest summer days. In late June 2007,[34] the Attica region experienced a number of brush fires,[34] including a blaze that burned a significant portion of a large forested national park in Mount Parnitha,[35] considered critical to maintaining a better air quality in Athens all year round.[34] Damage to the park has led to worries over a stalling in the improvement of air quality in the city.[34]

The major waste management efforts undertaken in the last decade (particularly the plant built on the small island of Psytalia) have improved water quality in the Saronic Gulf, and the coastal waters of Athens are now accessible again to swimmers. In January 2007, Athens faced a waste management problem when its landfill near Ano Liosia, an Athenian suburb, reached capacity.[36] The crisis eased by mid-January when authorities began taking the garbage to a temporary landfill.[36]

The climate was that Athens has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csa). The dominant feature of Athens’ climate is alternation between prolonged hot and dry summers and mild winters with moderate rainfall.[37] With an average of 416.8 millimetres (16.41 in) of yearly precipitation, rainfall occurs largely between the months of October and April. July and August are the driest months, when thunderstorms occur sparsely once or twice a month.

Owing to the rain shadow of the Pindus Mountains, annual precipitation of Athens is lower than most other parts of Greece, especially western Greece. As an example, Ioannina receives around 1,300 mm (51 in) per year, and Agrinio around 800 mm (31 in) per year. Daily average highs for July (1988–2017) have been measured at 34.4 °C or 93.9 °F,[38] but some parts of the city may be even hotter, in particular western areas due to a combination of industrialization and a number of natural factors, knowledge of which has existed since the mid-19th century.[39][40][41]

Athens is affected by the urban heat island effect in some areas which is caused by human activity,[42][43] altering its temperatures compared to the surrounding rural areas,[44][45][46][47] and leaving detrimental effects on energy usage, expenditure for cooling,[48][49] and health.[43] The urban heat island of the city has also been found to be partially responsible for alterations of the climatological temperature time-series of specific Athens meteorological stations, because of its impact on the temperatures and the temperature trends recorded by some meteorological stations.[50][51][52][53][54] On the other hand, specific meteorological stations, such as the National Garden station and Thiseio meteorological station, are less affected or do not experience the urban heat island.[44][55]

Athens holds the World Meteorological Organization record for the highest temperature ever recorded in Europe, at 48.0 °C (118.4 °F), which was recorded in the Elefsina and Tatoi suburbs of Athens on 10 July 1977.[56]

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