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The History of Athens

How Athens was given its name
Before it took its actual name, Athens was called Akte (meaning “coast” in Greek), a name given to the city after its first king Actaeos. Later on, Kekropas, who was believed to have the body of a dragon, was married to the daughter of Actaeos and became the king of the area. It was in his time that Athens was given its current name after Athena (Minerva), the goddess of Wisdom. more...
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Athens in Prehistory (5000-1500 b.C.)
Athens is situated in a unique geographic position, although not much favored by nature. Acropolis and the low hills around are found at the center of a small basin, surrounded by mountains with defiles to the North and West, whereas at the South it is found the sea, Saronicos Bay. more...
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Mycenaean Athens - Athens of Myths (1500-1100 b.C.)
As it is known from history and archaeology the stronger among the Greek tribes were the Achaeans; those, under the cultural, economic and social influence of Minoan Crete had developed from mid- second millennium b.C., a pretty original civilization, an amalgam of all civilizations that flourished in the broader area of Aegean Sea. more...
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Athens during the Geometric and Archaic periods (1100-508 b.C.)
The first centuries after the Mycenaean era are called in archaeology “dark ages”, as poor archaeological evidence is available; the dark ages are followed by the Geometric and Archaic times, which signal the beginning of development of Athens and of Attica. more...
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The Persian War and Democracy (508-479 b.C.)
After the city had got rid of the sons of Peisistratos the power was taken by Kleisthenes, the leader of the family of Alkmaeonidae, who had returned from exile. Based on the people and supported by almost the entire population of the city, Kleisthenes initiated a broad program of reforms during the years 508-507 b.C.; this date is considered the birthday of Athenian Democracy. more...
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The Golden Age (479-431 b.C.)
Just after their victory the Athenians undertook the task to restore their damaged city. The most important concern of Themistocles was to fortify the city with a strong wall which would enclose the “asty”, the port of Piraeus and the road between them; being extremely long, the wall was called “Makra Tehe”(‘the long wall”); today, only few evidence of this fortification, known as “Themistoclean wall”, survives here and there. more...
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The Peloponnesian War (431-404 b.C.)
According to Thucydides, the power and development of Athens had puzzled and worried a lot the neighboring Doric city states, Corinth and Megara, which were gradually losing ground, as well as Sparta, the military power of the period which saw its influence to decrease. more...
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The Decline (404-338 b.C.)
After Sparta had conquered Athens, Lysandros installed on power the “thirty tyrants”, a group of thirty aristocrats who established an oligarchic regime and disintegrated the Athenian democracy. The tyrants remained in power until 403 b.C., when Thrasybulos, a brave democrat with a few followers, occupied the fort of Phyle, expelled them and restored democracy.
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Athens loses its independence - The domination of Macedonians (338-146 b.C.)
After the overwhelming victory of the king of Macedonia Philippus 2nd against the united army of the Greeks of the South at Chaeronia in 338 b.C. , Athens was forced to become an ally of the Macedonians. Thus, until the death of Alexander the Great in 323 b.C., the city follows his policy and participates to Alexander’s campaigns, although coercively. more...
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Athens under the Romans (146 b.C.-330 A.D.)
In 146 b.C. the Roman general Mommius Lucius beat the united Greek army, at Corinth, which he destroyed; this victory signaled the Roman occupation of entire Greece. Formally, Athens maintained its independence and was one of Rome’s allies, but in fact it wasn’t but a satellite town. Several of the democratic institutions of Athens underwent changes in this period: one of them was the election by lot of many officials of the Athenian state. more...
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The Christian Roman Empire and Byzantium (330-1204 A.D.)
When the emperor Constantine had imposed Christianity as the official religion of the immense Roman Empire, numerous people in Athens had already adopted it; thus this news were very welcome. Also, the Athenians willingly offered a lot of sculptures, statues and architectural parts for the decoration of the new capital city that Constantine established, the so-called “New Rome”, that is to say Constantinople, at the region of Byzantium, the ancient colony of Megara. more...
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Athens under Frankish domination (1204-1456)
After Constantinople was conquered by the Franks of the 4th Crusade in 1204, Athens passed in the hands of Boniface of Montferrat who gave it, along with the town and the area of Megara, to Otto de La Roche of Bourgogne who also dominated the area of Thiva in Boeotia. Otto organized Attica in the model of the feudal regions of Western Europe. more...
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Athens under the Ottoman domination (1456-1821)
After the Ottomans had entirely conquered Athens, during the years 1456-1458, the sultan Mehmet II, the so-called “the Conqueror”, due to the conquest of Constantinople, came to Athens. Mehmet was a pretty educated man and respected very much the glorious past and monuments of Athens, which he decided to visit. more...
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Athens and the National War of Independence of 1821 (1821-1830)
Once the revolt against Ottomans broke out, first in Vlahia and Moldavia and then in Peloponnese, Mainland Greece and the islands, Athens and Attica also took part to the movement. A few hundreds of Ottomans took some hostages and were covered in the walls of Acropolis, whereas some families among the residents took refuge in Salamina. more...
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Modern Athens (1830 up to nowadays)
The period of Otto (1830-1862)
A bit after the Ottomans had yielded Acropolis to the Bavarian detachment, the Bavarian officials decided to make Athens the capital of the newly born state, on the 14th of June 1833. King Otto would move to the new capital in December 1833; his arrival to Athens was celebrated by the whole population of Athens. more...
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The period of kingship of king Georges I (1863-1913)
Following the revolt of October 1862 and the dethronement of Otto, the government was given to a temporary revolutionary committee under D. Voulgaris; the committee aimed at governing the state according to the Constitution of 1844 until the convocation of the National Assembly which had been scheduled for December 1862. more...
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The national campaign and the collapse (1912-1922)
On the 5th of October 1912 Greece and its Balkan allies had declared war against the Ottoman Empire, intending to set their territories free from the Ottoman domination. Greece soon achieved to accomplish its main aims: the liberation of Salonica and Macedonia and the dominance in the Aegean Sea. more...
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After the collapse - The Inter-war period (1923-1940)
When the refugees arrived in Greece, the country was in a desperate economic condition as war lasted for more than ten years; and now it had to feed and take care of more than one million and a half people, the majority of which had abandoned their homes without being able to take any of their possessions. In every free space in Athens and elsewhere makeshift houses were improvised for the refugees. more...
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The War – The German Occupation – the Liberation (1940-1944)
After Italians had attacked Greece and were successfully repulsed by the Greek army, the war became part of the everyday life of the Athenians. In January 1941 the Italians bombarded Piraeus and other towns of Greece, with many victims among the civilians. more...
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From Liberation to the end of the Junta (1944-1974)
A few days after the Germans had left Greece, the Greek Government arrived in the country; it was a government of national unity comprising ministers from the National Front (EAM) and headed by George Papandreou as prime minister. On the first Sunday after its arrival the government celebrated officially the liberation of the country by raising the Greek flag on the Acropolis. more...
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The Change-over – Athens since 1974
In the midnight of the 23rd of July 1974, the personal aircraft of Valery Giscard d’ Estaign, then president of France, took off from Paris and a few hours later was landing to Athens bringing back to Greece Constantinos Karamanlis who was enthusiastically received by the people of Athens gathered all the way long from the airport to the city center. more...
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