Athens was named according to the Greek mythology from competition that the goddess Athena had with Poseidon about who will become protector of the city. The myth says that Poseidon gave a spring with sea water whilst Athena offered an olive tree as she touched the ground of the sacred rock of the Acropolis. The people of Athens choose Athena as their protector and so the city was named after the goddess of wisdom. The myth is symbolic but the two Gods symbolising the strength of Athens as a city of wisdom and as a sea power. The first settlement of Athens 3000 BC was situated on the rock of Acropolis.
According to the tradition, Athens was founded, when the king Theseus united in a state several settlements of Attica. The last king of ancient Athens was Kodros, who sacrificed his life in order to save the homeland. Later came to power the nobles (wealthy landowners). The nobles ruled Athens by their consul the Supreme Court (Arios Pagos), from this consul where elected the 9 rulers of Athens . During this time was existed the assembly of the Athenian citizens (Ecclesia of Demos) but during this period did’t had the power that had later with the lows of Solon.
After the the period of colonisation and expansion of trade, many citizens of Athens became rich and wealthy from the trade and shipping, and they wished to participate in the administration of the state, while from the other hand the lower classes of the city where facing poverty. This fact resulted riots between the poor who wanted land and new lows with more social justice and the nobles that wanted to keep their power and authority.
Those riots tried to exploit the ambitious Kylon aiming to become a tyrant, but he failed. His movement stayed in history as ‘Kylonion Agos’. After this , the nobles tasked Drakon to write new laws in response to peoples demand. But the laws of Dracon were too hard and peremptory and thus disappointed the Athenians.
As the laws of Dracon did not meet the expectations of the people of Athens who they tasked Solon, which was considered as a very wise man, to write new laws.
Solon gave back the debts of the citizens and let free all those who had been slaves from their debts. That law, because released the people of Athens from a very heavy burden, was named ‘seisachtheia’
Solon split the Athenians into four classes, depending on their income. Archons (rulers) had the right to become only the rich. But, Solon strengthened politically and the poor, because he gave the great strength to the Ecclesia of Demos, namely, the assembly of citizens. The assembly decided on all major issues and was voting the laws which were prepared by the House of the four hundred. Solon founded the large peoples court, the Iliaia. Those where the first steps towards democracy.
But even the laws of Solon reassured the Athenians. The poor wanted reframing, namely re-division of the land. During this period the nobility lost much of their old power and Peisistratos managed to gain the support of many people and become a tyrant.
Peisistratos supported the farmers and produced numerous projects in Athens. His sons and successors, however, Hippias and Hipparchos , were hard to the Athenians and had no happy ending. Hippias escaped to Persia, where he died in exile and Hipparchos was killed by the Athenians.
With the end of the Tyranny, the Athenians start to organize democracy. The main creator was Kleisthenes, who radically reformed the constitution. Kleisthenes divided the Athenians in 10 races with ten municipalities each. In each race belong citizens from various areas of Attica and thus the rich ceased to be a noble themselves and a strong class as they mixed with other fellow citizens.
Kleisthenes gave all the power at the Ecclesia of Demos. From that assembly were elected the 10 generals who governed not only the military, but the state itself. The parliament of 400 of Solon was replaced by a new parliament with 500 deputies. The members of the new parliament where 50 Athenians from each race, selected annually by draw. With this system all the citizens of Athens were likely to be some day members of the parliament. The task of the parliament was to prepare the topics to be discussed by the Ecclesia of Demos.
Kleisthenes in order to secure the new constitution, introduced the ostracism. Every citizen was writing on a piece of broken vase (shell) the name of a politician who could have been dangerous for the democracy, after that they where counting the oysters and where sending to exile for 10 years the ones who had gathered 6 thousand shells with their name.
Thus was born in Athens, the democracy, the constitution that gives all citizens the right and duty to participate in the governance of the state. Democracy was one of the most significant achievements of the ancient Greeks.
Athens lived its most glorious times during the 5th century BC under the reign of Pericles. During this period the Golden Age of Athens Parthenon was build. Arts , Philosophy, Drama, developed to their highest point. Unfortunately the Peloponnesian war between the Athenians and Sparta gave an end to this glory.
But Athens continued to be a centre of culture and intellectual importance even during the Roman times. On his journeys to Greece St Paul spoke to the Athenians from the rock of Arios Pagos (Areopagos) in 44 AD . During the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian , Athens became his beloved city. Hadrian build and decorated Athens with magnificent monuments like the Hadrian’s Library. He use to say ‘to the south of Acropolis is Theseus Athens and to the north of Acropolis is Hadrian’s Athens’.
With the fall of the Roman Empire declined Athens importance as well. During the Byzantine times Athens was a provincial town of the Byzantine Empire. But even during this times many Byzantine churches where build in Athens. The Crusaders invaded the city in the 13th century until the 15th century when the city was occupied by the Turks. After the Greek war of Independence Athens became the Capital of Greece in 1833. Under the reign of the first king of Greece, Otto the city extended to the north and many buildings where build from German and Greek Architects.
Greece & the Greek Islands are known for 3 things: ancient civilization, amazing landscapes and high developed tourism.
Really beloved by people, Greece is so rich in culture and beauty that it never seems to be completely explored, no matter how many times you visit it. After all, this is one of the reasons that brought it in the list with the top 20 tourist destinations worldwide. It is all about Greece, from nature to locals, that makes people coming and coming to this wonderful land every summer.
Travel to Greece and the islands has become a must activity, according to the modern lifestyle.
Over the last decades, it has been always visited by the jet setters, including politicians, musicians, actors, artists and other celebrities with a significant contribution to the popularity of Greece.
Greece is a mountainous peninsula located on the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea. With a total area of 130,800 km2, the country is surrounded by sea from three sides. The northern side borders with other Balkan countries. Due to the many islands, in the Aegean and the Ionian Sea, Greece has the longest coastline in Europe and the fifth longest coastline in the world. The country has a population of about 11 million, with 4 millions living in Athens, the country’s capital. The largest cities after Athens are Thessaloniki and Patras.
The hot sun, the relaxing beaches, the marvelous nature, the rich culture and the warm hospitality will charm you from the first step in the country. There are so many islands and mainland resorts in Greece that it will take you many years to explore the entire country. Have a look on the Greek destinations by popularity. Greece is a wonderful place to visit all year round and gives amazing chances for trips off the beaten track.
Sandy or pebbled, organized or secluded, beaches in Greece are ideal for all tastes. Most impressive beaches are found in the Cyclades and the Ionian islands, such as Myrtos Beach in Kefalonia, Navagio Beach in Zakynthos, Porto Katsiki Beach in Lefkada and Super Paradise Beach in Mykonos. Every year, the Greek beaches are rated among the most beautiful and clean beaches in the world. Beaches Villages Apart from beautiful beaches, Greece also has traditional and picturesque villages.
These villages have differences in architecture, depending on their geographical location. For example, villages in Cyclades are famous for the white sugar houses, villages in Dodecanese have a Medieval style, villages in the mainland have more earthy colours, while many cities have beautiful Neoclassical buildings.
Greece proposes many events, especially in summer. The famous Greek Festival includes various cultural events in venues of Athens and drama performances in the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. Also particularly popular in summer are the panigyria, which are actually religious celebrations followed by traditional dancing in the village square.
Best Time for Swimming and Suntanning: The warmest weather in the Greek islands is between June and September when it’s sunny, hot and the water is perfect for swimming. Water temperature heats throughout the summer months and is warmest in August and early September. Swimming in May and October is often possible but can’t be guaranteed.
Best Time for Sightseeing: If you’re visiting Santorini more for the sights, views, wineries, and food then you don’t need hot weather just warm pleasant weather.So the months of April, May, October, and early November (as well as June through September) are fine times for touring the sights. The weather is still warm by northern European standards though there can be rain and some warmer clothing should be packed.
Best Time for Saving Money: Hotels are much cheaper in the low season (December to March) and shoulder season (April, May, October and November) than in the summer months. Transportation, food, and drink prices tend not to vary much by season. If you want good weather but cheap hotels then late May, early June, late September, or early October are the great times. There are no guarantees but the first three weeks of October can often surprise visitors with great weather.
High Season (late June to early September): Hot, sunny weather with lots of people – but never so many that it’s unenjoyable. Prices are at their peak. Sea water at its warmest and best for swimming. Ferries and flights run with the greatest frequency. If you’re in Greece for the nightlife then this is the time to visit.
Shoulder Season (May and June, September and October): Great weather. Sunny and warm but not blazingly hot like the summer. Tourists are many but it’s never crowded. Everything is open and ferries are running nearly all of their routes. The sea might not be warm enough for swimming in May and October.
Low Season (November to April): This is winter and that means gray skies, cool weather, and rain. Few hotels and restaurants are operating (but enough to get by). Ferries and flights have very limited schedules though there’ll be at least one a day going to Athens.
The best weather on Santorini is from June to September. July and August are the busiest months when hotels are full and restaurants are crowded. If you’re more interested in sightseeing, hiking, and great views then May and October are great months to visit.
How long to spend on Santorini – You need 2 to 3 days minimum to get a feel for the island, see the top attractions, experience the sunset from a couple of different locations, and try some of the island’s great restaurants. You could easily fill a week with long walks, swimming and sunbathing, and more eating, clubbing, and dancing. If you have more than a week in Greece then we’d encourage you to spend 7 to 10 days on Santorini and then travel to a different island as there are so many great islands to see. You have to experience more by seeing Naxos, Paros, Ios, Mykonos, Crete, or Rhodes.