Athens (/ˈæθɨnz/; Modern Greek: Αθήνα, Athína, IPA: [aˈθina], Katharevousa: Ἀθῆναι, Athine, Ancient Greek: Ἀθῆναι, Athēnai ), is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica periphery and is one of the world’s oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state. A centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, 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 due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC on the rest of the then known European continent. Today a cosmopolitan metropolis, modern Athens is central to economic, financial, industrial, political and cultural life in Greece and it is rated as an alpha- world city. In 2008, Athens was ranked the world’s 32nd richest city by purchasing power and the 25th most expensive in a UBS study.
The Greek capital had a population of 745,514 (in 2001), (796,442 in 2004) within its administrative limits and a land area of 39 km2 (15 sq mi). The urban area of Athens extends beyond the administrative municipal city limits, with a population of 3,165,823 (in 2001) and a land area of 412 km2 (159 sq mi).
According to Eurostat, the Athens Larger Urban Zone (LUZ) is the 7th most populous LUZ in the European Union (the 4th most populous capital city of the EU) with a population of 4,013,368 (in 2004).
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 city also retains a vast variety of Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of remaining Ottoman monuments projecting the city’s long history across the centuries. 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 1833, include the Hellenic Parliament (19th century) and the Athens Trilogy consisting of the National Library of Greece, the Athens University and the Academy of Athens. 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. Athens is home to the National Archeological Museum, featuring the world’s largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, as well as the new Acropolis Museum.