History of Athens


The city of Athens is named after Athena goddess of wisdom, war, strategy, industry, justice and skill. Athena was a virgin goddess, protective of both men and women.

In the Greek mythology she appears as a helper of many heroes, including Odysseus, Jason, and Heracles. In Classical Greek myths she never consorts with a lover nor does she ever marry, earning the title Athena Parthenos.

According to the greek mythology the Council of the Twelve Greek Gods of Olympus, Poseidon and goddess Athena did stake their claim to Attica.
The historic city of Athens started off as a hill-top settlement on the Acropolis around 4000 years before Christ, although it was in fact inhabited at around 8000 BC by the Pelasgians.

From c. 800 to 500 B.C. as population increases and living standards improve, there is a continuing development, through phases of tyranny and wars with Persia, of the city-state and its most important manifestations in Corinth, Athens, and Sparta.

In Ionia, which had contact with the civilizations of Persia and Lydia, there is a budding and then flowering of Greel art and thought that would engender the golden fruits of the Classical Age in Athens.

Two conflicts spanning 21 years, beginning with the Athenian-aided revolt of Greek Ionian colonies (499-493 B.C.)against Darius I of Persia. Subsequently (493 B.C) Darius invades Greece with large fleet, which is wrecked by a storm of peninsula of present-day Mount Athos.

A series of minor skirmishes Sparta and Athens, lasting from 460 to 451 B.C., after which a five-year armistice and then a shaky 30-year peace treaty are agreed upon.

The major war between Athens and Sparta, an off-and-on again affair covering more than a quarter century in which several Athenian near-victories are squandered by tragic military and political miscalculations.

During a pause in the war with Sparta, Athens moves to take over Sicilians tributes and resources and to cut off the main source of the Spartan food supply. Instead, political infighting and indecisive leadership by generals result in a catastrophic Athenian defeat.

The fourth century is marked in its first half by struggles for dominance among Sparta, Athens and the newly emergent Thebes, with Persia holding the balance of power; and in its second half by the sudden rise of Macedonia under Philip II and his son Alexander. Meanwhile, Athens continues as Greece's cultural center.

Beginning the campaigns as a continuation of Philip's policy of uniting Greece through war with Persia, Alexander soon finds his own vision - a synthesis of the cultures of East and West - and sets out to accomplish this by conquering the entire known world from India to Spain, Italy and Sicily.

Greek culture and language exercise a considerable influence on the Roman world during the Pax Romana and aid enormously in the dissemination of Christianity.

A continuing struggle for a spiritual as well as a geographical identity, as disparate forces attempt to promulgate their visions of a modern Greece among the people in many ways still shackled by the 400-year Ottoman era.

Watch this video presented by The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and the Hellenic Culture Organization S.A

History of Athens

3000 B.C. Evidence of first settlement around the Acropolis

1500 B.C. Massive volcanic eruption at Thera in Santorini

1400 B.C. The Acropolis becomes a royal fortress

1225 B.C. The Trojan War

621 B.C. Draco issues first written laws of Athens

594-593 B.C. Solon introduces radical democratic social and political changes in Athens

583 B.C. Athens builds first major temple of Athena

499 B.C. In Athens, Aeschyluw has first of his plays produced, introducing the second actor into Greek drama

493 B.C. Themistocles elected archon at Athens

490 B.C. New Persian invasion defeated by outnumbered Athenians at Battle of Marathon. Athens defeats the Persians

480 B.C. In May Xerxes' massive army enters Greece. In August, battle of Thermopylae; 300 Spartans, led by their king Leonidas, die delaying Persian advance and allowing Athenians time to evacuate Athens and regroup at Salamis.

479 B.C. Defeat of the Persians at Plataea by Greek force led by the Spartans

477 B.C. Athens established Delian League, effectively creating Athenian Empire.

462 B.C. The philosopher Anaxaforas arrives in Athens

461 B.C. Leadership of democratic party falls to 33-year old Pericles , a renegade aristocrat

447-438 B.C. Parthenon built by architects Iktinos and Kallikrates and sculptor Phidias; first Corinthian column at Bassae

445 B.C. Athens and Sparta agree to Thirty Year Peace Treaty

437 B.C. Propylaea (portals) of Acropolis began

432 B.C. Sparta declares war on Athens fro having violated the Thirty Year Peace Treaty

431 B.C. Athenians withdraw behind the long walls of Piraeus and Athens, leaving Spartians to ravage countryside to no avail

430 B.C. Plague breaks out in densely populated Athens, Hippocrates of Kos called on for medical aid

424 B.C. On the Acropolis, the exquisite Temple of Athena Nike, designed by the architect Kallikrates, is finished

421 B.C. The Peace of Nicias, a 50-year pact, is negotiated between Athens and Sparta

410 B.C. Democracy restored in Athens

406 B.C. Athenian navy defeats Spartans; Sparta sues for peace but is rejected

404 B.C. Athens capitulates unconditionally. Oligarchs are returned from exile and established as the infamous Council of Thirty, instituting reactionary reign of terror

387 B.C. Plato returns to Athens, establishes his Academy

421 B.C. Athens and Thebes in alliance

357 B.C. Athens declares war on Philip II of Macedon

356 B.C. Philip takes Potidea, birth of Alexander the Great

343-342 B.C. Philip engages Macedonian-born Aristotle to tutor Alexander

336BC Philip is assassinated and succession of his 20-year-old son Alexander follows Alexander the Great

336-323 B.C. Expansion of the Macedonian Empire under Alexander the Great through the Mediterranean, Middle East as far as India

323 B.C. Death of Alexander in Babylon, probably of same type of fever that killed Hephaistion. He is 33 years old

331 B.C. In Athens, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, originally started in 515 B.C., is completed under the Roman emperor Hadrian

200 B.C.- A.D.300 Roman rule in Greece

AD 50 Paul the Apostle visits Athens

A.D. 330 Foundation of the Byzantine Empire by Constantine I

1456-1821 Ottoman Turks rule Athens and Greece

1687 The besiege of Acropolis from the Venetians

1821-29 The Greek War for Independence

1828 Ioannis Kapodistrias arrives in Greece to become the first president of Greece

1832 Prince Otto of Bavaria is selected by Western powers as king of the modern Greek state

1834 The small, ruined town of Athens, totally unsuited for the task, becomes the new Greek capital.

1896 First modern Olympic Games held in Athens

1917 Venizelos brings Greece into the World War I on side of Allies

1920-22 Greece at war with Turkey

1923 End of Greek–Turkish war

1940 The big "OXI" (no). General Metaxas delivers his famous "OXI" to Italian demand that he allow Mussolini's fleet access through the Greek ports

1944 British army and Greek army and navy units enter Athens

1946 Full Civil War breaks out in Greece between Communist and Anti-Communist forces

1967 Exile of King Constantine I. Greece ruled by Colonel Papadopoulos

1974 Junta collapses after abortive attempt to assassinate Makarios and seize Cyprus

1975 Republican constitution inaugurated

1981 Greece joins the European Union becoming the tenth member of EEC

1998 Devaluation of the drachma and exchange to Euro

1981 Greece celebrates 2,500th anniversary of democracy

2004 Athens hosts the Olympic Games 2004