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History of Athens

Athens is one of the oldest named cities in the world, having been
continuously inhabited for at least 5000 years.[1] Situated in southern
Europe, Athens became the leading city ofAncient Greece in the first
millennium BC, and its cultural achievements during the 5th century
BC laid the foundations ofwestern civilization.

During the early Middle Ages, the city experienced a decline, then
recovered under the later Byzantine Empire and was relatively
prosperous during the period of the Crusades (12th and 13th
centuries), benefiting from Italian trade. Following a period of sharp
decline under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Athens re-emerged in
the 19th century as the capital of the independent and self-governing The Acropolis of Athens by Leo von Klenze (1846)
Greek state.

History 900 BC – 146
Geographical setting BC
Origins and early history
Reform and Democracy
Classical Athens
Early Athenian military history and Persian era
Artists and philosophers
Peloponnesian War
Owl of Athena
Athenian coup of 411 BC
Corinthian War and the Second Athenian League Capital Athens
Athens under Macedon Languages Attic Greek
Hellenistic Athens
Religion Greek
Roman Athens
Middle Ages
Byzantine Athens Government Aristocracy
(until 510 BC)
Latin Athens
Burgundian period Democracy
(From 510 BC)
Aragonese period
Florentine period Legislature Ecclesia
Modern history • Council Boule
Ottoman Athens Historical era Archaic/Classical
Independence from the Ottomans
• Established c.900 BC
Modern Athens
• Solon's
Athens during World War II
Reforms 594 BC
Postwar Athens
• Cleisthenes
Athens today establishes
Recent historical population democracy 510 BC
Ancient sites in Athens • Peloponnesian
War 431 BC
Notable Athenians • Subjugation by 338 BC
Ancient and medieval periods Macedon
Modern period • Roman
conquest of
See also
Achaea 146 BC
Currency Drachma
Further reading Preceded Succeeded by
External links by
Greek Achaea
Dark (Roman
Ages province)
The name of Athens, connected to the name of its patron goddess Athena, Today part of Greece
originates from an earlier Pre-Greek language.[2] The etiological myth explaining
how Athens acquired this name through the legendary contest between Poseidon and Athena was described by Herodotus,[3]
Apollodorus,[4] Ovid, Plutarch,[5] Pausanias and others. It even became the theme of the sculpture on the West pediment of the
Parthenon. Both Athena and Poseidon requested to be patrons of the city and to give their name to it, so they competed with one
another for the honour, offering the city one gift each. Poseidon produced a spring by striking the ground with his trident,[6]
symbolizing naval power.

Athena created the olive tree, symbolizing

peace and prosperity. The Athenians,
under their ruler Cecrops, accepted the
olive tree and named the city after Athena.
(Later the Southern Italian city ofPaestum
was founded under the name of The contest of Athena and Poseidon, West Pediment of the Parthenon
Poseidonia at about 600 BC.) A sacred
olive tree said to be the one created by the
goddess was still kept on the Acropolis at the time of Pausanias (2nd century AD).[7] It was located by the temple of Pandrosus, next
to the Parthenon. According to Herodotus, the tree had been burnt down during the Persian Wars, but a shoot sprung from the stump.
The Greeks saw this as a symbol that Athena still had her mark there on the city

Plato, in his dialogue Cratylus, offers his own etymology of Athena's name connecting it to the phraseἁ θεονόα or hē theoû nóēsis (ἡ
θεοῦ νόησις, 'the mind of god').[8]

Geographical setting
The site on which Athens stands was first inhabited in theNeolithic period, perhaps as a defensible settlement on top of the Acropolis
('high city'), around the end of the fourth millennium BC or a little later.[9] The Acropolis is a natural defensive position which
commands the surrounding plains. The settlement was about 20 km (12 mi) inland from the Saronic Gulf, in the centre of the
Cephisian Plain, a fertile valley surrounded by rivers. To the east lies Mount Hymettus, to the north Mount Pentelicus.

Ancient Athens, in the first millennium BC, occupied a very small area compared to the sprawling metropolis of modern Greece. The
ancient walled city encompassed an area measuring about 2 km (1 mi) from east to west and slightly less than that from north to
south, although at its peak the ancient city had suburbs extending well beyond these walls. The Acropolis was situated just south of
the centre of this walled area.
The Agora, the commercial and social centre of the city, lay
about 400 m (1,312 ft) north of the Acropolis, in what is now
the Monastiraki district. The hill of the Pnyx, where the
Athenian Assembly met, lay at the western end of the city. The
Eridanus (Ηριδανός) river flowed through the city

One of the most important religious sites in ancient Athens was

the Temple of Athena, known today as the Parthenon, which
stood on top of the Acropolis, where its evocative ruins still
stand. Two other major religious sites, the Temple of
Hephaestus (which is still largely intact) and the Temple of
Olympian Zeus or Olympeion (once the largest temple in Map of the Environs of Ancient Athens
mainland Greece but now in ruins) also lay within the city

According to Thucydides, the Athenian citizens at the

beginning of the Peloponnesian War (5th century BC)
numbered 40,000, making with their families a total of 140,000
people in all. The metics, i.e. those who did not have citizen
rights and paid for the right to reside in Athens, numbered a
further 70,000, whilst slaves were estimated at between
150,000 and 400,000.[10] Hence, approximately a tenth of the
population were adult male citizens, eligible to meet and vote
in the Assembly and be elected to office. After the conquests of
Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, the city's population
began to decrease as Greeks migrated to the Hellenistic empires
1911 map of Athens
in the east.


Origins and early history

Athens has been inhabited from Neolithic times, possibly from the end of the 4th millennium BC, or nearly 5,000 years.[11] By 1412
BC, the settlement had become an important center of the Mycenaean civilization and the Acropolis was the site of a major
Mycenaean fortress whose remains can be recognised from sections of the characteristic Cyclopean walls.[12] On the summit of the
Acropolis, below the later Erechtheion, cuttings in the rock have been identified as the location of a Mycenaean palace.[12] Between
1250 and 1200 BC, to feed the needs of the Mycenaean settlement, a staircase was built down a cleft in the rock to reach a water
supply that was protected by enemy incursions,[13] similarly to what was carried out atMycenae.

Unlike other Mycenaean centers, such as Mycenae and Pylos (see Bronze Age collapse), it is unclear whether Athens suffered
destruction in about 1200 BC, an event traditionally attributed to a Dorian invasion (though now commonly attributed to a systems
collapse, part of the Late Bronze Age collapse), and the Athenians always maintained that they were "pure" Ionians with no Dorian
element. However, Athens, like many other Bronze Age settlements, went into economic decline fo
r around 150 years following this.

Iron Age burials, in the Kerameikos and other locations, are often richly provided for and demonstrate that from 900 BC onwards
Athens was one of the leading centres of trade and prosperity in the region; as were Lefkandi in Euboea and Knossos in Crete.[14]
This position may well have resulted from its central location in the Greek world, its secure stronghold on the Acropolis and its
access to the sea, which gave it a natural advantage over inland rivals such as
Thebes and Sparta.
According to legend, Athens was formerly ruled by kings (see Kings of Athens), a situation which may have continued up until the
9th century BC. From later accounts, it is believed that these kings stood at the head of a land-owning aristocracy known as the
Eupatridae (the 'well-born'), whose instrument of government was a Council which met on the Hill of
Ares, called the Areopagus and
appointed the chief city officials, the archons and the polemarch (commander-in-chief).

Before the concept of the political state arose, four tribes based upon family relationships dominated the area. The members had
certain rights, privileges, and obligations:

Common religious rights.

A common burial place.
Mutual rights of succession to property of deceased members.
Reciprocal obligations of help, defense and redress of injuries.
The right to intermarry in thegens in the cases of orphan daughters and heiresses.
The possession of common property, an archon, and a treasurer.
The limitation of descent to the male line.
The obligation not to marry in thegens except in specified cases.
The right to adopt strangers into the gens.
The right to elect and depose its chiefs.[15]
During this period, Athens succeeded in bringing the other towns of Attica under its rule. This process of synoikismos – the bringing
together into one home – created the largest and wealthiest state on the Greek mainland, but it also created a larger class of people
excluded from political life by the nobility. By the 7th century BC, social unrest had become widespread, and the Areopagus
appointed Draco to draft a strict new code of law (hence the word 'draconian'). When this failed, they appointed Solon, with a
mandate to create a new constitution (in 594 BC).

Reform and Democracy

The reforms that Solon initiated dealt with both political and economic issues. Didrachm of Athens, 545–510 BC
The economic power of the Eupatridae was reduced by forbidding the
enslavement of Athenian citizens as a punishment for debt (Debt bondage), by
breaking up large landed estates and freeing up trade and commerce, which
allowed the emergence of a prosperous urban trading class. Politically, Solon
divided the Athenians into four classes, based on their wealth and their ability to
perform military service. The poorest class, the Thetai, (Ancient Greek Θήται)
who formed the majority of the population, received political rights for the first
Obv: Four-spoked Rev: Incuse square,
time and were able to vote in the Ecclesia (Assembly). But only the upper
wheel divided diagonally
classes could hold political office. The Areopagus continued to exist but its
Silver didrachm of Athens of heraldic
powers were reduced.
type from the time of Peisistratus , 545–
The new system laid the foundations for what eventually became Athenian 510 BC
democracy, but in the short-term it failed to quell class conflict and after twenty
years of unrest the popular party, led by Peisistratus, a cousin of Solon, seized
Obol of Athens, 545–525 BC
power (in 541 BC). Peisistratus is usually called a tyrant, but the Greek word
tyrannos does not mean a cruel and despotic ruler, merely one who took power
by force. Peisistratus was in fact a very popular ruler
, who made Athens wealthy,
powerful, and a centre of culture, and instituted Athenian naval supremacy in the
Aegean Sea and beyond. He preserved the Solonian Constitution, but made sure
that he and his family held all the offices of state.
Obv: A Gorgoneion Rev: Square incuse
He built the first aqueduct as an underground tunnel.[16] Its sources were most
An archaic silver obol of Athens of
likely on the slopes of Mount Hymettos and along the Ilissos river. It supplied,
heraldic type from the time of
among other structures, the fountain house in the southeast corner of the Agora,
Peisistratus, 545–525 BC
but it had a number of branches. In the 4th century BC it was replaced by a system
of terracotta pipes in a stone-built underground channel, sometimes called the
Hymettos aqueduct; many sections had round, oval or square access holes on top of
about 10 cm × 10 cm (4 in × 4 in). Pipe segments of this system are displayed at the
Evangelismos and Syntagma Metro stations.

Peisistratus died in 527 BC and

was succeeded by his sons
Hippias and Hipparchus. They
Part of the aqueduct constructed by proved to be much less adept
Peisistratos, excavated during the rulers and in 514 BC,
construction of the Athens metro at
Hipparchus was assassinated in
Syntagma square
a private dispute over a young
man (see Harmodius and
Aristogeiton). This led Hippias
to establish a real dictatorship,
The ruins of the Temple of Olympian
which proved very unpopular. Zeus, conceived by the sons of
He was overthrown in 510 BC. Peisistratus
A radical politician with an
aristocratic background named
Cleisthenes then took charge, and it was he who established democracy in Athens.

The reforms of Cleisthenes replaced the traditional four "tribes" (phyle) with ten
Ancient stratigraphy of Athens,
new ones, named after legendary heroes and having no class basis; they were in fact
displayed at Syntagma station
electorates. Each 'tribe' was in turn divided into three 'trittyes' and each trittys had
one or more demes, which became the basis of local government. The tribes each
elected fifty members to the Boule, a council which governed Athens on a day-to-day basis. The Assembly was open to all citizens
and was both a legislature and a supreme court, except in murder cases and religious matters, which became the only remaining
functions of the Areopagus.

Most public offices were filled by lot, although the ten strategoi (generals) were elected. This system remained remarkably stable
and, with a few brief interruptions, it remained in place for 170 years, until Philip II of Macedon defeated Athens and Thebes at the
Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC.

Classical Athens

Early Athenian military history and Persian era

Prior to the rise of Athens, Sparta considered itself to be the leader of the Greeks, or hegemon. In 499 BC, Athens sent troops to aid
the Ionian Greeks of Asia Minor, who were rebelling against the Persian Empire (the Ionian Revolt). This provoked two Persian
invasions of Greece (see Persian Wars). In 490 BC, the Athenians, led by the soldier-statesman Miltiades, defeated the first invasion
of the Persians under Darius I at the Battle of Marathon.

In 480BC, the Persians returned under Darius's son Xerxes. When a small Greek force holding the pass of Thermopylae was
defeated, the Athenians evacuated Athens, the city that was taken by the Persians. Athens got captured and sacked twice by the
Persians within one year after Thermopylae.[17] Subsequently, the Athenians (led by Themistocles), with their allies, engaged the
much larger Persian navy at sea in the Battle of Salamis. Xerxes built a throne on the coast in order to watch the Greek navy being
defeated, but instead, the Persians were routed. This established a great turning point in the war
In 479 BC, the Athenians and
Spartans, with their allies, defeated
the Persian army at the Battle of
Plataea. However, it was Athens
that took the war to Asia Minor.
These victories enabled it to bring
most of the Aegean and many other
Athenian dekadrachm, 467–465 BC: Head parts of Greece together in the
of Athena wearing crested Attic helmet.
Delian League, an Athenian-
Rev: Owl standing facing, ΑΘΕ (ΑΘΗΝΑΙΩΝ – of
dominated alliance.
Athenians). Commemorative issue, representing the
Athenian military domination.

Artists and philosophers

The period from the end of the Persian Wars to the Macedonian conquest marked the zenith
of Athens as a center of literature, philosophy (Greek philosophy), and the arts (Greek
theatre). In Athens at this time, the political satire of the Comic poets at the theatres had a
remarkable influence onpublic opinion.[18]

Some of the most important figures of Western cultural and intellectual history lived in Roman statuette of Athena,
copy of the Phidias statue,
Athens during this period: the dramatists Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides and
created for the Parthenon in
Sophocles, the physician Hippocrates, the philosophers Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, the
447 BC, National
historians Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon, the poet Simonides, and the sculptor Archaeological Museum,
Phidias. The leading statesman of this period was Pericles, who used the tribute paid by the Athens
members of the Delian League to build the Parthenon and other great monuments of
classical Athens. The city became, in Pericles's words, "the school of Hellas

Peloponnesian War
The resentment felt by other cities at the hegemony of Athens led to the
Peloponnesian War, which began in 431 BC and pitted Athens and its increasingly
rebellious overseas empire against a coalition of land-based states led by Sparta. The
conflict ended with a victory for Sparta and the end of Athenian command of the
sea. This civil war in Greece left the Greeks weak and divided leading to Philip II
and Alexander the Great taking over Greece.

The modern Academy of Athens,

Athenian coup of 411 BC
with Apollo and Athena on their
Due to its poor handling of the war, the democracy in Athens was briefly overthrown columns, and Socrates and Plato
by a coup in 411 BC, however, it was quickly restored. The Peloponnesian War seated in front
ended in 404 BC with the complete defeat of Athens. Since the loss of the war was
largely blamed on democratic politicians such as Cleon and Cleophon, there was a
brief reaction against democracy, aided by the Spartan army (the rule of the Thirty Tyrants). In 403 BC, however, democracy was
restored by Thrasybulus and an amnesty was declared.

Corinthian War and the Second Athenian League

Sparta's former allies soon turned against her, due to her imperialist policy, and soon Athens' former enemies Thebes and Corinth had
become her allies; they fought with Athens and Argos against Sparta in the indecisive Corinthian War (395 – 387 BC). Opposition to
Sparta enabled Athens to establish aSecond Athenian League.
Finally Thebes defeated Sparta in 371 BC in the Battle of Leuctra. But then the
Greek cities (including Athens and Sparta) turned against Thebes, whose dominance
was stopped at the Battle of Mantinea (362 BC) with the death of its military-genius
leader Epaminondas.

Athens under Macedon

By the mid-4th century BC, however, the northern Greek kingdom of Macedon was
becoming dominant in Athenian affairs, despite the warnings of the last great
The Karyatides statues of the
statesman of independent Athens, Demosthenes. In 338 BC the armies of Philip II
Erechtheion, constructed 421–406
defeated an alliance of some of the Greek city-states including Athens and Thebes at
BC on the Acropolis
the Battle of Chaeronea, effectively ending Athenian independence. Subsequently,
the conquests of his son Alexander the Great widened Greek horizons and made the
traditional Greek city state obsolete. Athens remained a wealthy city with a brilliant cultural life, but ceased to be a leading power

Hellenistic Athens

Roman Athens
In 88–85 BC, most Athenian buildings, both houses and fortifications, were leveled
by the Roman general Sulla (138 BC – 78 BC), although many civic buildings and
monuments were left intact.[19] Under Rome, Athens was given the status of a free
city because of its widely admired schools. The Roman emperor Hadrian, in the 2nd
century AD, constructed a library, a gymnasium, an aqueduct [20] which is still in
use, several temples and sanctuaries, a bridge and financed the completion of the
Temple of Olympian Zeus.[21]

The city was sacked by the Heruli

The ruins of the Roman era Agora,
in AD 267, resulting in the burning
the second commercial centre of
of all the public buildings, the
ancient Athens
plundering of the lower city and the
damaging of the Agora and
Acropolis. After this the city to the north of the Acropolis was hastily refortified on a
smaller scale, with the Agora left outside the walls. Athens remained a centre of
learning and philosophy during its 500 years of Roman rule, patronized by emperors
Hadrianic aqueduct bridge in Nea
such as Nero and Hadrian.
The sack of the city by the Heruls in 267 and Alaric in 396, however, dealt a heavy
blow to the city's fabric and fortunes, and Athens was henceforth confined to a small
fortified area that embraced a fraction of the ancient city.[22] The city remained an important center of learning, especially of
Neoplatonism—with notable pupils including Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil of Caesarea and emperor Julian—and consequently a
center of paganism. Christian items do not appear in the archaeological record until the early 5th century.[22] The Emperor Justinian I
closed down the city's philosophical schools in 529, an event whose impact on the city is much debated,[22] but is generally taken to
mark the end of the ancient history of Athens.

Middle Ages

Byzantine Athens
From very early on the imperial period, but accelerating in the third century AD, the
centre of the Roman Empire moved towards the eastern half of the Mediterranean
basin. The Empire became Christianized, and the use of Latin declined in favour of
exclusive use of Greek: in the early Roman period, both languages had been used.
The empire after this transition is known today as the Byzantine Empire due to its
focus on the imperial capital at Constantinople, the old Greek city of Byzantion. The
division is historically useful, but misleading, with an unbroken chain of emperors
continuing up until the thirteenth century, and all citizens identifying themselves as
fully Roman ("Rhomaioi"). The conversion of the empire from paganism to The Byzantine Church of the Holy
Christianity greatly affected Athens, resulting in reduced reverence for the city.[23] Apostles next to the Stoa of Attalos

Ancient monuments such as the Parthenon, Erechtheion and the Hephaisteion

(Theseion) were converted into churches. As the empire became increasingly anti-
pagan, Athens became a provincial town and experienced fluctuating fortunes. Many of its works of art were taken by the emperors
to Constantinople. Athens was sacked by the Slavs in 582, but remained in imperial hands thereafter, as highlighted by the visit of
Emperor Constans II in 662/3 and its inclusion in the Theme of Hellas.[22] The city was threatened by Saracen raids in the 8th–9th
centuries—in 896, Athens was raided and possibly occupied for a short period, an event which left some archaeological remains and
elements of Arabic ornamentation in contemporary buildings[24] —but there is also evidence of a mosque existing in the city at the
time.[22] In the great dispute over Byzantine Iconoclasm, Athens is commonly held to have supported the iconophile position, chiefly
due to the role played by Empress Irene of Athens in the ending of the first period of Iconoclasm at the Second Council of Nicaea in
787.[22] A few years later, another Athenian, Theophano, became empress as the wife ofStaurakios (r. 811–812).[22]

Invasion of the empire by the Turks after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, and the ensuing civil wars, largely passed the region by and
Athens continued its provincial existence unharmed. When the Byzantine Empire was rescued by the resolute leadership of the three
Komnenos emperors Alexios, John and Manuel, Attica and the rest of Greece prospered. Archaeological evidence tells us that the
medieval town experienced a period of rapid and sustained growth, starting in the 11th century and continuing until the end of the
12th century.

The agora or marketplace, which had been deserted since late antiquity, began to be built over, and soon the town became an
important centre for the production of soaps and dyes. The growth of the town attracted the Venetians, and various other traders who
frequented the ports of the Aegean, to Athens. This interest in trade appears to have further increased the economic prosperity of the

The 11th and 12th centuries were the Golden Age of Byzantine art in Athens. Almost all of the most important Middle Byzantine
churches in and around Athens were built during these two centuries, and this reflects the growth of the town in general. However,
this medieval prosperity was not to last. In 1204, the Fourth Crusade conquered Athens and the city was not recovered from the
Latins before it was taken by theOttoman Turks. It did not become Greek in government again until the 19th century

Latin Athens
From 1204 until 1458, Athens was ruled by Latins in three separate periods.

Burgundian period
Athens was initially the capital of the eponymous Duchy of Athens, a fief of the Latin Empire which replaced Byzantium. After
Thebes became a possession of the Latin dukes, which were of the Burgundian family called De la Roche, it replaced Athens as the
capital and seat of government, although Athens remained the most influential ecclesiastical centre in the duchy and site of a prime

Under the Burgundian dukes, a bell tower was added to the Parthenon. The Burgundians brought chivalry and tournaments to Athens;
they also fortified the Acropolis. They were themselves influenced by Byzantine Greek culture.
Aragonese period
In 1311, Athens was conquered by the Catalan Company, a band of mercenaries
called Almogavars. It was held by the Catalans until 1388. After 1379, when Thebes
was lost, Athens became the capital of the duchy again.

The history of Aragonese Athens, called Cetines (rarely Athenes) by the conquerors,
is obscure. Athens was a veguería with its own castellan, captain, and veguer. At
some point during the Aragonese period, the Acropolis was further fortified and the
Athenian archdiocese received an extra twosuffragan sees.
The Propylaea on the Acropolis of
Athens (pictured with the now
Florentine period demolished Frankish Tower in the
In 1388, the Florentine Nerio I Acciajuoli took the city and made himself duke. The mid-19th century) were the palace of
the Dukes of Athens.
Florentines had to dispute the city with the Republic of Venice, but they ultimately
emerged victorious after seven years of Venetian rule (1395–1402). The descendants
of Nerio I Acciajuoli ruled the city (as their capital) until the Turkish conquest of 1458.

Modern history

Ottoman Athens
The first Ottoman attack on Athens, which involved a short-lived occupation of the
town, came in 1397, under the Ottoman generals Yaqub Pasha and Timurtash.[24]
Finally, in 1458, Athens was captured by the Ottomans under the personal leadership
of Sultan Mehmed II.[24] As the Ottoman Sultan rode into the city, he was greatly
struck by the beauty of its ancient monuments and issued a firman (imperial edict)
forbidding their looting or destruction, on pain of death. The Parthenon was
converted into Athens' mainmosque.[23]

Under Ottoman rule, the city was denuded of any importance and its population
severely declined, leaving Athens as a "small country town" (Franz Babinger).[24]
From the early 17th century, Athens came under the jurisdiction of the Kizlar Agha,
the chief black eunuch of theSultans' harem. The city had originally been granted by
Sultan Ahmed I (r. 1603–1617) to Basilica, one of his favourite concubines, who
hailed from the city, in response of complaints of maladministration by the local
governors. After her death, Athens came under the purview of the Kizlar Agha.
Leonardos Philaras (c. 1595–1673)
was a Greek scholar, born in
The Turks began a practice of storing gunpowder and explosives in the Parthenon
Athens,[25] and an early supporter of
and Propylaea. In 1640, a lightning bolt struck the Propylaea, causing its
Greek liberation.[26]
destruction.[28] In 1687, during the Morean War, the Acropolis was besieged by the
Venetians under Francesco Morosini, and the temple of Athena Nike was dismantled
by the Ottomans to fortify the Parthenon. A shot fired during the bombardment of the Acropolis caused a powder magazine in the
Parthenon to explode (26 September), and the building was severely damaged, giving it the appearance we see today. The occupation
of the Acropolis continued for six months and both the Venetians and the Ottomans participated in the looting of the Parthenon. One
of its western pediments was removed, causing even more damage to the structure.[23][24] The Venetians occupied the town,
converting its two mosques into Catholic and Protestant churches, but on 9 April 1688 they abandoned it again to the Ottomans.

In the 18th century, however, the city recovered much of its prosperity. During Michel Fourmont's visit in the city in the 1720s, he
witnessed much construction going on, and by the time the Athenian teacher Ioannis Benizelos wrote an account of the city's affairs
in the 1770s, Athens was once again enjoying some prosperity, so that, according to Benizelos, it "could be cited as an example to the
other cities of Greece".[29] Its Greek population possessed a considerable degree of self-government, under a council of primates
composed of the leading aristocratic families, along with the city's metropolitan bishop. The community was quite influential with the
Ottoman authorities, thevoevoda (governor), the kadi (judge), the mufti, and the garrison commander of the Acropolis—according to
Benizelos, if the voevoda did not treat them well and heed their opinion, he was liable to be removed before his annual term of office
was out—particularly through the influence at Constantinople of the two Athenian-born Patriarchs of Jerusalem, Parthenius (1737–
1766) and Ephram II (1766–1770).[29] Taxation was also light, with only the kharaj tax payable to the Ottoman government, as well
as the salt tax and a water-tax for the olive yards and gardens.[29]

This peaceful situation was interrupted in 1752–1753, when the execution of the previous Kizlar Agha resulted in the dispatch of a
new voevoda, Sari Muselimi. His abuse of power led to protests by both the Greeks and the Turks; Sari Muselimi killed some of the
notables who protested, whereupon the populace burned down his residence. Sari Muselimi fled to the Acropolis where he was
besieged by the Athenians, until the Ottoman governor of Negroponte intervened and restored order, imprisoning the Metropolitan
.[29] In 1759 the new voevoda, a native Muslim, destroyed one of the pillars of the
and imposing a heavy fine on the Greek community
Temple of Olympian Zeus to provide material for a fifth mosque for the city—an illegal act, as the
temple was considered the Sultan's
property.[29] In the next year, Athens was removed from the purview of the Kizlar Agha and transferred to the privy purse of the
Sultan. Henceforth it would be leased as a malikhane, a form of tax farming where the owner bought the proceeds of the city for a
fixed sum, and enjoyed them for life.[29]

The first owner (malikhane sahib), Ismail Agha, a local Turk from Livadeia, had
been humane and popular, appointing good voevodas, so that he was nicknamed "the
Good".[29] English visitors during the 1760s report a population of around 10,000
inhabitants, around four fifths of which were Christians. The Turkish community
numbered several families established in the city since the Ottoman conquest; and
their relations with their Christian neighbours were friendlier than elsewhere, as they
had assimilated themselves to a degree, even to the point of drinking wine.[29] The
climate was healthy, but the city relied chiefly on pasture—practiced by the
Arvanites of Attica—rather than agriculture. It exported leather, soap, grain, oil,
honey, wax, resin, a little silk, cheese, and valonia, chiefly to Constantinople and
France. The city hosted a French and an English consul.[29] During the Orlov Revolt
the Athenians, with the exception of the younger ones, remained cautious and
Map of late Ottoman Athens, with the
passive, even when the Greek chieftain Mitromaras seized Salamis. Nevertheless, it
Wall of Haseki
was only thanks to the intervention of Ismail Agha that the city was spared a
massacre as reprisals, and was forced to pay an indemnity instead.[29]

Ismail Agha's successor, Hadji Ali Haseki was cruel and tyrannical, and the twenty years of his on-and-off rule over the city,
represented one of the worst periods in the city's history. Supported by the city's aristocratic families, and his relationship with the
Sultan's sister, who was his lover, he extorted large sums from the populace, and seized much property from them. Through protests
in Constantinople, the Athenians achieved his recall several times, but Haseki always returned until his final downfall and execution
in 1795.[29] His early tenure also saw two large Albanian raids into Attica, as a response to which he ordered the construction of a
new city wall, the "Wall of Haseki", which was partly constructed with material taken from ancient monuments.[24][29] Between
1801 and 1805 Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, arranged for the removal of many sculptures from the
Parthenon (the Elgin marbles). Along with the Panathenaic frieze, one of the six caryatids of the Erechtheion was extracted and
replaced with a plaster mold. All in all, fifty pieces of sculpture were carried away, including three fragments purchased by the

Athens produced some notable intellectuals during this era, such as Demetrius Chalcondyles (1424–1511), who became a celebrated
Renaissance teacher of Greek and of Platonic philosophy in Italy.[30] Chalcondyles published the first printed editions of Homer (in
1488), of Isocrates (in 1493), and of the Suda lexicon (in 1499), and a Greek grammar (Erotemata).
His cousin Laonicus Chalcondyles (c. 1423–1490) was also a native of Athens, a
notable scholar and Byzantine historian and one of the most valuable of the later
Greek historians. He was the author of the valuable work Historiarum
Demonstrationes (Demonstrations of History) and was a great admirer of the ancient
writer Herodotus, encouraging the interest of contemporary Italian humanists in that
ancient historian.[32] In the 17th century, Athenian-born Leonardos Philaras (c.
1595–1673),[33] was a Greek scholar, politician, diplomat, advisor and the Duke of
Parma's ambassador to the French court,[34] spending much of his career trying to
Edward Dodwell: The Bazar of
persuade western European intellectuals to supportGreek independence.[35][36] Athens, 1821

Independence from the Ottomans

In 1822, a Greek insurgency captured the city, but it fell to the Ottomans again in
1826 (though Acropolis held till June 1827). Again the ancient monuments suffered
badly. The Ottoman forces remained in possession until March 1833, when they
withdrew. At that time, the city (as throughout the Ottoman period) had a small
population of an estimated 400 houses, mostly located around the Acropolis in the
Peter von Hess: The Entry of King
Otto in Athens, 1839
Modern Athens
In 1832, Otto, Prince of Bavaria, was proclaimed King of
Greece. He adopted the Greek spelling of his name, King
Othon, as well as Greek national dress, and made it one of his
first tasks as king to conduct a detailed archaeological and
topographical survey of Athens, his new capital. He assigned
Gustav Eduard Schaubert and Stamatios Kleanthis to complete
this task.[23] At that time, Athens had a population of only
4,000 to 5,000 people in a scattering of houses at the foot of the
Acropolis, located in what today covers the district ofPlaka.

Athens was chosen as the Greek capital for historical and

sentimental reasons. There are few buildings dating from the
period of the Byzantine Empire or the 18th century. Once the
capital was established, a modern city plan was laid out and
public buildings were erected.

City plan, 1862

The finest legacy of this period are the buildings of the University of Athens (1837),
the National Gardens of Athens (1840), the National Library of Greece (1842), the
Old Royal Palace (now the Greek Parliament Building; 1843), the Old Parliament
Building (1858), the City Hall (1874), the Zappeion Exhibition Hall (1878), the
Greek National Academy (1885) and the New Royal Palace (now the Presidential
Palace; 1897). In 1896 the city hosted the1896 Summer Olympics.
View towards Lycabettus, 1862
Athens experienced its second period of explosive growth following the disastrous
war with Turkey in 1921, when more than a million Greek refugees fromAsia Minor
were resettled in Greece. Suburbs such asNea Ionia and Nea Smyrni began as refugee settlements on the Athens outskirts.
Athens during World War II
Athens was occupied by the
Germans during World War II and
experienced terrible privations
during the later years of the war.
The Great Famine (Greece) was
heavy in the city. Several resistance
organizations were created. After
German soldiers on the Acropolis British troops at the Acropolis in
the liberation, in 1944, there was Athens, October 1944
heavy fighting in the city between
the communist forces and the government forces backed by the British.

Postwar Athens
After World War II the city began to grow again as people migrated from the
villages and islands to find work. Greek entry into the European Union in 1981
brought a flood of new investment to the city, but also increasing social and
environmental problems. Athens had some of the worst traffic congestion and air
pollution in the world at that time. This posed a new threat to the ancient monuments
of Athens, as traffic vibration weakened foundations and air pollution corroded
marble. The city's environmental and infrastructure problems were the main reason
why Athens failed to secure the 1996centenary Olympic Games.
Omonoia Square during the 60's

Athens today
Following the failed attempt to secure the 1996 Summer Olympics, both the city of
Athens and the Greek government, aided by European Union funds, undertook
major infrastructure projects such as the new Athens Airport and a new metro
system. The city also tackled air pollution by restricting the use of cars in the centre
of the city. As a result, Athens was awarded the 2004 Olympic Games. Despite the
skepticism of many observers, the games were a great success and brought renewed
international prestige (and tourism revenue) to Athens. Athens was chosen as the
reference city for the 14th dokumenta major international art Event in 2017 under View of part of central Athens and
the title Learning from Athens. some of the city's southern suburbs
from Lykavittos Hill

Recent historical population

Throughout its long history, Athens has had many different population levels. The table below shows the historical population of
Athens in relatively recent times.
Year City population Urban population Metro population

1833 4,000[23] – –

1870 44,500[23] – –

1896 123,000[23] –

1921 (Pre-Population exchange) 473,000[23] – –

1921 (Post-Population exchange) 718,000[23] – –

1971 867,023[37] – –

1981 885,737 – –

1991 772,072 – 3,444,358[38]

2001 745,514[39] 3,130,841[39] 3,761,810[39]

Ancient sites in Athens

The Acropolis, with the Parthenon
Arch of Hadrian
Lysicrates monument
Philopappos monument
Temple of Hephaestus
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Tower of the Winds

Notable Athenians

Ancient and medieval periods

Theseus, mythical king Nicias (c. 470–413 BC), politician and general
Solon (c. 640–560 BC), statesman Socrates (c. 469–399 BC), philosopher
Peisistratos (fl. 564–528 BC), tyrant Telecleides (fl. 450–430 BC), playwright of the Old
Cleisthenes (c. 570–500 BC), statesman Comedy
Simonides of Ceos (c. 556–468 BC), lyric poet Thucydides (c. 460–400 BC), historian and general
Miltiades the Younger (c. 550–489 BC), statesman Hermippus (fifth century BC), playwright of the Old
and general Comedy
Aeschylus (c. 525–455 BC), tragic poet Cleon (fl. 435–422 BC), general during the
Peloponnesian war
Themistocles (c. 524–459 BC), politician and general
Alcibiades (c. 450–404 BC), statesman,orator and
Cimon (c. 510–450 BC), statesman and general
Apollodorus Skiagraphos(fifth century BC), painter
Ephialtes of Athens (c. 450–461 BC), politician
Sophocles (c. 496–406 BC), tragic poet
Agathon (c. 448–400 BC), tragic poet
Pericles (c. 495–429 BC), statesman and general
Eupolis (c. 446–411 BC), playwright of the Old
Herodotus (c. 484–425 BC), historian, originally from Comedy
Aristophanes (c. 446–386 BC), playwright of the Old
Euripides (c. 480–406 BC), tragic poet Comedy
Pheidias (c. 480–430 BC), sculptor, painter and Thrasybulus (c. 440–388 BC), general and democratic
architect leader
Aspasia (c. 470–400 BC), lover and partner of Xenophon (c. 430–354 BC), historian, soldier and
Pericles, possibly a hetaera, originally from Milet mercenary, and a student of Socrates
Plato (c. 425–348 BC), philosopher Saint Giles (c. 650–710 AD), hermit saint
Aristotle (384–322 BC), philosopher, native from Irene of Athens (c. 752–803 AD), empress consort,
Stagira, Chalkidike thereafter Byzantine empress
Demosthenes (384–322 BC), statesman and orator Demetrios Chalkokondyles(1423–1511), scholar
Athenagoras of Athens(c. 133–190 AD), Father of the Saint Philothei, née Revoula Benizelos (1522–1589),
Church and apologist martyr and saint
Clement of Alexandria (c. 150–215 AD), Christian Leonardos Philaras (1595–1673), scholar, politician
theologian and diplomat
Aelia Eudocia Augusta, born as Athenaïs, later Saint
Eudocia (c. 401–460 AD), wife of EmperorTheodosius

Modern period
Panagis Kalkos (1818–1875), architect Angelos Terzakis (1907–1979), writer
Stefanos Dragoumis (1842–1923), judge, writer and Stavros Niarchos (1909–1996), shipping tycoon
Prime Minister of Greece Melina Mercouri (1920–1994), actress, singer and
Dimitrios Rallis (1844–1921), politician and reiterate politician
prime minister (1897, 1904, 1905, 1909, 1920–21) Dimitri Terzakis (born 1938), composer
Anastasios Metaxas (1862–1937), architect and Stavros Dimas (born 1941), politician and former
Olympic shooter European Commissioner(2004–09)
Constantine I of Greece(1868–1923), King of the Lucas Papademos (born 1947), economist and Prime
Greeks (1913–17, 1920–22) Minister of Greece (2011–12)
Ion Dragoumis (1878–1920), diplomat, philosopher, Maria Farantouri (born 1947), singer
writer and revolutionary
Arianna Huffington (born 1950), author and journalist
Ioannis Rallis (1878–1946), Prime Minister of Greece
Antonis Samaras (born 1951), politician
Louka Katseli (born 1952), economist and politician
Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark(1882–1944),
son of King George I of Greece, father of Prince Philip, Dora Bakogianni (born 1954), politician
Duke of Edinburgh Kostas Karamanlis (born 1956), politician and Prime
Alexandros Papagos (1883–1955), Field Marshal and Minister of Greece (2004–09)
Prime Minister (1952–55) Toula Limnaios (born 1963), dancer and
Helen of Greece and Denmark(1896–1982), daughter choreographer
of King Constantine, mother ofKing Michael I of Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece(born 1967), eldest
Romania and Queen Mother ofRomania son and second child ofConstantine II
Aspasia Manos (1896–1972), wife of Alexander I of Leonidas Kavakos (born 1967), violinist and conductor
Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis (born 1968), politician
Paul of Greece (1901–1964), King of the Greeks Giorgos Lanthimos (born 1973), film producer and film
(1947–1964) director
Dora Stratou (1903–1988), singer, dancer and Alexis Tsipras (born 1974), politician and Prime
choreographer Minister of Greece (2015–present)
Princess Irene, Duchess of Aosta(1904–1974), fifth
child and second daughter ofConstantine I of Greece

See also
City walls of Athens
Timeline of Athens

2. "ΕΛΙΑ" (
01). Archived from the original ( on June
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3. Herodotus, The Histories,8.55 (
4. Bibliotheca, 3.14 (
5. Plutarch, ThemistoclesThem. 19 (
6. Instead of a spring, Ovid says Poseidon offered a horse (
70&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0074) .
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8. Plato, Cratylus, Plat. Crat. 407b (
9. Lambert Schneider & Christoph Hoecker, Die Akropolis von Athen, Darmstadt 2001, pp.62–63
10. Encyclopedia Of Ancient Greece(ed. by Nigel Guy Wilson). Routledge (UK), 2006.ISBN 0-415-97334-1. Pages 214,
11. ( Immerwahr, S. 1971. The Athenian Agora XII: the Neolithic and Bronze Age.Princeton.
12. Iakovides, S. 1962. 'E mykenaïke akropolis ton Athenon'. Athens.
13. Broneer, Oscar. 1939. 'A Mycenaean Fountain on the Athenian Acropolis', Hesperia VIII.
14. Osborne, R. 1996, 2009.Greece in the Making 1200 – 479 BC.
15. Morgan, Lewis H. (1907). Ancient Society. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Company. pp. 228–229. ISBN 0-674-03450-3.
16. "Roman aqueducts: Athens (Greece)"(
17. "Nothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History"(
L_AC&pg=PA34&dq=persians+sack+athens&hl=nl&sa=X&ei=e0GaVI3CBsWzUdykg6gL&ved=0CDgQ6AEwA w#v=o
nepage&q=persians%20sack%20athens&f=false) . Retrieved 24 December 2014.
18. Henderson, J. (1993) Comic Hero versus Political Elitepp.307–19 in Sommerstein, A.H.; S. Halliwell; J. Henderson;
B. Zimmerman, eds. (1993).Tragedy, Comedy and the Polis. Bari: Levante Editori.ISBN 88-7949-026-5.
19. Tung, Anthony (2001). Preserving the World's Great Cities: The Destruction and Renewal of the Historic Metropolis
New York: Three RIvers Press. pp. 256–260.ISBN 0-609-80815-X.
20. "Roman aqueducts: Hadrian's Athens (Greece)"(
21. John Travlos, Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Athens, Thames and Hudson, (London 1971) passim
22. Gregory, Timothy E.; Ševčenko, Nancy Patterson (1991). "Athens". InKazhdan, Alexander. The Oxford Dictionary of
Byzantium. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 221–223. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6.
23. Tung, Anthony (2001). "The City of the Gods Besieged".Preserving the World's Great Cities:The Destruction and
Renewal of the Historic Metropolis. New York: Three Rivers Press. pp. 260, 263, 265. ISBN 0-609-80815-X.
24. Babinger, Franz (1986). "Atīna". The Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition, V
olume I: A–B (http://referenceworks.brillo . Leiden and New York: BRILL. pp. 738–739.ISBN 90-
25. Hutton, James (1946).The Greek anthology in France and in the Latin writers of the Netherlands to the year 1800
Volume 28. Cornell University Press. p. 188.OCLC 3305912 ( "LEONARD
PHILARAS or VILLERET (c. 1595–1673) Philaras was born in Athens of good family and spent his childhood there.
His youth was passed in Rome, where he was educated, and his manhood "
26. Merry, Bruce (2004). Encyclopedia of modern Greek literature. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 442.ISBN 0-313-
30813-6. "Leonardos Filaras (1595–1673) devoted much of his career to coaxing W estern European intellectuals to
support Greek liberation. Two letters from Milton (1608–1674) attest Filaras’s patriiotic crusade."
27. Augustinos, Olga (2007). "Eastern Concubines, W estern Mistresses: Prévost'sHistoire d'une Grecque moderne". In
Buturović, Amila; Schick, İrvin Cemil.Women in the Ottoman Balkans: Gender , Culture and History (https://books.go A24#v=onepage&q&f=false). London and New York: I.B.
Tauris. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-84511-505-0.
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29. Miller, William (1921). The Turkish restoration in Greece, 1718-1797(
London and New York: Society for PromotingChristian Knowledge, The Macmillan Company .
30. Valeriano, Pierio; Gaisser, Julia Haig (1999). Pierio Valeriano on the ill fortune of learned men: a Renaissance
humanist and his world. University of Michigan Press. p. 281.ISBN 9780472110551. "Demetrius Chalcondyles was
a prominent Greek humanist. He taught Greek in Italy for over forty years. "
31. "Demetrius Chalcondyles"( Retrieved 2009-09-25. "Demetrius Chalcondyles published the first printed editions of Homer
(1488), of Isocrates (1493), and of the Suda lexicon (1499), and a Greek grammar (Erotemata) in question-and-
answer form."
32. "Laonicus Chalcocondyles"( Retrieved 2009-09-26. "Laonicus Chalcocondyles Byzantine historianal so spelled Laonicus
Chalcondyles or Laonikos Chalkokondyles born c. 1423, Athens, Greece, Byzantine Empire [now in Greece] died
1490? Chalcocondyles was a great admirer of Herodotus and roused the interest of contemporary Italian humanists
in that ancient historian. He strove for objectivity and, in spite of some inaccuracies and the interpolation of far-
fetched anecdotes, is one of the most valuable of the later Greek historians. "
33. Buhayer, Constantine (2006). Greece: a quick guide to customs & etiquette. Kuperard. p. 36. ISBN 1-85733-369-1.
"The Athenian politician and medical doctor Leonardos Philaras (1595–1673) was an advisor to the French court,
enjoying the patronage of Cardinal Richelieu"
34. Parker, William Riley – Campbell, Gordon (1996). Milton: The life. Oxford University Press. pp. 418–419.ISBN 0-19-
812889-4. "The writer was a Greek, Leonard Philaras (or V illere, as he was known in France), an able diplomat and
scholar, ambassador to the French court fromthe Duke of Parma"
35. Merry, Bruce (2004). Encyclopedia of modern Greek literature. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 442.ISBN 0-313-
30813-6. "Leonardos Filaras (1595–1673) devoted much of his career to coaxing W estern European intellectuals to
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36. Milton, John – Diekhoff, John Siemon (1965). Milton on himself: Milton's utterances upon himself and his works .
Cohen & West. p. 267. OCLC 359509 ( "Milton here refuses a request from
Philaras for the assistance of his pen in the freeing of the Greeks from urkish
T rule on the basis of his confidence
that only those people are slaves who deserve to be. "
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g.php?x=&men=gpro&lng=en&dat=32&geo=-92&srt=2pnn&col=aohdq&pt=c&va=&geo=460748373) . Archived from the original (
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wg.php?x=&men=gpro&lng=en&dat=32&geo=460748373&srt=2pnn&col=aohdq&geo=-1048919) . Archived from the original (
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Freely, John (2004). Strolling through Athens: Fourteen Unforgettable W alks through Europe's Oldest City. Tauris
Parke Paperbacks. ISBN 978-1-85043-595-2.
Sicilianos, Demetrios (1960).Old and New Athens (Abridged ed.). Putnam.
Vryonis, Speros (2002)."The Ghost of Athens in Byzantine and Ottoman T imes". Balkan Studies: Biannual
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Further reading
Published in the 19th century

"Athens", A Hand-book for Travellers in the Ionian Islands, Greece, Turkey, Asia Minor, and Constantinople, London:
J. Murray, 1840, OCLC 397597

Published in the 20th century

"Athens", Handbook for Travellers in Greece (7th ed.), London: John Murray, 1900
"Athens", Greece (4th ed.), Leipzig: Karl Baedeker, 1909
Traill, John S., The political organization of Attica: a study of the demes, trittyes, and phylai, and their representation
in the Athenian Council, Princeton : American School of Classical Studies at Athens(ASCSA), 1975

External links
Athens official website
A history of Athens from prehistoric to contemporary times
Ancient Athens 3D
The Athenian Constitution by Aristotle
Model of Classical Athens
Athens in 421 BC
Athens: Ancient Greek SupercityFrom the TV series Lost Worlds of The History Channel (Season 1, Episode 4)

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