Athens City History

The city of Athens probably got its name from the patron goddess Athena. However, this could also have been the other way around. The exact origin of the name has not yet been clarified. Only one legend has survived, according to which Athena and the sea god Poseidon vied for the favor of the inhabitants of the then nameless city with a gift. Athena, who gave the city an olive tree, won and then became the patron goddess of Athens.

It is believed once more to tradition, as Athens was 5,000 years ago by the legendary King I. Kekrops founded. A Mycenaean royal castle was built in the city. [ Mycenaean period = 1600 – 1150 BC BC] This was spared from destruction even during the time of the Doric conquest. At the time of the Greek Great Migration (1200 – 1000 BC) and in the so-called Dark Age that followed[= the name refers to the fact that precise processes cannot be adequately reconstructed from the sparse historical evidence] the importance of Athens remained very low. In the centuries that followed, the city was anything but important. Meanwhile, the central location and an active participation in the maritime trade that ran through the port of Piraeus made Athens significantly more important. The prosperity of the inhabitants grew, but not everyone benefited. This led to social tensions, which were exacerbated by the fact that Athens urbanized the surrounding areas of Attica and united them into a polis. The tensions in the city peaked for the first time in 632 BC. With the unsuccessful coup of Cylon.

The social tensions and the ensuing coup showed the need for constitutional reforms. These were initially based on the Athenian law reformer Drakon (died around 650 BC). He drew around 621 BC. BC all known criminal provisions in Athens and introduced drastic innovations in criminal law. His draconian punishments, with which he wanted to maintain order in the city, are still a common expression today. Solon (around 640 BC – 559 BC), an important statesman from Athens, introduced extensive legal reforms. With them he created a balancing regulation for nobles and townspeople alike. Although only the top class of the four classes in Athens had a political career open to them, all classes received a vote in the popular assembly. This, as well as the abolition of debt slavery and excessive land accumulation, were the first aspects of a developing democracy. In addition, Solon promoted free trade. The democratization process of Athens was started in 541 BC. BC once again abolished by Peisistratos when he introduced tyranny [= rule of the individual]. This was continued after the death of Peisistratos (527 BC) under his sons Hippias and Hipparchus. In 510 BC The tyranny was removed. Kleisthenes (around 570 BC – around 507 BC), an Athenian state reformer, lost power around 508 BC. The oligarch party [oligarchy = rule of a few] and introduced democracy in Athens with his Kleisthenic reforms.

Between 490 and 480 BC The history of Athens was determined by the Persian Wars. The city had opposed the Persian Empire in the Ionian uprising (500 – 494 BC) and supported the rebel leader Aristagoras of Miletus. The most famous battles took place in 490 BC. At marathon and 480 BC At Salamis. Athens succeeded in expanding its power and in 477 BC. BC to found the Attic League, with whose support the city of large parts of Greece and could even subdue Asia Minor. Athens had become one of the strongest sea powers in the Mediterranean. The flowering was also related to the culture. The city attracted philosophers, artists, scholars and writers such as Aristophanes, Euripides, Herodotus, Phidias, Socrates, Sophocles and many more. Around 40,000 inhabitants lived in Athens at this time, most of them not being Athenian citizens in the legal sense, but rather strangers or slaves who in fact had to live without rights.

According to Abbreviationfinder, the city of Athens was built around the famous Acropolis, which was built under the Athenian statesman and general Perikles (around 490 BC – 429 BC). The most important sanctuary of Athens stood on it: the Parthenon Temple, dedicated to the patron saint Athena. There were also other temples such as the Temple of Hephaestus and the Olympieion. Athens’ democracy was at its height under the rule of Pericles.

Differences with some members of the Attic League led to the Peloponnesian War (431 – 404 BC), in which Athens fought against the Peloponnesian League. The league was headed by Corinth, Sparta, and Thebes. Pericles was also killed during a devastating epidemic that killed about 1/3 of Athens’ residents. The Peloponnesian War ended for Athens in 404 BC. With total defeat. The Attic League was dissolved.

Athens City History

The 4th century BC was the time of the city’s most famous philosophers: Plato and Aristotle. They made philosophy blossom. But also the influence and the autonomy of action came back to the city. A skilful policy had its most visible success to date in the founding of a new League, which was established in 377 BC. Chr. Came. In the second half of the 4th century BC A new power arose: Macedonia. This new threat came mainly from Demosthenes(384 BC – 322 BC), opposed an eminent speaker. He even managed to bring about an anti-Macedonian alliance of almost all Greek cities. However, it could not stand up against the Macedonian army and was defeated in the battle of Chaeronea (338 BC). As a result, Athens had to join the Macedonian-dominated Corinthian League. After the death of Alexander the Great, probably the most famous Macedonian, Athens rose again against Macedonia with the help of other Greek city-states ( Lamish War, 323 – 322 BC) and suffered another defeat. The city’s democracy was restricted and Macedonian soldiers were posted in the city. Between 317 and 307 B.C. ruled Demetrios of Phaleron, a pupil of Aristotle, as administrator of Athens. He was supported by the Macedonians, but then driven out. A renewed bloom of Athenian democracy followed. After successful resistance against attempts at conquest of Macedonia, Athens was however in the year 262 BC. Defeated in the so-called Cremonideic War and remained until 229 BC. In Macedonian hands. From then on Athens was free again and should gain enormous cultural importance.

Although Athens was actually on the side of the Roman Empire and therefore in opposition to Macedonia, the city was in 86 BC. By Sulla (around 138/134 BC – 78 BC) as a punishment for supporting Mithridates VI. conquered by Pontu. Mithridates had in 88 BC Attacks on Roman territory and called on the Greeks to revolt against Rome. He was also responsible for the killing of around 80,000 Italians in Greece in 88 BC. Chr ( Vespers from Ephesus ).

Athens retained the status of a free city under the Roman emperors. And what’s more: many wealthy Romans came to the city for philosophy. The Roman emperor Hadrianus (76-138), who was a great admirer of Greek culture, visited Athens several times and donated many buildings to the city such as the Hadrian’s Library and Hadrian’s Gate. He also completed the Temple of Olympian Zeus and expanded the Roman Agora.

The Athenian philosophy experienced its decline with the establishment of Christianity as the Roman state religion in the year 391. By decision of the Eastern Roman basileus Justinianus I, all schools of philosophy in the city were closed in 529 because they were perceived as places of paganism. With the closure of the Platonic Academy, the time of classical Athens ends.

In the 9th century Athens became a bishopric, with the Parthenon Temple serving as the episcopal church.

The following centuries were marked by conquests and foreign rule: in 1204 the city became a Frankish duchy during the 4th Crusade (1202-1204) after Constantinople (now Istanbul ) had been conquered by the Crusaders. The Catalan Company was followed by the Florentines in 1388 and 1402 (see also Florence ), these in 1392 by the Turks (see also Turkey ) and these in turn by the Venetians in 1395 (see also Venice ). In 1456 the Sultan Mehmed II conquered the conqueror of Constantinople (1453), Athens and caused a further loss of importance of the city. The Parthenon Temple was converted into a mosque and the Erechtheion into a harem.

Athens certainly experienced the most tragic time between the 17th century and the 19th century. It was little more than an insignificant provincial town with about 1,000 inhabitants when it was only elected capital of the modern Greek kingdom in the 19th century, replacing the Greek city of Nafplio. Due to its important function, the politically, culturally and economically almost dead city was given a grandiose revival. Architects and urban planners came to Athens and built a new city around the classical ruins with large neo-classical houses, large squares, green spaces, public buildings and wide streets. Between 1908 and 1918 the Acropolis, Filopappos and Muses Hills were also builtafforested. As early as 1900, the city had acclimatized itself to becoming an attractive cosmopolitan metropolis.

The 20th century, however, brought further upheavals to Athens. In connection with the Greco-Turkish War (1920/21) and massive expulsions of Greeks from Asia Minor, there was an unregulated growth spurt from the 1920s and the emergence of several densely populated slums. The names of some parts of the city, which refer to the names of the old hometowns of Asia Minor, are still reminiscent of the expulsions. Examples are Néa Filadelfia or Nea Smýrni. During the Second World Warbadly damaged, followed by a period of poor urban planning. In the 1960s and 1970s, numerous neo-classical buildings were torn away to make way for the infamous apartment blocks that shape the cityscape of Athens today. In addition, the city expanded too quickly – especially to the west – and attracted countless job seekers from the surrounding area. Local public transport has been neglected in favor of car traffic, which has led to increased smog values ​​since the 1980s at the latest and earned the city a bad reputation. In addition, the beautiful areas of Pláka and Thissio fell into disrepair.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the city fathers slowly became aware of a change in their policy towards the desecrated city. In connection with the increased prosperity of Greece, important projects were launched that slowly regenerated the city.

In 2004 Athens hosted the Summer Olympics, which was an impressive success. In the run-up to this major sporting event, it was possible to complete considerable improvement measures in Athens. In addition to an excellent public transport system and excellent infrastructure, the historic center of Athens has been renovated. Since then – especially through the Unification of Archaelogical Sights projects – the classic ruins and monuments have been linked by cozy pedestrian zones.