Athens(Greek: Αθήνα,Athína), is the capital city of Greece with a metropolitan population of 4.7 million inhabitants. It is in many ways the birthplace of Classical Greece, and therefore of Western civilization.
The sprawling city is bounded on three sides by Mt Ymettos, Mt Parnitha and Mt Pendeli; whilst inside Athens are twelve hills [the seven historical are: Acropolis, Areopagus, Hill of Philopappus, Observatory Hill (Muses Hill), Pnyx, Lycabettus, Tourkovounia (Anchesmus)], the Acropolis and Lykavittos being the most prominent. These hills provide a refuge from the noise and commotion of the crowded city streets, offering amazing views down to Saronic Gulf, Athens' boundary with the Aegean Sea on its southern side. The streets of Athens (clearly signposted in Greek and English) now meld imperceptibly intoPiraeus, the city's ancient (and still bustling) port.
Satellite view of greater Athens (looking northeast with Mt Ymettos on the right, Mt Parnitha in left background, and Piraeus Port in the foreground)
Places of interest to travellers can be found within a relatively small area surrounding the city centre at Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos). This epicentre is surrounded by the districts of the Plaka to the south, Monastiraki and Thissio to the west, Kolonaki to the northeast and Omonia to the northwest.
- The Acropolis — the ancient "high city" of Athens, crowned by marble temples sacred to the city's goddess Athena.
- Plaka, Monastiraki and Thissio — Charming historic districts at the foot of the Acropolis, with restored 19th century neoclassical homes, pedestrianized streets, shops and restaurants, and picturesque ruins from the city's Roman era.
- Kolonaki — Upscale residential area northeast of Syntagma with many cafes, boutiques and galleries.
- Metaxourgeio — The district of Metaxourgeio, located northwest of Psiri, has become a bohemian enclave as well as a haven for art and culture. As part of the area's continual transformation, the principal gallery of the city, The Municipal Gallery, was relocated in October 2010 to Avdi Square, which is the main square of the area. Avdi Square is a large, public space that is well suited to artistic expression of all kinds.
- Omonia and Exarheia — Formerly seedy district, north of Psiri, somewhat revitalized by the metro, it is now home to Greece's students, anarchists and the celebrated National Archeaological Museum.
- Pangrati and Mets — These adjoining pleasant residential neighborhoods south of Lycabettos and east of the National Garden are rarely frequented by tourists, but they do include a few hotels and a number of good traditional tavernas.
- Psiri — Former industrial district located north of Monastiraki, now full of trendy and alternative restaurants, cafés, bars, small luxury hotels and shops.
- Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos) — Dominated by the old Royal Palace, Syntagma Square is the business district of Athens, complete with major hotels, banks, restaurants and airline offices.
- Kifissia — Suburb at the northern terminus of Line 1 (Green), known for its high-end shopping.
- Nea Smyrni — Suburb about 5 km south of downtown Athens, known as a modern European district.
- Piraeus — The ancient port six miles southwest of Athens, Piraeus is known today as an independent, heavily industrial municipality, whose modern-day port serves almost all of Attica's ferry connections to Crete and the Aegean Islands.
- Zografou — Suburb 5 km east of downtown Athens on the slopes of Imitos, known for the many university (NTUA) buildings and several quirky bars and taverns sprinkled about.