Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world’s oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years and its earliest human presence starting somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennium BC.
Athens is a global city and one of the biggest economic centres in southeastern Europe. It has a large financial sector, and its port Piraeus is both the largest passenger port in Europe, and the second largest in the world. The Municipality of Athens (also City of Athens) had a population of 664,046 (in 2011) within its administrative limits, and a land area of 38.96 km2 (15.04 sq mi). The urban area of Athens (Greater Athens and Greater Piraeus) extends beyond its administrative municipal city limits, with a population of 3,090,508 (in 2011) over an area of 412 km2 (159 sq mi). According to Eurostat in 2011, the functional urban area (FUA) of Athens was the 9th most populous FUA in the European Union (the 6th most populous capital city of the EU), with a population of 3,828,000. Athens is also the southernmost capital on the European mainland.
The heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, represented by ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon, considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. The city also retains Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of Ottoman monuments.
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 1834, include the Hellenic Parliament and the so-called “architectural trilogy of Athens”, consisting of the National Library of Greece, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and the Academy of Athens. Athens is also home to several museums and cultural institutions, such as the National Archeological Museum, featuring the world’s largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, the Acropolis Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Benaki Museum and the Byzantine and Christian Museum. 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 serviced by a variety of transportation means, forming the largest mass transit system of Greece. The Athens Mass Transit System consists of a large bus fleet, a trolleybus fleet that mainly serves Athens’s city center, the city’s Metro, a commuter rail service and a tram network, connecting the southern suburbs to the city center.
The Athens Metro provides public transport throughout the Athens Urban Area. While its main purpose is transport, it also houses Greek artifacts found during construction of the system. The Athens Metro runs two of the three metro lines; namely the Red (line 2) and Blue (line 3) lines, which were constructed largely during the 1990s, with the initial sections opened in January 2000. All routes run entirely underground and a fleet of 42 trains consisting of 252 cars operate within the network, with a daily occupancy of 550,000 passengers.
The Red Line (line 2) runs from Anthoupoli station to Elliniko station and covers a distance of 17.5 km (10.9 mi). The line connects the western suburbs of Athens with the southeast suburbs passing through the center of Athens. The line associated with Green (line 1) stations at Attiki and Omonoia Square station. Also the line connected with the Blue (line 3) at Syntagma Square station and connected with Tram at Syntagma Square, Sygrou-Fix and Agios Ioannis station.
The Blue Line (line 3) runs from the western suburbs, namely Agia Marina to the Egaleo station, through the central Monastiraki and Syntagma stations to Doukissis Plakentias avenue in the northeastern suburb of Halandri, covering a distance of 16 km (10 mi), then ascending to ground level and reaching Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, using the Suburban Railway infrastructure and extending its length to 39 km (24 mi). The spring 2007 extension from Monastiraki westwards, to Egaleo, connected some of the main night life hubs of the city, namely the ones of Gazi (Kerameikos station) with Psirri (Monastiraki station) and the city center (Syntagma station). Extensions are under construction to the west southwest suburbs of Athens, reaching to the port and the center of Piraeus. The new stations will be Agia Barvara, Koridallos, Nikaia, Maniatika, Piraeus and Dimotiko Theatro station. The stations will be ready in 2017, connecting the biggest port of Greece Piraeus Port with the biggest airport of Greece the Athens International Airport.
Athens International Airport
Athens International Airport Check-in-area Athens is served by the Athens International Airport (ATH), located near the town of Spata, in the eastern Messoghia plain, some 35 km (22 mi) east of Athens. The airport, awarded the “European Airport of the Year 2004” Award, is intended as an expandable hub for air travel in southeastern Europe and was constructed in 51 months, costing 2.2 billion euros. It employs a staff of 14,000.
The airport is served by the Metro, the suburban rail, buses to Piraeus port, Athens’ city center and its suburbs, and also taxis. The airport accommodates 65 landings and take-offs per hour, with its 24-passenger boarding bridges, 144 check-in counters and broader 150,000 m2 (1,614,587 sq ft) main terminal; and a commercial area of 7,000 m2 (75,347 sq ft) which includes cafés, duty-free shops, and a small museum.