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 around 3,400 years, and the earliest human presence around the 11th–7th millennium BC. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state that emerged in conjunction with the seagoing development of the port of Piraeus. A centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, largely because of its cultural and political impact on the European continent and in particular the Romans. In modern times, Athens is a large cosmopolitan metropolis and central to economic, financial, industrial, maritime, political and cultural life in Greece.
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- A great city, whose image dwells in the memory of man, is the type of some great idea. Rome represents conquest; Faith hovers over the towers of Jerusalem; and Athens embodies the pre-eminent quality of the antique world, Art.
- Benjamin Disraeli, as quoted in Building Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City, by Tristram Hunt. Page IX. Editor Hachette UK, 2010. ISBN 0297865943.
- Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts
and eloquence, native to famous wits.
- John Milton, Paradise Regained (1671), IV. 240–241
- Let there be light! Said Liberty, And like sunrise from the sea, Athens arose!
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, Hellas