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. Classical Athens, as a landlocked location was a powerful city-state that emerged in conjunction with the seagoing development of the port of Piraeus. A center 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 due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC on the rest of the then known European continent. Today a cosmopolitan metropolis, modern Athens is central to economic, financial, industrial, political and cultural life in Greece. In 2012, Athens was ranked the world's 39th richest city by purchasing power and the 77th most expensive in a UBS study.
The City of Athens is recognized as a global city because of its age-strategic location and its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, culture, education and tourism. It is one of the biggest economic centers in southeastern Europe, with a large financial sector and features the largest passenger port in Europe and the third largest in the world. Athens has a population of 664,046 (in 2011) within its administrative limits and a land area of 39 km2 (15 sq mi). The urban area of Athens (Greater Athens and Greater Piraeus) extends beyond its administrative municipal (City) limits, with a population of 3,074,160 (in 2011) over an area of 412 km2 (159 sq mi). 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 (19th century) and the Athens Trilogy, consisting of the National Library of Greece, the Athens University and the Academy of Athens. 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 home to the National Archaeological Museum, featuring the world's largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, as well as the new Acropolis Museum.
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