The history of Athens is one of the longest of any city in Europe and in the world. Athens has been continuously inhabited for at least 3,000 years, becoming the leading city of Ancient Greece in the first millennium BCE; its cultural achievements during the 5th century BCE laid the foundations of western civilization.
The story of how Athens acquired its name is surrounded in myth. Ancient tradition tells the story of the gods of the Greek pantheon, Poseidon and Athena, who competed to become patrons and to give their name to the city. Both offered the city one gift. Poseidon produced a river, symbolizing naval power and Athena created an olive tree, symbolizing peace and prosperity. The ancient Greeks accepted the olive tree and thus the city was named Athens, for Athena.
Thanks to the fortunes brought by the 2004 Summer Olympics, modern Athens is a reformed city with spotless parks and streets. As Greece's capital, it offers all the attractions of a big city as well as many sites belonging to the pillars of Western history from the Acropolis to the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It is a unique blend of Middle Eastern and Western cultures.
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