Then and now: Athens, Greece, birthplace of democracy

A view of the City of Athens, Greece from the Acropolis. After joining the European Union the city battled a congestion and pollution problem by limiting cars in the city.

We spent a day in Athens, Greece, visiting the Parthenon, located in the Acropolis, which means “high city.” Habitation began there between the fourth and third millennium BC. The Acropolis was a walled city with nearby settlements and marketplaces.

The Parthenon is at the site of the beginning of the ancient Greek civilization and was built as early as 3000 BC. it is in the center of Athens, The longest inhabited city in the world. Athens was named after the goddess Athena, the city’s patron.

Trading created class conflict with lifestyle differences between the wealthiest class and the lower, poorer classes. By the seventh century BC social unrest caused the wealthy rulers to instruct Draco to write strict (Draconian) laws, which people revolted against.

Next the ruling class appointed Solon to create a new constitution, which was more fair to all inhabitants and allowed the emergence of a new middle class and allowed them to voted for the first time.

The Acropolis viewed from down below. Note the giant steps up to the former city with many tourist walking around.

That system was the beginning of democracy, although it was note unchallenged. Several rulers tried to become tyrants and usurp the democratic process, but were overthrown or died. Eventually the democratic system held for over 170 years until the conquest of Athens by Alexander the Great in 338 BC.

A Sculpture remaining from ancient times in the Eastern eaves of the Parthenon
A streetside cafe in Athens as viewed from a double decker tourist bus
A famous hill, the highest in Athens, called Lykavittos Hill. It is speculated to have been the original site for the Acropolism for some reason rejected. Although prominent and a popular destination today, the Hill was rarely mentioned in ancient writings.