There are few cities in the world that are more famous than Athens. This, of course, is due primarily to its role as the birthplace of Western civilization, as well as the ways in which its artists, architects, poets, and philosophers have affected the thought and work of their successors. Indeed, one might legitimately make the argument that without the culture of the ancient Greeks and all the revolutionary developments attributed to them, the world as we know it would be a very different place.
'During the 'Golden Age' of Greece (roughly 500 BC to 300 BC) it was the world's leading cultural, commercial, and intellectual centre, and indeed the phrase 'Western civilisation' has its origins in ancient Athens' ideas, achievements, and practices'. The philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle paved the way for the kind of thinking and logic that still govern the ways in which people all over the modern Western world intellectualize most issues. And the tales told in the epic poems of Homer still resonate today. In fact, some literary scholars believe that all modern stories are in some ways direct descendants of The Iliad and The Odyssey.
The glory of ancient Athens, however, did not last forever, and though the great wars with Sparta set off its decline, it was the rise of the Byzantine Empire that sounded the death-knell for Athens as it had always previously been known.
Athens saw a renaissance of sorts, however, following World War II, and today is one of the most exciting, bustling cities in the world. 'Today Athens is a vibrant metropolis with a state-of-the art infrastructure, breathtaking ancient monuments and museums, a legendary nightlife and world class shopping malls'. This juxtaposition of ancient and modern, of classical and thoroughly contemporary, make the city the perfect place for students and tourists to visit from all over the world.
'Athens is built around the Acropolis and the pinnacled crag of Mt. Lycabettus, which the goddess Athena was said to have dropped from the heavens as a bulwark to defend the city. (Athens currently has over four million inhabitants). The suburbs have covered the barren plain in all directions and the city is packed with lively taverns and bustling shops.
'Dominating the Athenian landscape, the Acropolis is unsurpassed in its beauty, architectural splendor and historic importance. The entrance to the Acropolis is the Propylea, which extends 150 feet, adjoining the temple of Athena Nike or Wingless Victory (which was built from 430 to 424-3 BC). The Parthenon is situated on the highest part of the Acropolis and was built between 447 and 437 BC and reflects the values and the objectives of the Athenian State at the time. It was here that modern democracy began its early foothold'. All of this history so seamlessly integrated into the fabric of the city and into the lives of all who live there, whether for a semester or for a lifetime, means that in Athens more than anywhere else in the world, education is not limited to the classroom. It is, indeed, all around you, from the streets you walk to the land itself.
Students from all over the world choose to study in Athens not only for its history, but for its exciting present, too. As is the case with most world capitals, Athens is home to many renowned universities, including the Athens School of Fine Arts, the Athens University of Economics and Business, and the Panteios University of Economics and Political Sciences, among many others. This means that, aside from being a center of political and cultural life, Athens is also a hub for students. They are attracted to the city because of its range of academic institutions, exciting culture, world-class nightlife, and great weather.
So whether you study philosophy, politics, art history, the sciences, or anything in between, your educational experience will be enhanced in ways you never thought possible by spending a semester or a year in Athens. It may be most famous for its past, but it is just as wonderful a city today as it has ever been.