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Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece - Greek Island Cruises - Mediterranean Cruises -

ATHENSWith its magnificent architecture, legendary cultural attractions and unparalleled place in history, this capital city known as "the cradle of Western civilization" is a must-see destination for world travelers. A captivating blend of the classical and the contemporary, Athens boasts some of the world's oldest and most renowned landmarks, and wears its ancient heritage proudly.

A venture to the Acropolis, or "High City," as the heart of ancient Athens was called, is to understand the awe and reverence the Greeks held for the gods of mythology. Among the glorious gray-white marble structures that command the site are: The Parthenon, built in honor of Athena, goddess of wisdom, and it's entry gate, the Propylea; The Temple of Athena Nike, dedicated to the winged maidens who attended to her; and the Erectheion, best known for it's six-figured Karyatid Porch, or "the Porch of the Maidens."

Near the Acropolis is the Hill of the Muses, where legend has it Socrates paid the price for his advanced ideas on youth and religion by drinking a fatal cup of hemlock. In Horologion, known as the Tower of the Winds, listen closely for the voices some say speak from an ancient time.

In what was the ancient walled quarter of Athens, you'll also discover the striking Hadrian's Arch, a gift to the city by the Roman Emperor who loved all things Greek, and the majestic Temple of Olympian Zeus, built over a 700-year period beginning in the 6th century B.C.

Athens' historic appeal is well balanced with its modern and sophisticated hubs full of restaurants, shops, and colorful outdoor markets. The Plaka is a lively shopping district at the foot of the Acropolis, dating back to the 19th century. Here you'll find a maze of cobblestone pedestrian streets lined with shops, boutiques, souvenir stands and antique flea market stalls that beckon to all who visit. More modern additions to the city include the impressive Olympic Stadium, built in 1895 for the first Olympic Games in modern times.

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