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Athens


Where it all begins

Get married in Athens the capital of Greece, the oldest capital of Europe. It has been inhabited since at least 1.300 BC, and its fortunes have varied hugely until the present day. It grew into the greatest centre of classical Greece, sank into the status of a Roman backwater, declined into a mere muddy village through centuries of Ottoman Turkish rule, only reviving after 1834, when it became the capital of the modern Greek state. Now, in the early 21st century, even the great Pericles would be amazed at the size and sheer bustling life of modern Athens.

A key recent date was 2004, when Athens hosted the XXVIII Olympic Games. For months beforehand, the city had been spruced up with new roads, a glittering new airport, one of the cleanest and fastest Metro services in Europe, and new coats of paints on whatever charming neoclassical mansions had survived the concrete onslaught of the late 20th century. In June 2009 the New Acropolis Museum was opened, adding immeasurably to Athens’ attraction as a serious cultural destination. Perhaps the most spectacular sight from the museum is the ageless Acropolis, now in the midst of a massive restoration project designed to keep its venerable marble columns upright for as long as possible.

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For a panoramic view of the city, though, take the short cable car up Mount Lykavittos, the conical height that thrusts above the Kolonaki district – or, if you’re young and healthy, walk up the steep winding path. On top, in the small courtyard of Saint George’s church, lean over the parapet and see the panorama of Athens stretch out at your feet, from the hills to the east, north and west, and the shimmering Saronic Gulf spreading out to the south.

Plaka with its indisputable charm is one of the most frequented by visitors and natives alike. Plaka’s winding pathways carry thousands of years of history. Walk amongst the buildings whose facades are dressed in 19th century neoclassical design and architecture. Dine at one or several of its restaurants. And explore the ancient monuments, contemporary museums and traditional souvenir shops throughout.