Athens, the worlds cultural capital of Europe and one of the oldest cities on the continent. You can literally feel the culture and mythology of this old place, it’s like as if the gods in person would give this city strength. Which is actually not so far from its legendary origin, if you want to believe it.
Before it was named, two of the 12 Olympian gods competed against each other for the patronage of the city. These two gods were Athena, the goddess of wisdom, handicraft and warfare and Poseidon, the god of the Sea and other waters, of earthquakes and horses. They set a pact, whoever gave the people from this city the better and most useful present would get their patronage and therefore be named after them, while the king of the city was appointed to be their judge. There are two written records in one Poseidon gave the people a spring with his trident, which unfortunately was salty and therefore pretty useless to them. In the other one he gave the people their first horse, but in both records, Athena gave them an olive tree, which was considered to be more valuable according to the king, because it gave them food, oil and wood. In any written record the patronage was given to Athena and the city was named Athens from that very day.
The earliest human presence is guessed between 11th and 7th millennium BC, which gives the city a spanning over 3’400 years of history. The cultural and political peak, Athens reached in the 5th and 4th century BC, as a democracy and with the Delian League. But as well, when Athens was incorporated into the Roman Empire in 86 BC.
The Greek culture is presumed to be the model and archetype for the ancient Rome and therefore for Europe, because of the expansion of the Roman Empire. That and the age of Athens make us name this mythological and historical shaped city ‘The Mother of Europe’ and ‘The Cultural Capital of Europe’.
Today Athens is the capital of Greece, but also its biggest and most economic city. And still, after all those years you can feel the presence of the gods in this mythological pulsating metropolis.
By Elena Kasper