Why is Athens the Capital of Greece?

Why is Athens the Capital of Greece?


If you have ever thought of visiting Greece, you might have found yourself wondering what its capital city is, and whether it’s worth a visit. 

Greece’s capital city is Athens, which is located in eastern Greece. It is the oldest constantly-inhabited city in Europe, and has been in existence for more than 3000 years. Despite being ravaged by invading forces at times, Athens remains a focal point for culture and history.

In this article, we’ll learn more about Athens and its long, complex history. We’ll find out how it became the capital of Greece, what you should do if you’re visiting it, and all you need to know about this city.

Where Is The Capital Of Greece Located?

Where Is The Capital Of Greece Located?
Where Is The Capital Of Greece Located?

Athens is found in the south of Greece, near the coast. It contains port Piraeus, which is the third largest port in the world, and the largest in Europe. That should give you some sense of how critical and powerful Athens is.

It’s the warmest city in continental Europe, and is filled with ancient monuments and incredible historical pieces. A city of art and culture, it has many museums, and it is home to the largest collection of Greek antiquities in the world.

It’s found on the central plain that is sometimes known as the Athens Basin, but may also be referred to as the Attica Basin. To the north is Mount Parnitha, to the east is Mount Hymettus, to the west is Mount Aigaleo, and to the northeast is Mount Pentelicus. In the southwest, there is the Saronic Gulf.

Athens itself stands on hilltops, and has hot summers, with mild, wet winters. It holds the record for the highest temperature in Europe, at 118.4 degrees F in 1977.

Brief History Of Athens

The Acropolis of Athens, Greece, with the Parthenon Temple on top of the hill during a summer sunset
The Acropolis of Athens, Greece, with the Parthenon Temple on top of the hill during a summer sunset

Athens has the longest history of any city in Europe, and it has been constantly inhabited for around 3,400 years. It was an important city in Ancient Greece, and it is thought to have created the foundations for many of the west’s cultural achievements.

Athens has seen fluctuations in terms of its prosperity and popularity, with the ebbs and flows of the world affecting it just as they affect all cities. The city has benefited from trade with other empires, and although it saw a serious decline during the height of the Ottoman Empire, it survived and became the capital of a newly independent Greece.

This city, because it has been in existence for so long, has a great wealth of history behind it, and it’s well worth exploring the different eras it has experienced, especially if you have an interest in history.

When Did Athens Become The Capital Of Greece?

Athens, Greece - Night image with Athens from above, Monastiraki Square and ancient Acropolis.
Athens, Greece – Night image with Athens from above, Monastiraki Square and ancient Acropolis.

Athens became Greece’s capital in 1834. At this time, it was still a relatively small and inconsequential settlement, in spite of its rich history. It only had 7,000 residents, and only 170 proper houses. A lot of it had been damaged by conflict, and some other Greek cities were as much as 10 times its size.

A lot of the city had to be rebuilt after it was named the capital, and thousands of residences were added. The city quickly began to gain prosperity and recognition, and in 1896, Greece hosted the first (modern) Olympic Games. 

Today, Athens has almost 4 million residents.

Why Is Athens The Capital Of Greece?

There may be quite a few reasons that Athens became the capital of Greece in 1834, but some sources attribute it to a need to reclaim the glory of Greece. With its long history and rich past, Athens was particularly well-suited for this mission. 

After gaining independence from the Ottoman Empire after almost 400 years, it was critical for Greece to reestablish its own identity, and rediscover its roots.

Although much of Athens had been damaged, there was a lot that could be restored, and symbols like the Parthenon could be recovered. This created links between modern Athens and the Athens of Ancient Greece, and these were considered critical at the time. 

Greece was able to reclaim much of its heritage by making Athens its capital and pouring its focus into restoring it. Many other important cities, such as Sparta, were not in a state to be restored and turned into the capital. This made Athens the only viable option at the time.

Best Places To Visit In Athens

Unsurprisingly, Athens has a wealth of places to visit and offers travelers unique experiences and unforgettable moments. It can be hard to choose what to do first when you arrive in this amazing place!

The Parthenon is probably one of the top sites to visit, and it’s something you may spend several hours viewing. It has somber white marble columns and is seen as a masterpiece of architecture.

The National Archaeological Museum is also a must-see if you are interested in the history of Greece. Brimming with amazing sculptures, pottery, and artwork from ancient times, it is a true opportunity to step into the past and deepen your understanding of this country.

It showcases work from the prehistoric times to the Roman Era, and is very popular with visitors. There’s a cafe and gardens, and the museum is well-priced. You will have to travel out of the center to see it, but it’s worth this effort.

If you love the Olympic Games, the Panathenaic Stadium is another wonderful site to visit. It is the Old Olympic Stadium and it was built in the 9th century. There’s a museum with memorabilia from past Olympics, and it’s an extraordinary experience for any sports enthusiast. There’s nothing quite like this anywhere else in the world, so make the time to check it out.


The capital of Greece is Athens, a city that was closer to a town when it was chosen for its new, prestigious position. It offered Greece an opportunity to reconnect with its past and make the most of its rich history. Today, the city is a focal point of culture, learning, and artistic talent.

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!