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Once the new capital was established, the city grew at a regular rate of about 7 percent a year, soon reaching 50,000 inhabitants, a figure not much exceeded in the days of Athens’s greatest power and glory.By 1907 the municipality had a population of 167,479.The newly imported king of the Hellenes, Otto, the 18-year-old son of Louis I of Bavaria, was installed in the only two-story stone house, while his German architects hurried ahead with plans for a palace and a new Athens far out in the fields.Below the well-sited but very plain palace, a large garden square, Síntagma (Constitution) Square, was laid out.The city, after all, nurtured Western civilization thousands of years ago.Athens remains on the world stage to this day, most recently as the designated host of the 2004 Olympic Games.

The millennia of oppression, instead of driving the Athenians into obtuse moroseness, have honed their wit and rendered them tough but supple, while centuries of privation have only preserved their warmth and generosity.The Kifisós River, only a trickle in summer, flows through the western half; the Ilisós River, often dry, traverses the eastern half.The surrounding mountains—Párnis, 4,636 feet (1,413 metres); Pentelicus (Pendéli), 3,631 feet; Hymettos (Imittós), 3,365 feet; and Aigáleon, 1,535 feet—add to the impression of barrenness.Athens, Modern Greek Athínai, Ancient Greek Athēnai, historic city and capital of Greece.Many of Classical civilization’s intellectual and artistic ideas originated there, and the city is generally considered to be the birthplace of Western civilization.

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