WikiReader Athens/history of the town

According to Greek mythology, Poseidon and Athena compete to become protectors and deities of the city. They challenge each other and the prize for the winner was the city of Athens. According to the myth, an olive tree sprung from the ground at the touch of Athena's spear. Whilst Poseidon summoned forth a seawater spring. Consequently, the olive tree won over the seawater spring! The earliest settlement, dating from before 3000 BC, was situated on the summit of the Acropolis, protected on all sides except the west by its steep slopes. Named for the city's patron goddess, Athena, the ancient city developed mainly to the north of this hill, around the Agora, or marketplace. Parallel walls, called the Long Walls, made a protected thoroughfare between the city and its port of Piraeus. The most glorious period in the city's history was the 5th century BC, when it was the cultural and artistic center of the classical world. Although overshadowed by the rise of Rome, it remained a city of social and intellectual importance during the Roman Empire. St. Paul visited Athens, and the Emperor Hadrian lavished money on its public buildings. Thereafter the city declined in importance. It was subject to attack by Slavs and was reduced to a petty provincial town in the Byzantine Empire. In 1204, Athens was occupied by the Crusaders and remained under Western rule until its capture by the Turks in 1456. Greece gained independence from the Turks in the war of 1821-32, and in 1833, Athens became the capital of Greece. In 1833, Athens was a small urban settlement of fewer than 4,000 people located north of the Acropolis in a district known today as the Plaka. Modern Athens developed to the north and east of the old city. The architect Eduard Schaubert laid out a network of wide, straight boulevards that converge at Syntagma (Constitution) Square and the Royal Palace , lying to the east of the early city