Athens [ /ˈæθɪnz/; Modern Greek: Αθήνα, Athina, IPA: /aˈθina/, Katharevousa: Ἀθῆναι, Athine, Ancient Greek: Ἀθῆναι, Athēnai (plural)], the capital and largest city of Greece, dominates the Attica periphery; as one of the world's oldest cities, its recorded history spans around 3,400 years.
The Greek capital has a population of 745,514 (in 2001) within its administrative limits and a land area of 39 km2 (15 sq mi). The urban area of Athens extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3,130,841 (in 2001) and a land area of 412 km2 (159 sq mi). According to Eurostat, the Athens Larger Urban Zone (LUZ) is the 8th most populous LUZ in the European Union (the 4th most populous capital city of the EU) with a population of 4,013,368 (in 2004). A cosmopolitan metropolis, Athens is central to economic, financial, industrial, political and cultural life in Greece and it is rated as an alpha- world city. In 2008, Athens was ranked the world's 32nd richest city by purchasing power and the 25th most expensive in a UBS study.
Classical Athens was a powerful city-state. A centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, largely due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC on the rest of the then known European continent.
The heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, represented by a number of ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon, widely considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. The city also retains a vast variety of Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of remaining Ottoman monuments projecting the city's long history across the centuries. Landmarks of the modern era are also present, dating back to 1830 (the establishment of the independent Greek state), and taking in the Hellenic Parliament (19th century) and the Athens Trilogy consisting of the National Library of Greece, the Athens University and the Academy of Athens. Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics.