Athens, city of the gods

Western civilisation was born at the foot of the Acropolis. With Athenian creativity firmly focused on tomorrow, it looks set to the birthplace of its future, too.

One of the oldest cities in the world, Athens was officially founded in 800 BC, although men, charmed by the beauty of this site like no other, began to leave their marks here in the Neolithic age, several thousands of years ago.

In the last century, travellers tended to use it only as a stopover. Few had the good taste to stay more than two or three days, reproaching it for its sweltering heat and incessant din. But now all of that is in the past. In the space of a few decades, the city has been completely transformed.

The streets of the Pláka district at the foot of the Acropolis hill have been pedestrianized and are now real promenades, among the most beautiful in Europe. As for the Parthenon - literally 'the abode of virgins'- its magnificence has never shone so much upon the rest of the city, which has made it its absolute symbol.

The past inspires the present, not as nostalgia but as a source of national pride. Athens pulsates with life, energy and creativity. Its highly creative designers are brilliant and recognised internationally. They invent the restaurants, hotels, houses, furniture, clothes, and objects that the rest of the world looks on with envy.

If all roads lead to Rome, then all eyes turn to Athens, mesmerised by a capital that shines with an almost supernatural light, born from the union of the sun and the Mediterranean. Wherever they are cast, these glances and gazes are struck by the consistency, the link that this Greek youth is renewing so ardently with the gods of its past.

Here, more than anywhere else, the flamboyance of yesterday becomes the strength of today - and also tomorrow.