Many still think of Athens as an ancient city that thrived two and a half thousand years ago. Its symbol is the mighty Acropolis, which dominates almost every view and the itinerary of every visitor, and it is crowned by the iconic Parthenon, which rises above the city, overlooking the sprawling and evolving modern metropolis.
Perhaps the most significant change is in the historical centre, which is almost unrecognisable since cars have been banned. This has liberated the area with the most significant archaeological sites, creating the longest, and undoubtedly one of the most splendid, pedestrianised zones in Europe. This huge archaeological park has brought past and present together, returning the cultural and social life of the city to the area around the ancient monuments and surrounding neighbourhoods.
Athens remains a city of contradictions; it is both frustrating and seductive. It is the oldest city in Europe, yet still in a state of transition. It is one of the safest and most vibrant European cities - an intoxicating mix of grunge and grace with an undeniably urban soul.