European Union

The golden age

Golden Athens emerged as a dominant power after the united Greek armies dealt a decisive blow to the Persians in 479 BC. The Persian Empire had been launching various attacks on Greek city-states, known as the Persians Wars, for over a decade.

A year before the great victory, Athens had fallen prey to the powerful Persian army, who sacked it and set fire to the Acropolis, destroying the ‘ancient sanctuary’, the pre-Parthenon and the entrance buildings.

The enemy’s defeat gave Athens the opportunity to grow steadily into a dominant power and enjoy a period of unprecedented glory that would leave its mark on Western civilization. The so-called Golden Age of the Athenian city-state coincided with the leadership of Pericles (495-429 BC), a brilliant general, statesman and patron of the arts who transformed the city into a leading city-state and a radiant cultural hub, an empire of its time.

Pericles, a prolific orator, emerged as the leader of Athens’ democratic party and sponsored the establishment of Athenian colonies; as the leading general he led military campaigns and the Delian League - the military alliance hegemonised by Athens. Most significantly he tapped into the city’s resources, offering subsidised theatre admission, enabling civic participation by offering pay for jury duty and other civil service and funding the greatest cultural projects Athens had ever seen.

His urban regeneration plan focused on the Acropolis and included the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheum, and above all, the imposing Parthenon; all built to the highest standards of aesthetics, engineering and mathematics by the most exquisite artists and engineers of the time.

Extensive building interventions were also implemented in the Agora, which was transformed into a great complex of public buildings and commercial structures, with temples, altars and works of art. Despite the magnificent public buildings which now decorated the city, Athenians continued to build their homes in a rather unregulated and unplanned manner, in residential areas which spread around the Acropolis and the Agora.

Citizens of the now great city seemed to prefer public life and made their way to the Agora of Athens, where they mingled to discuss business, politics, current events, or the nature of the universe and the divine, bringing ancient Greek democracy to life.

Contact Details

Athens Development and

Destination Agency


Xenofontos 7, 105 57

Athens, Greece


+30 210 32 53 123

+30 210 52 01 611

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