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The southern Greek province of Attica, which is part of the Peloponnesian peninsula along the Aegean Sea, contains the capital city of Athens, along with several other notable cities including Peiraeus, Eleusis and Marathon. Much of the region’s history relates to Athens, which has dominated the region since the 7th century BC.
The area was likely settled as early as 2000 years BC, with Athens becoming a major center of power in the Mycenaean civilization. In the 8th century Athens became one of the primary Greek city-state powers, edging out rivals including Sparta by around 400BC. Athens with the rest of Greece became part of the empire of Philip II of Macedonia, and then his son Alexander the Great. The region of Attica remained an important part of this Macedonian-Greek empire until 146 BC, when the region was incorporated into the Roman Republic.
The area knew mostly peace for 500 years under the Roman Empire, and with the fall of the empire in the West, Attica and Athens remained within the Byzantine Empire. The 11th and 12th centuries were a golden age of Byzantine culture in the region, and this is when many of the area churches and other notable Byzantine-style buildings were constructed. When the city of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, briefly fell to the Crusader Knights, the Byzantines carried on from Attica. But this was not to last. Control of Attica passed to various Western European powers including Venice, until 1458 when the Ottoman Turks gained possession of the region.
The city of Athens and the region fell into decline, and it was the site of battles between the Ottomans and Venetians in the 17th century. During this time many of the area’s ancient buildings were destroyed, and later much of the material was used by the Turks to build a new wall around the city in the late 18th century.
Greek nationalism was on the rise in the early 19th century, and the region of Attica was the scene of more violence as Athens fell first to the Greek rebels in 1822, and then back to the Turks in 1826. Finally in 1833, the Turks withdrew from Greece and Athens was chosen as the capital of the kingdom of Greece.
However, the once thriving city was a shell of its former self. It slowly built up over the next 150 years to become a popular tourist attraction. While occupied by the Nazis in World War II, and the scene of fighting during the Greek Civil War, the city managed to recover.It hosted the first modern Olympic games in 1896, and recently hosted the 2004 Olympics.