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Ancient Greek culture thrived from the 3rd millennium to the first century B.C. and its cultural accomplishments, art, architecture and philosophy deeply influenced thinkers, writers and artists in many subsequent civilizations. The concept of democracy originated in ancient Greece and became the foundation of political principles for most modern nations. Greece - truly one of the cradles of modern civilization.

Picture Athens in its heyday crowned by the Acropolis. The Parthenon, an ancient Greek temple dedicated to the goddess Athena Parthenos (Athena the Virgin), is located on the Acropolis. Although partly in ruins today, it remains a masterpiece of Greek architecture. Overall, Athens has much to offer: near-constant sunshine, access to sandy beaches and idyllic islands, and the sites of the 2004 Olympics.

Today you will see a thoroughly modern city with a population of around 5 million people, complete with overcrowding and pollution. Nevertheless the ancient sites are unique in the world.

History buffs will want to explore other historic places like Delphi, Olympia, Epidauros and Mycenae. Greek mythology seems to come alive here. The Greek islands are sparkling jewels in the Mediterranean and there are literally thousands of them.

Crete is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean and a favourite tourist destination for northern Europeans. Corfu is the most northerly of the Ionian islands with a mountain chain in the north, a central hilly region and a flat southern area. Rhodes is part of the Dodecanese islands and is known for its healthful climate and fertile soil. The island of Santorini is a photographer's paradise with its white villages that are nestled into steep volcanic cliffs. Mykonos is one of the most beautiful islands of Cyclades, it is cosmopolitan and offers an intense nightlife. A ferry trip in between the various islands can be an exciting way of getting around and exploring the local lifestyle.

Macedonia, the ancient home of Alexander the Great in the north of Greece, has several well-known travel destinations: Halkidiki, Thassos, Thessaloniki. The capital of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, is the second largest city of Greece. It was first established in 316 B.C. by Kassandros and named after his wife, Thessaloniki, sister of Alexander the Great. Its unique charms comes from large avenues, parks and squares,with trees lining commercial streets with showy shop-windows.

Among the most unique sites in Greece are the Monasteries of Meteora, ancient buildings patched against a series of surrealistic-looking rocks with precipitous vertical drops. There are four monasteries and two convents that are still active today and certainly worth a visit. Greece combines stunning scenery with ancient history and near perfect weather which make it a great travel destination.

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