<p>Photo: The Poseidon Temple</p>

The Poseidon Temple—mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey—is a timeless attraction.

Photograph by Maro Kouri/IML Image Group/DRR.net

Birthplace of drama, democracy, and philosophy, Athens today is synonymous with smog, cement, and aesthetic anarchy. But after a radical revamp for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, Athens is enjoying a renaissance. The clash between myth and modern-day grit is an Athenian trademark: marble busts adorn souvlaki joints, Byzantine churches nestle beside bouzouki clubs, the Parthenon reigns serene above a ragged expanse of apartment blocks. More than three million people are crammed into this loud, laid-back city. With 300 days of sunshine a year, a 75-mile (120-kilometer) coastline, and 3 a.m. traffic jams, irrepressible Athens is a muse for beach bums and barflies, as much as classical scholars and art lovers.

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