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Although it had a prestigious past, the city's political, economic and cultural importance had declined over the centuries, leaving behind only its classical ruins as a reminder of better times.With the decision to move the national capital from Nafplio to Athens, architects and city planners were hired to build a new city next to the classical ruins, with grand neoclassical homes and public buildings, large city squares, green spaces, and wide avenues, making a conscious, decisive turn from the city's Ottoman past.Most notable among the city's facelift projects are the Unification of Archaeological Sites (which connects the city's classical-era ruins and monuments to each other through a network of pleasant pedestrianized streets) and the restoration of the picturesque neoclassical Thissio and Pláka districts.The ancient Olympic Games took place in Olympia from 776 BCE to 394 AD.The city also expanded outward through rash development, particularly towards the west, as its population grew by absorbing job-seekers from the provinces.With the onset of the automobile, public officials reduced the city's public transportation services without foreseeing the traffic gridlock and smog that would menace the city by the 1980s.In the 5th century BCE, Athens reached the peak of its fame.It was the most powerful Greek city-state, and the center of Greek cultural life, hosting perhaps the greatest cultural advances in all of human history.
Over the course of the next 15 years, money was poured into new transportation infrastructure projects, the restoration of surviving neoclassical buildings, the gentrification of the city's historical center and the renovation of many former industrial areas and the city's coastline.
Fields of study like science, philosophy, history, and medicine were developed for the first time by Athenian scholars in this period, known as Athens' "golden age".
Later on, Athens became part of the Macedonian empire under Alexander, and still later part of the Roman empire.
Spring and late autumn are the best times to visit Athens.
Summer can be extremely hot and dry during heatwaves, but this rarely happens.