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Cultural events including dance and theatre, recitals, concerts, international trade shows, conferences and symposia, public lectures, gallery exhibits, sports events and marathons are an integral part of life in this bustling cosmopolitan capital.

Built in 161 BC, the Odeon of Herod Atticus at the foot of the Acropolis can accommodate up to 5000 spectators. The Odeon provides one of the most important open-air venues for staging the annual Athens Festival, featuring music concerts and dance troupes from around the world. Superb performances of ancient and modern drama are staged at the Herod Atticus Theatre. The National Theatre of Greece stages drama performances in modern Greek with English translations provided. Undoubtedly the pride and joy of the city's cultural life, the Athens Concert Hall comprises a modern theatre, concert and conference hall with spacious reception areas, exhibition space and a 500-seat recital hall. The Megaron hall is a 2,000-seat auditorium hosting operatic, dance and drama performances almost daily. Perched high on its namesake hill in the centre of the city, the 4,000-seat open-air Lycabettus amphitheatre hosts a variety of concerts by contemporary jazz and pop artists, as well as chamber orchestras, mainly during the summer. The open-air Dora Stratou Theatre on Filopappou Hill provides the venue for traditional Greek dances performed by the internationally acclaimed company from May to September.

The decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to hold the 2004 Games in Athens energised a nation imbued with the historic memory of the Olympic Games of ancient times. Millions of visitors to Greece and billions of TV-viewers enjoyed a unique celebration of sports and culture on a more human scale, linking the ancient with the modern, when the Games returned to their birthplace in August 2004.

The city's mild climatic conditions and its privileged location offers visitors the pleasures of enjoying both the sea and the nearby mountains. Numerous blue-flag awarded sandy beaches can be easily reached from the centre of Athens by bus, taxi or car. Mt. Hymettus and Mt. Parnes offer excellent walks and hikes. Famous in ancient times for its marble and honey, Mt. Hymettus is also the site of the enchanting 'Koutouki' cave with its marvellous stalactites and stalagmites. Visitors to Mt. Parnes may be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of wild deer that still roam parts of the pine- and fir-clad mountain.

In the past two decades sports in Greece went through a major revival with a large number of modern sports facilities constructed in and around the capital.

Nevertheless, the city's sports infrastructure has seen great improvements as a result of the 2004 Olympic Games that were hosted in Athens. In addition to the existing plethora of sports facilities, one big sports complex was built for the Olympics 2004, where sports like judo and fencing were hosted. It is located on the site of a former horse racetrack at Faliron Bay and its post-Olympic use is that of a state-of-the-art conference centre.

The coastal Aghios Kosmas National Youth Athletic Centre, a 78-hectare area that superbly hosted the 2004 Olympics sailing event, has undergone extensive improvements with upgrades including an expansion of the centres housing up to 204 beds.

The nearly 20-year-old Athens Olympic Sports complex in the northern Athens suburb of Maroussi, including a 75000-seat Olympic Stadium, has also been upgraded. It hosted the swimming, track and field 2004 Olympic competitions while the complex's 18000-seat stadium hosted the Olympic basketball finals and its velodrom was the venue of the Olympic cycling events.

Since the late 80's Greek athletes have been distinguished in many sports, from soccer, basketball, track and field to weight lifting and sailing.

For golf aficionados there is an 18-hole golf course at the affluent seaside suburb of Glyfada. The endless list of available sporting and leisure activities includes tennis, gliding, horse-riding, bird-watching, sailing, skin-diving, water-skiing, hiking, bowling.

 
 
 
 
     
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Herodes Atticus Theatre