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Athens is also home to several museums and cultural institutions, such as the National Archeological Museum, featuring the world's largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, the Acropolis Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Benaki Museum and the Byzantine and Christian Museum.

Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics, making it one of only a handful of cities to have hosted the Olympics more than once.

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Athens had by this time become a significant naval power with a large fleet, and helped the rebellion of the Ionian cities against Persian rule.

In the ensuing Greco-Persian Wars Athens, together with Sparta, led the coalition of Greek states that would eventually repel the Persians, defeating them decisively at Marathon in 490 BC, and crucially at Salamis in 480 BC.

Following the Greek War of Independence and the establishment of the Greek Kingdom, Athens was chosen as the capital of the newly independent Greek state in 1834, largely because of historical and sentimental reasons.

At the time, it was reduced to a town of about 4,000 people in a loose swarm of houses along the foot of the Acropolis.

However, Athens, like many other Bronze Age settlements, went into economic decline for around 150 years afterwards.A center for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, In modern times, Athens is a large cosmopolitan metropolis and central to economic, financial, industrial, maritime, political and cultural life in Greece.Athens is a global city and one of the biggest economic centres in southeastern Europe.Theseus was responsible, according to the myth, for the synoikismos ("dwelling together")—the political unification of Attica under Athens.By 1400 BC the settlement had become an important centre of the Mycenaean civilization and the Acropolis was the site of a major Mycenaean fortress, whose remains can be recognised from sections of the characteristic Cyclopean walls.

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In 338 BC the armies of Philip II defeated an alliance of some of the Greek city-states including Athens and Thebes at the Battle of Chaeronea, effectively ending Athenian independence.