Athens has been a city for more than 3,500 years. The city’s greatest glory came during the Classical period – a time that echoes through the ages thanks to the copious artifacts and buildings that survive. Even more importantly., Greek philosophy, history, drama survived. The 5th-century in particular was a golden age that bequeathed a great deal to Western Civilization. Later, Athens was only a minor player in Byzantine history and then later Ottoman history. The city returned to glory in 1834, when it became the capital of modern Greece. Today, it is a vibrant and thriving city. In many respects – Greece is the southern gateway to European culture and the Northern gateway to the Middle East.