A Short History of Athens

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The history of Athens is virtually the history of Greece, for this immortal city was for centuries the heart of the Hellenic world and the acknowledged leader of its civilization. Though in common with all Greek cities, its origins are too remote to be anything more than a matter for conjecture. The Cyclopean wall that runs round the rock of the Acropolis, the neolithic remains, traces of Bronze Age habitation and a number of pre-Hellenic place-names prove that Athens was occupied by man from the very earliest times.

Athens was perhaps the largest of the independent Attic communities with its king residing on the Acropolis, probably in the palace named after Erechtheus, whose memory is perpetuated in the magnificent temple of the Erechtheion. A tribe of their Ionian kinsmen from Marathon, from whom later generations of Athenians were proud to claim descent, invaded the city and rapidly became predominant. Under the rule of Cecrops, the first known king of Athens, and that of his successors, Pandion, Erechtheus, Aegeus and Theseus, Athens increased in size and importance, slowly absorbing the smaller communities of Attica, until in the reign of Theseus (c. 1300 BC) they were all united under his leadership.

About 1100 BC, the Dorians invaded the Peloponnese and swept all before them; it seemed that no army could withstand them, and Athens was in mortal danger. Its citizens sprang to arms, though with a presentiment of certain defeat in their hearts. It had been prophesied that the Athenians could only ensure victory by the death of their king. King Codrus then decided to sacrifice himself to save his people. Making his way disguised into the Dorian camp he provoked a quarrel in which he was killed. When the invaders discovered that it was Codrus they had slain they despaired of success and retreated; Athens was saved.

Since no one was thought worthy to succeed this heroic king, the monarchy yielded to government by the nobles, who appropriated all power. They chose three archons, or executive officials, from among their ranks to represent the king and share the royal power. This change was affected by the devolution of the military powers of the king to the polemarch, who then became the supreme military commander; the first archon, who later became the chief state official, was the civil governor, while the archon basileus, who was a descendant of Codrus, retained the title of king and had control of the religious rites of the state. Although first hereditary and limited to the royal clan, the tenure of the archonship was later reduced to a period of ten years and all noblemen were eligible for office.

This reform, however, did not satisfy the masses that resented the concentration of all state authority in the hands of the aristocracy and clamored for a written constitution. In 594 BC the nobles bestowed full power to remodel the new state on one of their number, the celebrated Solon, trusted by noblemen and peasant alike. For the first time in the history of the world the people were given a measure of participation in government, the grant of political rights and a constitution. Later the office of archon was made annual and elective and to the existing three offices, military, civil and religious, were added the six thesmothetae whose sole duty was to record judicial decisions. In spite of these concessions discontent was rife, and a number of popular revolts exposed the state to constant danger.

In 546 BC, Peisistratus, a distinguished and daring statesman seized power and made himself dictator. Under his autocratic rule Athens enjoyed great prosperity. He stimulated commerce and industry, and by fostering agriculture laid the basis for the development of Athens’ chief export, the olive. Through his vigorous foreign policy, for the first time, Athens emerged as an Aegean Power. Posterity is indebted to this devoted lover of the arts since he ordered the preparation of the first authorized version of Homer’s sublime epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. He also embellished the city with monuments whose splendor was later surpassed only by those of the Golden Age of Pericles.

Peisistratus died in 527 BC. Though a dictator, he had been an enlightened and benevolent ruler. He had cared for the interests of the common man and curbed the power of the nobles; but his sons, especially the elder, Hippias, were brutal tyrants who exercised their power solely in their own interests. They excited the hatred of the Athenians to such a degree that in 514 BC a conspiracy was organized and the leaders, two patricians, Harmodios and Aristogeiton, killed the younger brother, Hipparchus. Hippias was driven into exile and the civic liberties of the state were restored.

The resounding victories over the Persians at Marathon, in 490 BC, and particularly the glorious Battle of Salamis, in 480 BC, in which Themistocles proved himself a naval commander of genius, laid the foundations of Athenian supremacy over the Hellenic city-states. A statesman of uncommon foresight, Themistocles added diplomatic triumphs to his victories. By protracting the parleys with Sparta he gained the time necessary to complete the rebuilding of the city’s fortifications, which had been destroyed by the Persians during their second invasion.

Themistocles’ policies were continued by his successor, Cimon. Athenian domination over the states of Asia Minor was consolidated and no enemy ship now dared appear in the waters of the Mediterranean. Besides being a brilliant strategist Cimon was also a great lover of art. He embellished the city, and commissioned his intimate friend, the eminent painter Polygnotus of Thasos, to execute vast frescoes recording the glorious deeds of the Athenians.

The year 460 BC saw the eclipse of Cimon and the rise of his political rival, Pericles, who controlled the affairs of the state, including the earlier period of the Peloponnesian war, until his death in 429 BC. An aristocrat but at the same time leader of the democratic party, he was a fervent advocate and champion of people’s rights. During the years of his administration Athens reached the summit of her grandeur, and the most brilliant century of Greek history is known as the Age of Pericles. Athens was now mistress of a superb fleet of three hundred sail and an army of thirty thousand perfectly armed and disciplined soldiers, with fortifications extending to the port of Peiraeus; she was impregnable to attack from land or sea, while her commercial prosperity and the tribute of the Delian League amassed in the treasury made her the richest city in all Hellas.

If the material prosperity of Athens was great during this period, her attainments in every field of culture were incomparable. A galaxy of architects, sculptors and painters and their gifted assistants adorned the city with a dazzling array of temples, public buildings and other works of art. Nor were Athenian achievements in literature less noteworthy. In this period the Attic drama produced many immortal masterpieces. It is also to Periclean Athens that the scientific thought of Europe in logic, ethics, rhetoric and history owes its origin. Supreme in the arts of war and peace, Athens was the most illustrious city of antiquity and seemed destined to endure for ever, but the inconstant gods were envious of happiness that matched their own.

The outbreak of the Peloponnesian War in 431 was the first of a series of misfortunes to fall upon the city. Two years after the beginning of this internecine and intermittent struggle between Athens and Sparta for the hegemony of Greece, Athens suffered irreparable loss in the untimely death of Pericles during the dreadful plague that ravaged the city. Twelve years later the treachery of Pericles’ nephew, Alcibiades, was the cause of an even greater calamity.

Idol of the masses, Alcibiades was a gifted but completely unscrupulous demagogue who served his native city only when it suited him. Against the opposition of more experienced generals he succeeded in persuading his fellow citizens to embark upon the Sicilian Expedition (415) and was appointed one of the commanders. Shortly after the fleet had set sail he was recalled to stand trial on a charge of sacrilege, but fled to the Spartans, to whom he betrayed Athenian plans for the invasion of Sicily.

The crushing defeat of her fleet before Syracuse with the loss of forty thousand men and two hundred and forty ships, struck a crippling blow at the naval prestige of Athens and in 404 after twenty-seven years of war, utter exhaustion and starvation forced her to capitulate to her rival, Sparta.

Though her defeat deprived Athens of the leadership of Hellas, she retained her cultural eminence. The plays of Euripides and Aristophanes, the sculpture of Praxiteles and Scopas, the paintings of Zeuxis and the philosophical works of Plato mark this period as one of particular brilliance in the history of arts.

During the Corinthian War (395 BC) there was a revival of the Athenian naval power under Conon, whose squadron utterly routed the Spartan ships at the historic battle of Cnidus (394 BC). Following his triumphant return Conon ordered the rebuilding of the Long Walls (393 BC), which Athens had been compelled to demolish by the victorious Spartans at the end of the Peloponnesian War.

These walls completed the city’s chain of giant defenses. A roadway 8 kms in length and 170 m. wide, protected on either side by walls 18 m. high and 3 m. thick, secured communication between the city and the port of Peiraeus with its adjoining harbors. To the south was a had already been removed for the adornment of the new city on the Bosporus, and she was the object of further depredation in AD 523 when the great church of St. Sophia was erected. Under Byzantium the Parthenon and other glorious temples were converted into Christian churches, and in AD 529 Constantinople ordered the closing of the celebrated philosophical schools and the confiscation of their libraries; Athens was but a name.

After the Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204 the Burgundian Count Otto de la Roche was granted the lordship of Athens, later raised to a duchy by Louis IX, and established his court on the Acropolis. On the death of Guy II, last duke of the House of de la Roche, the duchy passed to his cousin, Gautier de Brienne, the last French duke of Athens. Three years later (1311) he perished at the battle of Copais where a fearsome army of Catalan adventurers, known as the Grand Company, slaughtered the flower of Frankish chivalry. The Catalans terrorized the country for seventy years until they were overcome by another horde of Spanish mercenaries, the Navarrese Company.

In 1388 the Florentine Nerio Acciajuoli, Castellan of Corinth and Lord of Thebes, whom the Navarrese had elected as their leader, seized Athens and installed himself in the ducal court of the Acropolis. The house of the Acciajuoli lasted until 1456 when the last duke, Franco, was forced to yield to the Turks.

In 1684 when Venice declared war against the Turks, Doge Francesco Morosini was appointed to command the expedition. Ably seconded by a Swedish general, Count Otto Koenigsmark, he drove the enemy out of the Peloponnese and then marched against their garrison in Athens. In Morosini’s bombardment of the Acropolis, then held in force by the enemy, severe damage was done to the monuments there.

In 1821 the great revolution against Turkish occupation, which had lasted for almost four centuries, spread third wall, the Phaleric, which extended to the coastal town of Phaleron and protected the bay connecting it with Peiraeus. These massive walls rendered Athens an impregnable fortress, making it impossible for an invader to cut her off from her trade and food supplies.

From 338 BC the orator Lycurgus was archon. During his tenure of office he further embellished the city and restored those ancient monuments that had suffered either at the hands of man or from the ravages of time. In this same period, from the tribune of the hallowed rock of the Pnyx, resounded the voice of the great orator, Demosthenes, whose name will forever be linked with the last splendors of the immortal city.

Alexander the Great treated Athens with marked favor and granted her a considerable measure of autonomy. Though she had lost her supremacy in science and scholarship to Alexandria, Athens was still considered the natural home of philosophy, while in the theatre Menander’s New Comedy made Athenian life known throughout the civilized world.

After being sacked by Sulla in 86 BC for her part in supporting Mithridates the Great against Rome, she became part of the new Roman province of Achaea in 27 BC. Her only importance now lay in her philosophical schools which were frequented by such young Romans as Cicero, Herodes Atticus and Horace.

Athens was later restored to favor as a free and sovereign city and regarded as the cultural center of the Roman world; Hadrian and later Antonines lavishly endowed her with many new buildings. During the reign of the Emperor Hadrian a whole new city, Novae Athenae, to which the Arch of Hadrian was the gateway, rose around the Olympieion.

With the foundation of Constantinople Athens sank into the obscurity of a provincial Byzantine town and is rarely mentioned in the chronicles of the period. Pheidias’ statue of Athena Promachos and other works of art throughout Greece. A year later, in 1822, the intrepid Odysseus Androutsos, one of the principal figures of the War of Independence (1821-1833) succeeded by a surprise attack in capturing the Acropolis. In 1826 the Turks under Reschid Pasha again besieged it. An attempt by the French philhellene Colonel Baron Fabvier to relieve the heroic defense force was defeated, and the garrison commander Gouras killed. Further attempts to relieve the Acropolis proved no more successful than the first, instructions were therefore sent to the garrison to surrender.

On 24th May 1827, the Turks having accorded them the honors of war, the remnants of the gallant defenders marched out with flying colors.

The Acropolis remained in the hands of the enemy until 12th April 1833 when, in the name of Greece, Colonel Baligand took formal possession from the Turkish commander. On 13th December of the same year King Othon, the first King of Greece, entered the city. One year later, on 18th September 1834, Athens was officially proclaimed the Capital city of the Kingdom.

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Decluttering Blueprint – Step 4 – Organizing Your Family Room

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Is the gathering area (a.k.a. family room, living room, den, great room) in your home chaotic and cluttered? If so, try the following prescription to create a calm, comfortable and orderly space you’ll love to relax in and entertain family and friends.

  1. Pin down the purpose(s) of your room. Is it your intention to use the family room as a place to watch a movie, curl up and read, play with the kids, take a short nap and gather with friends? Whether you have the foregoing functions in mind or something different, move objects unrelated to the purpose of your room (shoes, clothing and the ironing board) to other more appropriate quarters of your home.
  2. Specify the major categories of items to be kept in your family room. For example:
  • Reading – books, magazines and newspapers
  • Media – TV, VCR, DVD, stereo, videos, CD’s, DVD’s and remotes
  • Toys – dolls, action figures and vehicles
  • Games – board games, puzzles and cards
  • Collections – photos, baseball paraphernalia, etc.
  • Sort everything in your family room into piles that represent the major categories identified in step #2. Begin with all surface items, and then move to objects stored in baskets, drawers, and cabinets. Smart tip: If you haven’t edited your belongings for a number of years, you will find it easier to sort large quantities of things by using a large box to hold the contents of each major category; the boxes will ensure your piles don’t spill over and get mixed up.
  • Cut out the clutter and organize what remains. Working with one category at a time, evaluate each item using the following rules: don’t keep anything you don’t love or use; reduce multiples of any single item; recycle all but the current issue of magazines and newspapers; dispose of broken and unwanted items by pitching them, giving them to someone else, selling, or donating them. Then put the remainder of items in order. For example, eliminate: duplicate pictures, out-of-focus pictures, and unflattering pictures. Then arrange the pictures you want to keep by date or theme, such as home, family, school, vacations, etc. Smart tip: As you’re weeding out clutter from each major category, let go of 20% more stuff than you have room for, that way new acquisitions will have a ready made home.
  • Arrange your room for comfort and functionality. When you have one space that serves multiple functions, consider setting up your room in zones – each to accommodate a different activity. For instance:
    • Reading and gaming. Place a game table and chairs where you have a good light source, it makes a great spot for perusing the paper and playing board games. The same table top can also double as a place to set out snacks when you have friends over. Mount shelving or spot a bookcase on an adjacent wall to house books and gaming materials.
    • Watching TV. Pick a good place to locate your TV and hide electronic gear in cabinetry if you don’t want to see it. Coordinate the arrangement of key seating pieces so you can readily see the screen (and take advantage of the view, if applicable). Position a magazine rack nearby and toss a throw over a plush armchair so you can cover up and catch a cat-nap when it’s chilly.
    • Playing. Tuck toys into baskets or storage ottomans that blend with the aforementioned zones. These types of containers offer an ideal way to store distracting clutter and make the family room a welcoming adult space after the kids have drifted off to dreamland.
  • If needed, use containers you have around your home to accessorize and containerize items that are easy to access. Family rooms are a magnet for books, papers, magazines, and supplies that get piled on the floor and table tops. However, you can organize these items with budget friendly solutions you likely have around your home.
    • Shoe boxes of the same size and color can be used to corral photos, letters, CD’s and more. Using multiple containers with the same color and symmetry will elevate the ordinary into an appealing collection.
    • Fruit crates, baskets, and sturdy totes can be used to hold books, magazines and newspapers.
    • Pottery, glass jars, and mugs are good holders for pens, clips, rubber bands, and push pins.
    • Ice cube trays, muffin tins, box lids, and cutlery trays make great drawer organizers.
    • Vintage luggage and picnic baskets stacked on top of each other work well as side tables and make for durable, attractive storage.
  • Slip items you want to confine into their new vessel and place them where they’ll be pretty and practical. That’s it! You now have a family room that’s organized, easy to clean, and makes smart use of your space.
  • Stay tuned-the next addition of the Decluttering Blueprint will be released soon.

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    Collecting Ancient Athenian Coins

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    Coins issued by certain cities or empires took the leading role in dictating which coins were readily acceptable for trade in the Mediterranean lands. One such   city  was  Athens , which established the “Attic standard” that was to be adopted later by Alexander the Great. Silver was used to pay civil servants, soldiers and mercenaries, and it is believed that the latter is the reason that many Greek silver coins were struck in the first place. The non-Greek lands of the Near East issued large quantities of silver coins, most notably the Parthians, Sassanians and Baktrians. These coins vary in style and fabric, the thickness and purity of the planchet on which the coin was struck, and are relatively under valued compared to the more widely collected issues of Greece proper.

    In Greek mythology, Athena was the goddess of warfare and wisdom. Later known as Minerva by the Romans, she was the goddess of not only wisdom and battle, but of certain crafts and the protector of all cities and states. At birth, according to one myth, she sprang from the forehead of Zeus, the king of the gods, fully grown and dressed in armor. Athena is usually shown wearing a helmet and a magic shield called the aegis. The goddess Athena was not only wise in war but also in the arts of peace. She supposedly invented the plow and taught men how to yoke oxen. Athena’s chief symbol was the owl and in Greek mythology, the owl is firmly linked with Athena who is usually picture with her owl perched on her shoulder. Some say that is why the owl, in modern times, associated with wisdom.

    Athenian coins were used in exchange throughout the Greek world, hoards have been found as far away from  Athens  as Babylon, Afghanistan and Iran. The quantity of Athenian coins minted in last half of the fifth century BC, reflect the changed and powerful position of  Athens  in the eastern Mediterranean, from a small  city-state  defending itself on land against the onslaught of Darius at Marathon,  Athens  grew to be the  center  of an empire whose power was dependent on its control of the sea. From being a partner in and administrative head of the Delian League,  Athens  became its leader and its many  city-state  members paid  Athens  tribute.

    Huge sums must have been necessary for the commercial activities of  Athens  port  city , Piraeus, construction atop the Acropolis and in the city, financing of the Athenian fleet, and perennial warfare. The money was derived not only from annual tribute received from the Delian League  city-states , but from rich silver deposits  Athens  owned and mined at Laurium, close to Cape Sunium as well. The mines provide the silver that paid for construction of the fleet that destroyed the Persians at Salamis in 479 BC.

    Common to all issues of the coin are the goddess Athena, in profile on the obverse, and the owl, her constant companion, standing on the reverse, a sprig of olive leaves with a berry above its shoulder. Variations in design exist among denominations of the coin.

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    Direct TV NFL Sunday Ticket

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    Did you ever have a friend who was a perfectly nice, normal guy most of the time and then as football season approached turned into this in-your-face obnoxious football-loving freak?

    I do.

    Don’t get me wrong, even though baseball is really my thing, I like football as much as the next guy, as long as the next guy isn’t Alan. He and I have been friends since high school and ever since I’ve known him he’s been a huge football fan…no, wait; make that a huge football junkie.

    He can’t seem to get enough. He’s a walking encyclopedia of football trivia and loves to share his knowledge, whether you want it or not.

    So I was more than a little surprised to learn that Alan, of all people, still didn’t have the Direct TV NFL Sunday Ticket!

    When I asked him why, the poor guy actually looked embarrassed. He said he’d seen where it was over $200 to sign up and he didn’t think he could afford it.

    So he spent a lot of hours on several different occasions trying to find a good deal online, but every time he’d go back to a site he liked, he never could find the same offer he’d seen before.

    I would’ve been inclined to think it was just Alan – that he’d been hit one time too many as a linebacker back in high school, but I knew exactly what he was talking about.

    I’d been there myself a few months earlier. If I hadn’t found one site in particular that keeps track of all the best deals not only on the Direct TV NFL Sunday Ticket, but also on other satellite deals, including Dish Network, I’d probably still be searching.

    You don’t have to take my word for it. I listed it down at the bottom of this article so you can see for yourself.

    I explained to him what I had learned. First of all, you don’t have to pay the total all at once, Direct TV will let you spread your payments out over several months.

    I actually did the math, and with all that they offer, you’re getting a steal. The package actually works out to about a buck a game!

    No where else can you get up to 14 games each week and have them automatically download to your DVR on Mondays. You can also track the performance of your favorite player, see real-time scores and stats, and hear play strategies straight from the coaches’ mouths.

    But here’s what makes finding the best deals so difficult to do.

    There are literally hundreds of thousands of websites to slog through, most of them poorly designed or full of graphics so obnoxious they make it hard to find what you’re looking for.

    Some of them won’t even be in existence the next time you look for them. And the so-called ‘deals’ they offer seem to change almost daily. That’s why I think you’ll be impressed if you click on the links at the end of this story. Those guys stay right on top of the latest and greatest offers from Direct TV, which of course includes the NFL Sunday Ticket.

    I’m happy to report that Alan finally got his Sunday Ticket and he claims he has me to thank for it.

    I’ve giving you the same advice I gave Alan, so now you can get the Direct TV NFL Sunday Ticket and know you’re getting the best deal.

    Go to the websites listed below. Get the facts. Get the most current offers available. Get your own Sunday Ticket. You know you want it. You deserve it. Just do it. You can thank me later.

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    Balkan Holidays – 10 City Breaks in the Balkans

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    A city break is an ideal way to learn something of a different culture in a few days. A city break gives you a chance to absorb a new experience. The Balkan region has a diverse mix of geography, history and culture.

    City breaks in the Balkans offer something for everyone no matter what your age, taste, or whether you are part of a group or travelling alone.

    Here are 10 cities that reflect the character of the Balkans.

    1. Belgrade – Serbia

    Belgrade is known for being a vibrant and trendy city and has a reputation for offering a vibrant nightlife the best features of which are the barges spread along the banks of the Sava and Danube Rivers.

    Belgrade boasts two opera houses, a number of museums, including the National Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. There is also some stunning architecture

    A former river island, Ada Ciganlija, on the Sava river, is Belgrade’s biggest sports and recreational complex. It is the most popular destination for Belgraders and visitors alike during the city’s hot summers.

    2. Bucharest – Romania

    Bucharest is known for its wide, tree-lined boulevards, glorious Belle Epoque buildings and a reputation for the high life, which at one time, earned it the nickname of “Little Paris”.

    Bucharest has much historical charm – from the streets of the Old City Centre, which are slowly being restored, to the grand architecture of the Royal Palace and the lush green of Cismigiu Park. The city also claims a large number of museums, art galleries, exquisite Orthodox churches and unique architectural sites.

    3. Dubrovnik – Croatia

    Dubrovnik is one of the world’s finest and best preserved fortified cities and features two kilometres of walls, some 6 metres thick in places lined with turrets and towers, that run around the city. George Bernard Shaw said in 1929: “If you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik”.

    4. Ljubljana – Slovenia

    Ljubljana is a charming city, the numerous parks and a vibrant cultural scene. There are numerous art galleries and museums and a mediaeval castle located at the summit of the hill that dominates the city centre.

    Ljubljana Zoo covers has 152 animal species. An antique flea market takes place every Sunday in the old city. Tivoli Park is the largest park in in the city, has 3 main avenues, planted with chestnut-trees.

    5. Sarajevo – Bosnia

    Sarajevo is surrounded by the Dinaric Alps and situated around the Miljacka river, commonly known as the Sarajevo River. This river is one of the main features of the city. In December 2009, Lonely Planet listed Sarajevo as one of the top ten cities to visit in 2010

    A great way to get around this city is on the electric tram system. Sarajevo was the first city in Europe to have a full-time operational electric tram network running through the city.

    6. Skopje – Macedonia

    Mother Teresa was born in Skopje, and the Memorial House of Mother Teresa commemorates this. There are many old churches and mosques to visit for those who love history and architecture.

    Many famous worldwide artists have attended the music festivals over the years. The Skopje Jazz Festival is part of the European Jazz Network. The Blues and Soul Festival in early July is part of the Skopje Cultural Summer Festival and the May Opera Evenings have been one of the most visited events in Skopje.

    The City Park is home to the main museum, several monuments, small lakes, cafes and restaurants. The city Zoo and stadium are also here along with several nightclubs.

    7. Sofia – Bulgaria

    Sofia is nestled in the foothills of Vitosha Mountain, which makes it an ideal location for hiking and skiing. The city of Sofia is a lively, bustling and cosmopolitan city with many nightclubs, live venues and traditional Bulgarian taverns and restaurants. Many famous musicians have played in Sofia.

    Sofia houses numerous museums and art galleries, including the National Historical Museum, the Bulgarian Natural History Museum, the Museum of Earth and Men.

    The city has many places of special interest, museums and churches, and has a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Boyana Church

    8 Split – Croatia

    The city is located on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea and offers great links to surrounding seaside towns and to the numerous Adriatic Islands.

    The city centre is taken up by the Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian, which is UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    9. Athens – Greece

    Athens is home to the world famous Acropolis? The Parthenon and the other main buildings on the Acropolis were built by Pericles in the fifth century BC as a monument to the cultural and political achievements of the inhabitants of Athens. You could spend some days exploring this and it is best to start early on the hot summer days.

    The Plaka is the oldest section of Athens. It is now a pedestrian area of restaurants, tourist shops, and cafes and is an enjoyable place to relax.

    The National Archaeological Museum ranks among the top ten museums in the world.

    10. Istanbul – Turkey

    Istanbul, the historic city that stands in Europe and Asia and has the status of 2010 European Capital of Culture is an ideal venue for a city break.

    In Istanbul’s steep and bustling streets, and visitors can spend hours buying or viewing the wonderful products on offer in the markets, where bargaining is essential. The Grand Bazaar, has over 4,000 craft shops, selling carpets, pottery, jewels, and antiques in its labyrinths.

    There are many monuments and historical sites including the Hagia Sophie and one of the greatest examples of Islamic architecture, the “Blue Mosque”

    Be sure to take a ferry along the Bosphorus Strait, and enjoy magnificent panoramic views of the city especially at sunset.

    There are many more places in the Balkans that make it ideal for a short city break.

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    One M&T Plaza

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    Many talk extensively about New York and how it has evolved to be the most commercialized metropolis in the United States. The State of New York includes Buffalo, the silent sibling who has contributed to the state’s growth in an almost invisible way. Among the many things in Buffalo that attract tourists to get a glimpse of a more laid-back atmosphere in cacophonic New York, the One M&T Plaza stands tall in the city center. It’s not an exceptionally tall building, nor is it an architectural marvel. But then, why is it so popular among the many who visit Buffalo?

    Standing just 317 feet tall and housing 21 floors, the One M&T Plaza was built in 1966 and is the current home to the M&T bank’s corporate headquarters. The building was designed by Minoru Yamasaki & Associates, the same people who designed the World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City. This is probably one reason for its immense popularity. During holidays, the building’s top band is illuminated, creating a very celebratory mood around the place. On normal days, this band is simply illuminated in white. Hockey season sees the building colored in blue and gold, cheering on the Buffalo Sabers.

    The land space used to build the One M&T Plaza was the highest real estate transaction ever made during that time in Buffalo. Its construction required an entire city block to be demolished. The One M&T Plaza has a promenade facing the Main Street and hosts various lunchtime concerts in summer. A farmer’s market can be found between the plaza and Lafayette Square, mostly during late spring, summer and early autumn. The One M&T Plaza is located nearby to everything in central Buffalo.

    If you are in Buffalo for business, you’d most likely to have to pay a visit to the One M&T Plaza’s promenade for a business lunch. Whether you are traveling for leisure or business, choose a Buffalo hotel with a good reputation to avoid hassles. Try the Millennium Airport Hotel Buffalo for a difference, as they offer modern amenities,excellent services and very cozy accommodations for all their guests.

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    Delivering Highly Successful Online Video and Viral Campaigns

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    There are many that say that the creation of high traffic viral campaigns is a science and not an art and that luck has little to do with it. There are arguments for and against, although there are some expert providers in this space who may ether agree or disagree with this argument and there are some that actually it is both a science and an art.

    Recent examples of online videos going viral include:

    Konyvideo– This video was clearly designed to go viral, but it is unlikely that the author thought that it would attract an audience of over 75 million viewers across the planet however was this because that it ticked the “Social Controversy” box?

    Anfield Cat – This is a more uplifting online video clip, but I ask myself was the cat let out of the bag by accident or was it a cleverly designed video campaign by an animal lover who knew how to create and design a viral campaign.

    1. Capture the Moment

    There are several events that enable us to Capture the Moment and companies are using these events to project their brands onto the consumer. One example would be Paddy Power’s video campaign “Chav Tranquilizer’s“. This clearly combines humour with the traditional, more commonly viewed stiff upper lip event of the Cheltenham Festival.

    Paddy Power has clearly captured the moment and integrated the content and the Cheltenham event with the brand making use of laughter and light humour.

    2. High Quality and Relevant Content

    Using the same Paddy Power example, the content and setting was clearly relevant in terms of the brand and capturing the audience in a funny way. This campaign was genuinely creative and the content was highly relevant to the target audience. This was clearly meant to be controversial which typically engenders “Social Sharing“;

    3. Social Sharing

    The Paddy Power campaign was clearly designed as a viral marketing tool; hence it was designed with Social Sharing in mind. People use all types of social sharing mechanisms, such as traditional email.

    If you Google Chav Tranquilizer’s“, you will see comments about this campaign being banned on TV. This brings into play the “Social Controversy” approach, which has clearly been integrated into this video ad with a view to creating Social Conversations on a grand scale;

    4. Brands and Products

    It is vital that the content, the campaign theme and the setting are clearly identifiable and relevant to the brand and to the product. This is to ensure the brand and ultimately the end product engages with the target audience. Remember, not to be too commercial, this is generally a consumer put-off and will not engender “Social Sharing”. Viral campaigns are largely used to engender brand awareness; however brands are also now using online video advertising to launch products and services.

    5. Consumer Attention Span

    Content length is vital to get right. Too short and you can lose the message, too long and you can lose the audience. Therefore, it is important to ensure the first ten to fifteen seconds really captivate the viewer and at all costs avoid long load times for videos and games. Rememberevery consumer is just one click away from your competitor. With technology, consumers are becoming increasing impatient; hence their attention span is reducing.

    capture your consumer, draw them into your world and make your message stick in their mind;

    6. Viral Video Seeding

    Unless the content is exposed to high numbers of users it is unlikely that the video advertisement will become a truly viral campaign.

    To improve the likelihood of a truly viral campaign, it is vital that the video ad is properly seeded (geography / brand / product / context / relevance) with relevant distributors as well as with the highly known video viewing sites and blogs.

    Once seeding is properly undertaken the content should take care of itself via “Social Sharing” hence on the basis that that the content works this will lead to a successful viral campaign;

    7. Technical issues and bandwidth

    Bandwidth has been an issue in the past but most providers have overcome this with much more robust technical solutions.

    High volume viral campaigns would usually be viewed from sites like YouTube or similar video sharing sites; once the word spreads you then need to ensure that:

    (i) other distributors have similar levels of bandwidth capabilities and that the quality of the content is not spoiled by bandwidth viewing issues;

    (ii) the video ad formats you provide are used by the large majority of consumers and have minimum resistance to viewing; hence be wary of video formats that require special plug-ins or software upgrades. Use a few of the most common formats and ensure that consumer compatibility remains in the high ninety-nine percentile;

    8. What’s in it for the Consumer?

    The reason commercial radio and TV advertising has been and continues to successful is due to the fact that there is something in it for the consumer.

    Radio stations generally play the latest and most popular music whereas commercial TV content is generally of a high-quality to attract a certain audience, with TV commercials being shown in between TV advertisement breaks. Therefore there is clearly something in it for the consumer with commercial radio and TV media.

    However in the online world this is sometimes amiss as brands prefer their online video ads to be free of “Rewarded Media”.

    Rewarded media has its place and can play an important part in terms of “Social Sharing” (everyone likes to receive and share a bargain with their friends). Whilst Rewarded Media seems to be a taboo in this segment it could play an important part for product launches and film releases especially if “Social Sharing” can be integrated someway with “Rewarded Media”;

    9. Analytics and key metrics

    All viral campaigns should have a campaign distribution plan. This is vital to ensure that the video ad achieves all of the targets and metrics that were initially set-out with the brand.

    To ensure that all viral campaigns stay on plan, they should be properly tracked with continual analytics and using key performance metrics. This will help the advertiser to better understand the consumer audiences, who have interacted with the content, providing data such as times of use, places of use etc. Be wary of gathering too much information on potential consumers (for example email addresses) as this can turn-off your audience and create a barrier for the online video advertisement.

    10. Continual Improvement

    Post campaign evaluation is essential for continued improvement. This will enable you to ascertain important data such as: what has worked and what hasn’t, traffic sources, what consumers were saying in forums and social networking sites.

    Try to understand why the video ad generated the level of traffic it did and this should enable you to identify key tools that can be replicated for a future viral campaign.

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    Newest Trend in the Ancient Athens’ Culture

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    The city of Athens has a history that dates back about three thousand four hundred years. The city of Athens has a population of about seven hundred and forty five thousand five hundred and fourteen. The city covers the area of about fifteen square miles.

    Athens is a cosmopolitan city and nowadays it is at the center for finance, economics, industry, culture and also politics. Research has revealed that Athens is the thirty-second richest city within the world. Traditionally Athens was known as a city-state that was powerful.

    The heritage that dates back to the classical era is actually still evident within the city and this era is represented by a number of different works of art and ancient monuments and this includes the Parthenon, which is very famous. Even nowadays the city is still home to vast array of Byzantine monuments and Roman monuments. There is also an array of Ottoman monuments and these represent the long history of the city. If you have an interest in monuments and culture then book online and get cheap tickets so you can enjoy what the city has to offer whilst saving money.

    The city of Athens is able to enjoy a climate that can be described as subtropical Mediterranean. The southern part of Athens tends to experience a semi arid climate that means that it tends to have hot weather. This city is able to enjoy lots sunshine all through the year and it averages at two thousand eight hundred and eighty four hours per year. Most of the rain falls between the middle of October and the middle of April. There is not a lot of rainfall during the summer months and any rain that does fall during these months tends to be in the form of thunderstorms or showers. It’s worth booking cheap airline tickets and making the most of the nice weather that this city has on offer.

    For many years now the city of Athens has been very popular with tourists and this is assisted by the fact that the city is easy to get to from any where in the world and it is possible to get cheap flights. Over the last decade the infrastructure within the city and the social amenities have great improved. The city of Athens hosted the Olympic Games in 2004 and this was part of the reason why the city made such a massive improvements in its facilities. The Greek government worked within the European Union in order to undertake major projects such as the state of the art international airport that is known as Eleftherios Venizelos and also the expansion of the Metro System in Athens. The city of Athens is home to about one hundred and forty eight theatrical stages and this is more than any other city within the world.

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    Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference Kicks Off in Australia

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    A major international conference on agricultural biotechnology starts in Melbourne, Australia, today (August 6, 2006).The Agricultural Biotech International Conference (ABIC) brings together representatives of biotech companies, agricultural researchers and policy makers from across the world.

    The theme of this conference is Unlocking the Potential of Agricultural Biotechnology. Some of the topics to be discussed include:

    * Importance of biotechnology in meeting global food requirements.

    * Application of agricultural biotechnology in biomedicine.

    * Commercialization of innovative biotechnology.

    * Practical applications of genomics to cereal crops.

    * Using biotechnology to protect and enhance food supply.

    * Biotechnology in developing countries.

    Unlocking the potential of agricultural biotechnology is an issue that has been with us since the commercialization of the first genetically modified crop a decade ago. Developed countries, notably the U.S. and Canada, appreciate that agricultural biotechnology has been a prime mover of their economies. They have massively invested in it, effectively eclipsing the so-called conventional agriculture. The gains have been innumerable.

    Farmers in these countries have almost doubled their income from cultivating genetically modified crops, that are usually high yielding and pest resistant.

    In developing countries, the picture is different. Agricultural biotechnology remains a contested issue. Many developing countries would not embrace because of their distrust for the developed countries. Others have been fed with lies that agricultural biotechnology, and in particular Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), pose danger to the environment and the health of consumers.

    Positive attributes of agricultural biotechnology must be played out at the Melbourne meeting for all to listen.

    It’s encouraging that delegates from developing countries such as Prof. Jennifer Thomson (South Africa), Dr. Jagadish Mittur (India), and Dr. Rangsun Parnpai (Thailand) are attending this conference. They have a chance to learn firsthand how agricultural biotechnology has revolutionized the economies of such countries as the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. These delegates must explore how their countries can similarly benefit from agricultural biotechnology.

    Since this is a gathering of experts in agricultural biotechnology, it’s expected that there will a productive debate on the potential of agricultural biotechnology. Delegates should conduct their deliberations with developing countries in mind. It’s here where agricultural biotechnology is in dire need.

    Developing countries delegates are encouraged to view this conference as a window of opportunity to learn from as many experts as possible on the potential of agricultural biotechnology.

    Once the curtains of this conference fall, delegates from developing countries must ensure that they share the lessons learnt with policy makers, scientists and farmers in their respective countries.

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    Things To Do In Athens, Greece

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    Athens is one of the oldest civilizations in the world and this means that there are ample places to see and visit in the city. The home of famous philosophers like Aristotle, Socrates and Plato has many things to offer visitors.

    Acropolis is the considered to be one of the biggest attractions in the city. It is the site where ancient Athens was situated and home to temples dedicated in the honor of Athena, the patron goddess of the city. The main buildings in this ancient city were designed by Pericles, and most of them were constructed between the years 460 BC and 430 BC. The most popular attractions are Parthenon, Erechtheion, the Temple of Nike and Propylea. At the very foothills of the Acropolis is Plaka, where you can visit numerous museums. The Jewish Museum, the Greek Folk Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Greek and European Paintings are located here.

    You should not miss a chance to visit the ancient agora in the city. Marketplaces played an important role in ancient Greece, and when visiting modern-day Athens, you will have a chance to see the ruins of the ancient marketplace in the city. There is an entrance fee levied, but it is worth it. You can also visit the Ancient Agora Museum to see the exhibits and also admire the marvelous architecture of the building.

    If you are not a fan of history, then modern-day Athens will not disappoint you. The main square in the city is known as Syntagma Square and this where all the hot spots of the city are located. Here you will find restaurants, shops, hotels and bars situated around a huge water fountain. To the north and south of the square are some great gardens that house a number of cafes where you can sit down to sip a cool drink or take a quick bite. The square is also close to the Greek parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

    Kolonaki District is located close to Syntagma Square where you can visit designer stores and boutiques to purchase branded labels. The District also has posh eating places. It is considered to be one of the richest suburbs of the city.

    If you are in Athens, you should not miss a trip to the local flea market situated at Monastiraki. You can get good bargains and souvenirs to take home. Finally, take the metro to get some information about this city. While the metro was being constructed, many ancient artifacts were found which are now displayed in some of the stations.

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