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Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica periphery and it is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. The city is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, largely because of its cultural and political impact on the European continent and in particular the Romans. In modern times, Athens is a large cosmopolitan metropolis and central to economic, financial, industrial, maritime, political and cultural life in Greece. Its compact downtown, north of campus, is alive with clubs, bars, restaurants, galleries and – of course – record stores; Broad Street in particular is lined with arty shops.