"Contemporary urbanization and planning activities and their relationship tothe built - form, in southern European cities have not been studied exten-sively by English - Speaking scholars. The ancient cities of Greece andRome and the medieval and Renaissance attention. However, 19th and 20thcentury urban development in southern Europe has not been a high item ofpriority. This paper provides an overview and a comparison of planning ac-tivity and physical of urban form for three south European capital citiesMadrid, Rome and Athens.Athens and Rome are ancient cities which have contributed greatly to thetraditions of urban life. The Greek polls and the Roman civitas are two bas-ic concepts underlying Western civilization. Athens, the great center ofclassical antiquity, saw its fortunes slowly diminish to the extent that it waslittle more than a village by the beginning of the 19th century. In contrast,Rome's urban form and functions remained relatively robust from classicaltimes and throughout the periods of European history after the collapse ofthe Roman Empire in the West. Yet like Athens by the beginning of the 19th century it was more a museum city than a major urban center. Both citiessurvived and eventually thrived again because of the enduring strenghts oftheir state and because of this new status, each experienced sustained andeven rapid growth during the second half of the 19th and throughout most ofthe 20th century.Madrid, on the other hand, has little of the august historical associations ofAthens and Rome. Madrid rose from the status of an obscure and isolatedvillage to become capital of a newly-united Spain in the 16th century large-ly because of Its central location and its lackof association with any majorpolitical group in the new kingdom. Central position and a neutral politicalhistory were the factors behind the rise of Madrid.This paper analyzes the major planning initiatives and programs in eachcity from the middle of the 19th century to the present. The authors haveused the major, formally-adopted, comprehensive plans for the cities as thebasis for describing their planning and urban form changes.In the case of Madrid important planning measures such as, the Plan Castroadopted by Royal Decree in 1860 and which guided the expansion of the citythrough major new subdivisions or "ensanche", the famous "Cludad Linearconcept of Arturo Sorla, and the series of post World War Ii urban plansare examined.Rome also has had a number of comprehensive or master plans intended toguide its growth. Among the plans examined are those of 1873, 1883,1909, 1932, and the post World War Ii planning efforts. Forces workingfor the successful implementation of each plan, as well as those working toundermine the plans are discussed.Athens, in contrast to Madrid and Rome, has had fewer formally approveddevelopment plans. The earliest planning measures were undertakeng by theBavarian architects imported by the king of modern Greece, Otho, the 18years old son of Ludwig I of Bavaria. Athens, however, developed larglywithout planning. In contrast, the center of the city did benefit from coor-dinated development because it housed the central bureaucracy of the newGreek govenment and Greeks aspired to create a capital city form whichcould bear favorable comparison with other European capitals. The balance of the paper is devoted to a review of planning efforts andachievements in each city. A comparison of the actual built - form with theplanned built - form constitutes the basis for this part of the paper. In ad-dition, wherever possible, other standards of comparsion including publictransport facilties, green space and recretion facilties and extent of unau-thorized housing are used."