Tours in Greece

 

Interesting Facts about Greece

Dear viewers,  On this page we give the answers to the most common questions about ancient and modern Greece which our customers have asked us during our tours.

Q What happened when the ancient Greeks consulted the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi?

A Those who wanted advice from the Oracle would be required to pay a levy and sacrifice an animal on the altar. A male priest would then put the petitioner's question to a priestess (pythia), whose trance-like reply would take the form of riddles. These riddles would then be interpreted by a priest in a manner that was still not straightforward, but open to a number of interpretations.    Delphi

Q Where did traditional Greek drama come from?

A Greek drama developed in the sixth century B.C. from ritual role playing during festivals of Dionysus, the god of revelry and wine. At first, the participants danced in groups and were often dressed as animals. Later, singing and dancing choruses were joined by actors wearing masks with exaggerated features to indicate the characters they were playing so they could be clearly seen by everyone in the audience. The first proper plays were tragedies in the form of episodes from myths and epic poems. Comedy did not appear on the Greek stage until 480 B.C.
FIRST STONE THEATRE. The first stone theatre ever built, and the birthplace of Greek tragedy, was the theatre of Dionysus, which was cut into the southern cliff face of the Acropolis. The remains of a restored and redesigned Roman version can still be seen there today.

Q What is the Parthenon and the Elgin Marbles?

A  The temple of the Parthenon occupies the highest point of the Acropolis (city on the edge). It was dedicated to Athena. The word Parthenon comes from the Greek word parthenos meaning virgin. The Parthenon, which still stands today, was built between 447 and 432 B.C. The sculptures which decorated it and the ivory- golden statue of the goddess Athena were designed by the greatest sculpture Pheidias. Athens
THE ELGIN MARBLES: Many of the sculptures from the Parthenon were taken to England by Lord Elgin (1806), the British ambassador to the Ottoman court. He saw the sculptures when he visited Athens and was granted permission to take most back to England. They can be seen today in the British Museum. The Greek have been fighting a long battle with the British to have them returned to Athens. Co to Top

Q What do we call Golden Age of Pericles?

A Pericles was born in about 495 B.C. and became the greatest statesman in Athenian history. He was a visionary, with an interest in the arts and sciences, who transformed the look of the city to such an extent that the period between 461 and 429 B.C. became to known as the Golden Age of Pericles. By 461 B.C. he had become the leader of a democratic party, and by 443 B.C. he was both ruler and military leader of Athens. Having transferred the Treasury to Athens from Delos, he persuaded the Athenians to invest in a program of building and rebuilding which brought together the best contemporary architects, sculptors, artists, scientists and builders. The results can still be seen today. Most notable are the buildings on top of the Acropolis, with the Parthenon representing Pericle's outstanding legacy.

Q Why is classical Greek architecture so widely admired?

A State and religious buildings in ancient Greece were designed and built with the express intention of embodying perfect form and proportion. The degree of success their architects achieved is illustrated by the fact that their classical style has survived, has seldom fallen out of fashion and has often dominated aesthetic taste. Superb examples were built in Revolutionary France, Georgian England, the newly formed United States and 19th C Athens, where Neoclassical architecture completely dominated public building

Q When are the National / religious Holidays in Greece?

Restaurants and tourist shops may well stay open on these days, but public services, shops, museums and archaeological sites will be closed.  Museums & sites

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1 Jan New Year's day
6 Jan Epiphany
Feb/Mar Greek Carnival season, 3 weeks before the beginning of Lent.
Feb/Mar Ash Monday (41 days pre- Easter)
25 Mar Independence day - Military parade in Athens
Mar/Apr  Good Friday, Easter, Monday
1 May Labor Day
May/Jun Whit Monday (50 days after Easter)
15 Aug Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
28 Oct Ochi (OXI) Day - Military parade in Thessalonica
25/26 Dec Christmas/ Boxing Day

Q Where did the tradition of the Marathon run come from?

A In 490 B.C., the Greeks were facing invasion by Darius the Great King of Persia, whose warships landed in the bay of Marathon. Despite being heavily outnumbered, the Greeks surrounded the enemy troops and drove them back to the sea, losing only 192 men during the fighting, while 6,400 Persians perished. News of the victory was taken back to Athens a distance of 42 km (26 miles) by a runner in full armor, who collapsed and died immediately afterwards. The modern marathon has its roots in this heroic effort. In the Olympics of Athens 2004 the athletes ran the same course as in 490 BC..

Q Who were the seven wise men of antiquity?

A: The seven wise men of antiquity who lived in Greek territories in the 6th century BC and became known for their social or political wisdom and prudence are: Thalis of Miletus, Pittacus of Mytilene, Solon of Athens, Bias of Priene, Cleoboulos of Rhodes, Chilon of Sparta and Periander of Corinth. 
  
The seven wise men


Q What time do Greeks eat?

A Greeks tend to eat late, and they seldom eat light. Restaurants are usually open from about noon onwards for lunch and from 7 seven o'clock for supper, but that is usually to catch the tourist  trade. Owners know the Athenians will not be out in force for some time. Many of the day's specials are prepared in the morning or at lunchtime and a dish such as moussaka may be served lukewarm rather than piping hot - but that is the Greek way. Typical for this hedonistic city are late dinners at 9p.m. and nightclubs that fill around midnight.    Recipes

Q Who were the twelve gods of Olympus?

A Aphrodite: The goddess of love and beauty. Apollo: The god of the sun, of music and of prophecy. The twin bother of Artemis and the son of Zeus and Leto. Ares: The god of war. Artemis: The goddess of the moon and of hunting. The twin sister of Apollo. Athena: The goddess of wisdom, believed to have sprung fully formed from the head of Zeus, armed and wearing her helmet. She is often depicted with an owl. Demeter: The goddess of the harvest and the mother of Persephone. Hestia: The goddess of the Hearth. Hephaestus: The god of fire and of the forge, and the husband of Aphrodite. Hera: The queen of the gods wife of Zeus and mother of Hephaestus. Hermes: The messenger of the gods. Depicted with winged sandals or a winged cap. Poseidon: The god of the sea, represented by a trident. Zeus: The lord of the gods.


Q What about modern Greece?

Greece lies at the southeast end of Europe. Its land mass (50 944sq miles) is punctuated by mountains, fragmented by the sea and skirted by a very long broken coastline. The country's most distinctive characteristic is its many islands: between Thassos and Crete (600km/373ml) there are 427 islands, of which 134 are inhabited. Modern Greece is divided into nine regions which are sub-divided into departments (nomi). The total population is about 11.000.000.
Historical Notes: Greece under Roman occupation from 146 B C. - Greece under the Byzantines. After the division of ad 395 the territory of the Eastern Roman Empire comprised the Balkans, present- day Greece, Asia Minor and Egypt. Although Latin was soon replaced as the official language by Greek., the language of the Church and the Near East. The Byzantine Empire developed into a Greek Christian theocratic state, in which the Emperor and the Patriarch were interdependent (symbolised by two- headed eagle, the emblem of the Empire). Greece under the Franks (13c-15c). Greece under the Turks (15c-19c). The conquest of Greece by the Turks, which began the capture of the Balkan territories followed by Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, in 1453 by Sultan Mehment II. 1821 Started the Independence war against Ottoman Empire. In 1827 the UK, Russia and France decided to intervene to enforce an armistice '' without however taking any part in the hostilities''. The allied fleet went to parley with the Turkish fleet anchored off Pylos Pylos in Navarino Bay and ended up destroying it. In October 1828 a French military expedition was dispatched under General Maison, which drove out the Turks while the Russians threatened Constantinople. The Treaty of Adrianople in 1829 accorded autonomy to Greece, its independent status was recognised by the Great Powers in 1830. 1830 Independent Greek State established under the treaty of London. 1863 The Ionian islands, became part of Greece. 1881 Greece recovered Thessaly from the Turks. 1882-1893 Building of the Corinth canal. 1912-1913 Balkan War. Macedonia and Epiros liberated from the Turks by the Greek army under Venizelos. Crete became part of Greece. 1914-1919 First World War. Greece brought into the war by Venizelos on the side of the allies. Thrace and Smyrna awarded to Greece in 1919. 1919-1922 Great Catastrophe. New conflict with the Turks, resulting in 1.500.000 Greeks fleeing from Asia Minor to Europe 1940 28th of October, the beginning of the Second World War. 1941-1944 German occupation. 1945-1949 Civil War. 1967-1974 Dictatorship 1981 Accession of Greece to the European Union.2001 Full member of European Union

What about the Macedonian Issue ?: The Ancient Macedonians (Greek: Μακεδόνες, Makedónes) were an ancient tribe which inhabited the alluvial plain around the rivers Haliacmon and lower Axius, north of the Mount Olympus in Greece.  Historians generally agree that the ancient Macedonians, whether they originally spoke a Greek dialect or a distinct language, came to belong to the Koine Greek speaking population in Hellenistic times.  The Macedonian Royal family known as the Argead dynasty claimed ultimate Greek descent from Argos and Macedonians since Alexander I, were admitted in the Ancient Olympic Games, an athletic event in which only people of Greek origin participated.

Following the two Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913 and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, most of its European held territories were divided between Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia. The territory of the present-day Republic of Macedonia was then named Južna Srbija, "Southern Serbia". After the First World War, Serbia became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. In 1929, the Kingdom was officially renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and divided into provinces called banovinas. Southern Serbia (Vardar Macedonia), including all of what is now the Republic of Macedonia, became known as the Vardar Banovina of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

The lands governed by the Republic of Slavic Macedonia were previously the southernmost part of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. Its current borders were fixed shortly after World War II when the Anti-Fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia declared the People's Republic of Macedonia as a separate nation within Yugoslavia. After the end of the Second World War, when Tito became Yugoslavia's president, the People's Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was established. The People's Republic of Macedonia became one of the six republics of the Yugoslav federation. Following the federation's renaming as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1963, the People's Republic of Macedonia was likewise renamed, becoming the Socialist Republic of Macedonia. It dropped the "Socialist" from its name in 1991 when it peacefully seceded from Yugoslavia.

Macedonia  is a geographical and historical region of Greece. Macedonia is the largest and second most populous Greek region. Together with the regions of Thrace and—sometimes—Thessaly, it is often referred to informally as northern Greece. Its territory covers most of the region of ancient Macedon and most of the Kingdom of Macedon, famously ruled by Alexander the Great. The name "Macedonia" was later applied to various areas in the Roman and Byzantine Empires with widely differing borders. By the 19th century, Macedonia had become defined as a distinct geographical, rather than political, region in the southern Balkans. It was ruled by the Ottoman Empire at the time but was divided by the Treaty of Bucharest of 1913, following the Ottoman defeat in the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Albania each took control of portions of the territory, with Greece obtaining the largest portion. Greek Macedonia covers 52.4% of the area and contains 52.9% of the population of geographical Macedonia.

Famous Macedonia  is a song, often regarded as the unofficial anthem of the Greek region of Macedonia

Famous Macedonia
the land of Alexander,
you drove away the barbarians,
and now you are free!

You were and you'll be Greek,
the very Pride of Greeks,
and we, the Sons of Greece
plait you a crown!!

Macedonians cannot
live enslaved,
even if they lose everything else,
they always have their Freedom!

The Vergina Sun, Star of Vergina or Argead Star is the name given to a symbol of a stylized star or sun with sixteen rays. It was unearthed in 1977 during archaeological excavations in Vergina, in the northern Greek province of Macedonia, by Professor Manolis Andronikos. He discovered it on a golden larnax in the tombs of the kings of the ancient kingdom of Macedon.
The symbol was discovered in the Greek region of Macedonia and Greeks regard it as an exclusively Greek symbol, unrelated to Slavic cultures and it is copyrighted under WIPO as a State Emblem of Greece. The Vergina sun on a red field was the first flag of the independent Republic of Slavic Macedonia, until it was removed from the state flag under an agreement reached between the Republic of Slavic Macedonia and Greece in September 1995. Nevertheless, the Vergina sun is still used  unofficially as a national symbol by some groups in the country along with the new state flag. The Greek government and many Greek people, especially Greek Macedonians, saw it as the misappropriation of a Hellenic symbol and a direct claim on the legacy of Philip II. A Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman said in January 1995 that "the symbol is Greek and has been stolen."
Greek Makedonian Star

 

Nationalists on both sides subsequently associated the symbol with the (much later) Star of Bethlehem and have argued that their respective communities have used the symbol for sacred purposes before the Vergina discovery. The Greek position on the symbol has been supported by some abroad, such as the former United States Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, who reportedly told a questioner:

I believe that Greece is right to object and I agree with Athens. The reason is that I know history, which is not the case with most of the others, including most of the Government and Administration in Washington. The strength of the Greek case is that of the history which I must say that Athens has not used so far with success.

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