Hellas, known as Greece, is situated in Southern Europe and has got a population of approximately 11 million people. Athens is the capital of Greece and it is also the biggest city, followed by Thessaloniki.
THE LAND OF DEMOCRACY
Perhaps, the most popular fact about Greek history is that democracy was established in Athens about 500 BC. Also, in ancient Greece, philosophy, poetry and science thrived. Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are some of the great philosophers.
The Acropolis, or the sacred rock of Athens, is a universal symbol of classical spirit and civilization. The word acropolis comes from the Greek words άκρον and πόλις, meaning at the edge of the city. It was dedicated to the goddess Athena, who is goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice. The Acropolis also represents the artistic development of the 5th Century BC, during Pericles “Golden Age”.
According to historical records, the first ancient Olympic Games took place in 776 BC in the ancient plains of Olympia, in the Peloponnese. The games were dedicated to the Olympian gods and continued for nearly 12 centuries, until Emperor Theodosius decreed in 393 A.D. that all “pagan cults” were banned.
Greek tragedy reached its peak in the 5th Century BC. The most acclaimed Greek tragedians are Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides who also produced tragicomedies.
In ancient Greece, sculpture was created with bronze or marble and depicted rulers, battles or mythical figures. Greek god Hermes, Venus, the Greek goddess of love and beauty are some examples.
Pythagoras is a pre Socratic philosopher who is known more about his mathematical theorem than his philosophy. He regarded the world as perfect harmony and taught how to lead a harmonious life.
Socrates is considered today the founder of modern philosophy. He tried to establish an ethical system that would be based on human reasoning. He has also remained in famous for his sayings like “I know that I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing”.
Homer is an ancient Greek poet who is famous for his two epic poems, Iliad and Odyssey. Homer was a man who could not see and did not write his poems himself. He narrated them to scholars.
The golden age of Athenian culture flourished under the reign of Pericles, a brilliant orator and general. According to the historian Thucydides, Pericles was the first citizen of democratic Athens who transformed his city’s alliances into an empire and graced its Acropolis with the Parthenon.
ALEXANDER THE GREAT
Alexander the Great was born in Pella, the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia. During his leadership, he united the Greek city-states. He also became king of Persia, Babylon and Asia where he created Macedonian colonies.
El Greco’s real name was Domenicos Theotocopoulos. El Greco was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. He has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school. He is best known for marrying Byzantine traditions with those of Western painting.
Nikos Kazatzakis was one of the most important Greek writers, poets and philosophers of the 20th century. “Zorba the Greek”, “The Last Temptation of Christ”, and “The Greek Passion” are some of his masterpieces.
His famous saying about teachers:
“Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross, then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own”.
Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933) is one of the most famous Greek poets worldwide. His poems are inspired by philosophy, mythology and history. One of the best known poems of Cavafy is Ithaca, a philosophical poem based on the journey back home of Ulysses.
She is mostly called “La Divina” and she has been awarded as the greatest opera singer in the world. Many critics praised her “bel canto” technique, wide-ranging voice and dramatic interpretations.
Antetokounmpo is a professional basketball player and an all-round superstar, as he led the Bucks in all five major statistical categories and became the first player in NBA history to finish a regular season in the top 20 in total points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.
ATHENS AND EPIDAVROUS FESTIVAL
The Athens & Epidaurus Festival has hosted numerous major Greek and world-famous performing artists. Over the years, audiences have enjoyed celebrated musicians, ranging from Dimitris Mitropoulos, the New York Philharmonic, Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, Leonidas Kavakos, Dimitris Sgouros, Mikis Theodorakis, and Manos Hadjidakis.
When it comes to dance, audiences have been spellbound by high-calibre artists, among which George Balanchine, Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, Bolshoi Ballet and Royal Ballet.
Spectators have also had the privilege to watch memorable productions by the c world theatre, including Dimitris Rontiris, Karolos Koun, Giorgio Strehler, Peter Hall, Ariane Mnouchkine and Romeo Castellucci.
Greece has an extremely large number of islands, with estimates ranging from somewhere around 1,200 to 6,000. The number of inhabited islands is cited as between 166 and 227.
Greece’s most famous cosmopolitan island, a whitewashed paradise in the heart of the Cyclades.
Santorini is what remains after an enormous volcanic eruption that destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island, and created the current geological caldera.
Historically, Rhodes was famous worldwide for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Medieval Old Town of the City of Rhodes has been declared a World Heritage Site. Today, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe.
The island is bound up with the history of Greece from the beginnings of Greek mythology. Its history is full of battles and conquests. Two castles enclose its capital, which is the only city in Greece to be surrounded in such a way. As a result, Corfu’s capital has been officially declared a Kastropolis (“castle city”).
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, 88th-largest island in the world and the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.
Patmos is a mostly famous for being the location of both the vision of and the writing of the Christian Bible’s Book of Revelation.
Greek cuisine is Mediterranean cuisine. Greek foods have been greatly influenced by both Eastern and Western cultures. Fresh vegetables, fishes & seafood play a significant role in the cuisine, mostly because of its long coastline, while meat is treated as less popular.
Moussakas is baked with minced meat, obergines and béchamel sauce.
Pastitsio is pasta baked with minced meat and béchamel sauce.
Popular and beloved souvlaki contains beef, tomatoes, onions, French fries and tzatziki sauce all wrapped in a pie.
Gemista is a summer dish made with potatoes and peppers staffed with rice, mint and olive oil.
Grape leaves stuffed with rice, with a lemony flavor and a lot of patience to prepare.
Spanakopitta is spinach pie with traditional Greek feta cheese.
GREEK SALAD, CHORIATIKI
Greek salad is made with tomatoes, cucumber, onions, olives, green peppers, feta cheese, oregano and olive oil. It is delicious and very nourishing!
Loukoumades is a sweet made with dough which is fried in olive oil and springled with honey and cinnamon.
Kadaifi is a traditional sweet of pastry rolls with nuts syrup. Absolutely recommended!
Ravani is a traditional nutty and grainy cake with lemon flavor.