Greece Through Despena's Eyes

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THE ATHONIAS SCHOOL

  On Mount Athos or the Holy Mountain (Greek: Άγιο Όρος) many schools operated over various periods. However, in 1749 the Athonias School or the Athonias Ecclesiastical Academy was established. It became the centre of The Greek Enlightenment...

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PANDORA AND HER BOX

  Hephaestus, the Olympian god of fire, metallurgy, craftsmanship, artisans, sculptors and volcanoes was asked by his father Zeus, king of the Olympian gods, to make the first woman. It was an easy task for him as he...

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EPIMETHEUS & PROMETHEUS

Once upon a time, our world was completely different. Civilisation as we know it today did not exist. It was a time when people still lived in caves, in darkness with only the bare essentials, if that. And...

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The Colossus of Rhodes

  The island of Rhodes (Greek: Ρόδος) is the largest of the Dodecanese islands (Greek: Δωδεκάνησα) of Greece in the South Aegean. The township of Rhodes is also the capital city, the name coming from the ancient Greek...

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SYROS – LAZZARETTO QUARANTINE STATION

  The island of Syros (Greek: Σύρος) is referred to as the jewel of the Cyclades. This is understandable when you see the panoramic view that it offers from the hilltop overlooking the township towards the harbour, the...

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HAGIA SOPHIA – A Tribute to Christianity

  Hagia Sophia (Greek: Αγία Σοφία) or the Church of Holy Wisdom in Constantinople, today’s Istanbul in Turkey was the centre of Christianity for over a thousand years from its construction in 532-537 AD to the fall of...

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Princess Alice of Battenberg

  We are often intrigued by the lives of royalty. We remember many of them for the tumultuous lives they lead or for the heritage that they leave behind. One such royal was Princess Alice of Battenberg, born...

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PHOBOS – Son of Ares

  Fear is inherent in every person. It is a disturbing feeling that has a hold over a person because of an impending danger the courses of which we often do not know. We can all understand that...

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The Mastic Tree of Chios

Chios (Greek: Χίος) is the fifth largest of the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea separated from Turkey by the Chios Strait. It is also referred to as “the Mastic Island” as it is the sole global producer...

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MAY – The Last Month of Spring

  There are many traditions connected with May, the fifth month of the year and the last month of spring. The first of May (Greek: Πρωτομαγιά – Protomagia) was celebrated long before it became connected with the worker’s...

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THE GREAT PLAGUE OF ATHENS

  Plagues have often made their appearance throughout the history of Man, killing thousands of people and changing the course of history. One such plague was the Great Plague of Athens in 430 BC (Greek: Λοιμός των Αθηνών),...

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ANCIENT RHAMNOUS

  There are so many ancient sites around Athens that we do not know about. One of them is the ancient site of Rhamnous (Greek: Ραμνούς), on the Attica coast about 55 km northeast of Athens. The ruins...

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The Myth of the Almond Tree

  There lived in Thrace a beautiful princess. Her name was Phyllis (Greek: Φυλλίς) daughter of the Thracian king Sithon (Greek: Σιθων). She fell in love with Demophon (Greek: Δημοφώντας), son of Theseus, the mythical king and founder-hero...

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CELEBRATIONS AND FOOD

Many celebrations are associated with food. In the case of Greek Independence Day on 25th March, the custom is to eat salted cod fish along with a garlic potato dip. But why cod (Greek: μπακαλιάρος)? Cod arrived in...

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HONOURING IOANNIS GIANNOPOULOS

  A special function was organised at the Apostolopoulou Cultural Centre of the Municipality of Tripoli Arcadia to honour a prominent Greek of the Diaspora, Ioannis Giannopoulos, who was born in Arcadia, Morea. He is honoured because he...

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NEW YEAR TRADITIONS

There are many traditions with the coming of the New Year (Greek: Πρωτοχρονιά) in Greece that go back to antiquity. Some of these are the singing of the New Year carols (Greek: κάλαντα), the cutting of the Vasilopita...

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CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS

  The festive season of Christmas (Greek: Χριστούγεννα) is a time of celebrating life and the giving of gifts. It celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of Man, the bringing of peace and love to the...

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SPIRO LOUIS AND HIS TROPHIES

  Spiro Louis was the winner of the Marathon race in the first modern Olympic Games that were held in Athens Greece from 6-15 April 1896. It was a vision that became a reality for the French philhellene,...

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SOPHIA VEMBO – the Singer of Victory

  The participation of Greece in the Second World War (1939-1945) began with a resounding ‘NO!’ – ‘ΟΧΙ!’ in the early morning hours of 28 October 1940 by the Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas to the Fascist Dictator...

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THE LIBERATION OF LEMNOS FROM OTTOMAN RULE

  The liberating of Lemnos after 456 years of Ottoman oppression is connected with Rear Admiral Kountouriotis and the flagship Averof.   On 6th October 1912 the Greek battleships led by the flagship Averof arrived at the port...

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ANAVISSOS – ANCIENT ANAPHLISTO

  On Saturday 21 September 2019, the private Museum of Asia Minor Culture, created by Chrisostomou – Maky Agkoutoglou in the family home in Anavissos, Attiki, organised a series of events as part of the Summer Festival of...

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SANCTUARIES IN ANCIENT GREECE

  The most famous sanctuaries in ancient Greece that foretold the future were those of Dodoni, Delphi and Acheronda. However, there are certain differences between them. With the first two, the pilgrim asked the priest for his prophecy,...

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THE NECROMANTEION OF ACHERON

  Visiting historical places or places that you have read about in mythology is a magical experience. It takes you back in time and makes you wonder about the lifestyle of the people of that period. Such a...

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SEPTEMBER – the beginning of Autumn

  Each month of the year is special. They mark the passing of the seasons, which in turn relate to certain celebrations and traditions that have a special meaning for each and every one of us. Therefore, the...

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THE MONASTERY OF ST NICHOLAS KALTEZON

  Greece is full of monasteries, some of which are very well known and very historical. Most of them date back to the Byzantium period. One such monastery is the Monastery of St Nicholas outside the village of...

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FANOUROPITA – THE LOST AND FOUND CAKE

The Greek Orthodox Church has many Feast Days throughout the year with the people celebrating their name on that particular day. In Greece, Name Days are usually more important than birthdays and friends and relatives visit or phone...

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THE WAR MUSEUM OF THESSALONIKI

Visiting Thessaloniki is always an interesting experience. I usually start off with the Cultural Bus Route that takes you around the historical and cultural points of interest as you can get on and off wherever your fancy takes...

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AUGUST

August (Greek: Αύγουστος) is the eighth month of the year and the last month of summer. In the ancient Greek Attica calendar, it was divided into two periods – the Metageitnion (Greek: Μεταγειτνιών – mid July to mid...

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The Rotunda of Thessaloniki

Besides the many Early Christian and Byzantine Monuments such as the Church of Agios Dimitrios (patron saint and protector of Thessaloniki dating back to 5th century AD), the Church of Agia Sofia (built in the early 7th century...

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NESTOS RIVER TRAILS

  Many new trekking trails are opening up throughout Greece for those that are interested in nature and the environment as well as the historical significance of these areas. Some of these trails are close to the cities...

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JASON AND THE ISLAND OF LEMNOS

  In order for Jason (Greek: Ιάσων) to claim his right to the throne of Iolcus in Thessaly, from his uncle Pelias, who had usurped it from his father, Aeson, he had to bring back the Golden Fleece...

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DERVENI KRATER

Museums are a treasure-trove of wonder and the Museums of Greece even more so. While in Thessaloniki, I visited the Archaeological Museum for the umpteenth time and again marvelled at the detail of so many of the exhibits:...

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JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS

The heroes in Ancient Greek mythology had a distinguished place in the tales, traditions, poetry and literature of the people as they had the special powers and superhuman talents that the ordinary person did not have. These special...

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The Islands of Strofades

  Strofades (Greek: Στροφάδες) are two very small Greek islands in the Ionian Sea 27 miles south of the island of Zakynthos and 28 miles to the west of the Peloponnese. The larger of the two islands is...

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MAIA – goddess of birth

Mythology played an important part in ancient Greek society as it attempted to explain the creation of mankind and how the world began. Ancient Greek mythology is made up of gods, demigods and supernatural beings that are closely...

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THE MONTH OF MAY

The month of May is not only a month of nature’s rebirth and the making of May Day wreaths. It is also a month that represents the struggle of the workers around the world for better working conditions,...

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Hymettus and the Ancient Sphettia Way

    The landmark of Athens is of course the Acropolis on which the Parthenon, the temple dedicated to the goddess Athena and patron of Athens, is found. However, there are many ‘hidden’ areas all around Athens that...

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GREEK ORTHODOX EASTER – PASCHA

  Easter (Greek: Πάσχα) is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The Greek Orthodox Church and all the Christian Churches around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus described as having occurred on...

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APHRODITE – the ancient Greek goddess

  Aphrodite (Greek: Αφροδίτη) is the ancient Greek goddess of love, beauty, passion, pleasure and procreation. Hesiod (Greek: Ησίοδος), an ancient Greek poet, refers to Afrodite as the foam-born goddess in his Theogony, a poem describing the origins...

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EPIDAURUS THEATRE

  The warm evenings of the Greek summer are ideal for attending the open air theatres where the works of the great ancient Greek playwrights such as Aeschylus, Euripedes, Sophocles and Aristophanes come alive. The Epidaurus Festival, which...

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THE QUEEN’S TOWER

Tucked away in a quiet corner in the suburb of Ilion (Greek: ΄Ηλιον) in the west of Athens, a stone’s throw away from Syntagma Square is the former estate of Queen Amalia of Greece. In it is the...

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CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL GREEK LANGUAGE DAY

In its press release regarding the 2019 International Greek Language Day celebrations, the Ministry of Education writes: “It is important to learn and love the Greek language, because of its virtues but mainly because it has expressed a...

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THESSALONIKI – the Legend of a Mermaid

Mermaids are connected with the sea and the fact that the city of Thessaloniki is on the coast ties in very well with the naming of it. Thessalonike was born on the day of the decisive battle of...

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EPIPHANY – The Twelfth Day of Christmas

  Epiphany, from the Greek word επιφάνεια, which means manifestation, to appear, completes the Christmas – New Year celebrations. It is the day when Jesus, at the age of 30, was baptized in the River Jordan by John...

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Christmas – New Year Traditions

Throughout Greece there are many traditions and customs to celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas. There are many similarities in these celebrations, but just as many differences. However, the main idea in all these celebrations is the passing...

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TRADITIONAL GREEK CHRISTMAS SWEETS

  Kourambiedes are traditional Greek sweets that are made at Christmas. They are a shortbread biscuit that is covered with icing sugar. The icing sugar that covers them reminds you of the snow that falls during winter when...

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SAINT BARBARA and Greek Traditions

  Saint Barbara (Greek: Αγία Βαρβάρα) celebrates her Name Day or Feast Day on 4th December. She is considered to be a protector of children as well as the patron Saint of the Greek and Cypriot Artillery. In...

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CHRISTMAS in GREECE

  Christmas is the time of year that everyone looks forward to. It’s a time of giving and family gatherings. It marks the end of another year and the beginning of a new one. The birth of Jesus...

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MARINA ZEA

The name Zea comes from the name of the ‘golden’ grain, which Homer frequently refers to in his ‘Odyssey’. Even the Egyptians considered the grain Zea superior to the grains of wheat and barley. It is the oldest...

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AERAA!!!

  The treacherous snow-capped Pindus Mountains of Epirus resounded to the cry of Aeraa!!! (Greek: Αέραα!!) as the Greek army attacked the Italian forces invading Greece on 28 October 1940, at the beginning of the Second World War....

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Celebrating ‘OXI’ Day, 28 October

  Each year, Greece celebrates ‘OXI’ Day, which commemorates the entry of Greece into the Second World War against the Axis powers, which were Germany, Italy and Bulgaria in Europe and Japan in Asia. It commemorates the rejection...

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SAINT CONSTANTINE and SAINT HELEN

  Another very important Feast Day that is celebrated in Greece is that of the Feast of the Holy Cross on September 14. It commemorates the cross used in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Saint Helen, and through...

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SEPTEMBER – the first month of autumn

  September is the ninth month of the year. In the northern hemisphere it is the beginning of autumn (Greek: φθινόπωρο) and the opposite in the southern hemisphere where spring ‘is in the air’. It is also the...

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SEPTEMBER – religious celebrations

September is the beginning of Autumn or Fall (Greek: Φθινόπωρο) in the northern hemisphere, and the beginning of spring (Greek: Άνοιξη) in the southern hemisphere. However, it was also the beginning of the new civil year in Constantinople...

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THE ISLAND OF LEMNOS

  The Greek island of Lemnos or Limnos (Greek: Λήμνος) is found in the northern part of the Aegean Sea opposite the Dardenelles, close to the island of Agios Efstratios and in the Prefecture of Lesvos. It is...

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CONSTANTINE PETROU CAVAFIS – POET

Poetry is an expression of feelings, imagination, thoughts, experiences and knowledge that a person acquires. The difference between one poet and another is the way in which this is expressed, through the images that arise with the use...

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HYPATIA – a remarkable woman

    Although we often talk about the achievements and the greatness of men, we do not talk about the achievements and the legacy that is left behind by amazing women. One such remarkable woman was Hypatia: mathematician,...

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DIAGORAS OF RHODES

  The tomb of Diagoras of Rhodes (Greek: Διαγόρας ο Ρόδιος), the Greek Olympic winner, was found in the area of Turgut, Turkey, near the coastal city of Marmaris. The tomb dates to 3rd century BC. Up to...

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CULTURAL CORNER – THEATRE OF DIONYSUS

  Present-day remains of the Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus, Athens   Continuing on from the previous article on Tripodon Street, which leads to the Theatre of Dionysus and was marked by the tripods to honour the winner of...

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THE ISLAND OF EUBOEA

  Recently I went on a trip to the northern part of Euboea, one of the largest islands of Greece, and only a couple of hours north of Athens. I had visited Euboea on a number of occasions,...

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NIKOS KAVVADIAS – POET

  Nikos Kavvadias was born in January 1910 in Harbin, Manchuria, where his father, who had been living in Russia, had gone on business. His parents came from the Ionian island of Cefalonia, where they returned to for...

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ANDREAS EMBERICOS – POET

  There are many well-known Greek poets. One of them is Andreas Embericos from the island of Andros. His family are international ship owners and shipbuilders. He was born in Rumania on 20th August 1901 and died in...

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MAY CELEBRATIONS and TRADITIONS

The month of May took its name from the Greek goddess Maia (Greek: Μαία, meaning midwife). She is the goddess of fertility and birth. May is also connected to the goddess of agriculture, Demeter (Greek: Δήμητρα) and her...

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SISYPHUS

  Sisyphus was the son of Aiolou (Greek: Αιόλου, god of the winds) and Enarety (Greek: Εναρέτη, daughter of Deimachus, ambassador of the Seleucid Empire in India) and the founder and first king of Corinth. For some, he...

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MANTO MAVROGENOS

  The month of March celebrated two very important events – that of International Woman’s Day on 8th March and the official beginning of the Greek War of Independence on 25th March. I therefore thought that I would...

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Thebes

  Thebes (Greek: Θήβα) is a township of central Greece in the prefecture of Boeotia (Greek: Βοιοτία). It is situated on a plain between Lake Yliki to the north and the Cithaeron Mountains, which divide Boeotia from Attica...

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September in Greece

  September is a very important month in the calendar starting from the ancient Greeks, through to the Romans and the beginning of Christianity. It symbolizes the changes in the seasons, with September being the start of autumn...

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MARIA CALLAS – A WOMAN OF PASSION

  Anna Sophia Maria Cecelia Kalogeropoulos, later known as Maria Callas, was born in New York on 3 December, 1923. She had an unhappy childhood due to the squabbles between her parents and the jealousy she felt towards...

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The Island of Salamis

  The naval battle at the Straits of Salamis on 22 September 480 BC between the allies of the Greek States and the Persian Empire has gone down in history as one of the most important sea battles....

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Dance of Zalongo

  March is a month with very significant celebrations for the Greek people. Besides marking the beginning of spring, March 8 celebrates International Woman’s Day. Also, March 25, 1821, marks the culmination of the struggle for independence against...

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March

March is the third month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. In the Roman Calendar it was the first month of the year as it was the first month of spring. It was named after Mars, the...

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Greek Mythology – Alkyonides

The ancient Greeks used mythology as a means of explaining the natural phenomenon that took place around them. This is true of the warm weather that we experience at about mid January of each year. This period is...

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THE MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF ATHENS

  THE MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF ATHENS – VOUROS EUTAXIAS FOUNDATION The Museum of the City of Athens is situated in Klafthmonos Square. It is housed in two buildings: the first was built in 1833 and the...

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The Pleiades

The Pleiades (1885) by the American Symbolist painter Elihu Vedder Looking up into the sky on a clear night, various constellations and star clusters can be seen by the naked eye. One such cluster in the Northern Hemisphere...

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The Last Byzantine Empress

A Wonderful Woman from the Past The Last Byzantine Empress – Anna Notara Palaiologo From the ancient Greek colonies in the Black Sea area, I thought that I would now take you to another area and another era...

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TSIKNOPEMPTI

Tsiknopempti (Greek: Τσικνοπέμπτη), literally means ‘Smelly Thursday’ or ‘Charred, Smoky or Barbeque Thursday’ because of the smell of grilled meat. It is a compound word from the Greek word ‘tsikna’, which is the smell of roasting meat, and...

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TRIPODON STREET in PLAKA ATHENS

Tripodon Street is the most ancient street in Athens. It has retained its name for over 2500 years. It has been recorded in the Greek record book Guinness as the oldest street. The Athenians would walk along the...

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