The flag of Greece consists of nine parallel horizontal stripes of sky blue alternating with white. On its top left corner, there is a white cross in a sky blue square. The colours symbolize the sky and the sea. The nine stripes represent the nine syllables of the phrase “Freedom or Death” or the nine letters of the word “Freedom”. The Cross is the symbol of the prevailing religion of Greece, Orthodox Christianity.
The Greek language belongs to the Indo-European family of languages. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning at least 3,400 years of written records. Its writing system is the Greek alphabet, which has been used for over 2,600 years. During antiquity, Greek was by far the most widely spoken lingua franca in the Mediterranean. It eventually became the official language of the Byzantine Empire and developed into Medieval Greek. In its modern form, Greek is the official language of Greece and Cyprus and one of the 24 official languages of the European Union. Greek and Latin are the predominant sources of international scientific vocabulary.
Here are some greetings in greek:
Γεια = Hello Καλό απόγευμα = Good evening
Καλημέρα = Good morning Καληνύχτα = Good night
Greece has a rich historical legacy which is reflected in part by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Throughout its history it has interacted culturally mainly with peoples of the Middle East and Europe.
The ancient Greeks are the cornerstone of world culture since democracy and philosophy, the Olympic Games, drama, tragedy and comedy were born in ancient Greece. From the eighth century BC, the Greeks were organised into various independent city-states, known as poleis (singular polis), which spanned the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
Greece was annexed by Rome in the second century BC, becoming an integral part of the Roman Empire and its continuation, the Byzantine Empire, which was predominately culturally and linguistically Greek. After falling under Ottoman dominion in the mid-15th century, Greece emerged as a modern nation state in 1830 following a war of independence.
Greece became the tenth member to join the European Union (then European Communities) in 1981, member of the Schengen area in 2000 and has been part of the Eurozone since 2001.
Greece is situated in the south-east part of Europe, in the Balkan Peninsula. Its capital is Athens. Its population is estimated to be 10.691.204 people. It is bordered by Albania, North Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north and by Turkey to the east. It is surrounded by the Aegean Sea to the east, by the Libyan Sea to the south and by the Ionian Sea to the west, which separates it from Italy. The country is mostly mountainous. The biggest mountain range is Pindus and the highest mountain is Olympos. It has many islands, 227 of which are inhabited. Greece has 13,676 kilometres of coastline, the largest in the Mediterranean Basin.
Here are 10 Greek dishes you should try:
- Gemista (stuffed vegetables)
- Dolmadakia (stuffed vine leaves)
- Giouvetsi (beef with orzo pasta)
- Fasolada (bean soup)
- Horiatiki (salad with chopped tomatoes, cucumber, onions, olives, feta cheese etc.)
- Spinach pie
The music of Greece is as diverse as its history. Greek music separates into two parts: Greek traditional music and Byzantine music, with more eastern sounds. These compositions have existed for millennia: they originated in the Byzantine period and Greek antiquity; there is a continuous development from ancient greek music to folk songs which appears not only in the language but also in the rhythm, the structure and the melody. It’s worth mentioning the acritic and klephtic songs, the nisiotiko, the rebetiko and the entekhno kind of music, as well as the famous greek dance “syrtaki”.
The most important monuments and the famous natural beauties
The Acropolis of Athens
The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historical significance, the most famous being the Parthenon. The word acropolis is from the Greek words ἄκρον (akron, “highest point, extremity”) and πόλις (polis, “city”). While there is evidence that the hill was inhabited as far back as the fourth millennium BC, it was Pericles in the fifth century BC who coordinated the construction of the site’s most important monuments including the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. The Parthenon and the other buildings were seriously damaged during the 1687 siege by the Venetians.
Delphi in legend previously called Pytho (Πυθώ), in ancient times was the major oracle who was consulted about important decisions throughout the ancient classical world. The ancient Greeks considered the centre of the world to be in Delphi. The sacred precinct is situated on the south-western slope of Mount Parnassus and it is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in having had a great influence in the ancient world.
Knossos is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and has been called Europe’s oldest city. The palace of Knossos eventually became the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization. In its peak, the palace and surrounding city boasted a population of 100,000 people shortly after 1700 BC. The palace was abandoned at some time at the end of the Bronze Age, for unknown reasons.
The Samariá Gorge is a National Park of Greece since 1962 on the island of Crete. It was created by a small river running between the White Mountains (Lefká Óri) and Mt. Volakias. The gorge is 16 km long, starting at an altitude of 1,250 m at the northern entrance, and ending at the shores of the Libyan Sea in Agia Roumeli. The walk through Samaria National Park is 13 km long, but one has to walk another two kilometers to Agia Roumeli from the park exit, making the hike 15 km long. The walk takes five to seven hours and can be strenuous, especially in the summer. The gorge became a national park in 1962, particularly as a refuge for the rare kri-kri (Cretan goat). There are several other endemic species in the gorge and surrounding area, as well as many other species of flowers and birds.
Famous Greek People
Mikis (Michail) Theodorakis (born in 1925 in Chios) is a Greek composer, lyricist and politician and has contributed to contemporary Greek music with over 1000 works. He is viewed as Greece’s best-known living composer. He composed the music for well-known films, such as “Alexis Zorbas” (1964) and “Serpico” (1973). He was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize. In 1990 he was elected to the parliament, became a government minister and fought against drugs and terrorism and for culture, education and better relations between Greece and Turkey.
Maria Amalia “Melina” Mercouri (18 October 1920- 6 March 1994) was a Greek actress, singer, socialist, activist and politician. She came from a well-known political family. She won a lot of international prizes, among which a Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award for her performance in the film Never on Sunday (1960). As a politician, Mercouri became the first female Minister of Culture and Sports in 1981 and she was the longest-lived Minister of Culture in Greece.
El Greco: the Greek genius who changed the Art World
Doménikos Theotokópoulos (1 October 1541 – 7 April 1614), also known as El Greco (“The Greek”), was a Greek painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. El Greco was born in Crete, which was at that time part of the Republic of Venice, Italy, and the center of Post-Byzantine art. He trained as an hagiographer there, but he spent the biggest part of his life away from Greece, creating most of his artwork in Italy and Spain. During his stay in Italy, El Greco enriched his style with elements of Mannerism and of the Venetian Renaissance taken from a number of great artists of the time, notably Tintoretto. In 1577, he moved to Toledo, Spain, where he lived and worked until his death. El Greco has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school.
(By the pupils of the E1 class 2020-2021 and their teacher Anastasia Golia)