Changing of the Guard, Athens
Always worth a look...and from the busloads of crowds and tourists, everyone else agrees.
Truthfully the first thing I came for and see in Athens....simply because it was evening by the time I got out of my hotel.
It's not that difficult to locate the Greek Parliament House (formerly the Royal Palace), as it was sited in busy Syndagma and is just across Amalias Avenue to the East, and is surrounded by the extensive National Gardens, which are open to the public. Every hour, the Changing of the Guard ceremony, performed by the Presidential Guards, is conducted in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the area between Syndagma Square and the Parliament House. Built during 1836-42, the facade of this grand building is also worth a look for its architectural beauty.
The exchanging of the guards takes place all day, every hour on the hour and lasts about 7-8 minutes so if you miss one, don't fret, stick around and the next ceremony isn't far away. On Sundays and official holidays, a more elaborate ceremonial changing of the guard takes place with an army band and the majority of the 120 Evzones present at 11am.
The guards are called evzones (as they are traditionally from the village of Evzoni in Macedonia) and their (to me, rather amusing) attire is based on the klephts, mountain fighters who fought valiantly for Greece's War of Independence.
So for 7-8 minutes, amuse yourself as the soldiers creak and clank themselves into position with rather exaggerrated steps and jerky manueveres. Not all too bad a way to orientate yourself into Athens!
The monument of the Unknown Soldier represents the place
of the unidentified soldiers that died in wars Located in the
Hellenic parliament and guarded all day by the Euzones
a elite unit famous for it’s traditional uniform.Attract many
people especially on Sundays with the changing of the guards
The guards (Evzones) perform the changing of the guard on the hour, 24 hours per day. The guards are tall and well-trained soldiers. It's a very high honour for every Greek soldier to be chosen as an Evzone.
It's quite amazing when you see the changing of the guard. Both soldiers perform their steps, etc, at precisely the same moment as eachother and most of the time they aren't facing eachother!
Anyway, this happens in the front of the Parliament building where the Tomb of the Unkkown Soldier is located.
Enjoy the pictures!
The changing of the guards is worth a stop, if just to see the unique uniforms. If you happen to miss the changing of the guards, you can see the guards marching along the grounds of parliament and can still witness both the uniforms and the unique march.
This changing of the guard is unlike any you've ever seen before. My friend didn't want to go originally because she thought it sounded very boring. I told her I had heard it was much different from the one you would see in London. In the end, she was very glad she went. It was a very unique experience...a definite MUST SEE! I especially thought it was interesting how there was another man who would show up to straight up their uniforms after they had been marching around quite a while. It takes place in Syntagma Square in front of the tomb of the unknown soldier.
The Evzones are the presidential guards who perform the "Changing of the Guard" ceremony every hour in front of the Monument of the Unknown Soldier. There is a more elaborate ceremony performed once each Sunday, except on the Orthodox Easter Sunday.
Everybody likes to snicker at the guard's uniforms and gawk at their silly walk. The Evzones have pom poms on the top of their shoes and wear a short skirt with long stockings. You are allowed to have photographs standing in their vicinity but be careful with your behavior. If an Evzone thinks you are getting too close, too loud, or too silly, ... then he will slam his rifle butt down hard in order to get your immediate attention. You can see this happens often, as evidenced by the circle of white marble dust next to his foot. (See photo #3)
The highlight of the hourly changing ceremony is when the two guards slowly approach each other then stop and touch the soles of their shoes together in the midst of a high step.
You'll want your camera ready for that moment, but they actually hold that position long enough for you to take more than three photos.
A friendly supervising officer is always present to answer tourist's questions. He wears an ordinary uniform and can be observed inspecting the posture of the guards. Appropriate questions include inquiring about the schedule for the Sunday ceremony, the permitted proximity for photos with the Evzones, and the location of the nearest Chinese restaurant.
(Go down Stadiou Street and you'll see it, Far East, on the left!)
It's a truly neat and entertaining sight to witness these Greek soldiers dressed in their khaki skirt uniforms performing their perfectly choreographed routine as they stand guard over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. An even better treat is if you come on a Sunday at 11am to watch the ceremonious Changing of the Guard. It's also only on this day that you can see the Evzones dressed in their traditional white and black kilts.
I have been reading that the changing of the guard was something to see in Athens. But it was not in my mind when I was walking in the national garden. But outside the garden fence there was some of the Evzones marching down the street. Then as a old royal guards man in denmark I had to see the drill they do. And I must sad they are very good the drill send a signal of strong will. If anybudy should be in doubt, what the do if it looks funny or not its very hard work and from what I hear the Evzones are doing their normal military service. Respect for this or just respect that they have a Garand semiautomatic rifle 8 shot in the clip the first of its kind.
Make sure you visit Syntagma on Sunday morning. Every Sunday at 11.00, the platoon that will be on guard in The Unknown Soldier, marches from their camp (behind the National Garden), to their posts. Full uniform, with the National Army band. It is amazing....
Evzones are the elite soldiers chosen for their height and strength. They guard the tomb of the unknown soldiers and the Parliament building.
The guards wear pleated skirts, the foustanelas, that the Greek fighters of the 1821 revolution used to wear. Today it's the official uniform of the Evzones.
Every half an hour they do a little march and dance to break the monotony of standing still all day (they change every hour). They do this little kick step with their sarouchi shoes with the pom-poms.
An absolute must of you are in Athens! This event takes place every hour on the hour. It is a ritual worth observing.
The Evzones guards are part of an elite corpse from the presidential palace founded in the 1800. It is seen as a great honour for Greek soldiers to be chosen.
The changing of the guards takes place in front of the parliament building and the tomb of the unknown soldier.
Similar to the guards in the London, they are trained to keep a straight face and not react to all the tourists trying to get a reaction out of them. Reminds of seeing tourists in London doing their best to make laugh, smile etc..
I laughed so much seeing this as I found it so entertaining. Maybe the guys in skirts or the pompon on the shoes. I also felt sorry for them as it soooo cold that day.
the Parliament building on Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos) to watch the ceremonial changing of the guard in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. On that special occasion, the guards (Evzones) wear their traditional white and black kilts, red and black caps and red clogs with pom-poms. On every other day, the Evzones wear regular khaki uniforms with skirts and the changing of the guard takes place every hour on the hour, 24 hours a day. The guards are tall and well trained soldiers. They belong to the "Proedriki Froura", the guards of the President of Democracy. It it is a high honour for every Greek soldier to be chosen as an Evzone.
Each soldier mounts guard for one hour at a stretch 3 times every 48 hours. They work in pairs and mate for life in order to perfect the coordination of their movements. Originally founded as a royal guard in 1914, this elite corps has about 200 members and enjoy much better accommodations and conditions than your typical Greek army conscript
The uniform is a traditional representation of Greece's historic mountain guerillas 'The Klephts' (thieves) and "armatoles" (bandits) which resisted the Turkish occupation and fought hard in the War of Independence. The skirt/kilt is called a 'fustanella' in Greek. There are almost 400 pleats in it; one for each year of the Turkish occupation and the Evzones have professional steam irons in the barracks and have to iron them themselves. The uniforms are made by special craftsman in workshops within the barracks and take 80 days to make. Officers wear an older more elaborate form of the uniform and since the 2nd world war Evzones from Crete wear blue breeches and caps with white boots.
The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier is the most unusual of it's type I've ever seen. The tradition, and the respect shown to it's fallen heroes is both a difficult feat and an impressive show. I was there during the week and so was unable to see them in their Sunday white uniform. No matter which day you go there, you will be glad you did.
Every hour, in front of the Parliament, the Royal Corps of special soldiers are changing the guard of the grave of the unknown soldier and the Parliament. This is a real spectacle with lots of old customs.
The Evrones, as these special soldiers are called, are wearing traditional clothes, looking really funny when you see them for the first time. The Evrones all wear skirts. There are 400 folds in these skirts, that the soldiers have to iron themselves. Every fold stands for one year of Turkish occupation of Greece.
The `tsahouri´ shoes they wear have a big black pom-pom on top of it. These shoes are weighing 3 kilos, mostly because of the nails at the bottom of the shoes. These have to protect the soldiers from slipping.
The Evrones all have one own partner, that is never working with another partner. This has to make sure the structure of the marching is perfect. They aren´t allowed to show any emotion at all, they just have to look strong. For this reason there are only picked out soldiers longer then 1.87 metres, to march here, because they make the impression of being a strong protector.
Every Sunday at 11am there is a wonderful spectacle held at Syndagma Square in the form of the Changing of the Guard. If you like this sort of pagentry then I think you will enjoy this. A marching military band accompanied by a company of soldiers in traditional dress precedes down Iródhou Attikoú to the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier. There the two soldiers who had been standing guard at the tomb are replaced by two others to the sound of military marching music. It all draws quite a crowd and I was quite impressed.
This photograph was taken by me by holding my camera high over my head and shooting. It is a miracle that the shot turned out this well.