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The Holy Places of Kythera

10.11.2019 in History

The Holy Places of Kythera     The island of Kythera, no matter how many times you visit, will always give you “one more” reason to return. The holy places of the island are soulful, magical and will call you back again and again.   Our first visit was our summer vacation a few years ago. Sun, sea, baths, rest, and good food were our goals, and we received surprisingly more than we expected. Unfortunately, we simply did not have enough days to take in all the “treasures” that the island has and we wanted to discover. But on a…

Kythera: the island of Aphrodite

10.11.2019 in History

Kythera: the island of Aphrodite     Some miles south of Peloponnese lays an island of insurmountable beauty. Kythera is its name – it is the birthplace of the almighty Aphrodite, the land of a hundred chapels and mysterious caves.   According to myth, the goddess Aphrodite was born off the coast of Kythera… from the foam of the waves where the village Kapsali lies today (the two natural ports took the name “the breasts of Aphrodite”). Many ancient writers used to give her the epithet Kytheria (the Mistress of Kythera) although another myth puts her birthplace in Cyprus. Nevertheless,…

Saint Patapios: A monument of Orthodoxy in Loutraki

05.05.2019 in History

Saint Patapios: A monument of Orthodoxy in Loutraki     In the Geraniai Mountains, above Loutraki, and perched at an altitude of almost 2300 feet, the Holy Monastery of Saint Patapios awaits you. Here you may venerate not only the miraculous relic of the Saint but also wonder at the most amazing panoramic view of the city below.   The monastery is considered a “monument of Orthodoxy”, attracting hundreds of visitors everyday from Greece and all over the world. After the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453, Angelos Notaras, a relative of the then emperor, wished to protect…

Isthmia and the Temple of Poseidon

05.05.2019 in History

Isthmia and the Temple of Poseidon   The sanctuary of Poseidon was a Panhellenic center of athletic games and rituals dedicated to the god Poseidon as well as to Palaimon, a local sea hero/minor god. The winner of each game would be crowned with a pine tree wreath, the symbol and standard for ship timber.   The tiny city of Isthmia (east of the Corinth Canal) was well-known from ancient times as a place of worship. The sanctuary of Poseidon played a significant role among the Greeks as a Panhellenic center of athletic games (every two years) and rituals dedicated…

The Byzantine Churches of Athens

07.03.2019 in History

The Byzantine Churches of Athens     Scattered all over the city center, with much of their history yet untold, the Byzantine temples in downtown Athens are invaluable epicenters of grandiose architecture and Christian art.   Panagia Kapnikarea Dedicated to the Virgin Mary and sitting in one of the busiest commercial streets of downtown Athens, Ermou Street, the cruciform domed church actually belongs to the University of Athens and has supported the needs of the Theological School’s students since 1931. The name of the church allegedly comes from its first owner, either an individual or institution in Byzantine times, who…

The Golden Age of Byzantine Athens

07.03.2019 in History

The Golden Age of Byzantine Athens     The first centuries of the Byzantine Empire found Athens totally neglected and almost forgotten. Apart from sporadic construction of fortifications due to the threat of imminent enemy assaults, Athens was a humble provincial city in the Empire.   During this early period of Byzantium, most of the Classical Era monuments in the city of Athens had been transformed into Christian churches while others were destroyed by Christian zealotry or catastrophic raids by barbarians. After 500 years of oblivion, Byzantine Athens began to show signs of recovery. At the beginning of the 11th…

Empress Irene of Athens

07.03.2019 in History

Empress Irene of Athens   Was it common for the Byzantine Empire to have a female ruler? Certainly not. And Irene of Athens was anything but a common woman.   Born into an aristocratic Athenian family in 755 CE, the young Irene was well known for her exceptional beauty, which is likely the reason Constantine V chose her as a bride for his son Leo IV. Irene produced a male heir Constantine VI, but after her husband Leo’s death, Irene succeeded him as ruler of the Empire by neutralizing her opponents. This included killing her son by her own hands….

The Nike of Samothrace

18.12.2018 in History

The Nike of Samothrace   The Nike of Samothrace is one of the most recognizable statues in the History of Art and has been displayed at the Louvre Museum since 1884.   The Nike (Winged Victory) of Samothrace is a marble complex of the ancient deity Victory standing on a ship prow (overall, the work measures 18 feet). The mutilated female deity with her open wings is eight (8) feet high and was constructed some time between 220-190 BCE. Nike is one of the three almost identical marble complexes found on the island by the archaeologists. This statue is the…

Samothrace: Where the Great Gods dwell

18.12.2018 in History

Samothrace: Where the Great Gods dwell     The northern Aegean Sea is beyond any doubt a more isolated and wild place compared with the cosmopolitan Cycladic complex. It is there where the island of Aeolus, or Samothrace, lies… some 24 miles away from the Thracian coast.   No white houses, no golden beaches nor bare hills can be found here; the scenery consisted of rocky slopes, wuthering peaks and dense forests. The architecture is simple, the wild goats leap all around the rugged landscape and the food is just an explosion of senses. Let’s get closer to the history…

Honoring The Heroes Of October 28, 1940 OXI DAY

31.10.2018 in History

Honoring The Heroes Of October 28, 1940 OXI DAY     On October 28, 1940, Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini sent an ultimatum to Metaxas that Italian forces would occupy Greece; any refusal would mean war. Mussolini, assumed that acquiring Greece would be a quick and effortless endeavor, but the OXI (No) of Metaxas derailed his plans. By mid-November, the Greek army had pushed Italian troops up into Albania. The Greco-Italian war would be one of the first defeats of the Axis powers during World War II.