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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 most…

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.

The Corinth Canal: an ancient dream fulfilled

31.10.2018 in History

The Corinth Canal: an ancient dream fulfilled     After two millennia and thousands of nautical miles, a miracle of engineering was accomplished when the Corinthian Canal opened to the world.   A 2500-year-old dream came true in the late 19th century; a waterway straight through the Corinthian Gulf to the Aegean Sea was no longer wishful thinking. After two millennia and thousands of nautical miles, a miracle of engineering was accomplished and ships would no longer need to circle the Peloponnese in order to reach the Adriatic Sea. The most well known tyrant of Corinth, Periander (circa 600 BCE),…

Theodoros Kolokotronis

04.10.2018 in History

Theodoros Kolokotronis   Born in Messenia and raised in Arcadia, Theodoros Kolokotronis (1770-1843) is undoubtedly the symbol of the Greek War of Independence (1821-1830), the man who embodied totally the battle cry “Liberty or Death”. Αt the age of ten, Theodoros lost his father in a conflict with Ottoman soldiers an incident that marked his soul forever.   Kolokotronis acquired a high military experience by servicing as a warrior-bandit (klepht) against the Turks on the mountains of Morea (Peloponnese), and later as an officer in the British army of Zakynthos. The Greek Revolution found Kolokotronis in Morea organizing the irregular…

Arcadia, The Land of Myths

25.09.2018 in History

Arcadia, The Land of Myths Is it the geography of the region or the random events that would render Arcadia the Utopian Land for the Renaissance artists? There is no certain response, but it does not matter at all; Arcadia will always be the land of the Myths. The soil of Arcadia always hosted a great number of historical events, monuments and personalities who played a major role in the ancient and Modern Greek history. We explore three of its great landmarks in this article.            Ancient Mantineia was one of the capital cities of Arcadia, together with Tegea, a…

Tegea: the soul of Arcadia

12.07.2018 in History

Tegea: the soul of Arcadia   Ancient legend tells us a story about a small city in Arcadia that inflicted a tremendous damage on the Spartan prestige. The mighty Spartans lost the battle and the underestimated enemy used those very chains to carry Spartan soldiers back to Tegea…   Let us go back to 790 BCE… The Spartan city-state had decided to extend the borders of its territory. That always meant another invasion deep inside adjacent lands. Tegea was the perfect victim; a few miles from Sparta and most importantly an “easy” enemy to deal with. The Spartan leaders were…