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Most Interesting Facts about Greece

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One of my friends had big plans for her Greece trip when her husband blew the budget on an expensive car. She got really mad but later named the car “Greece” so that every time she was in the car, she could say “I am travelling in Greece” haha. Like her there are many of us who have Greece on their bucket list.

Greece is a country located in Southeast Europe. It shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, North Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, and Turkey to the northeast. Greece has more than 2,000 islands, of which only 227 are populated. Greece is one of the most important countries in the history of western civilization. Many historians refer to it as the cradle of western civilization as it was very influential in the past.

Do you know that the Greeks don’t even call their country Greece? They actually refer to their country as Hellas or Hellada. Its official name is the Hellenic Republic and it has always been Hellas, even in ancient times. English-speaking people refer to it as Greece based on the term Graecia, which is Latin for the “land of the Greeks.” Here are some more fun facts about the country:

 Interesting facts about Greece

1. Greece is regarded by most historians as the birthplace of democracy. The Athenian Democracy was a system dating back to the fifth century B.C. However, to vote you had to be an adult and male citizen. Women were not allowed to vote.

Even now the Greeks take their elections incredibly seriously. Anyone who’s 18+ can’t skip voting as indicated by the law. The alternative of not voting isn’t available in Greece.

2. Ikaria, a Greek island is one of the five world’s blue zones. A blue zone is an area where lifespan is noticeably longer than the rest of the world. The high life expectancy can be attributed to the islanders’ low-calorie diet consisting of a lot of beans and locally grown greens containing antioxidants.\

3. The country respects family values. Retirement homes are rare in Greece. Grandparents usually live with their children’s family.

4. Greek is one of the oldest written languages that are still used. Interestingly, the Greek alphabet was the first to use vowels. The Greek Language has also influenced the English language and other languages with several thousands of words.

5. The saying “taking the bull by its horns” comes from the Greek myth where Hercules saved Crete from a raging bull by seizing its horns.

6. There are countless stories of Greek gods and goddesses. According to one story, Athena and Poseidon agreed that whoever gave the city the best gift would become guardian over the city. Poseidon presented the city with the gift of water while Athena gifted an olive tree and won over the people. She was made the guardian.

Therefore, it won’t be surprising to know that Greeks love olives. They are the world’s third largest producer of olives and have more varieties of olives than any other country. Some olive trees planted in the thirteenth century are still producing olives.

7. Greece has mountainous terrain which makes the rivers in the country non-navigable.

8. Greece houses the most number of archaeological museums in the world.

9. When you visit the Cyclades Islands, you will find that the doors, windowsills, church domes and many other structures are painted a turquoise blue. The colour looks very pretty but apart from the aesthetic appeal, the major reason is to keep the evils away. According to an ancient belief, this shade of blue works likes an evil eye.

Cyclades Islands
Source: https://www.strogilisantorini.com/

10. Celebrating “name day” is more important than celebrating the birthday in Greece. The common Greek names are based on religious saints. On the days that a saint is celebrated in the church, anyone named after that saint celebrates his or her “Name Day.” For example, on May 21 Constantin and Helen are celebrated. All Constantines (or variations such as Costa, Gus, Dino) and Helens (Ellen, Eleni, Lena) are wished a Happy Name Day by family and friends

11. One of the most commonly known facts about Greece is that the first Olympic Games took place here in 776 B.C. They were held to celebrate the highest god of Mount Olympus, Zeus. The first Olympic champion was a Greek cook named Coroebus who won the sprint race.

The games were held every four years and lasted five days. Events included running, wrestling, chariot races, boxing, horse races, and the pentathlon. Winners were presented with crowns of olive made from the branches of the sacred olive tree.

The ancient Olympics ended in 393 AD when the Roman emperor banned them. The first modern Olympics were held in Athens in 1896.

12. Refrain from high fiving in Greece. It is considered an insult to show the palm of the hand with the fingers extended. The innocent waving with an open hand can be considered rude. People generally greet others with closed palms in the country.

13. Greeks have a lot of superstitions. And one of the funniest is when they compliment someone. After giving a compliment, they make a puff of breath through pursed lips, as if spitting. This is meant to protect the person receiving the compliment from the evil eye. Now you know if someone tries to spit on you after saying how beautiful you look, they are not freaks. They are just looking out for you.

14. The country has invented a lot of things. Greek writer Herodotus is considered world’s first historian. He wrote “The Histories”, a book on the Greco-Persian Wars.

The ancient Greeks are often called the inventors of mathematics because they were the first to make it a theoretical discipline. The work of Greek mathematicians such as Pythagoras, Euclid, Archimedes, and Apollonius lies at the basis of modern mathematics.

Greek philosopher Anaximander is credited in the creation of the first map of the known world.

The Ancient Greeks also invented the theatre. They loved watching plays, and most cities had a theatre. Only boys and men were actors in ancient Greek plays. They wore large masks so audience members could see what part they were playing. The masks showed the audience whether their character was happy or sad. Some of the masks had two sides, so the actor could turn them around to change the mood for each scene.

15. The word “barbarian” has a very funny origin. It comes from Greek barbaroi which means people who don’t speak Greek and therefore sound like they’re saying “bar-bar-bar-bar.”

The word “tragedy” comes from the Greek words tragos, which means goat and oide, which means song. A tragedy is a dramatic poem or play which mostly has a tragic or unhappy ending. One might ask why goats were related to being unhappy.  Apparently, the actors dressed in goatskins to represent satyrs.

16. Greece Is like a playground for the historians. But do you know how ancient the country really is? The city of Athens is one of the oldest in the world. People have been living here for over 7000 years. It has seen many different social and political changes through the course of its long history but it’s still standing.

Source: https://www.kimkim.com/

17. The Greeks believed in keeping their city clean. Hence the first municipal community dump was invented around 500 B.C.

18. Breaking plates is one of the traditional rituals in a Greek wedding. It is believed that breaking plates can ward off evil spirits or bring good luck. Today most of the people do it just for fun.

Breaking plates in greece
Source: https://blog.wedpics.com/

19. The Greeks top the list for being the most sexually active in the world. No wonder it is one of the favourite honeymoon destinations.

20. During the summers, you will find more people in the country than the locals. Everyone wants a slice of Greece, I guess.

21. The Greeks like to groove. There are more than 4000 traditional dances around the country.

22. When travelling to Greece, leave those pointy heels at home. Some historical sites have banned the wearing of high heels. This is because a high heel is more likely to damage important historical sites. Moreover the best way to explore a place is on foot. So wear your favourite sneakers and walk everywhere.

Trip leader Sakshi’s Recommendations if you are visiting Greece:

Santorini: With its iconic blue-domed churches, whitewashed villages, and dramatic coastline Santorini is a must visit place. The island is small but has a lot of exciting things to do and places to visit. Santorini is famous for the spectacular sunsets, and you should definitely watch it at Oia. Most of the pictures that you see of Santorini are taken in Oia. With the backdrop of gorgeous white buildings, the dramatic sunset is truly magnificent setting against the sea.

Source: https://www.kimkim.com/

Rhodes: Lying on the Aegean Sea, close to Turkey, Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands. Its capital Rhodes Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The old town built in the 14th century is enclosed with fortifications.  Explore the cobbled streets of the old town on foot or discover the coastal town of Lindos, with its Acropolis. Boasting some of the best swimming spots in Greece, Rhodes has the perfect mix of quaint towns, pristine beaches and archaic history.

Source: https://www.greece-is.com/

Corfu: The island of Corfu looks like it came out from a fairytale book. Stretches of white sandy beaches with rugged mountains in the backdrop makes it picture perfect. The island was ruled by Venetians for many years and therefore the architecture here is breathtaking. The capital Corfu Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Spend a couple of days in this pretty island lazing around beaches or getting to know a little more about the history of this place.

Source: https://www.planetware.com/

Visa Procedure:

Greece Visa Requirements for Indians

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