How Greek Loanwords Are (Actually) Pronounced in Greek

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The Greek language may have loaned many words to English and other languages, especially in science. Words such as “philosophy”, “biology”, “theatre”, “history”, “idea”, “politics”, and “Democracy” are of Greek origin. Here is how a few Greek loanwords sound when pronounced in Greek.

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Greek Loanwords Pronunciation in Greek Examples

  • Philosophy – Φιλοσοφία
  • Biology – Βιολογία
  • Theatre – Θέατρο
  • History – Ιστορία
  • Idea – Ιδέα
  • Politics – Πολιτική
  • Democracy – Δημοκρατία
  • Cinematography – Κινηματογράφος
  • Photography – Φωτογραφία
  • Telephone – Τηλέφωνο
  • Autonomy – Αυτονομία
  • Ideology – Ιδεολογία
  • Ego – Εγώ
  • Psyche – Ψυχή
  • Psychology – Ψυχολογία
  • Analogy – Αναλογία
  • Academy – Ακαδημία
  • Acoustics – Ακουστική
  • Amnesia – Αμνησία
  • Antagonist – Ανταγωνιστής
  • Catastrophe – Καταστροφή
  • Cynic – Κυνικός
  • Critic – Κριτικός
  • Dogma – Δόγμα
  • Economics – Οικονομία
  • Aetiology – Αιτιολογία
  • Euphoria – Ευφορία
  • Grammar – Γραμματική

There are many more Greek loanwords that are used daily from English-speakers. If you use these words, you already speak Greek and you don’t know it. In a next video we will see how English and other foreign loanwords are pronounced in Greek. It is recommended to watch Helinika’s video titled “You Pronounce Greek wrong. Here is Why.” and learn how to properly pronounce modern Greek words.

Greek Christmas Traditions | Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Greece

Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrated in many countries across the globe. Christmas in Greece is celebrated according to the Greek Orthodox traditions. Let’s see some facts about how Greeks celebrate the winter holidays, followed by some common local Christmas traditions!

Greek Christmas Facts | New Year’s Eve in Greece

  1. Christmas day in Greece is celebrated on the 25th of December. The date differs from other Orthodox countries that celebrate Christmas in January.
  2. New Year’s Eve in Greece is often a bigger celebration than Christmas. That’s the official day of gift exchanging.
  3. Presents are brought on New Year’s day by Saint Basil, rather than Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus.
  4. On January 6, Greeks celebrate the Theophany, rather than the Epiphany. This day is also called “Phota”.

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Greek Christmas & New Year’s Traditions

  • Although many Greeks now decorate a pine tree for Christmas, the local tradition is to decorate a small wooden boat with Christmas lights. The little vessel often symbolizes the family members who work in maritime shipping and are absent during the holidays.
  • Pomegranates -real or fake (e.g. ceramic pomegranates)- are a popular New Year’s gift in Greece; they have been a symbol of good luck for many centuries. In some parts of Greece, it is common to smash a pomegranate at your doorstep to bring luck to your household.
  • Roasted turkey is not a traditional Greek Christmas meal. Each region has its own local Christmas delicacies. However, pork is a common main Christmas meal.
  • Popular holiday sweets are kourabiedes and melomakarona. The first are covered with powder sugar, resembling snowy mountains, while the second are covered with honey.
  • On Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and the Eve of the Theophany, children visit neighboring houses to sing the respective carols. The owners are therefore blessed and offer the children money or candy in return. This custom is unfortunately becoming less common in Athens and other big cities, due to safety reasons.
  • Between Christmas and the Theophany on January 6, rumor has it that little goblins, named Kallikantzaroi, roam the streets freely. In some villages, locals place food on their doorsteps to get on their good side.
  • Greeks exchange gifts on New Year’s day, rather than on Christmas. Children write letters to Saint Basil asking for the gift of their choice.
  • The Vasilopita is a pie consumed on New Year’s day. It can be translated as “King’s Pie”. A small coin is hidden in one of the pieces and the member of the household who finds it is set to have a very lucky year.
  • On the day of the Theophany, each town, city, village, or municipality, performs the “Megas Agiasmos” or “Great Blessing” of the local waters. This is followed by a custom in which a priest throws a cross into the waters and a team of swimmers try to catch it. The swimmer who manages to rescue the cross receives a great blessing.

These were some popular Greek Christmas facts and customs. You can leave a comment with traditions from your country down below!

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Greek Christmas Trolls: Kallikantzaroi | Greek Folklore

kallikantzaroi

Small, chthonic creatures that resemble trolls, elves, or goblins. If they make it into your home, they steal your food, hide your tools and personal items, ruin your furniture, and make a mess wherever they go. Some fear them, others think they’re simply a bunch of tricksters. But, according to Greek folklore, they try to destroy the tree of life by cutting down its roots. We’re talking about the “kallikantzaroi” (kallikantzaros in singular), the legendary Christmas trolls.

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What Are the Kallikantzaroi? | Greek Folklore

Kallikantzaroi are supernatural creatures that, according to Greek folklore, cause all kind of mischief. They are chthonic, which means they reside in the underworld. Kallikantzaroi are also short, smelly, hairy, and objectively unattractive. They despise humanity and some say that they are minions of the Devil. They are not allowed to walk on the surface of the Earth.

According to Greek Orthodox tradition, between the 25th of December and the 6th of January, known as the twelve days of Christmas, they are allowed to roam freely. That’s because the waters are “unbaptized” or “unclean” during this time period. On the day of the Theophany, known as Epiphany in the West, the kallikantzaroi run back to the nearest caves, tunnels, and knotholes, and reenter the underworld.  

Facts About the Kallikantzaroi:

  • Kallikantzaroi are supernatural beings similar to trolls and goblins.
  • They are Devil’s minions and are afraid of Holy Water, religious symbols, and fire.
  • Kallikantzaroi are chthonic: they reside under the surface of the Earth, where they try to cut the tree of life.
  • These creatures are able to visit our world between Christmas and Epiphany.
  • These days are called “dodekaimero” (12 days) – a term used since Byzantine times to describe the “dirty days” before the Epiphany.
  • Kallikantzaroi are part of Greek folklore; similar creatures are also part of other countries’ traditions (e.g. Bulgaria).
  • They are usually depicted as hairy, smelly, and deformed.
  • Kallikantzaroi eat insects, snakes, mice, and rotten fruits; they can also cause your food to spoil.
  • They harass people, destroy furniture, steal and misplace items.
  • If they see you walking alone at night, they might grab your arm and force you to dance with them until you pass out.
  • In some parts of Greece, they are considered evil and dangerous, rather than mischievous.
  • They have a “boss” who they call their “mother”; she is the one giving them orders on who to target.
  • Some people believe that kallikantzaroi used to be people who were never baptized or committed crimes that turned them into monsters.
  • To protect themselves, people used to leave food on their roofs and doorsteps to appease the kallikantzaroi; similar to how Western Europeans “trick or treat” during Halloween.
  • There are countless names and nicknames for them: “karkantzelia”, “verveloudes”, “kalkatzania”…

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When Was the Legend of the Kallikantzaros Narrated for the First Time?

It’s not clear when this legend came to life. According to Nikolaos Politis, father of the Greek folklore studies, Kallikantzaroi could refer to how the first Christians described the pagan carnival-goers, who often dressed up as animals and looked for trouble.

Foreign historians and archaeologists find a connection between the modern Greek legend of the kallikantzaros and the ancient Greek myth of satyrs. Satyrs were male nature spirits; they resembled animals and caused mischief.

On the other hand, kallikantzaroi reside in the underworld and roam our world during the “dodekaimero”. This reminds us of the ancient Greek belief that the souls of the dead were able to visit the surface of the Earth during this time period. Some archaeologists see a connection there. Are there any similar legends where you live? You can leave your own stories down below! If you enjoyed watching this video, you can like, share, and subscribe. In Helinika’s YouTube channel, you can find plenty of videos dedicated to Greek history, language, and culture.

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5 Facts About Hera | Ancient Greek Goddess #GreekMyths

hera goddess

You may have heard of the name Hera before and you may know that she is one of the 12 gods and goddesses of the ancient Greek pantheon. Here is a list of facts that will shed more light into who this Greek goddess actually is.

5 Facts About Hera

  1. Hera is Zeus’ Wife and Older Sister
  2. Hera is the Queen of Olympus and Goddess of Marriage & Childbirth
  3. Goddess Hera is Associated with Jealousy and Revenge
  4. Hera Put Two Giant Snakes in Hercules’ Crib
  5. Goddess Hera Spent Some Years in Her Father’s Belly

Hera is Zeus’ Wife and Older Sister

If you think Oedipus had a twisted fate, wait till you hear this love story. Titans Cronos and Rhea had many children together, including Zeus and Hera. Zeus was the youngest child but ended up growing up away from his family in a cave in Crete. Once he reached adulthood, he returned, fought his father, and married his older sister, Hera.

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Hera is the Queen of Olympus and Goddess of Marriage & Childbirth

Once Zeus overthrew his father, he became the ruler of the Gods and Goddesses and chose Mount Olympus as his kingdom. By marrying Zeus, she was named the Queen of Mount Olympus. She also took the role of the protector of marriage and childbirth. She took this role very seriously. Doing everything she could to protect her marriage from outsiders and by assisting women in childbirth. Sometimes, she used her powers to stop women from giving birth. She did this to Leto who finally gave birth to Apollo and Artemis on an island.

Goddess Hera is Associated with Jealousy and Revenge

Leto was punished by Hera for having an extramarital affair with Zeus. Goddess Hera was known for extreme feelings of jealousy and acts of revenge. Usually, she targeted the women Zeus cheated on her with, rather than her husband.

Hera Put Two Giant Snakes in Hercules’ Crib

If you know anything about the ancient Greek mythological hero, Heracles or Hercules, then you know that he survived a vicious snake attack in his crib as a baby. Hera had tried to eliminate him for being Zeus’ illegitimate child. But Heracles was a semi-god with superpowers. He fought the snakes and survived.

Goddess Hera Spent Some Years in Her Father’s Belly

The reason Zeus was raised away from his family was because Rhea, his mother, wanted to save him from his cannibal father. Cronos had overheard a prophecy that one of his children will try to overthrow him. As soon as a child of his was born, he ate it alive. That’s what happened to Hera who was later saved from her father’s belly by Zeus.

Did you know any of these? Feel free to comment, like, share, and subscribe!

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How to Improve Your Greek Listening Skills

This article/ video will help you improve your Greek language listening skills by addressing the main reasons why intermediate and advanced speakers might find difficulties listening to others and by providing solutions to these problems.

Many people find it difficult to understand others in the foreign language they have started learning. This is expected for beginners. As a Greek language beginner, you don’t have a wide range of vocabulary and it may take a while to get used to the native speaker’s accent. And your listening skills are probably more or less on the same level as your speaking, reading, and writing skills.

But what if you are progressing in your language journey and your listening skills are significantly worse than the rest of your Greek language skills? What if you can easily respond to e-mails and texts and ask for things in Greek but you find it difficult to understand other people’s remarks and questions?

We have previously seen how you can improve your Greek speaking skills. Today, we focus on Greek listening skills instead. 

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Reasons Why You Don’t Understand Others in Your Target Language

There are many reasons why you may not be able to understand auditory messages in Greek or any other language. If you suspect having problems with your hearing, please contact a physician. If this is not the case, here are a few reasons why this may be happening.

  1. You are not an Auditory Learner. Visual, verbal, and kinesthetic learners might find listening exercises difficult.
  2. You don’t exercise your listening skills enough. Maybe you skip the listening tasks in your coursebooks. Or perhaps you focus on reading Greeks-speaking books and magazines but avoid watching shows or listening to the Greek radio.
  3. You have a shy and/or anxious personality. Overthinking your next response takes the focus away from the person you’re talking with. As a result, you might often miss what they are saying to you.
  4. You’re talking to someone who uses a Greek dialect. It is impossible to know all the dialects of your target language. If you are visiting a town or village away from the capital and “it’s all Greek to you”, you may be listening to a dialect you don’t know.

How to Improve Your Greek Language Skills

  1. Take advantage of the listening exercises you are provided with. For example, you can use Helinika’s 100% free listening exercises.
  2. Start watching and listening to Greek-speaking media. The more you listen to native and proficient speakers, the easier it will get.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask people to repeat what they said. It’s better than letting speak for minutes without understanding a word.
  4. Stay focused. If you notice yourself getting lost in your own thoughts, pinch your hand and focus on what you are being told. Missing a couple of sentences in a foreign language will result in a catastrophe.
  5. Pay attention to the nonverbal cues. When in doubt, pay attention to the person’s body language. Fortunately, Greeks tend to speak with their hands (and their whole bodies).
  6. If you are a visual learner, visualize what you hear. It will help you stay focused and comprehend what they are telling you.
  7. Be present. If you are in Greece and you hear people speak Greek to each other, it may be too tiring to stay alert and listen to what everyone says. But if someone addresses you, you will probably not realize what they said.
  8. Correct your pronunciation. When discovering a new Greek word in a book, try listening to its pronunciation on Google translate or on another similar application. It will be easier recognizing this word in a conversation.

Was this helpful? You can find plenty of Greek-language resources at helinika.com and all of its social media platforms.

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The Most Beautiful Greek Churches and Monasteries | Byzantine Churches to Visit in Greece and More

A list of the most beautiful Greek churches and monasteries in Athens, the Greek countryside, and the Greek islands. Ten religious sites and Greek Orthodox shrines you should visit in Greece.

With a history that spans thousands of years, the Hellenic Republic of Greece has countless places of worship from its ancient and medieval past. In a previous video, we saw the most important ancient Greek archaeological places.

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Today, we see the most beautiful Christian Orthodox Churches and Monasteries in Greece. Some of them were built during the years of the Byzantine Empire and are of historical, architectural, and religious significance. They are worth a visit, whether you are religious or not. Here is a list of the ten most beautiful Byzantine churches, Greek Orthodox churches, and historic monasteries in Greece.

Top 10 Churches and Monasteries in Greece:

  1. Athonite Monasteries of Greece’s Hagion Oros (Holy Mountain).
  2. Monasteries of Meteora in Kalabaka.
  3. Our Lady of Tinos Church in Tinos Island.
  4. Church of St. George at the Old Fortress of Corfu.
  5. Panagia Ekatontapiliani in Paros Island.
  6. Panagia Kapnikarea in Athens.
  7. Church of Hagios Ioannis in Skopelos.
  8. Church of the Holy Apostles in Athens.
  9. Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa in Amorgos.
  10. Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens.

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#10 Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens

In Greek it is called “Καθεδρικός Ναός Ευαγγελισμού της Θεοτόκου”. The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Annunciation of Mary, or simply the “Metropolis” of Athens, is the church of the Archbishopric of all Greece. Designed by three architects and built for over 20 years, the Cathedral opened its doors in 1862 AD. Inside there are the tombs of two Saints killed by the Ottoman Turks (Saint Philothei and Patriarch Gregory V). The Metropolis of Athens is an important Athenian landmark. You can easily visit the impressive domed basilica from Syntagma or Monastiraki squares, since it is located at the heart of Athens.

#9 Panagia Hozoviotissa in Amorgos

There are many serene and beautifully built monasteries across Greece. The Monastery of Hozoviotissa in Amorgos island, however, stands out. The Hozoviotissa Monastery was built in 1017 AD, making it one of the oldest monasteries in Greece. Dedicated to the Grace of Panagia, the Virgin Mary, who is the patron Saint of Amorgos, it houses the icon of Panagia. The latter is carried around the island during the annual religious festivities. The beautiful monastery seems as though it is hanging from a cliff, just 300 meters above the sea.  

#8 Church of the Holy Apostles in Athens

Dated around the 10th Century AD and located close to the Acropolis of Athens, the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles is an underrated Athenian landmark. The building marks the beginning of the so-called “Athenian Architectural Style” for Christian Orthodox Churches. The Holy Apostles Church is a beautiful and serene site of religious significance at the heart of the Hellenic capital.

#7 Church of Hagios Ioannis in Skopelos

You may be familiar with this church from the movie “Mama Mia”. The tiny, picturesque Hagios Ioannis Church in Skopelos island is located on top of a rocky hill, which, according to speculations, was used as an observatory for potential attacks from pirates. But there is not enough information regarding its construction date. If you are planning on visiting this church, be prepared. There are 110 steps carved into the stone that leads to the Church of Hagios Ioannis.

#6 Panagia Kapnikarea in Athens

If you have ever visited Athens, then you might have passed by the Panagia Kapnikarea Church without even noticing it. That is because the church is located on Ermou Street, the capital’s main shopping street. The Greek Orthodox Church is one of the oldest in Athens. It is estimated that it was built around 1050 AD over an ancient pagan temple. It is speculated that the Church was originally the “katholikon” (main temple) of a monastery.

#5 Panagia Ekatontapiliani in Paros

If you have watched Helinika’s video dedicated to Medieval legends from Greece, then you might remember the Church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani in Paros island. The historic Byzantine church complex dates back to 326 AD. It is said that it was founded by Saint Helen, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. The beautiful religious site is connected with a miraculous phenomenon that takes place every year on the 15th of August. Several tiny, harmless snakes leave the island’s fields and travel to the Church. You can watch Helinika’s dedicated video to learn more about this phenomenon.

#4 Church of St. George at the Old Fortress of Corfu

The Church of St. George at the Old Fortress of the island of Corfu is perhaps the most unique looking Greek Orthodox Church in Greece and in the world. Built in 1840 AD, it used to be an Anglican Church for the British soldiers residing on the island. As you can see, the Christian Church resembles an ancient Greek temple, featuring a set of Doric columns.

#3 Our Lady of Tinos Church in Tinos

The Major Marian Shrine of Greece is Our Lady of Tinos Church in the port town (Chora) of Tinos island. As the name suggests, it is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Mother of Christ. In Greek, it is known as “Panagia Evangelistria”. The complex was built in 1826 around a miraculous icon which, according to tradition, its location was revealed to a local nun. It is worth mentioning that the island is a major pilgrimage center for Orthodox Christians around the world.

#2 Monasteries of Meteora in Kalabaka

Meteora are some rock formations in Central Greece, close to the town of Kalabaka. The rocks house some of the most beautiful monasteries in Greece; six of them are literally built on the natural pillars of Meteora. The area is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List and it is visited by many travelers every year. The Greek Orthodox Monasteries of Meteora are the second most important after the Monasteries of Mount Athos.

#1 Monasteries of Mount Athos

The Monasteries of Mount Athos, known as “Athonite Monasteries”. The 20 Monasteries and surrounding settlements are built on the Holy Mountain of Greece, Hagion Oros or Mount Athos, in Chalkidiki Peninsula in Northern Greece. To be more precise, the Byzantine Monasteries belong to the religious enclave of the Monastic Republic of Mount Athos. Women are not allowed to enter the enclave. However, if you can visit the Monasteries, it will be a life-changing experience. Dating back to 800 AD, Mount Athos has been listed as a World Heritage Site since 1988.

If you enjoyed the article and the video, feel free to like, share, and comment. On Helinika’s website and YouTube channel, you will find free content related to the Greek language, history, and culture.

Top 10 Tips Before Moving to Athens, Greece | Moving Tips for Greece (Renting etc.)

Athens, a modern European capital with a glorious ancient past. Situated in the region of Attica in southern Greece, the city is known for its warm and sunny climate, quirky architecture, robust nightlife, and its countless museums, archaeological sites, and theatres.

It may surprise some of you, but Athens has over five million residents; almost half of Greece’s population lives in the capital. The city also has a broad expat community. Many of Helinika’s subscribers either reside in Greece or plan on moving there for a while. And here’s where this video comes in handy. Helinika has collected a list of tips for preparing yourself before a move to the Hellenic capital. These tips include valuable information for finding long-term accommodation in Athens.

10 Tips Before Moving to Athens | How to Find a Long-Term Apartment Rental in Athens:

  1. Living Alone or with Others?
  2. Search in the Right Websites (Beforehand)
  3. Calculate the Final Price (All-Inclusive Rentals are Rare)
  4. Be Aware of the… Unfinished Rentals
  5. To Heat or Not to Heat?
  6. Choose the Neighborhood Carefully
  7. Try Communicating in Greek (Or Have Someone Help You)
  8. Wear a Smile. Friendliness > Formal Criteria
  9. Don’t Be Afraid to Set Your Boundaries
  10. Ask for a Contract

Living Alone or With Others?

Many young people who move to Greece on a budget try to search for rooms to rent in shared flats with no success. Although living with roommates and flatmates is a very common thing in northern Europe, most Greeks would rather live in a 20m² room or spend their entire lives in their parent’s house, rather than live with strangers.

Greek people view their homes as sacred places and prefer living with people who are already very close to them, such as family members, partners, and close friends. They might be more than willing to host you for some time, following the rules of hospitality, but don’t expect them to be willing to rent you their spare room. Since Greeks are used to taking care of their guests, there are not enough cultural rules to dictate what their approach should be when the stranger becomes a… flatmate. Should they make you breakfast? Do you share groceries? Do you eat dinner together? The questions are just too many.

If a shared living situation is what you are looking for, you can join social media groups for expats in Athens, where it is more likely to find an available room in someone else’s house. Although some locals are open to living with strangers, it will be a bit more difficult finding such opportunities than in other European cities like Berlin.

Search the Right Websites in Advance

Once you are ready to look for an apartment, make sure to search wisely. It is not recommended signing a rental contract before seeing the apartment in person. The photos might be far from reality. However, it is suggested to already book some viewings before arriving to Greece. You will save a lot of time and money, since you will not have to spend a fortune in hotels and short-term accommodation.

Popular websites for finding long-term rentals in Greece are spitogatos.gr and xe.gr. There are many private listings with no commission in these websites. The good thing with this option is that you will rarely have to pay a large sum of money in advance as a security deposit. Greeks really depend on “philotimo” when it comes to any type of agreement. If the flat owner trusts you with their property, they will expect you to take care of it and might not request money for the rare case you might ruin something. But be aware of breaking any unspoken “philotimo” rules, since you might end up having to move out for breaking your verbal agreement.

The other option would be to contact a real estate agency to help you with your search. That won’t necessarily add any costs to the tenant, since the commission is normally paid by the flat owner. However, you might be requested to pay a security deposit in case you decide to break the lease early or cause any damage to the property.

Calculate the Final Price

In many parts of the world, the renter is presented with a final price that includes all living costs: from the rent price and the maintenance fees, to the electricity and heating bills. The renter pays a fixed price every month to the owner and may or may not have to pay extra or receive money back at the end of the year, depending on their energy consumption. In some cases, even the internet bills are included in the final price and the renter does not have to register to receive these amenities.

Although there are listings that include all living costs in Athens, potential renters should expect seeing just the rent price when checking an apartment online. For example, an apartment might be advertised as costing just 200€ per month, however, the final price might be twice the price when all fees and bills are calculated. It is important to contact the owner and clarify these details before moving into a new rental.

Keep in mind that Athenians have to pay the “EYDAP” bill every couple of months. This bill covers the costs of domestic water supply and consumption – an additional cost that many other European citizens do not have to pay.

Also, it is often expected that the renter registers himself or herself to the electricity, water, and heating providers on their own. That means that the apartment owner only receives the rent price from the tenant and the latter pays each bill separately. Despite being a tedious monthly activity, many tenants prefer this option. They keep track of their expenses and make sure that they are not overcharged by the apartment owner.

Be Aware of the Unfinished Rentals

If you grew up in the United States, then you might be surprised when looking for apartments in Europe. That is because it is quite common to find unfurnished apartments with no kitchen or even bathroom installed in them. The tenant is expected to move their furniture and electric appliances, including their fridge and oven, whenever they move. You might be surprised to hear that many tenants actually prefer it that way. They save a lot of money per month for renting an empty flat, while they enjoy a fully personalized space they can call home.

Of course, changing residence is not something that Athenians do that often. Greeks get very attached to their homes, whether they own the place or not. Although many Americans sign one-year leases and change their flats regularly, Athenians will only do so when necessary. If, for example, an additional member enters the family, or they need to move to another part of the city for work.

It goes without saying that there are plenty of fully equipped or even fully furnished apartments available on the market. If you are moving to Athens as an exchange student just for a couple of months, you should opt for a fully equipped or even fully furnished rental. The rent price might be a bit higher, but you won’t have to buy and resell every single item in your apartment.

To Heat or Not to Heat?

Situated in the sunny and warm Attica region, the city of Athens has mild winters with little rain and rare snowfall. Temperature varies from 8 to 12 degrees Celsius in the winter and, in certain cases, it can go up to 20 degrees. That means that it can be quite cold during the winter months but, for some, heating is optional.

This is something you should keep in mind before signing a lease, since many buildings in Athens have central heating. In this case, tenants meet at the end of the summer and vote on whether they are willing to pay for heating the upcoming winter. In low-income neighborhoods, tenants often choose not to heat, which may cause disagreements between neighbors.

Lastly, there are many apartments that have no heaters installed at all. Each tenant is free to purchase electric heaters and use them at their own cost. If you prefer relaxing at home in t-shirts and shorts all year long, you should take this into consideration. Clarifying the heating options before signing a lease is crucial.

Keep in mind that the Greek culture is slightly more collectivistic than most western cultures; when moving to an apartment building you might have to attend meetings and discussions with the other tenants and vote on important decisions. Athens is the birthplace of Democracy after all.

Choose the Neighborhood Carefully

This rule applies to any expat who is planning on moving to a foreign big city. Athens is more than the historical center you may have visited during your summer vacation. There are working class neighborhoods, usually in the western part of the city, and upscale, expensive areas in the northern and south-eastern suburbs. The city center is also divided in hip, forgotten, and upscale neighborhoods.

Are you going to drive or use public transportation? Is having a garden important to you? Do you prefer living by the sea, in an urban landscape, or by the mountains? Would you rather stay in a busy and noisy street next to the best bars and cafes or in a quiet residential area? These are a few of the things you should consider before choosing your Athenian neighborhood. If you are not sure where to start from, watch Helinika’s video dedicated on the coolest neighborhoods of Athens.

Try Communicating in Greek

If you have ever visited Greece, then you might have noticed that the great majority of business owners are fluent in English. This is true for most of the locals, especially the younger population. But what about the average middle-aged Athenian who doesn’t work in tourism and never had to communicate in English? Well, in this case, you might find some obstacles.

If you don’t speak a word of Greek, you may have to contact a real estate agency to find an apartment for you. They are used to having foreign customers and they will handle all communications with the owner. If this is not an option for you, consider asking for help from a friend who speaks Greek.

Keep in mind that speaking the local language is important for integrating yourself in any country. Consider signing up in a class and/or joining Helinika’s Udemy course for learning Greek.

Wear a Smile When Viewing Apartments

As mentioned earlier, Greeks focus a lot on human relationships and do trust verbal agreements. Before going to an apartment viewing, remember that, although formal requirements, such as income, do play a role, it is your character that will determine whether you are a good fit for the apartment building. The owner will want you to look friendly and trustworthy. So don’t forget to put on your best smile.

Remember that it is very common for tenants to hold meetings and make arrangements with each other regarding the building’s maintenance. Asking about the neighbors and making small talk when you see them is a good sign.

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Set Your Boundaries with the Owners and the Neighbors

Neighbors in Greece are indeed expected to interact with each other. But, sometimes, they might get into each other’s business. You might notice that the old woman on the ground floor knows when you leave or come back from work. You might get some comments about your music taste from your next-door neighbor and some uncomfortable questions from the owners.

It is important to set clear boundaries between you and your neighbors. It all comes down to honesty. Do you dislike having unexpected visits? Are you playing a musical instrument and need to practice during the day? Are you uncomfortable when neighbors question your guests?

You need to set your expectations straight and communicate them with the other tenants in a diplomatic way. Remember that Greeks often prefer indirect ways of communication. Being very direct, such as telling your neighbor to mind their business, will be perceived as rude and inconsiderate.

Ask for a Lease Contract Before Moving In

Some renters in Athens take the risk and move into an apartment without a lease contract. This is risky for both the owner and the tenant and it is usually a verbal agreement between people who already know each other. As an expat, you do not want to take such a risk. Always ask for a lease contract before moving into a new space, whether you know the owner or not.

General Moving Tips for Greece:

  1. Choose the Location Carefully
  2. Start Learning Greek
  3. Learn about the Culture (in a Non-Academic Way)
  4. Find Your Expat Community
  5. Join a Class/ Start a Hobby in Greek
  6. Burst Your Expat Bubble

Read more on how to integrate yourself in Greece.

How to Pronounce the Greek Letter “Λλ” (L) | Λάμδα | Lambda

Lambda (λάμδα) might not be the most difficult Greek letter to pronounce, however, you may have noticed that native speakers often pronounce Lambda similarly to the Slavic digraph “LJ”. This usually occurs when Lambda is followed by the vowel Yota (Ιι) or the digraph Epsilon Yota (ΕΙ, ει) plus another vowel (e.g. λιώνω, τελειώνω). However, when Yota or Epsilon Yota have the accent mark on them, this pronunciation rule does not apply! (e.g. ηλίαση).

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It is important to clarify that pronouncing Lambda and Yota in a clear way when followed by two vowels is not a mistake. But it distinguishes native from non-native speakers. Keep in mind that pronunciation varies depending on which part of the Greek speaking world you visit. For example, in northern Greece, Lambda is more pronounced and “heavy” than in southern Greece.

The best way to pronounce the Greek letter Lambda like a native speaker is by listening to modern Greek dialogues. In this video, you will hear sentences in which Lambda is sometimes pronounced similarly to the Slavic digraph “LJ”. Feel free to repeat these sentences after me.

Greek Lambda Pronunciation Examples

«Ο Ηλίας λιάζεται στο λιοπύρι. Ο ήλιος προκάλεσε ηλιακά εγκαύματα στον Ηλία.»

“Helias sunbathes in the blazing sun. The sun caused sun burns to Helias.”

«Η Λιάνα τέλειωσε με την δουλειά της και φεύγει σε λίγο. Εσύ πότε τελειώνεις;»

“Liana finished with work, and she is soon leaving. When are you leaving?”

«Στο λέω λιανά. Εσύ λιώνεις για μένα, όμως η σχέση μας τελείωσε.»

“I am telling you clearly. You melt for me (to melt for smb in Greek: to desire), but our relationship has ended.”

Notice how the pronunciation changes when Yota has the accent mark?

If you found this video helpful, like and comment. You can share this video with a fellow Greek-speaking student.

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Top 10 Museums in Athens, Greece – Best Museums in Athens (Athenian Museums)

Athens, the capital of the Hellenic Republic of Greece, has countless museums and archaeological sites for locals and visitors. Here is a list of the best museums you can visit during your stay at the Greek capital.

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Top 10 Museums in Athens, Greece

  1. National Archaeological Museum
  2. Benaki Museum (Kolonaki)
  3. Acropolis Museum
  4. Byzantine and Christian Museum
  5. Museum of Cycladic Art
  6. Athens War Museum
  7. Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum
  8. National Museum of Contemporary Art
  9. Hellenic Children’s Museum
  10. Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos

Kerameikos Museum of Athens

The Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos is located at the Kerameikos Archaeological Park, in the heart of Athens.Kerameikos was ancient Athens’ “necropolis”; its graveyard. Built in 1937, it gives us a clear picture of how ancient Athenians viewed death and the afterlife. You will also find some unexpected artifacts, such as various curses people sent to the chthonic gods via the dead. The Museum is within walking distance from “Kerameikos” and “Thisseio” metro stations.

Hellenic Children’s Museum

If you are travelling to Athens with children, you can pay a visit at the Hellenic Children’s Museum in Kolonaki area, close to Evaggelismos metro station. Founded in 1994 in Plaka, before relocating to Kolonaki, the Museum aims at motivating children to learn by exploring its various exhibitions and by interacting with them. Children learn to love visiting Museums by being introduced to a space that is tailored-made for their needs.

National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST)

Located in close proximity to Syggrou Metro Station, not too far from the city center, EMST holds various contemporary art exhibitions and events. Its permanent collection includes 172 artworks created by 78 Greek and foreign artists. The Museum is permanently located at the legendary Fix brewery that gave its name to the neighborhood.

Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum (ILJM)

The first museum devoted to the craft of jewelry in Greece is located at the historical heart of Athens, few minutes away from the Acropolis metro station. The Museum has a permanent jewelry collection and it also holds temporary exhibitions. It hosts many activities, such as live studio workshops.

Athens War Museum

Wishing to honor all those who fought for Greece and its freedom, the Hellenic state founded the War Museum in Athens, Greece. If interesting and unique weapon artifacts and history are two things that interest you, you can visit this military museum in Kolonaki neighborhood, few steps away from Evaggelismos metro station.

Museum of Cycladic Art

In 1986, the Museum of Cycladic Art was founded to house the collection of Cycladic and other ancient Greek art belonging to Goulandris family. This wonderful museum is located in Kolonaki neighborhood as well, between Syntagma and Evaggelismos metro stations.

Byzantine and Christian Museum

Although many people are interested in Greece’s ancient past, many more overlook its medieval past. The Byzantine and Christian Museum houses more than 25.000 rare pictures, scriptures, frescos and other unique exhibits that are related to Greek Orthodox Christianity and the Byzantine Art. The Byntanine and Christian Museum is situated in close proximity to many other previously mentioned museums, few steps away from Evaggelismos metro station.

The Acropolis Museum of Athens

Established in 2009, the Acropolis Museum is dedicated to the archaeological findings of the Acropolis Hill: Greece’s sacred rock, where the Parthenon and other ancient temples are located. The Museum has a modern design which compliments, rather than contrasts, the classical architectural miracles made of marble. Built under the shadow of the Acropolis hill, the Museum can be reached on foot from the Acropolis metro station.

Benaki Museum (Kolonaki, Athens)

If you are interested in seeing the evolution of the Greek culture over the span of thousands of years, you should visit Benaki Museum. Its unique exhibition showcases the Greek culture from prehistory to the 20th century.The Museum of Greek Culture is located in Kolonaki, in close proximity to Evaggelismos metro station.

National Archaeological Museum of Athens

The Greek National Archaeological Museum houses some of the most important archaeological artifacts of Greece from prehistoric times till late antiquity. It is perhaps the biggest Museum of Athens and might require a bit more time than the Acropolis Museum. On the other hand, it has the richest collection of ancient Greek artifacts and it is considered one of the greatest Museums in the world. The National Archaeological Museum of Athens is located close to Victoria and Omonoia metro stations.