What is the public school system in Greece? How is it to go to a Greek primary school or high school? Today, Helinika’s video is dedicated to the Greek educational system and the host’s experience going to school in an industrial suburb in Athens, Greece.
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:
Athonite Monasteries of Greece’s Hagion Oros (Holy Mountain).
Monasteries of Meteora in Kalabaka.
Our Lady of Tinos Church in Tinos Island.
Church of St. George at the Old Fortress of Corfu.
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.
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:
Living Alone or with Others?
Search in the Right Websites (Beforehand)
Calculate the Final Price (All-Inclusive Rentals are Rare)
Be Aware of the… Unfinished Rentals
To Heat or Not to Heat?
Choose the Neighborhood Carefully
Try Communicating in Greek (Or Have Someone Help You)
Wear a Smile. Friendliness > Formal Criteria
Don’t Be Afraid to Set Your Boundaries
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today, Helinika presents a list of films that will inspire you to visit or even move to Greece. Some of these films are not necessarily Greek speaking nor are they produced by a Greek film company. But they do capture the beauty of the Mediterranean country. They are presented to you in a random sequence.
9 Movies Filmed in Greece
Mama Mia 1
Boy on a Dolphin
For Your Eyes Only (James Bond)
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
Zorba the Greek
Never on Sunday
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants
Mama Mia 1, 2008
The first Mama Mia (2008) movie is perhaps one of the most recent movies that put Greece into everyone’s bucket list. The American movie follows the young bride-to-be Sophie Sheridan, played by Amanda Seyfried, to the fictional island of Kalokairi, where her wedding is going(?) to take place. The real location is no other than the underrated island of Skopelos in the Sporades island group. The film also includes scenes filmed in neighboring islands and in South Pelion.
The film is a musical and it has moderate online reviews. If you love musicals, Greece… and you are looking for a light-hearted movie to watch, you will definitely enjoy Mama Mia. Although a prequel to the movie has recently been released, all the scenes that are supposedly set in Greece were actually filmed in Croatia.
Boy on a Dolphin, 1957
Boy on a Dolphin (1957) is a vintage American adventure romance film set in Greece. Although a Hollywood film, it has an international cast. The legendary Italian actress Sophia Loren plays Phaedra, a sponge diver on the island of Hydra who accidentally discovers an ancient Greek stature of a boy riding a dolphin. What follows is a battle between virtue and money. Is the statue going to be taken away from its home, Hydra?
The movie was the first Hollywood production filmed in Greece. A very important Greek actor, Alexis Minotis, is also playing in the film, along with other European actors and actresses. Anyone who loves European cinema should watch this movie at least once.
For Your Eyes Only (James Bond), 1981
Did you know that the 12th film in the James Bond franchise is set in Greece? “For Your Eyes Only” (1981) is a British spy film with Roger Moore playing the iconic secret agent with the code number 007.
The movie includes scenes filmed in the Ionian island of Corfu, in Meteora and the Achilleion. Other scenes were filmed outside of Greece, such as the Bahamas and Italy. If you are a spy film enthusiast, “For Your Eyes Only” should be on your list.
Suntan (2016) is a Greek drama film by Argyris Papadimitropoulos that captures the Mediterranean sunlight and scenery in a fascinating way. Described as a “cautionary tale” by critics, it premiered at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam. It follows a middle-aged doctor at a small island, whose life spirals out of control as soon as summer arrives.
The film won Best Film, Best Director and other awards at the Hellenic Film Academy Awards. If you are planning on watching it, you should know that some of the scenes are not suitable for young audiences.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, 2001
A classic film that most Greeks have watched at least once, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001) is a British war film based on a book with the same title. The movie is set in the Ionian island of Cephalonia during World War II.
Nicolas Cage plays an Italian officer with a passion for music. Penelope Cruz plays a highly educated and strong-willed woman named Pelagia. The two fall in love during some of the most brutal years of the 20th century. If you enjoy watching historical films and Mediterranean sceneries, you should watch this movie as soon as possible.
Zorba the Greek, 1964
If you know anything about Greece, then you must be familiar with the name “Zorba” or at least the popular syrtaki dance with that name. Zorba the Greek (1964) is a Greek comedy-drama starring Anthony Quinn. The film is based on a book with the same name by Nikos Kazantzakis.
It revolves around the unorthodox friendship between an uptight British-Greek writer named Basil and a chaotic, Dionysian Greek man named Zorba. The legendary film is set in the island of Crete, featuring locations such as Chania and Kokkino Chorio. It is a film that everyone should watch at least once in their lives. It is worth mentioning that the music is by Greece’s best-known composer, Mikis Theodorakis who unfortunately passed earlier this month.
Never on Sunday, 1960
It is not the first time Helinika features Never on Sunday (1960). The vintage Greek romantic comedy is set in the port of Piraeus in Athens, Greece. It is a must watch for anyone who loves Greek cinema. One of the protagonists is the great Greek actress Melina Merkouri, who plays the role of wild, untamed and honest Ilya.
Although the film attempts to show the degradation of Greek classical culture, it does so by showing a romanticized version of the notorious neighborhoods of Piraeus. You should watch it for a) Melina Merkouri, b) Hatzidaki’s music and c) the beautiful scenes set in Piraeus in the 1960s.
One of the protagonists, Lena Kaligaris, is a Greek American girl who spends her summer with relatives in Greece. Just like the rest of her friends, she goes through a transformation while away from her family and friends. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants has made many young girls dream of travelling to Santorini one day.
Mediterraneo (1991) is an awarded Italian war comedy-drama filmed in Kastellorizo in the Dodecanese. It follows a group of Italian soldiers who become stranded on the island and miss the brutality of the war.
The movie not only captured the beautiful Mediterranean scenery of Kastellorizo, but it won the hearts of the critics. It was awarded the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1992. It was also the debut film for the Greek actress Vana Barba who played the role of Vasilissa. It is a film everyone should watch in their lives. Keep in mind that some of the scenes are not suitable for young audiences.
Greek is one of the most beautiful languages in the world. There are, however, a few words that make the Greek language exceptionally beautiful. Here is a list of seven aesthetic Greek words you should start using today. Before we get started, make sure to watch part one and subscribe for part three!
Ελευθερομανία (Eleutheromania): frantic zeal for freedom
Ευδαιμονία (Eudaimonia): protected by a good demon; lucky
Φιλοξενία (Philoxenia): friend of the stranger; hospitality
Θαλασσοφιλία (Thalassophilia): love for the sea
Πνευματικός (Pneumaticos): a man of spirit and intellect
Μετάνοια (Metanoia): a change of mind; regret
Αλεξιθυμία (Alexithymia): emotional detachment
If you enjoyed watching this video, feel free to like and leave a comment down below. In the description you will find all the links you are looking for, including your Udemy discount for learning Greek!
Who can deny that the Greek language is one of the most beautiful and poetic languages in the world? But some words stand out more than others. Here is a list of beautiful Greek words with a deep meaning. Before we get started, make sure to subscribe for part 2!
A second part is coming next week. Make sure to subscribe and follow Helinika on social media to stay updated. All the links you are looking for are in the description. If you enjoyed watching this video, make sure to give it a thumbs up and feel free to leave a comment.
You visited Greece and had a blast. Before your flight, you want to purchase a few items made in Greece to remember your time there. You may also want to buy some souvenirs for your friends and family back home. Forget donkey key chains and Parthenon magnets. Helinika has gathered a list of quality products that are made in Greece. Here is a list with original souvenir ideas from Greece!
Note: This article/video shares the author’s honest opinions, and it is not sponsored. None of the provided links are affiliate links.
Top Greek Souvenirs and Quality Greek Products
Greek leather sandals
Olive oil and olive-based products
Tavli (Backgammon Board Game)
Greek/Turkish Coffee and Greek Mountain Tea
Greek Honey is an Excellent Gift from Greece
Ancient Greeks believed that the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus would eat honey and drink honey infused wine. They would eat it for its medicinal benefits and they would offer it to the dead along with wine, milk, and oil. The Attica region has been a bee-keeper’s heaven since antiquity. Greek honey -especially Greek thyme honey- is known for its thick consistency, rich taste, and countless health benefits. Greece’s “liquid gold”, as it is often called, makes an excellent souvenir choice or a gift choice for your friends and family. Keep in mind that modern Greeks have made innovative changes in their honey production methods. For example, the brand “Vasilissa” offers a blend of honey and pure gold flakes! Other brands have been inspired by this product and offer various honey blends.
Don’t Leave Greece without Greek Coffee and Greek Mountain Tea
Greek traditional coffee is very similar -if not the same- as Turkish coffee. Although most young Greeks tend to choose Italian coffee nowadays, this unfiltered type of coffee continues being a big part of the local culture. Strong and bitter, Greek coffee has been served in every “kafeneio” when the village’s elders started a political conversation. And a visit to the grandparents’ house has been associated with the strong smell of Greek coffee being boiled in a briki over a small camping stove on the kitchen counter. Older women would often gather at home and gossip over a cup of Greek coffee, often turning their cup upside down and reading the symbols created by the coffee grounds. This method of fortune telling is known as “tasseography”.
Remember Greece Forever by Bringing a Greek Tavli Home
Did you know that the oldest known board game is still played religiously in Greece? Tavli or Backgammon was invented 5.000 years ago in Mesopotamia and it is still a popular board game in Greece. Apparently, modern Greeks play the same games that Byzantine Greeks loved: Portes, Plakoto, and Asodio. If you are not sure how to play any of these tavli games, I can assure you that any elderly man in a coffee shop will be more than happy to teach you. You can then bring a tavli back home or gift it to a friend who loves board games.
Natural sea sponges are the preferred bathing and cleaning sponges for many people around the world. However, they are hard to find and even harder to get. They require a team of brave and skilled free divers who are willing to risk their lives to retrieve these sponges. Greece has a long history of sponge diving, with Kalymnos island having a special sponge diving tradition. In fact, the “Antikythera Mechanism”, the world’s first computer, wouldn’t have been discovered if a group of Kalymnian sponge divers hadn’t explored the depths of the Sea of Antikythera. Today, you can find sea sponges in many natural product stores all around Greece.
Greek Gold Jewelry as a Gift from Greece
It is no secret that well-known luxury brands have been inspired by jewelry pieces displayed in Greek archaeological Museums. Gold jewelry, such as earrings, necklaces, and rings, have been popular in Greece in ancient, medieval, and modern times. Greek designs are usually geometric and minimalistic. Depending on your budget, consider buying a unique set of earrings or an elegant necklace from one of Greece’s countless jewelry shops. Hermina Athens, 3rd Floor, and Lito, are a few Greek jewelry brands that come to mind.
Greek Ceramics and Pottery as Souvenirs
If you have ever visited an archaeological Museum in Greece, then you know that Greeks have a very long ceramics and pottery tradition. In certain islands, such as in the Cyclades, you will find shops selling only handmade ceramic mugs, plates, vases, and items. They are usually painted by hand, and they are one of a kind. An example is the traditional pottery workshop in the island of Kythnos. Please don’t mix them up with the industrially produced “ancient Greek” imitation pottery that you may find in some souvenir shops. If you choose to buy ceramics as a Greek souvenir, make sure to pack them carefully with a generous amount of bubble wrap.
Never Leave Greece without Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Apart from honey, Greece’s “liquid gold” is also olive oil. Sold today around the world, Greek olive oil was reportedly the product that brought immense profit to the city of Athens, contributing to the citizens’ achievements in the classical period. Imagine a world without the concept of Democracy or Theatre because olive oil did not exist. And let’s not forget the fact that goddess Athena was chosen as the protector of Athens for planting the first olive tree. Greek olive oil makes the perfect souvenir from Greece.
Hand-made Leather Sandals as Souvenirs from Greece
Another must-item to get from Greece is a pair of hand-made leather sandals. Flat, chic, and minimal. They are the most original product you can get from Greece. You will find many stores dedicated to this art at the streets of Athens and other locations. Sandalaki and Ancient Greek Sandals are two well-known brands that ship their products abroad.
“Live your myth in Greece” – the phrase used to be Greece’s motto in some older international tourism campaigns. And that was for a good reason. Imagine stepping at the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis or cliff jumping at the home of the Cabeirian Mysteries. A trip to Greece is not just a seaside vacation but also a time-travelling experience.
If you have subscribed to Helinika’s YouTube channel, there is a great chance you love ancient Greek mythology and history, while also enjoying travelling. Here are seven Greek destinations and sites for people who would love to visit the most mythical places in Greece. Before we get started, make sure to like this video if you love travelling and mythology!
One of the most important Panhellenic religious sanctuaries was situated in a small town in Ilia (Elis), in the Peloponnese. The town was named after the Olympian gods and goddesses, and it is still known as “Olympia”. Not only that but this is where the ancient Olympic Games were held every four years. A modern town with the same name is situated near “Archaea Olympia”, which is the ancient town and archaeological site. In ancient Olympia you will find ancient temples and training grounds that are maintained in a very good condition. Great examples are the “Palaestra”, the training grounds of wrestlers, and the ruins of the Temple of Hera. A trip to Olympia can be compared to a… time-travelling experience.
Samothrace Island, Northern Aegean Sea
Samothrace has been mentioned in many of Helinika’s articles and videos. That is because it is not just one of Greece’s hidden beauties, but also one of the country’s most mysterious sites. The Greek island is located in the northern Aegean Sea and it attracts people who love nature and mythology. Samothrace (also seen as Samothraki) was a major religious site in ancient Greece. It was the place where the ancient Cabeirian Mysteries were held, while it is still the home of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods; a temple complex to a group of enigmatic Greek gods. By visiting Samothrace you can spend your summer vacation by the sea, in close proximity to one of the world’s most mysterious places.
Delos Island, Cyclades
Delos is another mysterious Greek island. Situated at the heart of the Cyclades, Delos is one of the most important mythological, historical, and archaeological sites in Greece. It was also reportedly the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage site which can only be visited during the day. Overnight stays are not allowed but you can book a day trip from the nearby island of Mykonos.
Eleusina, West Attica
Eleusina (also seen as Eleusis) is a small town in West Attica, in close proximity to the city of Athens. The town is mostly known for its archaeological site – one of the most visited and well-maintained sites in Greece. The town is associated with goddess Demetra and her daughter, Persephone, and it was the place where the enigmatic Eleusinian Mysteries were held. Eleusina is a place every mythology lover should visit at least once in their lifetime.
Most Greek myths and epic poems involve a prophecy and an orator. One of the most trusted ancient Greek oracles was the oracle of Delphi in Phocis, central Greece. You may have heard the name Pytho, who had the role of Pythia. Pythia was the high priestess of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, who would give oracles for the future with the rustling of the leaves. Today, the area is an archaeological site and a UNESCO World Heritage site. A new town with the same name is in close proximity to the archaeological site. Visiting Delphi is truly a magical experience.
Athens is the capital of the Hellenic Republic of Greece and a popular destination for people who love history and mythology. Democracy was born in Athens. In Classical Antiquity, it was the most important cultural, artistic, and philosophical center in the West. The city is named after goddess Athena who, according to an old myth, offered the Athenians the olive tree. The production and export of olive oil reportedly contributed to the city’s financial success. The Greek capital has plenty of archaeological sites and museums, such as the Acropolis and the ancient Agora. Visiting Athens should definitely be on your list.
Mt. Olympus, Pieria
Ancient Greeks believed that Mount Olympus was the home of the twelve gods and goddesses who influenced every aspect of their lives. Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, and the rest of the Olympians. Olympus is a real mountain located in Pieria in Northern Greece. It is the highest mountain in Greece and a World Biosphere Reserve. Gods and goddesses were thought to reside at 2.917 meters at its highest peak, Mytikas. Many hikers and climbers ascend to Mytikas to see Greece from Zeus’ perspective. If you are not an avid hiker, there are many traditional villages all around Olympus that you can drive to. There are also countless ancient and medieval sites, such as the archaeological park of Dion and the ancient city of Pydna. It goes without saying that Mount Olympus is the number one destination for people who love history, mythology, and nature.
Now, I am curious to hear if you have ever visited any of these places. If you liked this video, you can hit the like button and subscribe to stay connected.