Greece is famous for its nightlife. Among its 1400 islands is Mykonos, which is renowned for its twenty-four hour party opportunities and vibrant bar culture. Its clear turquoise waters, excellent temperatures and secluded beaches provide the perfect place to relax after a night on the town. Within short distances from the hotels and bars, visitors can be catapulted back to the spectacular setting of some of the world's oldest tales. Today people still visit Greece to experience its ancient legacy.
Away from the busy tourist areas that populate many of the Greek islands, there is a mainland steeped in history, philosophy and culture. A holiday to Athens will give you the opportunity to see many ancient sites which still exist in some capacity today and experience the rich past of this world famous civilisation.
Did you know?
The city of Rhodes was famous for housing one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the Colossus of Rhodes (from which the word "colossal" comes from). This statue of the god Helios, standing at more than one hundred feet, was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 B.C.
Many of the festivals and traditions celebrated in Greece are religious. Anyone who is named after a saint has a "name day". On the day the saint is celebrated, it is traditional for the person to be visited by their family and friends and given presents. Easter is an even more important festival than Christmas. In cities, town and villages on Good Friday, the Epitaphio, the flower-covered tomb of Christ, is taken out of the church. A slow precession then carries it to the cemetery. On the return to the church, everyone will kiss the image of Christ.
Food and Drink
Greece is famous for mezze. Traditional versions contain cheese, olives, vine leaves stuffed with rice, currants and pine nuts (Dolmades) and freshly baked bread. They might also feature squid and octopus, sardines and mackerel. Greece also produces succulent lamb, classically used in Moussaka. Olives have been a part of Greek society for thousands of years and olive oil is widely used in its food. When thinking of Greece, Ouzo immediately springs to mind. This signature spirit is made from pressed grape skins, berries and herbs and commonly drank neat as an aperitif. Greek iced coffee and sour cherry cordial are widely consumed non-alcoholic alternatives.
Dates of the first settlement are from the Palaeolithic era (11,000-3,000 BC). Greece gave birth to the great civilisations of Minoans, Mycenaeans and Cycladic. The most famous period of Greece's history is 'The Classical Period' (6th-4th centuries BC). It reached its apex in the 5th century, when western civilisation and the idea of democracy, were born in Athens. The 3rd century AD, saw the Roman Empire calved in half. The Eastern Empire, led by its capital Constantinople developed in the Byzantine Empire, which lasted for about 1,000 years. In 1453, the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople. Slowly the rest of Greece succumbed. Centuries of suffering followed, that finally came to an end in 1821. The Greek War of Independence lasted eight years, but ended with Greece's first independent Greek state being formed. In 1863, the Ionian Islands were given to Greece by Britain. Thessaly was then attached to the Greek state by Turkey. In the early 20th century, Macedonia, Crete and the Eastern Aegean islands were also added to the Greek state. Most Greek territory was conquered by the Germans in The Second World War; with the remainder was captured by Italy. Since 1975 Greece has been a Parliamentary Republic and it became a member of the European Union in 1981.
Facts and Figures
|Time zone||Eastern European Time|
|Accession to the EU||1981|
|Area||131,957 sq km (50,949 sq miles)|
Many Greeks observe a siesta between the hours of about 1pm to about 5pm. You are advised not to call on them at their homes during those hours unless invited to do so.
A single person sitting at a taverna, can wait quite a long time for the waiter to show up. In Greece it's very unlikely that anybody eats alone. He/she must be waiting for someone. For the waiter it will be very impolite and bumptious, to ask for the order before all the guests have arrived. This has changed in the major tourist places, and especially for tourists, but you can run into this phenomenon in villages of Crete and Greece.
When the Greeks go out for dinner, they always pay cash. NO cheques and credit cards! And they have always got money enough to pay the bill for their company too. Not being able to pay would be very humiliating.
At most beaches you will have to pay for a sun bed and an umbrella.
If you want to see a Greek church or monastery inside, you must be properly dressed. It's considered rude to enter a church if your shoulders and knees aren't covered. This rule goes for both men and women.
If you are invited to a Greek home, remember to bring something for the hosts. Flowers or chocolate is the most common gift.