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.
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.