Syntagma Square

Syntagma Square Greek: Πλατεία Συντάγματος, English: Constitution Square), is located in central Athens, Greece. The Square is named after the Constitution that King Otto was forced to grant the people after a popular and military uprising, on September 3, 1843. It's a tourist hotspot to photograph the 'Evzones' performing the 'Changing of the Guard'

The square proper is bordered by Vassileos Georgiou A' Street to the north, Othonos Street to the south, Filellinon Street to the west and Amalias Avenue to the east. The eastern side of the square is higher than the western, and dominated by a set of marble steps leading to Amalias Avenue; beneath these lies the Syntagma metro station. The stairs emerge below between a pair of outdoor cafes, and are a popular city-centre gathering place. Syntagma also includes two green areas to the north and south, planted with shade trees, while in the center of the square a large water fountain traditionally hosts the occasionally sighted Syntagma pigeons, along with heat-tormented Athenians during the summer.

The Greek Parliament is immediately across Amalias Avenue to the east, and surrounded by the extensive National Gardens, which are open to the public. Every hour, the changing of the guard ceremony, performed by the Presidential Guard, is conducted in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the area between the square and parliament. On Sundays and official holidays, the ceremonial changing of the guard takes place with an army band and the majority of the 120 Evzones present at 11am.

Syntagma Square is also a hub for many forms of public transportation in Athens; Metro lines 2 and 3 of the Athens Metro have a stop at the Syntagma station which is under the square, the Athens Tram stops here, and buses or trolley-buses are available to many points in the city. Travel between Syntagma Square and the Eleftherios Venizelos Airport is available via special airport bus and metro lines. Free wireless Internet access at high speeds (4 Mbit/s) is offered by the Municipality of Athens at the Square. The square is also a hub for busses to the north suburbs and for the Athens Olympic Complex in Maroussi.

The Square is also located near many of Athens' oldest and most famous neighbourhoods and tourist attractions. The neighborhoods of Plaka (Πλάκα), Monastiraki (Μοναστηράκι), Psiri (Ψυρρή) and Kolonaki (Κολωνάκι) are all within walking distance, and most of the famous sites of ancient Athens are nearby, including the Acropolis (Ακρόπολις), the Theater of Dionysus, the Areopagus, the Ancient Agora of Athens (Αρχαία Αγορά των Αθηνών) with Hadrian's Library, the Tower of the Winds in the Roman Agora, the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, the Arch of Hadrian (Αψίς του Ανδριανού), the Temple of Olympian Zeus (Ναός του Ολυμπίου Διός), the Pnyx (Πνύκα), the Philopappos Monument (Μνημείο του Φιλοπάππου) on the Hill of the Nymphs, the Kerameikos Cemetery (Νεκροταφείο Κεραμικού), the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Μνημείο του Αγνώστου Στρατιώτη) and Lycabettus Hill. Historic churches also dot the area, some dating from the Middle Ages.

The Evzones

The Evzones, or Evzoni, (Greek: Εύζωνες, Εύζωνοι) is the name of several historical elite light infantry and mountain units of the Greek Army. Today, it refers to the members of the Proedriki Froura (Presidential Guard), an elite ceremonial unit that guards the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Άγνωστος Στρατιώτης), the Hellenic Parliament and the Presidential Mansion. The Evzones are also known, colloquially, as Tsoliades (Greek: Τσολιάδες; singular: Τσολιάς - Tsolias).

Though the Presidential Guard is a predominantly ceremonial unit, all Evzones are volunteers drawn from the Hellenic Army's Infantry, Artillery and Armoured Corps. Prospective Evzones are usually identified at the Army Recruit Training Centres during Basic Training; there is a minimum height requirement of 1.86 meters to join, and the soldier must serve a minimum of 6 months with an operational Army unit before beginning Evzone training.

The unit is famous around the world for its unique traditional uniform, which has evolved from the clothes worn by the klephts who fought the Ottoman occupation of Greece. The most visible item of this uniform is the fustanella, a kilt-like garment. Their proven valour and peculiar dress turned them into a popular image for the Greek soldier, especially among foreigners.


The word evzōnos (Greek: εὔζωνος) is first attested in Homer's Iliad and derives from "εὖ"+"ζώνη", meaning the "well-girt" men, implying an elite status. As a word it has been used by ancient writers for centuries to describe a type of light infantry of unidentified equipment, probably used as a generic term to denote light infantry.


In 1833, after the arrival of King Otto, the Greek Army was organized along new lines. The Bavarians that had come with Otto formed the majority of the "European" Line Infantry battalions (Τάγματα Γραμμής). In these units, one rifle company, designated "Skirmisher" (Λόχος Ακροβολιστών) or "Evzone" (Λόχος Ευζώνων), existed. In addition, ten light "Skirmisher" battalions (Τάγματα Ακροβολιστών) were formed from Greeks, dressed in a uniform based on the garb of the klephts of the War of Independence (1821-1829). In 1836 these battalions were reduced to four, and eight "Mountain Guard" battalions (Τάγματα Οροφυλακής) were formed in their stead; they were grouped into four regiments in 1843. These units were primarily engaged in patrolling the Greco-Ottoman border, combating insurgents and hunting down the many brigands that infested the countryside. The Mountain Guard was incorporated in the strengthened "Skirmisher" battalions in 1854.

In December 1867, the first four elite "Evzone" light battalions were formed, of four companies each (soon expanded to five), with the task of guarding the frontier. On 12 December 1868, the Royal Guard detachment, initially named Agema (Άγημα), later the "Palace Guard" (Ανακτορική Φρουρά), composed of two Evzone infantry companies and a cavalry troop, was formed. In 1880-1881, the Evzone units were expanded to nine battalions. They participated in the disastrous 1897 war with Turkey as elements of the regular infantry divisions. In the aftermath of the war, through various reorganizations, the number of Evzone battalions varied from eight to six, operating either independently or divided between the infantry divisions, and were among the first units to be equipped with machine guns.

During the Balkan Wars, eight Evzone battalions existed which operated independently on the vanguard or the flanks of the army. They distinguished themselves for their fighting spirit, but suffered high casualties, especially among officers. The Evzone units, totalling at their height five regiments, fought with distinction as elite shock troops in the First World War, the Asia Minor Campaign and the Greco-Italian War. During the German invasion in 1941, a memorable event occurred: on April 27, as the German Army was entering Athens, the Germans ascended to the Acropolis of Athens and ordered the young Evzone who was guarding the flag post, Konstantinos Koukidis, to haul the Greek flag down and replace it with the swastika flag. The young soldier did so, but refused to hand over the Greek flag to the Germans, and instead wrapped himself in it and fell off the Acropolis to his death.

After the occupation of the country, in 1943, the collaborationist government raised a number of "Security Battalions" (Τάγματα Ασφαλείας), which were dressed in the Evzone uniform and participated in operations against the EAM-ELAS partisans. They were derisively known as Germanotsoliades or Tagmatasfalites, and were disbanded after liberation in 1944. After the war, the reconstituted Hellenic Army did not raise the Evzone regiments again, their elite status and role being assumed by the newly established Mountain Raiding Companies (LOK) special forces. Only the purely ceremonial Royal Guard (Βασιλική Φρουρά) remained until 1973, when, with the abolition of the monarchy, it was re-designated as the Presidential Guard (Προεδρική Φρουρά).


Today the Evzones form the Presidential Guard, a battalion composed of 2 Evzone companies and 1 command company. They operate out of the Georgios Tzavelas barracks on Herodou Attikou St., just behind the Parliament building.

The Guard always takes precedence in all military parades. Their march style consists in normal march time, and at intervals, for several paces, striking the ground forcefully with their right foot. Their standard marching music is the "Evzonaki" ("little Evzone") march, played at 48 beats/min. They guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier round the clock. Guards on duty perform their movements in a very slow and highly stylized manner. They switch positions with each other every fifteen minutes and remain completely motionless and at attention in the meantime. Since the Guards are required to be totally still at all times, there is one Evzone in normal fatigues uniform and police surveillance to ensure that no one approaches or harasses the Guards while on duty. The "little changes" take place every hour on the hour, and involve the two incoming and two sentries, and a supervising "Corporal of the Change". The Grand Change takes place at 11 am on Sunday mornings, and involves the whole Guard with its officers and a military band, all marching from the Guard Barracks to the Tomb for the Change, and back. The Grand Change is a popular Sunday morning spectacle for Athenians and tourists alike.

During a demonstration in front of the Parliament in 2001, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at one of the guardhouses. In no time, the wooden construction was engulfed in flames. The Evzone standing next to it didn't even blink his eyes, let alone move, until the guard in standard uniform came and gave him the order to move. With a scorched and partly smoking uniform on one side, the Evzone did.

In January 2010, a makeshift bomb was placed 20 meters from where the Evzones guard the Tomb of the Unknown soldier, at Syntagma Square. Although the police informed the Evzones of the imminent threat, the Guards refused to leave their posts and remained on guard while the bomb exploded.

Former units

The historical units were numbered and known as Τάγμα Ευζώνων ("Evzone Battalion") or Σύνταγμα Ευζώνων ("Evzone Regiment"). Since the regiments were distinctive, elite units, they had dual numbers - the first, numbering them in the Evzones hierarchy, the second, in the overall infantry hierarchy. Thus the 5/42 Evzone Regiment was the 5th Evzone regiment, but also the 42nd infantry regiment.

1/38 Evzone Regiment
2/39 Evzone Regiment
3/40 Evzone Regiment
4/41 Evzone Regiment
5/42 Evzone Regiment


In 1833, the uniform of the Evzones (as in all infantry companies of the line battalions) was in the much-maligned Bavarian style, complete with pants, tailcoats and shako, distinguished only by green braid and plumes. In 1837, a new uniform was created based on the traditional fustanella style worn by the klephts, armatoli, and many of the famous fighters of the Greek War of Independence. At first, it was only issued to the native light infantry battalions, but its popularity led to its adoption as the official uniform of the Evzones in 1867. After a few minor changes over the years, it became the familiar uniform seen today.

The basic elements of the uniform are:

  • The phareon (φάριο), a scarlet garrison cap with a long black tassel, with the national emblem in the front.
  • A woolen foustanella kilt.
  • A cotton undershirt.
  • White woolen stockings.
  • Black-tasseled knee garters (καλτσοδέτες - kaltsodetes).
  • Red tsarouhi leather clogs with a black pompon.
  • A leather cartridge belt and a M1 Garand semi-automatic battle rifle, with bayonet.

The basic color of the winter uniform tunic is navy blue and closely resembles the service uniform worn until 1910, while the summer uniform tunic is light khaki, and similar in design to the field uniform adopted by the Evzone regiments after that date. The full-dress uniform, which derives from the traditional uniform of south-mainland Greece (Sterea Hellas), is worn on Sunday, on important national holidays, at the reception of foreign dignitaries and other special occasions. It has a white, bell-sleeved shirt and a white foustanella with 400 pleats (commemorating the 400 years of Ottoman occupation[1]) with the addition of a fancy silver-brocade waistcoat. Members of the guard can also sometimes be seen in a royal blue and red uniform based on the traditional male costume of Crete, or in the black traditional habit once worn by the Pontic Greeks.

The officers are armed with a sabre instead of a rifle. Their full dress uniform is distinguished from that of enlisted men by being imperial purple with gold brocades instead of blue with silver brocades and by the substitution of buskins for the stockings. Their fustanella kilts are also longer, below the knee, as opposed to mid-thigh and their sleeve covers are worn on the arms instead of being fastened to the coat. Rank insignia are born on the phareon below the national emblem.

The phareon is similar to the fez adopted by the Ottomans which were the main enemies of the evzones. (See Origin of the fez.)

The first King of Modern Greece, Otto wore this uniform often in public. Today, many Greek boys dress up as tsoliades on Greek Independence Day.

Notable Evzones

  • General Nikolaos Plastiras, commander of the 5/42 Regiment and three times Prime Minister of Greece.
  • Colonel Dimitrios Psarros, head of the EKKA resistance group.
  • General Thrasyvoulos Tsakalotos, commander of the 3/40 Regiment in the Greco-Italian War, leading commander of the national army in the Greek Civil War.
  • Major Ioannis Velissariou, hero of the Balkan Wars.
  • Evzone Konstandinos Koukidis

Athens Greece

Modern Greek: Αθήνα, Athína, Katharevousa: Athine, Ancient Greek: Athēnai

  • Location: Athens is located in Greece
  • Coordinates: 37°58′N 23°43′E
  • Country: Greece
  • Region: Attica
  • Regional unit: Central Athens
  • Districts: 7
  • Mayor: Giorgos Kaminis (PASOK) (since: 29 December 2010)
  • Population statistics (as of 2011)
  • Urban
  • Population: 3,074,160
    Area: 412 km2 (159 sq mi)
    Density: 7,462 /km2 (19,325 /sq mi)
  • Metropolitan
  • Population: 3,737,550
    Area: 2,928.717 km2 (1,131 sq mi)
    Density: 1,276 /km2 (3,305 /sq mi)
  • Municipality
  • Population: 655,780
    Area: 38.964 km2 (15 sq mi)
    Density: 16,830 /km2 (43,591 /sq mi)
  • Time zone: EET/EEST (UTC+2/3)
  • Elevation (min-max): 70 - 338 m ­(230 - 1109 ft)
  • Postal: 10x xx, 11x xx, 120 xx
  • Telephone: 21
  • Auto: Yxx, Zxx, Ixx (excluding ZAx and INx)
  • Website:

Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica periphery and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state. A centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum,[2][3] it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy,[4][5] largely due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC on the rest of the then known European continent.[6] Today a cosmopolitan metropolis, modern Athens is central to economic, financial, industrial, political and cultural life in Greece and it is rated as an Alpha world city.[7] In 2008, Athens was ranked the world's 32nd richest city by purchasing power[8] and the 25th most expensive[9] in a UBS study.


The Greek capital has a population of 655,780[10] (796,442 back in 2004)[11] within its administrative limits and a land area of 39 km2 (15 sq mi).[12] The urban area of Athens (Greater Athens and Greater Piraeus) extends beyond the administrative municipal city limits, with a population of 3,074,160 (in 2011),[13] over an area of 412 km2 (159 sq mi).[12] According to Eurostat, the Athens Larger Urban Zone (LUZ) is the 7th most populous LUZ in the European Union (the 4th most populous capital city of the EU) with a population of 4,013,368 (in 2004).

The heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, represented by a number of ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon, widely considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. The city also retains a vast variety of Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of remaining Ottoman monuments projecting the city's long history across the centuries. Athens is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Acropolis of Athens and the medieval Daphni Monastery. Landmarks of the modern era, dating back to the establishment of Athens as the capital of the independent Greek state in 1833, include the Hellenic Parliament (19th century) and the Athens Trilogy consisting of the National Library of Greece, the Athens University and the Academy of Athens. Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics.[14] Athens is home to the National Archeological Museum, featuring the world's largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, as well as the new Acropolis Museum.


  1. Wells, John C. (1990). Longman pronunciation dictionary. Harlow, England: Longman. p. 48. ISBN 0582053838. entry "Athens"
  2. "Contents and Principles of the Programme of Unification of the Archaeological Sites of Athens". Hellenic Ministry of Culture.
  3. CNN & Associated Press (16 January 1997). "Greece uncovers 'holy grail' of Greek archeology". Archived from the original on 6 December 2007.
  4. "Ancient Greek Athenai, historic city and capital of Greece. Many of classical civilization's intellectual and artistic ideas originated there, and the city is generally considered to be the birthplace of Western civilization"
  5. BBC History on Greek Democracy – Accessed on 26 January 2007
  6. Encarta: Ancient Greece[dead link] – Retrieved on 26 January 2007. Archived 2009-10-31.
  7. "The World According to GaWC 2008". Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC) based at the geography department of Loughborough University. 2008.
  8. "City Mayors: World's richest cities by purchasing power". City Mayors. 2008. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  9. "City Mayors: Cost of living – The world's most expensive cities". City Mayors. 2008.
  10. Hellenic Statistical Authority " PRESS RELEASE:Publication of provisional results of the 2011 Population Census", Hellenic Statistical Authority (EL.STAT.), July 22, 2011, accessed August 14, 2011.
  11. Athens Facts (2011). "Athens Facts & Figures".
  12. "Characteristics". Hellenic Interior Ministry. Archived from the original on 4 January 2007.
  13. "ΕΛΣΤΑΤ Απογραφη 2011".
  14. CNN & Sports Illustrated (5 September 1997). "Sentiment a factor as Athens gets 2004 Olympics".

Web References:
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 Syntagma Square, Athens, Greece Map

This webpage was updated 27th January 2020