Evzones. That is the name of the ceremonial soldiers that guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 24 hours a day, every day of the week. It is a tough job and must be the only one I know which your superior will actually wipe your brow for you.
That aside, though, I am fascinated with the pom pom shoes. Of course, the rest of the gear is interesting but the shoes takes the cake. Known as the tsarouchi, these shoes weight 1.5kgs each! Reason for that is each shoe has anywhere between 60-90 nails studded in them so that whoever wheres them do not slip. I don’t think I could even move if my shoes weighed that much not to mention the way they goose step around. Angelo claims that the pom pom has one other use. At one time, tiny daggers were hidden them. So, they can be used as a weapon.
Then of course comes the standing. If you have ever tried standing still for even 10 minutes, you will appreciate what it takes to stand completely still for an hour. And that apparently is like an order. Even a shed on fire (caused by a thrown Molotov cocktail during a demonstration in 2001) was not sufficient. In that instance, the Evzones kept his stance (even with his uniform scorched and smoking) until the guard in standard uniform came to give him the order to move. That is commitment! (By the way, these guards in standard uniform are former Evzones themselves who have finished their service so they will clearly understand what it is like.)
Temple of Zeus
After watching the changing of the guard, we made our way to the Temple of Zeus. Now, if we thought the columns at the Temple of Poseidon were huge, these are then monoliths! I can hardly fathom what this must have looked like once upon a time. It would have been colossal.
The statue of Zeus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world once lived here so that alone would have made it a must visit. However, other than appreciating the size of these columns there’s not much else to see in this wide open field. Only 15 columns are left with one on its side exactly where it fell (due to a storm). It is a shame that so little is left of these amazing temples. There are other excavation work going on but for the most part, to the untrained eye like ours, it is not much to appreciate.
One other thing you will in this open field is at one end is Hadrian’s Arch. On one side of the Arch facing the Acropolis is the inscription,’ This is Athens, the former city of Theseus‘ while the other side reads, ‘This is the city of Hadrian, not of Theseus.’ One would be forgiven into thinking that he was all about yours and mine. In reality, he was known for his peaceful reign. During that time, a lot of Athens was rebuilt As he was an admirer of Greece, he sought to make Athens the cultural capital of his empire. He was one of the Five Good Emperors.