When I was in Athens recently, I loved watching the Change of Guards at Syntagma Square. All over the world there are ceremonies for Change of Guards but I found this one to be quite different, even quirky!
The perfectly choreographed Change of Guards takes place ever hour before the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier and the Presidential Palace.
The handsome Guards are called ‘Evzones’ and are special elite soldiers who are meant to guard the Presidential Palace and the Tomb and are chosen based on their height (they are all above 6” 1’ and have to be motionless for hours!). They have to be disciplined, be able to take public attention for hours without reacting.. and be immune to weather conditions! Phew!
The piece de resistance is the costumes that the Evzones wear: a kilt- like flounced skirt called the fustanella with 400 pleats (one for every year of Turkish occupation), knee garters with white wool stockings and red leather shoes with pom poms! My guide tells me that to make this elaborate costume, skilled tailors toil for something like 80 days!
The evzones neither walk nor march-the motion is more like slow dance with their legs kicked up high into the air!
You are allowed to take pictures with them:
Be serious, don’t make faces and don’t make conversation with themJ
On Sundays there is the special Grand Change at 11 am with a military band.