A Travellerspoint blog

Eternal Olive

Athens – Greece

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Olea Europaea or Olive tree (from Greek word elaion).

It was purely a matter of local pride that the Athenians claimed that the olive first grew in Athens. In an archaic Athenian foundation myth, Goddess Athena won the patronship of Athens from Poseidon with the gift of the olive. The olive was sacred to Athena and appeared on the Athenian coinage.
An olive tree in west Athens, named "Plato's Olive Tree", was rumored to be a remnant of the grove within which Plato's Academy was situated, which would date it to approximately 2,400 years ago.

In ancient Greece, athletes ritually rubbed olive oil all over their bodies. At the original Olympic Games, more than 2,500 years ago, an olive wreath was the sole tangible reward offered to champion athletes. In the case of the chariot races, the wreath went to the owner of the winning team of horses. Olive branches were chosen because of the tree's association with the Greek god, Zeus. A sacred olive tree was said to have grown near his spectacular temple in ancient Olympia.

Olive oil has been more than mere food to the peoples of the Mediterranean. It has been medicinal and magical, an endless source of fascination and wonder and the fountain of great wealth and power.

More at: Kevrekidis Photography

© 2009 Jordan Kevrekidis

Posted by Kevrekidis 14:16 Archived in Greece Tagged educational Comments (0)

Patmos Monastery

The Island of the Apocalypse

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Patmos Island – Greece.

The first thing you notice when you approach Patmos, is the monastery of Saint John the Divine (or the Evangelist). Its presence is overwhelming. It looks like a Byzantine castle and was built like a fortress. It was founded in 1088 by Saint Christodoulos following a grant by the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos. The monastery’s walls are over 15 meters high, its length from north to south is 53 meters and from east to west 70 meters. It seems even larger when you stand at the entrance, noticing its thick walls and heavily reinforced door.
Above the entrance several meters high there is a small opening from which burning hot oil, water and even lead was poured over to attack pirates and other invaders trying to break the gate. This opening was called "the killer", and was considered the last resort for keeping the monastery safe. The monks used to sound the bells to warn the people of Patmos to take refuge behind the fortified walls, keeping Christianity safe as was intended by its founder, the blessed Christodoulos.

Patmos is mentioned in the Christian scriptural Book of Revelation. The book's introduction states that its author, John, was on Patmos when he was given and recorded a vision from Jesus Christ. Earliest Christian tradition identifies this writer as John the Apostle. As such, Patmos is a destination for Christian pilgrimage. Visitors can see the Cave of the Apocalypse where John is said to have received his Revelation.

More images at: Kevrekidis Photography
© 2009 Jordan Kevrekidis

Posted by Kevrekidis 22:57 Archived in Greece Tagged educational Comments (0)

Karagiozis - Greek shadow theater

Heraklion - Crete

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Traditional Greek shadow theater exhibition at Heraklion, Crete.

Karagiozis ( Greek Καραγκιόζης ) is the main character of the tales narrated in the Greek shadow-puppet theater. Shadow theater, with a single puppeteer creating voices for a dialogue, narrating a story, and possibly even singing while manipulating puppets, appears to come ultimately from the Indonesian Wayang Kulit.
Karagiozis is the Hellenized version of the Turkish shadow play “Karagoz and Hacivat”. It’s seems to have come to mainland Greece, probably from Asia Minor (Anatolia) in the 19th century, during Ottoman rule.

Karagiozis is a poor hunchbacked Greek, his right hand is always depicted long, his clothes are ragged and patched, and his feet are always bare. He lives in a poor cottage with his wife Aglaia and his three boys, during the times of the Ottoman Empire. The scene is occupied by his cottage in the left, and the Sultan's Palace (Sarayi) on the far right. Because of his poverty, Karagiozis uses mischievous and crude ways to find money and feed his family. There are three types of Karagiozi plays, including comedies inspired by every day life, those influenced by fairy tales and traditional folklore and heroic themes inspired by the years of the oppressive Ottoman rule followed by the Greek War of independence in 1821.

More images at: Kevrekidis Photography

© 2009 Jordan Kevrekidis

Posted by Kevrekidis 02:30 Archived in Greece Tagged educational Comments (0)


Crete - Greece

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Photo: West Bastion of Knossos Palace. Relief wall painting of the sacred Minoan Bull.


The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization which arose on the island of Crete. It was the first European civilization and claims to be the “cradle of Western civilization”. The Minoan culture flourished from approximately 2700 to 1450 BC; afterwards, Mycenaean Greek culture became dominant. Knossos was the capital of Minoan Crete. It is located south of the modern port town of Heraklion (Iraklio). Knossos was inhabited for several thousand years, beginning with a Neolithic settlement sometime in the seventh millennium BC, and was abandoned after its destruction in 1375 BC which marked the end of Minoan civilization. The first palace was built around 1900 BC on the ruins of previous settlements. It was destroyed for the first time at 1700 BC, probably by a large earthquake or foreign invaders. It was immediately rebuilt to an even more elaborate complex and until its abandonment was damaged several times during earthquakes, invasions, and in 1450 BC by the colossal volcanic eruption of Thera (Santorini), and the invasion of Mycenaeans who used it as their capital as they ruled the island of Crete until 1375 BC. Arthur Evans, the British Archaeologist who excavated the site in 1900 AD restored large parts of the palace in a way that it is possible today to appreciate the glory and complexity of a structure that evolved over several millennia and grew to occupy about 20,000 square meters. Walking through its complex multi-storied buildings one can comprehend why the palace of Knossos was associated with the mythological Labyrinth. According to Greek mythology, the palace was designed by famed architect Daedalus (Dedalos) with such complexity that no one placed in it could ever find its exit. King Minos who commissioned the palace then kept the architect prisoner to ensure that he would not reveal the palace plan to anyone. Daedalus, who was a great inventor, built two sets of wings so he and his son Icarus (Ikaros) could fly off the island, and so they did. On their way out, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun because the wax that held the wings together would melt. In a tragic turn of events, during their escape Icarus, young and impulsive as he was, flew higher and higher until the sun rays dismantled his wings and the young boy fell to his death in the Aegean Sea. The Labyrinth was the dwelling of the Minotaur in Greek mythology, and many associate the palace of Knossos with the legend of Theseus killing the Minotaur. Representation of the Bull at the palace of Knossos is a widespread symbol in the art and decoration of this archaeological site. The bull-leaping (taurokathapsia) was a ritual sport or performance in which human athletes literally vaulted over bulls as part of a ceremonial rite. A version of the sacred “bull games” is still extant in Iberian (Spain - Portugal) culture, the Bullfighting.

More images at: Kevrekidis Photography

©2009 Jordan Kevrekidis

Posted by Kevrekidis 02:12 Archived in Greece Tagged educational Comments (0)


Asia Minor - Turkey

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Ephesus lies beside Selcuk and Kusadasi in Asia Minor (Anatolia), Turkey.
It was an ancient Greek city in the region known as Ionia during the Classical period.


Photo: An ancient Greek inscription and the Library of Celsus.

The Library of Celsus dominates to the south of the Tetragonos Agora in Ephesus. It was built in the 2nd century AD to serve as a burial monument dedicated to Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the Roman senator and proconsul of Asia. The construction was financed by his son, Tiberius (or Gaius) Julius Aquila. Its luxurious facade forms an impressive architectural complex. The style of the library, with its ornate, balanced, well-planned facade, reflects the Greek influence on Roman architecture. The building materials, brick, concrete, and mortared rubble, signify the new materials that came into use in the Roman Empire at this time. The interior of the niches was adorned with four statues representing female abstract concepts: Sofia (Wisdom), Arete (Virtue), Ennoia (Insight) and Episteme (Knowledge). They are personifications of the virtues of Celsus but also of the virtues the life of high Roman officials should have had. This type of facade with inset frames and niches for statues is similar to that found in ancient Greek theaters (the stage building behind the orchestra, or skene) and is thus characterized as "scenographic". The inside of the building, not fully restored, was a single rectangular room with a central apse framed by a large arch at the far wall. A statue of Celsus or of Athena (Greek goddess of wisdom) stood in the apse, and Celsus’ tomb lay directly below in a vaulted chamber. Along the other three sides were rectangular recesses that held cupboards and shelves for the 12,000 scrolls.


History of Ephesus:
Traces of habitation in the area of Ephesus date from the Neolithic period and Copper Age. According to myth, Ephesus was founded by Androklos, the son of the Athenian King Kadros (Codrus), and a mixed population from Athens, Samos and Aetolia. When they went there they found a pre-existent settlement built by Lelegians and Carians or Lydians. The Greek colonists drove the natives out of the upper city but did not harm those living around the sanctuary. They identified the goddess of the natives with Artemis and founded the first fortified position. Around 550 BC, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Temple of Artemis (Greek: Artemision) was built. Androklos was able to join the twelve cities of Ionia together into the Ionian League (Dodecapolis). Later, Greek historians such as Herodotus however reassigned the city's mythological foundation to Ephos, queen of the Amazons. The Ephesians participated in the Ionian Revolt against Persian rule in the Battle of Ephesus (498 BC), an event which instigated the Greco - Persian wars. In 479 BC, the Ionians, together with Athens and Sparta, were able to oust the Persians from Anatolia. In 478 BC, the Ionian cities entered with Athens and Sparta the Delian League against the Persians. During the Peloponnesian War, Ephesus was first allied to Athens but sided in a later phase, called the Decelean War, or the Ionian War with Sparta. As a result, the rule over the kingdoms of Anatolia was ceded again to Persia. In 336 BC, when Parmenion campaigned to Asia Minor, Ephesus was convulsed by a pro - Macedonian democratic revolt that overthrew the pro - Persian oligarchy. When Alexander the Great defeated the Persian forces at the Battle of Granicus in 334 BC, the Greek cities of Asia Minor were liberated. Alexander was greeted warmly in Ephesus when he entered it in triumph. After Alexander died Ephesus came under his general Perdiccas and other successors such as Antigonus, Demetrius, and Ptolemy XII (Hellenistic period). Later, Ephesus became subject of the Roman Republic. Ephesus played an important role in the events in the province during Mithradatic War I (90-86 BC). The invasion of the king of Pontus Mithradates VI to the province of Asia fired unprecedented enthusiasm accompanied by the hatred against the Romans. The Ephesians played the leading part in anti-Roman demonstrations. Ephesus came back under Roman rule in 84 BC and was asked to pay high war indemnities. In 48 BC, Julius Caesar landed there and tried to reorganise the province. In 41 BC Marcus Antonius entered the city as a New Dionysus during a Bacchic ritual. He gathered the Greeks in the city and demanded that they pay him taxes for 2 years. Antonius returned with Cleopatra in 33 BC. When Augustus became emperor in 27 BC, he made Ephesus the capital of the Roman province of Asia. Ephesus was an important center for early Christianity. Apostle Paul stayed there for some time. According to the occult Christian literature, the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist stayed in Ephesus for a long time. Ephesus remained the most important city of the Byzantine Empire in Asia after Constantinople in the 5th and 6th centuries. The emperor Constantine I rebuilt much of the city and erected a new public bath. In 406 John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople, ordered the destruction of the Temple of Artemis. The Seljuk Turks conquered the region in 1071-1100 and it was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1390. Efes is the Turkish name for Ephesus.

Kevrekidis Photography at deviantART

©2009 Jordan Kevrekidis

Posted by Kevrekidis 22:13 Archived in Turkey Tagged educational Comments (0)

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