In front of Hellenic Parliament at Syntagma Square is one of my favorite places to visit in Athens, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It’s a very solemn place that is sacred to Greeks from Greece and all over the world.
The tomb was inaugurated on March 25, 1932. In the center is a relief of a fallen ancient warrior. On each side are the names of battles involving the Greek army.
The tomb is guarded by two Greek soldiers from an elite unit called the Evzones. Dressed in a foustanella (kilt) and pompoms on their shoes, a soldier who wishes to become an Evzone must be 1.87m (over 6’1″) tall. They also guard the presidential mansion and are invited to march in parades all over the world.
Tourists are allowed to pose individually with an Evzone, also known as a Tsolias, but are not allowed to make any gestures, speak to them, or get too close. If they do, the soldier will bang the butt of his rifle on the ground and the tourist will get a stern lecture by another military officer on duty about being respectful.
A small Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place each hour, 24 hours a day. It’s a wonderful experience to witness the event. An official ceremony, which is more complex and involves more soldiers, is every Sunday at 11am.