Greece is a republican country located in the southernmost tip of Balkan Peninsula, southeast of Europe. It consists of the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula, Peloponnesus Peninsula and about 3,000 islands located mainly in the Aegean Sea. Greece is the birthplace of the first advanced early civilizations in Europe. Cycladic civilization of the Aegean Sea, the Minoan civilization in Crete and then the Mycenaean civilization on the mainland emerged during 3000 BC to 1200 BC. Around 900 BC, the city states were established and enjoyed great prosperity, leading to the unprecedented maturity of culture known as Classical Greece. Under the democratic environment, philosophy, architecture, science, etc. had been developed to a great level, with which the European culture has long been affected. Greece is also the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature, among others, and generally considered to be the cradle of Western civilization. After the Macedonian King Philip II unified the entire Greece except Sparta, Alexander the Great, the son of Philip II, conquered the Persian Empire uniting the Greece and organizing the allied forces of Greece and Macedonia. He established the broad empire extending from Egypt to India, ushering in the Hellenistic age. In two centuries BC, Roman rule was established over Greek land, but the Hellenistic culture had a strong impact on Romans?, which later led to the emergence of Byzantine culture, the mixture of Roman and Hellenistic cultures nurtured within Byzantine Empire which was established in 330 AD. Just before it was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, many Greeks migrated to other parts of Europe, transmitting ancient Greek cultures to Western Europe, while the Orthodox Greeks kept their tradition based on the religion under the Ottoman millet system. The Greeks repeatedly waged wars for independence against the Ottoman Empire, and finally achieved their independence in 1830 after fighting the Greek War of Independence during 1821 to 1829. Greece fought World War I on the side of the Allies. After the war, a massive exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey was conducted under the Treaty of Lausanne. As a result, around 1.5 million Greek refugees poured into Greece, imposing heavy burden on its economy and society. Between the two world wars, a republic was proclaimed in 1924, but returned to monarchy in 1935. The Greeks upheld the monarchy in the direct vote in 1946, but the monarchy was abolished by referendum in 1974. Greece entered World War II in 1940 when Fascist Italy invaded Greece. After Greece defeated Italy, Nazi Germany occupied Greece from 1941 to 1944. During the severe Germans occupation, many Geeks died. After the withdrawal of Germany, Greece fell into a harsh civil war fought between communist and anti-communist forces. The civil war ended with the defeat of communist forces in 1949 but left the severe social tensions and economic devastation. Greece became a member of NATO in 1952. Political instability continued. The military government seized power by military coup and military dictatorship continued until 1974. The Turkish invasion of the island of Cyprus triggered the collapse of the regime. In 1974, a newly organized party, New Democracy (ND) won the first multiparty elections since 1964. Following the referendum in the same year, the parliament approved a democratic and republican constitution. In 1981, Greece became a tenth member of the European Community (now the European Union).
Leaving the Middle East, I arrived in long-awaited Europe.
From the pier, I walked about 20 minutes to the subway station Piraeus to go to Omonia in the city of Athens.
Omonia is a town where the local people usually go shopping. The streets with many stores were crowded with people, and food sold were inexpensive! Meats and nuts were all sold by weight for five to ten Euros per kilogram.
Passing through beautiful tree-lined streets, the Parthenon appeared on the top of the hill in front of me. It took time from there to the Parthenon because it was on the top of a hill, or a mountain.
When I arrived at the entrance of the Parthenon, I could not find the box office. I asked a woman sitting there about a ticket. She told me that it was a free day because it was the anniversary of the museum. Oh, I got lucky, saving 12 Euros. Finally, I arrived at the top of the mountain! On my way to the Parthenon, I could clearly see it even from a distance. And no wonder. I was really amazed at its size. And how beautiful it was! Unfortunately, the Parthenon was under restoration with scaffoldings and cranes here and there.
The Parthenon overlooked the city of Athens. Were there so many stone-made houses? The city was shining reflecting the sunlight.
I left the Parthenon for Ancient Agora. When I saw Christian churches there, I realized I came from Islamic countries to “Christian Europe”. Mosaics in the church were very beautiful.
I found interesting mannequins in the city. They had disproportionately large heads. But they were cute!