Monday, 28 August 2017

More from the Greek isles

Agia Sofia - Constantinople ( Istanbul )

For some reason spelled with an 'H' in english .  Hagia Sophia.  

Orthodox church with four minarets added on the corners

Built in 537 AD as a christian cathedral, for 900 years the seat of the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox church.  
Turned into a mosque in 1453 and remained so for 500 years.
  In 1934 Turkish president, Kemal Ataturk turned it into a museum.  It has both Christian mosaics on the wall and Islamic calligraphics (artistic  handwriting).  Hagia Sophia is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Turkish president Erdogan would like to turn the museum back into a mosque.  The muezzin, who calls the faithful to prayer, chants the Islamic morning prayer inside the museum, broadcasting to the country over state radio.  During Ramadan there were readings of the Koran from inside Hagia Sophia for the second year in a row.

The Greeks of course see it as a place sacred to Christianity and the Orthodox church.
   Yet another reason why Greece and Turkey are at loggerheads.

German and Turkish relations are rather strained as well.  Erdogan has told voters of Turkish origin not to vote for the main political parties in next month's German elections, calling the parties 'enemies of Turkey'.  

Smallest School in the EU

The Greek island of Arkoi in the Dodecanese, close to the island of Patmos and the Turkish coast

Population 40.  A dry rocky little island, its main vegetation being a few olive trees.  No doctor, no shops, no bakery.  The island has four tavernas and a one teacher/one pupil school.  The tavernas fill up with day trippers from nearby islands over the summer months.  The main occupation is fishing.

The school is just like any other school, except there is only one pupil.  The teacher said she had great rapport with her only student.  I bet.  He must be the best educated little boy in the EU.

Perfect for a tranquil summer retreat too

Acropolis Restoration ..

The Acropolis restoration programme began in 1975 and is likely to continue till 2020.  The aim is to repair and conserve the Parthenon and other buildings.

NB  Acropolis is the name of the hill (a high fortified area)
on which is built

the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena
the Propylaia, the entrance to the Acropolis complex
a temple of Athena Nike
the Erechtheion, another temple

The ancient Greeks took only 9 years to build on the Acropolis.  The temples have lasted 2,500 years, through vandalism, erosion from the weather, bombs and fire. Now it is all being slowly restored to its original glory, minus the Elgin marbles* so it will withstand earthquakes and severe weather conditions.

Now I know why everyone, from my mother 30 years ago to my brother 3 months ago, complained about the scaffolding spoiling their photographs.  The work is never ending. 

*  The Elgin marbles are a collection of marble statues, 21 statues and 15 panels, plundered by Lord Elgin from various temples on the Acropolis in 1812, transported to England and given to the British museum.  'The British have stolen our history' says Greece and demands their return.  The British Museum is not giving them up.

Pieces of the Elgin marbles and George who supports their return to Athens

And a bit of poetry describing the stolen Greek antiquities by friend-of-the-Greeks (grecophile)
Lord Byron 

Blind are the eyes that do not shed tears while seeing
O, Greece beloved, your sacred objects plundered
By profane English hands that have again wounded your aching bosom
And snatched your gods, gods that hate
England's abominable northern climate

from 'Childe Harold's Pilgrimages'.


  1. Have to agree it's a bit difficult trying to photograph any buildings on the Acroplolis without getting scaffolding in the picture. At least that's the way it was in April 2014 ~ Cathy

    Cathy @ Still Waters

  2. If every museum in the world was to give back its foreign exhibits, hardly any of them would be worth visiting.

    1. Greece isn't the only country who wants their history returned. Isn't likely to happen.

  3. Only one student in the school? I feel kind of sorry for him! Won't it be wonderful for the restoration to finally be done (only 3 more years from what you've written) on Acropolis. Have you visited? -Jenn

    1. Have visited acropolis many many times in the past. Great view from up there!.

  4. The Hagia Sofia is a magical place. It is not like any other museum I have ever seen. I wanted to see the Rolling Stones (or any great rock band) play there, it is a cathedral of space and I was quite overwhelmed and effected by it. Nobody else seemed to feel the same as me though, but it has never left me. I went to it at the end of the day and it was almost empty, maybe that had something to do with it.

    However the vote goes, I think I know what Erdogan will do, but I won't say anything here.

    1. Have been to Istanbul but never to Hagia Sofia. Wish I had visited, unlikely to happen now, though thousands of Greeks go every year.
      You were Lucky it to see the place when empty. Makes a huge difference in your appreciation of it

    2. I could just imagine Mick Jagger leaping around on a stage in there, although it could equally have been any band with a larger than life character.

    3. You make me laugh!! I can just imagine him now prancing and dancing around in there, twisting the Mike around. Just his style. Rock n roll in a church
      Hope you're feeling better today.

  5. Even with th scaffolding it's still an awesome sight
    Even here in Melbourne in the "Greek precent" there are signs saying to give them back, talking about the marbles

    1. It has become the fashion now. Every govt now has to continue the campaign or lose face. Greece has so many monuments, so many museums full of sculpture, these ones would make statement for Greece.
      They wanted them for the new acropolis museum but that opened years ago.

  6. No the Elgin marbles will never be returned in my lifetime!. Greece does not appreciate history!. Phone masts and satelite dishes attached to ancient monuments as it is living with the past in the now!. Erm no. The Elgin marbles are being looked after with respect!. When the Greeks have trashed everything else including Parthenon the marbles will survive for hundreds of future generations!. In November Greeks were trying to imbed loose marble on Acropolis with cement!. Bloody hell , no respect!.

    1. Elgin damaged the marbles and the Parthenon while removing them. They were in a shipwreck and had to be retrieved from the bottom of the sea. The British museum damaged them badly trying to clean them because they were ruined by your pollution.
      In 2014 they were 'loaned' to Russia. That really shocked the Greek people. It seems at least now that the marbles can be easily moved and so could easily be returned.
      As I have said before, Greece is one huge living museum. The present lives with the past. Everywhere you step there is history, ruins underfoot. They live side by side. You cannot preserve every monument or relic because modern man would have nowhere to work or live. I think it is wonderful to turn a corner and see a few pieces of rock sticking up out of the road, a tomb in the middle of an olive grove, a TV aerial projecting from an ancient wall.
      We amongst the antiquities. They are part of our daily life. I used to take my kids and picnic on the remains of Poseidon's temple on poros