It may have taken the Greeks 400 years to unite and rise up against the rule of the Ottoman Turks in 1821 and they may have been outnumbered and undersupplied, but in the end they persevered and Greece and its people were finally free to create the first modern Greek state in 1829.
In 2021, Greece commemorates through the Greece Bicentennial 1821-2021 events the 200-year anniversary of the Greek War of Independence. I’ve tried to make the Greek Revolution it easier to understand, so read more about it here. In the meantime, I’ve jotted down some interesting trivia about the Greek struggle for freedom, which inspired dozens of international artists and poets at the time and was and still is an example of determination, passion, commitment and faith … against all the odds.
🇬🇷 The Greeks’ uprising and passionate struggle to overcome the harsh Muslim rule of the Ottoman Turks in 1821 inspired dozens of European poets, writers artists, with works we can still read and see today in world museums key among them Eugene Delacroix’s painting “Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi” and Lord Byron’s “The Isles of Greece“.
🇬🇷 every year on March 25 – Greek Independence Day – the canons on Lycabettus Hill in central Athens are fired 21 times at 10am marking the year 1821 and the beginning of the annual military and school parade.
🇬🇷 In the week up to March 25, Greeks hang flags from their balconies or homes
🇬🇷 On March 25, Greeks prepare and eat a traditional dish: “bakaliaros” or cod. In most parts cod is served with Greece’s famous “skordalia” garlic sauce. In the Peloponnese we eat “bakaliaros plaki”, which is oven-baked cod with potatoes and Zante raisins in tomato and garlic sauce
🇬🇷 Greek Independence Day is celebrated together with one of the greatest Orthodox holidays in Greece: The Annunciation of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) or “Tou Evangelismou”
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🇬🇷 Greek War of Independence mottos: “Freedom or Death” (Eleftheria I Thanatos), “For God and Country”, or revolt “For Faith and Fatherland”
🇬🇷 A graffiti artist going by the tag “Evritos” has been traveling from one Greek town to the next creating on the walls graffiti portraits of the 1821 heroes of Independence. Evritos’ works have gone viral.
🇬🇷 In the 17th and 18th centuries, when the rest of Europe – inspired and driven by ancient Greek philosophy and art – was entering the Enlightenment, Greece was in the dark under Ottoman suppression. So Greece missed out on the whole Enlightenment, when the rest of Europe established some its greatest freedoms, art and politics.
🇬🇷 You can find strategy board games inspired by the Greek revolution and the National Historical Museum in Athens, teamed up with toymakers Playmobil and created a collectors’ “1821 Greek War of Independence” series
🇬🇷 Greece’s national anthem – the Hymn to Liberty (Ymnos eis tin Eleftherian) – is at 158 stanzas the world’s longest. It was written in 1823 by Zakynthos-born poet Dionysios Solomos and set to music in 1828 by Nikolaos Mantzaros. It is also the national anthem of Cyprus.
🇬🇷 The port town of Nafplio in the Peloponnese, became the first capital of modern Greece in 1827 until 1834. The island of Aegina was the capital of the temporary Greek government earlier.
🇬🇷 1821 was also the year Mexico won its independence from Spain.
🎶 I end today’s post with Cretan singer Nikos Xylouris performing a poem written by Greek revolutionary writer Rigas Feraios in 1797. “O Thourios tou Riga” – a battle hymn which says: “Better of (with) one year of freedom, than 40 years of slavery and prison”.