Top 10 anecdotes about Greece, before you immerse yourself in the country during your work placement abroad! This country, known for its rich history and mythology, as well as its incredible beaches, is absolutely incredible and has some great anecdotes in store!

The cradle of democracy

Greece is often regarded as the cradle of democracy because of its historical role in the development of this political system. Here are a few details on the emergence of democracy in Greece:

In ancient Greece, in the fifth century BC, the city of Athens developed a unique political system known as Athenian democracy. At the time, most other Greek cities were governed by tyrants or oligarchies, where power was held by a small elite.

Athenian democracy was characterised by the direct political participation of its citizens. Male citizens, born of Athenian parents and over the age of 18, had the right to take part in the Assembly, which was the main decision-making body. There, they could discuss public affairs, propose laws and vote on the decisions to be taken.

Another key aspect of Athenian democracy was the drawing of lots. Citizens were chosen at random to serve in political roles such as magistrates and juries. This practice was intended to prevent the concentration of power in the hands of an elite and to promote equality of opportunity.

Athens also had an independent justice system, where citizens could receive a fair trial and the opportunity to plead their case before a jury.

Athenian democracy has undergone various changes over time and has faced limitations, particularly in terms of political participation reserved for a minority of citizens. However, its model of direct government laid the foundations for modern democracy as we know it today.

The influence of Athenian democracy extended beyond Greece, inspiring other societies throughout the ages. Its legacy is seen as an important step in the evolution of political systems towards greater citizen participation and the idea that political power should be based on the consent of the people.

Over 2000 islands!

Greece is famous for its many islands scattered across the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Here are a few details about the Greek islands:

  1. Number of islands: Greece has over 2,000 islands scattered across the Mediterranean Sea. However, the precise number varies according to the definition and size of the islands in question.
  2. Inhabited islands : Of these many islands, around 170 are permanently inhabited. Some of the largest and most popular include Rhodes, Corfu, Lesbos, Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Naxos and Paros.
  3. Size and geography: The Greek islands vary considerably in terms of size and geography. Some are small, rocky islands, while others are vast, mountainous islands. The largest island in Greece is Crete, which is also the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.
  4. Archipelagos : The Greek islands are grouped into several archipelagos. The best-known archipelagos include the Cyclades, the Ionian Islands, the Northern Aegean Islands, the Dodecanese and the Sporades. Each archipelago has its own distinct identity, geographical and cultural characteristics.
  5. Natural beauty: The Greek islands are renowned for their spectacular natural beauty. They offer heavenly beaches with crystal-clear waters, rugged cliffs, picturesque villages, verdant olive groves and impressive volcanic landscapes. Each island has its own unique charm.
  6. Tourism: The Greek islands attract millions of tourists every year. Visitors are drawn by the magnificent scenery, idyllic beaches, rich history, vibrant culture, delicious cuisine and warm hospitality of the locals.
  7. Island lifestyle: Life on the Greek islands is often slower and more relaxed than in the big cities. Islanders often have a close connection with nature, the sea and local traditions. Agriculture, fishing and tourism are important sources of income for many islands.
  8. Cultural heritage: The Greek islands are brimming with history and archaeological sites. You can find ancient ruins, the remains of ancient civilisations, historic churches and monasteries, bearing witness to Greece’s rich history.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing holiday on a secluded island or a lively getaway on a cosmopolitan island, the Greek islands offer a variety of experiences and landscapes to discover. Each island has its own personality and hidden treasures, making it a paradise for travellers seeking diversity and natural beauty.

Mount Olympus

Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and is deeply rooted in Greek mythology. Here are a few more details about this iconic mountain:

Mount Olympus is located in northern Greece, mainly in the region of Thessaly. It rises majestically to an altitude of 2,917 metres, making it the highest mountain in the country. With its snow-capped peaks, rock faces and lush valleys, it offers a landscape of striking beauty.

In Greek mythology, Mount Olympus is considered to be the home of the twelve gods of Olympus, who were the main deities of Greek mythology. According to the stories, Zeus, the king of the gods, reigned over Olympus and the other gods and goddesses also resided there.

Mount Olympus was considered a sacred place, inaccessible to mortals. It was described as being shrouded in clouds and surrounded by an aura of mystery. The gods of Olympus were venerated and worshipped by the ancient Greeks, who offered them sacrifices and prayed to them.

In mythology, Mount Olympus was often the scene of epic tales and divine conflicts. The gods of Olympus were renowned for their power and rivalry, and the summit of the mountain served as a meeting place where they deliberated and took important decisions.

Mount Olympus has also inspired many artists, writers and poets over the centuries. It is often depicted in art and literature as a symbol of grandeur, power and majesty.

Today, Mount Olympus is a popular site for hiking and mountaineering enthusiasts. It offers picturesque hiking trails and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can explore the wooded paths, waterfalls and gorges that dot the mountain.

The Olympic Games

The Olympic Games have a long history in Greece, dating back to antiquity. Here is a brief history of the Olympic Games in Greece:

The Ancient Olympic Games were a major event in ancient Greece. They were organised in honour of Zeus, the supreme god of Greek mythology, and took place every four years in Olympia, a city in the Peloponnese region.

The first known Olympic Games date back to 776 BC. They were initially a local competition between Greek cities, but gradually acquired pan-Hellenic renown, attracting athletes from different regions of Greece.

The Ancient Olympic Games were a multi-disciplinary event that included sporting events, musical contests, poetry competitions and cultural events. The most famous sporting events were stadium races, chariot races, discus throwing, javelin throwing, wrestling and the pentathlon.

The ancient Olympic Games were accompanied by important religious rituals. Before taking part in the competitions, athletes had to swear an oath before a statue of Zeus, promising to respect the rules and behave in an honourable manner.

The ancient Olympic Games were held without interruption for over a thousand years, until 393 AD, when the Roman emperor Theodosius I banned the games because of their pagan connotations.

After a hiatus of more than fifteen centuries, the Olympic Games were revived in the modern era. In 1896, the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece, under the impetus of Baron Pierre de Coubertin. This revival of the Olympic Games was inspired by the ideal of international unity and peaceful competition.

Since then, the modern Olympic Games have been held every four years in different cities around the world. However, Greece has a special place in Olympic history, and Athens has hosted the Summer Olympics twice: in 1896 and in 2004.

The modern Olympic Games have retained the spirit of sporting competition, athletic excellence and cultural exchange, while promoting the values of friendship, respect and fair play. They have become one of the largest and most watched events in the world, bringing together athletes from every corner of the globe to celebrate sport and the Olympic spirit.

Mediterranean cuisine

Greece is renowned for its healthy Mediterranean cuisine. It is characterised by the use of fresh ingredients such as olive oil, aromatic herbs, vegetables, cheeses, yoghurt and seafood.

Mount Athos

Mount Athos, located in Northern Greece, is a unique place in the world. It is a peninsula reserved exclusively for Orthodox monks, and women are forbidden to enter.

The Greek language

Greek is one of the oldest languages still spoken today, with a fascinating history dating back more than 3,000 years. Here are a few details on the history of the Greek language:

  1. Ancient origins: The Greek language belongs to the Indo-European language family, which also includes other languages such as Latin, Sanskrit and Persian. The origins of the Greek language date back to around the 15th century BC, with the first documents written in Linear B, a form of writing used by the ancient Mycenaeans.
  2. The Classical era: The Classical period of the Greek language runs from the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD. It was during this period that the Greek language reached its zenith with the works of great thinkers and writers such as Homer, Herodotus, Sophocles, Plato and Aristotle. Classical Greek is considered a rich and elegant language, with a significant influence on Western philosophy, literature and science.
  3. Evolution of the language: Over the centuries, the Greek language has undergone a number of changes and evolutions. After the Classical period, the language underwent regional variations and foreign influences, notably Latin, French, Ottoman Turkish and Venetian. These influences have contributed to the diversification of the Greek language.
  4. Koinè and the Byzantine period: During the Hellenistic period, from the 4th century BC onwards, a simplified form of the Greek language, called Koinè, developed. Koinè was used as a common and commercial language throughout the Hellenistic world. Later, during the Byzantine period, Koinè evolved into a more distinct form of the Greek language, known as Medieval Greek or Byzantine Greek.
  5. The modern Greek language : Modern Greek as it is spoken today evolved from Demotic Greek, a form of the language that developed from Medieval Greek. Modern Greek has been influenced by foreign languages, notably French, Italian and Turkish. However, it has managed to preserve many elements of the ancient Greek language, including its alphabet, grammar and a large number of inherited words.

Today, Greek is the official language of Greece and Cyprus, and is spoken by Greek communities throughout the world. It has also had a significant influence on other languages, particularly in the field of scientific, medical and philosophical terminology.

The richness and longevity of the Greek language make it a precious cultural and linguistic treasure, preserving a rich historical and literary heritage that continues to be studied and appreciated throughout the world.

Cinema in Greece

Cinema is a passion in Greece. The country has produced many talented directors and is renowned for its Thessaloniki Film Festival, one of the oldest film festivals in the world.

Family: just like in Italy!

The family occupies a central place in Greek culture, and Greeks attach great importance to their family ties. The extended family, comprising parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, is considered an important social pillar.

Greeks tend to have close relationships with those closest to them and maintain strong family ties. Regular family gatherings are an important tradition, providing an opportunity for family members to get together, share meals and spend time together. These gatherings are often joyful and lively, with animated conversations, laughter and warm exchanges.

In Greek culture, family members support each other and are there for each other in times of joy and difficulty. Parents play a central role in their children’s lives and pay particular attention to their education and well-being. The links between the generations are deep and respected, with an emphasis on family traditions and the transmission of values from generation to generation.

Family meals are an important part of Greek culture. Greeks love to share time around the table, feasting on traditional dishes and culinary specialities. Meals are often festive and generous, with an abundance of tasty dishes and a variety of delicacies prepared with love. It’s a chance to savour Greek cuisine, exchange stories and anecdotes, and strengthen family ties.

Greeks also attach great value to family solidarity. In times of difficulty or crisis, the family pulls together to offer emotional, financial and logistical support. Family members are ready to help and support each other, whether in times of happiness, bereavement, economic challenges or any other need.

In short, the family occupies a central place in Greek life. Close family ties, regular meetings, shared meals and mutual support are key elements of Greek culture. The family is seen as a source of strength, comfort and stability, and plays an essential role in the lives of individuals and in Greek society as a whole.

Archaeological sites

Greece is rich in archaeological sites and vestiges of antiquity. Sites such as the Acropolis in Athens, Delphi, Olympia and Knossos on Crete bear witness to the history and grandeur of Greek civilisation. And if you’d like to plan a visit to Athens, we’ve got that covered too!

And if you want to do your work placement in Greece, there’s a simple and effective solution: contact International Horizons and we’ll take care of everything!

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