Celebrating Greek Independence Day

Today, March 25, marks an incredibly special day in Greece, as the country and Greeks worldwide celebrate Greek Independence Day. 

On March 25 every year in Greece and among the diaspora, Greek Independence Day is commemorated with parades, ceremonies and celebrations- marking the country’s Revolution of 1821, against Ottoman rule. 

Since 1838 when Otto was the King of Greece, March 25th commemorates the official start date of the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire. This national holiday is observed on this day throughout the entire country, and the festivities include a grand military parade, as well as organised student school parades.

History of Greek Independence Day

In 1821, Greece became the first country to officially separate from the traditional European monarchy. The Greek Revolution began with the fall of the Ottoman Empire as Greece came under its control. After years of revolts and two civil wars, France, the United Kingdom and Russia intervened and conquered the Ottoman Empire ultimately breaking free of their rule.

On March 25, 1821, the bishop Germanos of Patras raised the Greek flag at the Monastery of Agia Lavra in Peloponnese and one more revolution started against the Turks. The people of Greece shouted, “Eleftheria I Thanatos” (Freedom or Death) and they fought the War of Independence for 9 years (1821-1829) until a small part of modern Greece was finally liberated and it was declared an independent nation.

Festivities in Greece

March 25 is a double holiday, celebrating both a historic event and a religious one, as it’s also the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, which is honoured with rich Greek traditions and culture, including festivals with folk music, dancing and national costumes paraded around the country. From main cities to remote villages, locals celebrate this day with food and wine, with the traditional dish of the day being Bakaliaros Skordalias (fried salty cod with potato and garlic mash), which is made and served at festivals, taverns and family gatherings. 

If you find yourself in the city centre of Athens today you will see streets adorned with Greek flags and many residents awaiting to watch the city’s grand military parade that takes place in the city’s central gathering point – Syntagma Square – and is attended by the President of Greece, important members of the Greek Orthodox Church, as well as other dignitaries.

Four French Rafale fighter jets from the French aircraft carrier “Charles de Gaulle” will join Greek planes and helicopters in the sky above Athens today, during the military parade and French armed forces will also participate in the holiday with the frigate “Alsace”, which will sail into Piraeus port, and a French Navy Guard of Honour without arms at Syntagma Square, which will be accompanied by a Greek military honour guard.

Happy Greek Independence Day, Xronia Polla! 

Featured Image by Dimitris Vlaikos 

Historical Sites on Dodecanese Islands to Receive 42 Million Euro Restorations 

Rhodes, Symi, Kos and Leros are some of the Dodecanese islands that are included in a new 42 million euro project for the protection and preservation of their archaeological sites and historical monuments that date back to Medieval, Byzantine, and Ottoman times.

The Greek Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni announced the new project, that will be financed by the Recover Fund, during a recent visit to Rhodes’ Medieval Town. 

“Care for our smaller islands is of utter importance. Apart from the 16,800,000 euros that we secured for the restoration and reopening of the National Theatre of Rhodes, there are now many other projects that we have secured for the Medieval City, which will be of huge benefit not only for Rhodes and the Dodecanese,” said Minister Mendoni.  

Insights Greece - Historical Sites on Dodecanese Islands to Receive 42 Million Euro Restorations 
Medieval Town of Rhodes

Works will be completed in Rhodes, Kos, Kalymnos, Leros, Symi, Halki and Agathonisi.

“The cultural project that’s being launched today on all our islands is unprecedented. In the first phase, works will be completed in Rhodes, Kos, Agathonisi, Leros, Kalymnos and all the other islands will follow after that with prioritisation and above all abundance of interest and care,” said Regional Governor of the South Aegean, George Chatzimarkos added. 

Projects include the creation of an integrated historic centre in the Medieval settlement of Rhodes, as well as the development of an open-air museum at the Medieval port, and the maintenance and restoration of the Rejep Pasha mosque. 

Kos will see a restoration of the Neratzia Castle and the early Christian baptistery of Agios Ioannis; as well as works on the Defterdar mosque and the Purification Fountain, plus reconstruction of an Italian arcade and the creation of an open-air sculpture gallery at Nerantzia Castle. 

In addition, Kalymnos’ Venetian windmills will be restored; Leros will see a former hotel in Lakki restored; Symi will have its bell tower at the church of Agios Ioannis Prodromos restored; whereas the Panagia Horiani Church and Archaeological Museum in Halki will have works done. Lastly, works will also take place at Agathonisi’s Thematic Archaeological Museum. 

New Underwater Museum in Piraeus Gets the Green Light

Athens will soon be welcoming visitors to a vast underwater museum with open shipwrecks and other submerged heritage sites following the Greek Council of Museum’s approval of the preliminary plans for the highly-anticipated Museum of Underwater Antiquities in Piraeus.

The landmark Silo building which was built around 1935 on the waterfront of the Piraeus Port, will be transformed into a museum showcasing Greece’s maritime history. It will allow visitors access to ancient marine monuments, which remain where they were found on the seabed.

Insights Greece - New Underwater Museum in Piraeus Gets the Green Light
New underwater museum of Piraeus

Piraeus is the largest port in Greece and one of the largest seaports in the Mediterranean Sea. According to the Ministry of Culture, “Piraeus Cultural Coast project aims to connect tourism with culture and the city with the port. The New Museum of Underwater Antiquities is linked to the sea, the journey, the discoveries, the research, and the adventure. The new museum will be accommodated in an area of diachronic habitation and will highlight the most important aspect of Greek cultural heritage; our marine tradition.”

The new museum will include shipwrecks, ship models, ancient cargo, and historical maps, as well as galleries, exhibitions, an amphitheatre, a library, as well as an emphasis on education programs and scientific projects, a conservation laboratory; plus a restaurant.

“The main purpose of the creation of the Museum of Underwater Antiquities is to highlight the relationship between Greek culture and its long history with the sea via well-preserved underwater finds. Visitors will be able to dive into the past and view submerged settlements,” announced Lina Mendoni, Minister of Culture and Sport.  

Images Courtesy of Greece’s Ministry of Culture and Sports 

Exhibition Honouring Greece’s Much-Loved Melina Mercouri Opening in Athens

The City of Athens in collaboration with the Culture Ministry is honouring Greece’s much-loved actress, activist, and politician Melina Mercouri, with a special exhibition at Technopolis in Gazi, which is set to open its doors on Tuesday, the 18th of January 2022.

The life and work of Melina Mercouri will be on display- through rich photographic and audiovisual material. Visitors will also have the chance to view some of her personal items, many of which will be exhibited for the first time.

Titled “Remember and Love Me”, the exhibition is to mark the occasion of Melina’s 100th anniversary of her birth, with visitors taken on a journey through three sections- based on Melina’s career in films, theatre as well as her political life. The aim of the event is to highlight the passionate artist who rose to international fame; as well as Melina’s love of her homeland and what she offered not only to Greece but to Greeks and Philhellenes worldwide.  

“Melina – as we all call her – with her inexhaustible vitality and rare charm, with her intense dynamism and international radiance, the actress, the politician, the woman who was much loved, as she loved with passion, who defended to the end her ideas and beliefs, the “last Greek goddess,” comes to life again in Technopolis,” announced the organisers of the exhibition.

Mercouri was passionate about everything she did. From gracing the screen (she was most famous for her role as Ilya, on “Never on Sunday”) and stage in the early part of her life, to fighting the fascist junta that took control of Greece in 1967, to campaigning for the protection and promotion of culture in Europe, she became Greece’s most famous Minister for Culture; where she strongly advocated the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece.

Items on display will include film and theatre costumes worn by Melina; vintage posters from her cinema career; photos of Mercouri with local Greek and international personalities such as Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth, Salvador Dali, Indira Gandhi, Arthur Miller, Rudolf Nureyev, Omar Sharif, Ava Gardner, and Catherine Deneuve; original scripts with handwritten notes; letters; her dressing room; memorabilia, documents, and items she carried with her during her last trip to New York.

Address: Technopolis of Athens, Pireos Street 100, Athens  

Dates: January 18 to March 11, 2022

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 11 am to 8 pm

Admission: Free entry

Images Courtesy of the Melina Mercouri Foundation 

Parthenon Fragment Returned from Sicily, Now on Display at Acropolis Museum

A fragment from the Parthenon temple that was recently returned to Greece by the regional archaeological museum of Sicily, has now been placed on the Parthenon frieze at the Acropolis Museum in Athens, where it will remain on display as part of a long-term loan. 

The fragment depicts the right foot and part of the dress of the Greek goddess Artemis, which once sat on the eastern frieze of the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple atop the Acropolis Hill.

The slab was unveiled in a ceremony at the Acropolis Museum yesterday, January 10, as the fragment was placed in the Parthenon Gallery – a glass-walled chamber with a view of the Parthenon- displaying sculptures of the temple’s 160-metre-long frieze in the same position as they were on the original monument (with plaster copies replacing pieces that are now mainly in the British Museum.)

Insights Greece - Parthenon Fragment Returned from Sicily, Now on Display at Acropolis Museum
The fragment from Palermo on its base, at the position where it’s placed at the east frieze at the Acropolis Museum. Images by Paris Tavitian © Acropolis Museum

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, the director of Acropolis Museum Nikos Stambolidis and the President of the Acropolis Museum Dimitris Pantermalis attended the ceremony, as Greek officials warmly welcomed the development, stressing that it shows the way for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures kept for two centuries at the British Museum.

Also at the ceremony was Assessor, Dr. Alberto Samonà, Cultural Heritage and Identity of Sicily, who said during the event, “We hope that after Sicily, other regions and countries also decide to take a step forward so that we can build together a new humanism.” 

It is unclear how Fagan came to own the fragment, which has been in Palermo, Sicily, since 1818 and was part of the archaeological collection of Robert Fagan, a British diplomat and art dealer who was appointed consul general for Sicily and Malta in the early 19th century. Following his death, his widow sold the piece to the University of Palermo’s Regio Museum, now the Salinas Museum. 

Director of A. Salinas Museum in Palermo, Dr. Caterina Greco added, “Today is a very important day, both for the culture and for me personally. The reconnection of the fragment with the other fragments on display in this majestic museum first seals, in the most representative degree, the feelings of brotherhood and cultural identity that have connected Sicily with Greece for centuries.”

The Italian museum has returned the fragment on loan to Greece for eight years with a view of permanent repatriation. It can be viewed by the public at the Acropolis Museum, which is one of the world’s most visited museums.  

Images by Paris Tavitian © Acropolis Museum

Athens’ Historic Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Athens’ famous Odeon of Herodes Atticus has been staging musicals and theatrical performances for over two thousand years.

Set on the southwest slope of the Acropolis, it’s one of the Greek capital’s most striking historic monuments and one of the world’s most stunning open-air theatres.

Insights Greece - Athens’ Historic Odeon of Herodes Atticus
One of the world’s oldest functioning theatres

Featuring a three-story stone front wall, the theatre wasn’t always open-air; the original façade of arches was closed in by a wooden and tiled roof and was known as the most prestigious Roman-era theatre in ancient Athens and a landmark of the city, even in ancient times.

The roof burnt down around a century after it was built and its condition declined over the centuries, however, performances and public events still took place- even during the German occupation. 

Herodion was renovated in 1950, with the audience seats and the stage being restored using Pentelic marble; taking the capacity to around 5,000.  

Since its renovation, Herodion became the main venue of the Athens Festival, which runs from May through October each year and it has also hosted some of the world’s leading performers – from home-grown legends including Mikis Theodorakis, Manos Hatzidakis, Maria Callas and Nana Mouskouri to international stars such as Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli and Frank Sinatra and pop icons Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli, Elton John and Sting.  

Insights Greece - Athens’ Historic Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Renovated in 1950

Today you can attend the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, a range of musical events and classical tragedies at Herodion. Under the Athenian-lit sky, you will be able to enjoy a fabulous acoustic performance. Events are held from May through to early October when the theatre is open and if you are in Athens during this time- and there is a performance taking place – we highly recommend you book yourself a ticket as it will definitely be a cultural experience you will never forget! 

Getting there

The Herodes Atticus theatre is located at the base of the southwestern slope of the Acropolis, on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street. It is around a 750m walk (10 minutes) from the Acropolis metro station (red line). 

Tip: Photos (with or without flash) or video recording by phone or other devices (without prior permission) are not permitted during a performance.

Main Image by Eric Domas ©

Tour Ancient Olympia From Anywhere in the World Via Digital Recreation

Viewers around the world can now see what Ancient Olympia, home of the first-ever Olympic Games looked like during its prime more than 2,500 years ago, thanks to an amazing new digital recreation.

The project, which was launched on Wednesday by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has virtually re-created Ancient Olympia and is named “Common Grounds.” The program allows users anywhere in the world the chance to explore Ancient Olympia, one of the world’s most important and famous sites, from their laptops, mobile app, or with Microsoft’s HoloLens headsets at the Athens Olympic Museum.

“Digitally preserving Ancient Olympia has created a time capsule of one of history’s most important periods—brought to life in a realistic, engaging way that was never before possible. This new form of digital archiving will continue to offer a portal to another era, helping us understand what humanity has achieved in the past, and reminding us what we’re capable of today,” announced Microsoft. 

A team including the Greek government and Microsoft used thousands of images, as well as archaeological research, to reconstruct Ancient Olympia.

“With the digital representation of the Panhellenic sanctuary of Ancient Olympia, its cultural heritage becomes accessible to the whole world,” said Hellenic Republic Minister of Culture and Sports, Lina Medoni.

The state-of-the-art reconstruction, she added, also helps to highlight the values of ‘Olympism’, peace, harmony, excellence, and noble rivalry.

The website and the mobile app enable anyone to take a virtual guided tour remotely or in-person at Olympia; exploring a virtual recreation of 27 sites including the ancient Olympic Stadium, a gymnasium where athletes trained, and temples devoted to the Greek gods Hera and Zeus. At the Olympic Museum in Athens, visitors can use Microsoft’s mixed-reality HoloLens headsets that overlay visual information on top of what the viewer sees.

According to Microsoft, the models of the classic buildings were constructed using hundreds of thousands of images taken with cameras and drones and put together using AI technology. The models were then enhanced using information from archaeological research to help viewers understand what the sites would have looked like 2500 years back.

“What ancient Greece created is what humanity around the world still needs, maybe, even more, today than 25 centuries ago,” says Microsoft President Brad Smith.

Virtually Explore Ancient Olympia here

62nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival Kicks Off

The 62nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival (TIFF), one of the oldest film festivals worldwide and one of the leading film events in Southeast Europe, has officially kicked off; taking place from the 4th through to the 14th of November, 2021.

Screening close to 200 films in selected movie theatres across Thessaloniki, there is also a  digital platform, where 144 titles will be featured. The Festival opened last night with Audrey Diwan’s Golden Lion winner, Happening and the popular event will close its curtains with another French title, Paris, 13th District by Jacques Audiard.

The TIFF focuses on independent cinema and emerging filmmakers from around the world- serving as an essential platform for film professionals from Greece and Southeast Europe. The event normally attracts an audience of more than 80,000; including hundreds of Greek and foreign guests, plus well-known artists, directors, producers and  talented crew from the international film scene. 

According to Festival Director Orestis Andreadakis, this year, films from all over the world will be screened at the famous halls of Olympion at the central Aristotelous Square, at Warehouse 1 close to the port, as well as at the Makedonikon Cinema.

Insights Greece - 62nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival Kicks Off
Makedonikon Cinema in Thessaloniki

For the first time, TIFF will host three competition sections: International Competition (a program with films from across the Globe), Meet the Neighbors Competition (with first or second features from Greece’s extended “neighborhood”), and Film Forward Competition section (with films that go beyond the conventions of film genres).

The 14 films selected in the international competition, three of which are Greek, are feature debuts or sophomore films and will be setting their sights on the Golden Alexander. They are Holy Emy by Araceli Lemos, Moon, 66 Questions by Jacqueline Lentzou, and Pack of Sheep by Dimitris Kanellopoulos.

Another three Greek films participate in the Meet the Neighbors competition section: .dog by Yianna Americanou, 18 by Vassilis Douvlis, and The Man with the Answers by Stelios Kammitsis. In addition, another triplet of Greek films is found in the “Film Forward” competition section: Magnetic Fields by Giorgos Goussis, ORFEAS2021 directed by the performance art duo FYTA and The Timekeepers of Eternity by Aristotelis Maragkos.

Moreover, the 62nd TIFF is screening eight masterpieces of Greek cinema, within the framework of the initiative “Motherland, I See You: The 20th Century of Greek Cinema”, held by the Hellenic Film Academy, under the auspices of the “Greece 2021” Committee, and sponsored by the National Centre of Audiovisual Media and Communication (grand sponsor), the Greek Film Centre, Athens Epidaurus Festival and Thessaloniki Film Festival, with the support of the Greek Film Archive and Finos Film. “Motherland, I See You: The 20th Century of Greek Cinema” is an initiative dedicated to salvaging, digitalizing, screening, and studying films from the diverse heritage of 20th-century Greek cinema. 

The majority of the program’s Greek films will also be available online, through the Festival’s platform.

Organisers have also made note that this annual celebration of the Cinema will take place safely, observing all the health protocols, as only those who have a vaccination certificate or intellect will be able to enter the rooms.

For the full program head to Thessaloniki International Film Festival 

Images Courtesy of TIFF

Celebrating OXI Day, October 28

Oxi Day commemorated on the 28th of October each year, is one of the proudest National Holidays of Greece, highlighting the important role the country played in WWII. 

On this day in 1940, Greece’s Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas denied Benito Mussolini’s request to allow Italian troops to cross the border into Greece. He responded to the Italian ultimatum in French, “Alors, c’est la gueree!” meaning “Then it is War!”

In the days following, the word of Metaxas’ denial had spread around Greece’s capital and the Greek population took to the streets shouting “Oxi!”. The decision made by Metaxas on the 28th of October 1940, is commemorated each year as a day that represents heroism, bravery, and solidarity for millions of Greeks all around the world.

Insights Greece - Celebrating OXI Day, October 28
PM Metaxas was praised by the people of Greece

What Happened On This Day In History

The “No” of Metaxas expressed the feelings of all Greeks, echoed in the streets and throughout the land – as they yelled “No” to fascism, “No” to occupation. The Greek troops, skilled in fighting in this rough and mountainous territory, succeeded in pushing them back. 

Many historians worldwide believe that Greece’s bravery may have changed the course of the war. It was ultimately necessary for the Germans to occupy Greece, which diverted their resources, and delayed their invasion of Russia, which led to their eventual defeat.

Greece’s bravery was recognised by allies and enemies alike.

People like the American president Franklin D. Roosevelt, the British statesman Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, and Charles de Gaul praised the Greek army as well.

“Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks” – Winston Churchill

Insights Greece - Celebrating OXI Day, October 28
Students parading in the streets

Traditions for OXI Day In Greece

On this day in Greece, most public buildings, homes and streets are adorned with Greek flags on balconies, doors and windows. You will see parades and other festivities taking place throughout the country. It is a national holiday, which means that everything is closed, with the exception of cafes and restaurants.

The October 28th holiday is also celebrated by Greeks around the world; parades and festivities take place internationally including major cities in the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia.

How do Greeks celebrate their national anniversary?

In schools, pupils recite poems, sing songs or play scenes from the Greek-Italian war wearing costumes of the time. The school teachers usually talk about Greeks’ heroism at the war.

On the anniversary day, schoolchildren parade on the main street of their city, island, or village, as they march synchronously along with military music. Pupils’ parents and many people watch the parade, waving small flags and applauding. The best student of each school holds the Greek flag in the parade and is called simeofóros ‘the flag-bearer’.

There are also cultural groups, with each region of Greece wearing its own traditional costumes, and performing their music and dances. 

Insights Greece - Celebrating OXI Day, October 28
The Greek flag raised high

Then the armed services of Greece parade. The military cadets in dress uniform march, and also all of the special units. In Thessaloniki, boats from the navy come to the harbour. The tanks of the army fill the surrounding streets and join the military parade. Skilled air force pilots fly in precise formations overhead, and military helicopters also. 

This is also the time that Greeks honour the bravery of all the emergency services and rescue teams, the mountain rescue, firefighters, coast guard, first responders, and others that dedicate their lives to the safety and protection of others.

Before the parade, they lay a wreath of laurel onto the monument or square of the municipality or village they live in.

After the parades, families, and friends get together and many times eat out in a tavern. This is a time for a big lunch or a festive afternoon with friends in a traditional taverna. 

Where are the biggest parades?

Insights Greece - Celebrating OXI Day, October 28
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Syntagma Square

The biggest celebration in Greece happens in Thessaloniki, with a student and military parade and many officials attending. In Athens and all other cities of Greece, there are student parades and an all-over festive feel.

Free admission to Archaeological sites and Public Museums

On Oxi Day, admission to archaeological sites and public museums around Greece is free.

This includes the Acropolis, Ancient Agora, Ancient Delphi, Ancient Mycenae, and Ancient Epidaurus.

In addition, you can visit the Acropolis Museum, National Archaeological Museum, or the Byzantine Museum free of charge. 

Art Athina Returns in November 2021 

Greece’s largest annual international visual art event Art Athina returns both digitally and in-person this year.

Showcasing a curated selection of local and international galleries from Europe, America, and the Oceania region, this edition will be presented at the landmark King George Hotel at Syntagma Square.

Under the auspices of the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the event will take place through the digital platform Art Athina Virtual 2021 and with the exhibition Art Athina Pop Up.

It will be held digitally from November 1 to November 30 and can be visited in person on the ground floor of the King George Hotel in Syntagma Square on November 12-21. 

More than 45 galleries from Greece and abroad will participate in the event. The program of this year’s Art Athina includes speeches in the foyer of the Pallas Theater, videos, and performances that will have as a starting point the renewed website of the event and sometimes the streets of the city.

The Panhellenic Association of Art Galleries and the team of Art Athina with artistic director Stamatia Dimitrakopoulou are responsible for the event.

Launched in 1993 by the Hellenic Art Galleries Association, Art-Athina has been promoting Greek contemporary art creation and has been established as a great meeting point for artists from the Greek and the wider international community. It is now the biggest annual international visual art event in Greece. 

Legendary Greek Composer Mikis Theodorakis Passes Away 

Greece’s greatest music composer in history, Mikis Theodorakis, whose music has touched generations of people worldwide, died on Thursday at the age of 96 in Athens, after years of suffering from a heart condition. 

Theodorakis was born on July 29 in 1925, on the island of Chios. The talented songwriter and composer wrote over 1000 songs and is viewed as Greece’s best-known composer of all time.

As a child, Theodorakis taught himself to write songs without having any access to musical instruments and performed his first concert at the age of 17.

An active resistance fighter during World War II, Theodorakis studied at the conservatories in both Athens and Paris and wrote several symphonies during the late ’50s but later returned to Greece to apply his musical knowledge to traditional Greek music, which he was most passionate about.

His first symphonic works, Concerto for Piano, First Suite, and First Symphony were internationally acclaimed and in 1957 Theodorakis won the Gold Medal in the Moscow Music Festival. Also, in 1959 Darius Milhaud proposed him for the American Copley-Music Prize as the Best European Composer of the Year, after the performances of his ballet “Antigone” at Covent Garden.

Having written many symphonies, ballets, and operas, his most popular songs include “Zorba the Greek,” for which he won a Grammy award. His work has also been performed by legendary artists including The Beatles and Shirley Bassey. Theodorakis composed the scores in films including Z (1969), which won the BAFTA Prize for original music, Phaedra (1962), and Serpiko (1973), for which he was nominated for a Grammy in 1975.  

15 Greek Islands to Visit for Dekapendavgoustos

One of the most wonderful and unique experiences for visitors to Greece over summer is attending a Panigiri (festival), which take place all over the country. The most glorious Panigiri of all is that of Dekapedavgoustos, which honours Panagia (Virgin Mary) and is celebrated with reverent services and wonderful festivities. 

Held during the peak of summer, August 15 celebrates the assumption of the Virgin Mary– a date that is one of the most important in the Greek Orthodox calendar. Also known as the ‘Summer Easter,’ August 15 is a national holiday that is celebrated throughout the country and includes festivities and fairs that last for days. 

During this period you will find central squares in villages and the courtyards of the churches filled with locals and international visitors who celebrate a day filled with good food, drinks, music, dancing, fireworks and a taste of local culture and traditions. 

Every destination in Greece celebrates August 15 in its own wonderful way and to honour this special occasion, here we’ve put together a list of our 15 favourite Greek islands to experience Dekapendavgoustos. 


The most popular celebration in the country for the commemoration of Panagia’s passing takes place on the island of Tinos, which is home to the Greek Orthodox Church’s holiest church, the Panagia Evangelistria. Thousands of pilgrims arrive in Tinos each year on August 15 to the church that is home to a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary, discovered underground in 1823. 

Insights Greece - 15 Greek Islands to Visit for Dekapendavgoustos


August 15 is a day-long celebration of the Monastery of Faneromeni in Frini, above Lefkada Town. This is a popular pilgrimage on Lefkada island from the 14 to the 15th of August. Panagia is the Patron Saint of Lefkas and all the orthodox churches of the island honour Panagia during these days with church services and celebrations that includes lots of local food and drinks. 


Celebrating the Virgin of Portaitissa over three days with numerous festivities and events; here you will eat, drink, dance and be merry amongst locals who celebrate in the main town with musicians who make sure the crowds are up and dancing day and night. 


Although there are festivals taking place all over the island, the villages of Pyles, Olympos and Menetes celebrate August 15th until the following day. Here you will find women dressed in their traditional costumes and as they walk to the church service you will see women with bread baskets decorated with flowers as an offering to Panagia. The services are followed by a huge feast, with local music and dancing. 

Insights Greece - 15 Greek Islands to Visit for Dekapendavgoustos


The largest island of the Dodecanese has many traditional festivities and events celebrating Dekapendavgoustos, however, the biggest of all takes place at Panagia Kremasti, a village known for its huge panigiri dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Locals come here to take part in the huge street fair that includes free food, drinks and music. During this time the island also celebrates Panagia Tsambika, the island’s holy and miraculous monastery. 

Insights Greece - 15 Greek Islands to Visit for Dekapendavgoustos


Ikaria, is by far the most famous island in Greece for panigiria, and during Dekapendavgousto, the village of Lagada is most well known. Here you will find thousands of locals and tourists of all ages dancing in a giant circle to the Ikariotiko. There is also plenty of local dishes and drinks going around- making it an experience to remember. 

Insights Greece - 15 Greek Islands to Visit for Dekapendavgoustos


On the 15th of August, the most popular celebrations in Lesvos take place in the village of Agiassos, home to Panagia Agiasotissa. Along with a church service and plenty of food and drinks, visitors are also invited to enjoy cultural events such as theatrical performances, dances, exhibitions and concerts. 



August 15th is celebrated in the port town of Parikia, where you will enjoy spectacular fireworks. The Ekatontapiliani church next to the port of Paros is the spot where most people head to on 15 August, as Navy ships also pay their respects to Panagia. There is a procession of the Epitaph of the Virgin Mary and the peak of the celebration is in the evening, with a large festival featuring local music and a fantastic fireworks display from the boats in the bay. 

Insights Greece - 15 Greek Islands to Visit for Dekapendavgoustos


The island of Sikinos hosts one of the Aegean’s most famous panigiria on August 15th in its Hora. During the celebration, the icon of Panagia is carried around during a procession. In the afternoon there is a church liturgy and the day ends with a huge feast and non-stop music and dance. 

Insights Greece - 15 Greek Islands to Visit for Dekapendavgoustos


The largest Cycladic island is known for its wonderful festivals and on the 15th of August the entire island hosts events with traditional food, music and dancing. The most popular one takes place in Filoti village, however, there are also great festivals celebrating Panagia at Agersani, Apollona and Apeirantho.


In Spetses, the church of the Dormition of Theotokos in Kasteli celebrates Dekapendavgoustos with wonderful traditions and the whole island attends the festivities to honour the great occasion.

Insights Greece - 15 Greek Islands to Visit for Dekapendavgoustos


Every year in Hydra, the beginning of August marks the start of the “Theomitorika” events, which are organised by the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos. Festivities peak on August 15 and last all the way through to August 22, as the entire month of August is dedicated to Panagia. 


Nisyros’ largest panigiri dedicated to Panagia is held in Emporio, a charming mountainous village. Locals and visitors gather at communal tables and spend hours eating, drinking, singing and dancing together. Locals start preparing dishes days in advance, as they feed their visitors all day long. 


On the day of the Dormition of the Virgin, Patmos celebrates with a big feast at the Monastery of Panagia Geranou. Traditional dancing, singing, and food are served at events that take place all over the island, mainly in Skala, Kambos and Chora. Church services are held on the 14th and 15th including the procession of Megali Panagia in Chora, next to the monastery of Saint John. 

Insights Greece - 15 Greek Islands to Visit for Dekapendavgoustos


Locals celebrate this Holy Feast from August 6 through to the 15th in the village of Markopoulou, home to Panagia Fidousa, where many snakes of all kinds and sizes are found inside and outside the church. According to legend, this began when the island was attacked by the pirate Barbarossa in 1705 and the nuns in the convent at Markopoulou prayed to Panagia to help them escape and were turned into snakes. Since then, “Virgin Mary’s snakes” enter the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Church and head for the icon of the virgin. The snakes are harmless and, according to locals, bring good luck to the island.

Insights Greece - 15 Greek Islands to Visit for Dekapendavgoustos