Tsiknopempti, Greece’s Traditional Barbecue Thursday 

For meat-lovers, there’s no better day to be in Greece than during the celebration of Tsiknopempti, a special day commemorated every year throughout the country, where Greeks grill and enjoy their favourite meat dishes before entering Easter lent. 

The holiday is a part of the Greek Carnival celebrations and signals the start of the last weekend before Sarakosti (40 days of fasting for Easter Lent). It takes place today eleven days before the start of Greek Orthodox Lent, Clean Monday.

Insights Greece - Tsiknopempti, Greece’s Traditional Barbecue Thursday 

What does Tsinopemto mean?

Tsiknopempti comes from the word ‘tsikna’, which refers to the smell of cooked or roasted meat, and ‘pempti’, Thursday. It is said that Thursday was chosen by the Greek Orthodox church as traditionally, Wednesday and Friday are considered days of fasting.

Traditions of Tsiknopempti

People all around Greece today prepare and enjoy their most loved meat dishes for Tsiknopempti, which gives it one of its other common names: Smoky Thursday. Most of these meat dishes are grilled on the bbq. 

Insights Greece - Tsiknopempti, Greece’s Traditional Barbecue Thursday 

It’s also a popular day for going out to eat and enjoying as many different meats as possible. Most taverns and restaurants serve a special range of meat dishes today and the smell of smoke is in the air on every street corner. If you happen to be in Greece during this time, you will see barbecue grills set up in the streets in front of homes, tavernas, cafes, and restaurants.

Traditional Tsiknopempti Dishes

The most popular meat is of course souvlaki (skewered meat), but there are also BBQ sausages, steaks, chops, kontosouvli and the meat is a range of pork, beef, chicken, veal, and goat.  

New Museum Showcasing Greek Culture Set to Open in Plaka  

A museum showcasing modern Greek culture over time is set to open in May 2021 in Athens’ historic Plaka district.

According to Greece’s Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, the Museum of Modern Greek Culture will feature exhibits that highlight the country’s culture through different periods, with the Minister stressing the importance of the location of the museum, which attracts millions of local and international visitors each year.

The layout of the complex is set around a central courtyard, in a style identical to that of the 19th and early-20th centuries, enabling visitors to experience the atmosphere of urban living in Greece during that period.

Insights Greece - New Museum Showcasing Greek Culture Set to Open in Plaka  

The property, which has been recently restored, is situated between Adrianou, Areos, Kladou, and Vrisakiou streets and has architectural remains from classical Greek and Roman antiquity. 

The 18 preserved buildings will include the 1759 Tzisdarakis Mosque, which was the first premises of the Museum since its establishment in 1918 until 1973, and The Bath House of the Winds– the only public bath of Athens surviving today. 

“The 18 buildings constitute a neighbourhood of Athens, as it was formed in the late 19th to early 20th century. It has very strong features of that period, which are revived through the exhibitions and collections of the Museum of Modern Greek Culture,” says Mendoni.

The nine buildings within the complex house the museum’s permanent installations which include over 25, 000 functional and decorative objects. Dating from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries and originating from all geographical areas of Greece, the objects include items used in the home or at work as part of everyday life and traditional customs.

Other permanent exhibits will include folk art, the history of Plaka, and traditional Greek shadow puppet theatre.

The first show to open in May will be dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution as part of the bicentennial Greece 1821-2021 events. 

*Source and Images: Museum of Modern Greek Culture 

Greek Girl in a Museum

Growing up in a home filled with antiques and collectibles and spending her childhood getting lost at archaeological sites, it’s no surprise Mariza Karidi has become a History and Philosophy student at the Kapodistrian University of Athens, and creator of “The Girl in the Museum,” a popular Greek blog informing and inspiring people to visit museums.

IN+SIGHTS GREECE recently spoke with Mariza about her love of history and culture, her favourite galleries, and her desire to open up her own museum.
Insights Greece - Greek Girl in a Museum

Tell us about your studies. 

Capturing the moment was my passion from an early age. I have a Photography degree from Middlesex University, and I’m also finishing my second degree in History and Philosophy of Science at the Kapodistrian University of Athens. I couldn’t be happier with my choices as I had a blast doing art and museology courses at both universities. Presently, I’m spending days freelancing, self-managing my properties, writing about museums, and being a student. Also, I take environmental activism pretty seriously, so I would add that to my profession.

How did your passion for museums and history begin?

My father loved to learn and share his knowledge. Because of him, I spent my childhood getting lost in museums, attending lectures for grown-ups, and discussing deep topics with his intellectual friends. He also loved to collect rare maritime antiques and wanted to build a museum for them. So, my house looks like a museum because it’s full of his collectibles until this day. Sadly, he passed away nine years ago but, happily, he managed to pass his passions on to me. Whenever I’m in a museum, I feel at home, and I aspire to start my own museum one day.

What was the idea behind your blog ‘The Girl in the Museum’? 

It’s a pity there are so many blogs about travel, beauty, cooking, but only a few about museums and none of them are in Greek. People – especially Greeks – need to know that museums are not boring institutions that our school teachers force us to visit. They are inspiring, mindful, liberal places, and everyone would have a favourite one if they gave it a chance. In fact, the experience of being in a gallery could be life-changing, and that’s why doctors prescribe museum visits as a treatment. Some doctors are even convinced that in the 21st century, culture will be what physical activity was for health in the 20th century. Therefore, I make sure to take my museum-pill daily, and then I blog about it, so more people will benefit from it.

How many museums (roughly)  have you visited?

Insights Greece - Greek Girl in a Museum

More than most people, but less than I would like to. I advise you not to count stars, summer swims, and museum visits. All should be uncountable.

Do you have a Top 3 list of museums- worldwide and in Greece?

It’s a tricky one. Housed in a stunning example of neo-Gothic architecture, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History is breathtaking, and it has to be on my list. Next, the Science Museum in London because if you are a science lover like me, you’ll feel the unique energy at the very moment you enter the building. Plus, if you’re also a coffee lover, you’ll be able to hold a good cup of coffee while wandering around the exhibits, and no one will blame you. And, of course, I can’t stop talking about Forte di Belvedere in Florence ever since I visited, because of its magnificent views. Interesting fact, that’s where Kanye West and Kim Kardashian got married. As for Greece, the Acropolis Museum deserves its fame. I also adore the Museum of Asian Art in Corfu- the only museum in Greece dedicated to Asia’s art. Lastly, the Herakleidon Museum in Athens explores the intersection between maths, science, and art. Believe me when I say it is one-of-a-kind.


Do you have a preference for modern or classical museums?

I appreciate both, but classical museums housed in buildings full of history, wooden floors, and natural light, like the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, have my heart.

What do you enjoy most when visiting a museum?

Insights Greece - Greek Girl in a Museum

Museums are not only institutions that care for a collection of artifacts. They are great places to get inspired, have a first date, work remotely, read a book, relax, and share a cup of coffee with friends. Therefore, I could revisit a cultural organisation every week. My favourite thing to say is that there are a thousand and one ways of visiting a museum, and none is better than the other.

Do you spend hours walking through a gallery?

It doesn’t take me long to see an entire exhibition, but, oh, how I could enjoy the ambiance of a museum cafe all day long. What makes me come back is the unique interiors, the friendly museum guards, and the attention to small details. Furthermore, all museums should be free; thus, everyone, rich or poor, has access to such significant cultural resources. Considering that, free admission is much appreciated.

Is there a certain period of Greek history or archaeology that you feel most drawn towards?

I have been studying Ancient Greek Philosophy for years. I’ve always been fascinated by
images of a bunch of bearded men, wearing himations, strolling around Athens, and trying to answer deep questions while flirting with each other. It is tragicomical and genius at the same time.

What museums and archaeological sites- famous and not so well known- would you highly recommend?

For the ones who like large and famous museums, the British Museum in London has it all. For folklore enthusiasts, the not so known Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum in Cologne will be a surprise. For some vintage aesthetic vibes, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford was founded in 1683. For the lovers of Greek history, the National Historical Museum in Athens, and Poseidon’s temple at Cape Sounion. And for the real museum geeks, the Criminology Museum, which functions on the grounds of the Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Due to the nature of its exhibits, the Criminology Museum is open to the public only by appointment. If you’re feeling lucky, go there and try to find a professor who will be kind enough to let you in. And remember you have to promise not to photograph the collection of the human remains.

Is there a region in Greece that you think is particularly wonderful for museum lovers?

Of course, museums are thriving in Athens and Thessaloniki. Still, I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of culture in sparsely populated regions. The Peloponnese is full of museum-gems, and the same goes for the Aegean Islands, especially Andros and Syros. The thing about museums is there is always one that you find by accident and it was the best one of your life. 

What museum will you be exploring next?

I’ve spent all my life in Athens, but only recently I’ve heard about the Vorres Museum, which lies in the shadow of Mount Ymittos. It looks lovely in pictures, and I can’t wait to visit. As for the future, Paris is always a good idea. 


It’s Vintage But Still Religiously Slurped: Why is Frappe So Adored?

Greek Frappe is famous worldwide. But what is this coffee which Greeks drink with so much pleasure?

By Maria Athanasopoulou

It’s a cold instant coffee with foam on top and you will find it on the menu of every cafe throughout the country. Invented by accident in 1957, it was created by Dimitris Vakondios from Thessaloniki.

Insights Greece - It's Vintage But Still Religiously Slurped: Why is Frappe So Adored?Its great success is due to its addictive flavour- plus the fact that it can easily be prepared in your own kitchen- which has made it a hit in Greek households.

A simple shaker is the only utensil required to make a Frappe. Sugar, coffee (Greece’s Nescafe), and a quarter of a glass of water are poured into a shaker, and after shaking it well you add several ice cubes, more water and some milk (optional). Your Greek Frappe is ready. Remember to always serve it in a tall glass.

Today, a Freddo Cappuccino is also very popular (the younger generation by far prefer this style) but the Greek frappe is still the most well-known cold coffee not only in Greece but amongst Hellenes abroad who can order it in Greek-owned cafes anywhere in the world and are also able to make it at home. In recent years it has been introduced in other countries too, mostly by those who have spent time in Greece during summer, had a taste of the Greek Frappe, loved it, and took the concept back home.

One of the most “classic” scenes defining a relaxing getaway in Greece over the warmer months, is catching large groups of people at seaside cafes, enjoying the sun, sea, and sand, with a tall glass of Frappe in hand. This beverage really has become synonymous with beach culture and warm weather. If you have already tried it, regardless of whether you love it or not, you have most likely been fascinated by its unique taste- as it truly is an original cold coffee concept. If you have not tried it yet, then I recommend you do so, and discover what this popular type of Greek coffee is all about!

Maria Athanasopoulou is the founder of the tourism marketing company Respond On-Demand, co-founder of the non-profit company Top Tourism, Chairwoman of the World Food Travel Association, Ambassador in Greece of Evintra and Ambassador in Greece and Cyprus of World Gourmet Society. She likes exploring new places and cultures and loves discovering unexplored tourism destinations. During her trips, she does her best to find out and present the most interesting aspects of the destination she has just visited.

Traditional Greek Taverna: Where the Locals Go to Eat

When it comes to types of eating establishments, the French are known for their bistros, Italians for trattorias, the Spanish for tapas bars, the British for their pubs, and the Greeks head out with family and friends to a great local taverna, which can be found in every city, village, and island around Greece. 

Not to be confused with a tavern, a taverna is a small, authentic Greek restaurant, characterised by rustic décor, relaxed atmosphere, and a limited, seasonal menu that is reasonably priced.

It is referred to as the traditional public eating house of Greek cuisine and is known to be an integral part of Greek culture. The styling is simple (checkered tablecloths, rustic tables and chairs) and they are owned and run by local families.

Insights Greece - Traditional Greek Taverna: Where the Locals Go to Eat

Greek tavernas generally have a limited amount of food on the menu and serve up what the chef has cooked fresh on the day. Here you can expect to find Greek dishes such as Moussaka, Pastitsio, Dolmades, and Gemista. Most places also include a range of grilled meat, fish and seafood, some sides, and of course a variety of dips, salads, as well as homemade sweets.

As for vegetarians and vegans, you will be delighted with the range on offer, which includes Xorta (wild greens), Padzaria (beetroot), Kolokithia (zucchinis) Gigandes (broad beans), and other seasonal vegetables. Keep in mind the local taverna is also the best place to taste local dishes and delicacies from each region.

You will also find that many tavernas located by the sea specialise in seafood and are called Psarotavernas, or Fish Tavernas. Others on the mainland may offer more meat and there is also the Hasapotaverna (the butcher’s taverna) which specialises in meat only.

This is where you will get to meet and mingle with the locals, so it really is worth a try!