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Changing of the Guard at the Greek Parliament Building
Evzones (also known as Tsolias) are an elite group of Greek soldiers and members of the Presidential Guard, a ceremonial unit that guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Parliament Building. They also raise and lower the flag every Sunday atop the Acropolis.
At the Parliament building, Evzones guard for about an hour at a time, 3 times in total every 48 hours. During this hour, they must stand perfectly still until it’s time to trade places with another guard. During the changing they work in pairs which helps them perfectly coordinate their moves. Their movements are made in slow motion in order to protect their blood circulation after being still for an hour. Evzones undergo strenuous military training and have to be in great physical shape to be able to fulfill their duties.
The Evzones’ distinctive uniforms are painstakingly handmade and flush with historical meaning; they have evolved from the uniforms worn by 2 groups of warriors called Kleftes and Armatoloi, Ottoman revolutionaries during the Greek War of Independence in 1821. In daily use, the guards wear a more casual version of the uniform; khaki in summer and navy blue in winter. On Sundays and formal occasions, however, they don formal white uniforms with intricately-stitched waistcoats.
The Evzone’s formal white skirt (foustanella) has exactly 400 folds that represent the 400 years of Ottoman rule over the Greeks. There are 60 nails in the soles of each pair of their pom-pommed leather clogs (tsarouhia), which create the striking sound you hear every time they take a graceful step. The sound is symbolic: it is made so that their ancestors can hear that Greeks are alive and well. Each tsarouchia weighs over one and a half kilograms. The Evzones’ red caps feature a Greek coat of arms on the front and a long silk tassel to the side.
Athens Changing of the Guard schedule
- Daily: Every hour on the hour in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Hellenic Parliament Building.
- Sundays: The formal ceremony begins at 11am, with an elaborate parade of Evzones led by a military band, that marches west down Vasilissis Sofias Avenue before turning left onto Vasilisis Amalias, passing Syntagma Square, and advancing up to the Hellenic Parliament building and the Monument of the Unknown Soldier. Arrive 15-20 minutes early to get a good view.
Hourly Changing of the Guard at Greek Parliament