Changing of the Guard at Hellenic Parliament in Athens

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Updated: May 1, 2023
By Santorini Dave

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Two guards in traditional Greek military garb, with legs raised

Changing of the Guard at the Greek Parliament Building

Evzones, also referred to as Tsolias, represent an esteemed contingent of Greek soldiers who serve as members of the Presidential Guard. This distinguished ceremonial unit is entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Hellenic Parliament Building. Additionally, they perform the symbolic act of raising and lowering the national flag every Sunday on the historic Acropolis, further showcasing their dedication to the country’s heritage and traditions.

At the Parliament building, Evzones stand guard in one-hour shifts, three times within every 48-hour period. During each hour, they remain perfectly still until it is time to swap places with another guard. To ensure flawless coordination during the changing of the guard, they work in pairs and execute their movements in slow motion. This not only protects their blood circulation after standing motionless for an hour but also highlights their rigorous military training and the exceptional physical fitness required for these duties.

The Evzones’ distinctive uniforms, rich in historical significance, are meticulously handcrafted, with their design evolving from the attire worn by two groups of warriors — the Kleftes and Armatoloi — Ottoman revolutionaries during the Greek War of Independence in 1821. The guards wear more casual versions of the uniform in their daily routine, opting for khaki in summer and navy blue in winter. However, on Sundays and formal occasions, they don the striking formal white uniforms adorned with intricately stitched waistcoats.

The formal white skirt, or foustanella, features exactly 400 folds, symbolizing the 400 years of Ottoman rule over the Greeks. Their pom-pommed leather clogs, or tsarouhia, contain 60 nails in each sole, producing a resonant sound with every graceful step taken — a symbolic reminder that the Greeks are alive and well for their ancestors to hear. Each tsarouchia weighs over one and a half kilograms. The Evzones’ red caps display a Greek coat of arms on the front and a long silk tassel on the side.

Two guards in traditional Greek costume next to sentry houses in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens.

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.

Map showing the route of the weekly Changing of the Guard at the Hellenic Parliament building in Athens

Hourly Changing of the Guard at Greek Parliament

Two evzones in traditional Greek military attire face each other

Guards marching in traditional Greek military uniform

Traditional Greek military guards marching with arms and legs outstretched

Two men in Traditional Greek military uniforms high-step in tandem.

Two Greek military guards stand back-to-back in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Two men in traditional Greek military garb, facing opposite directions, each with one leg extended.

Two evzones face each other with legs raised on either side of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Two evzones face each other with legs raised symmetrically

Two evzones stand back to back with rifles on their shoulders

One Greek military guard oversees two others as they change places

Two members of the Greek military guard stand with rifles raised in tandem

Evzones march down the steps of Greek Parliament, with legs raised in tandem

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