Syntagma Square

Athens, Greece | C.1843

Photo Credit: Claire Walker

Syntagma Square has seen years of history, and almost every major event in Greece’s history has been mourned or celebrated at this location. It is the central square of Athens, Greece and is a recognizable landmark throughout the country.

King Otto, the first king of Greece, commissioned the construction of the Square in the early 19th century, and it quickly became the main square within the newly founded capital city. The name Syntagma means “constitution” and the Square was renamed after the constitution that Otto was obliged to grant after a popular military uprising on September 3rd, 1843.

Located in front of the 19th century Old Royal Palace that was built for King Otto around 1842, it has housed the Greek Parliament since 1934. The important square has become a popular place for political demonstrations, it is considered the most important square of modern Athens from both a historical and social point of view.

Also located at Syntagma Square is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Every hour, the changing of the guard ceremony, performed by the Presidential Guard, is conducted in front of the Tomb on the area between the Square and Parliament building. Guards on duty perform their movements in a very slow and highly stylized manner only switching positions every fifteen minutes and remain completely motionless at attention throughout the routine.

Today, The Presidential Guard acts as a purely ceremonial unit, distinguished as the last unit of Evzones in the Hellenic Army. They are closely associated with the traditional Evzone’s uniform, which evolved from the clothes worn by the klephts in the Greek War of Independence.

Throughout the years, the Square has seen a few renovations and changes, including the addition of new sidewalks and the rerouting of traffic. For the most part, the historic square has remained largely unchanged, and continues to be the main square and a focal point of the Greek capital.

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