The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, one of Athens’ most iconic and visited monuments, turns 90 this year.
Both visitors and locals who gather in large numbers to see the change of the guard are likely not aware that its construction was hugely controversial throughout the seven years it took from planning to completion.
Building the monument required extensive landscaping, as the Parliament building behind it was previously level with the upper part of Syntagma Square.
The head of the National Gallery, novelist Zacharias Papantoniou, called the project an ‘aesthetic nightmare’ and many architects held similar views.
What the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Is
The Tomb of the Unknown soldier is located in Syntagma Square in Athens by the Hellenic Parliament building.
The tomb honours all those Greek soldiers who were ever killed in war and each day, there is a special ceremony performed here that further honours the following. While visiting the city, you absolutely don’t want to miss the chance to not only see the tomb itself but to view the ceremony if you are able.
The Hellenic Parliament building, however, is more than just the parliament. That building has a rich history, as well, since it was the palace when Greece was ruled by a monarchy.
Best Time to View the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
You can head to Syntagma Square at any time in order to view the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is guarded by an Evzone soldier who is dressed up in the traditional uniform. Every hour, there is a changing of the guard ceremony located at the tomb where one Evzone soldier comes to relieve the other of his duty. If you have a chance to watch this ceremony, it’s worth the effort.
Every week at 11 AM on Sundays, there is an even larger ceremony where a group of soldiers marches to the tomb. There is also a band that marches with the soldiers, playing traditional Greek military songs. To get the full experience, you should try to not only watch the hourly changing of the guard ceremony at least once but also the event that takes place on Sundays.
Information About the Evzones
The Evzone soldiers had different roles throughout Greek history, and today, their main role is to form the Presidential Guard, which is a full battalion made up of two companies and one command company. Their principal location is in a barracks located behind the Hellenic Parliament building. They do more than just guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and participate in the changing of the guard’s ceremony. They also take place in military parades and other official state parades.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a must-see landmark to visit while in Athens. The tomb is located near the Hellenic Parliament building and represents every Greek soldier who has ever fallen in war during battle. You won’t want to miss it!