Athens at the selfies' top ten

The capital city of Greece, Athens, is among the top 10 selfie capitals of the world, according to a list drawn up by travel site Suggestme.com. Syntagma square and the Acropolis attracted people to get a selfie photo.

London has beat off metropolises including New York, Amsterdam and Barcelona to be named the selfie capital of the world.

Iconic landmarks Big Ben, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace are the most irresistible locations for people to capture a self-portrait.

According to social media analysis, more than 14 per cent of selfies were found to be captured in the city.

Suggestme.com analysed 6.3 million social media messages from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere to produce the results.

Times Square and Statue of Liberty helped New York to get the second place. Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Sydney, Istanbul, and Athens complete the top 10. Among the individual landmarks, the Colosseum in Rome trumps all over global attractions as the most popular selfie backdrop.


The Chryselephantine Doors of the Parthenon

by Spencer Pope and Peter Schultz

Two scientists propose a speculative solution to a problem recently discovered in the Parthenon building account inscriptions. As restored, the accounts (IG 13 449, lines 389–94) specify the purchase and sale of a large lot of ivory quite late in the building’s construction. Where was this ivory used? Since it cannot readily be connected to Pheidias’ chryselephantine image of Athena, this material can be associated with the decoration of the Parthenon’s enormous cedar doors. In addition to a range of epigraphical and structural evidence supporting this hypothesis, the literary and archaeological data suggest a long tradition of adorning doors with gold and ivory in Greek sacred architecture. The Parthenon was a fundamental part of this tradition. Indeed, by creating a gold and ivory frame to complement and emphasize Pheidias’ gleaming statue, the Parthenon’s designers played on ancient expectations regarding divine images and enhanced the epiphanic effect of Pheidias’ masterpiece and the Parthenon as a whole.

It is well known that the Parthenon inventories list gold elements once attached to the building’s doors. Even so, this hardly proves that the doors were fully chryselephantine: ivory is not mentioned in the inventory account in specific connection with a set of doors. However, epigraphic evidence for the use of ivory in the building does occur in the Parthenon building accounts. How was this ivory used? We believe it likely that this precious material was originally intended for use on the Parthenon’s doors. This hypothesis makes good sense of the chronology and even better sense of the construction logistics. The fragile nature of the inlaid gold, often in the form of thin foil, would necessitate that the adornment of the doors occurred toward the end of the building process, especially when the dangers of theft or damage are considered. The precious adornment for the doors would have been one of the building’s finishing touches, carried out only after the Parthenon’s iron grilles were set in place between the columns of both of the porches; the grilles would have protected the valuable materials used for the doors, which would otherwise have been exposed.

Of course, this evidence is incomplete and can only suggest (not prove) that the ivory recorded at IG 13 449, lines 389–94 was scrap from the Parthenon’s doors. Even so, a survey of other building accounts and literary texts reveals a firm tradition of chryselephantine doors being used for temples and other sacred buildings both preceding and succeeding the construction of the Parthenon. The choice to adorn the Parthenon’s doors with both gold and ivory has ample comparanda both within and beyond the ancient Greek world.

(American Journal of Archaeology)


The great greek poet C. P. Cavafy was born and died on April 29th

From the Cavafy archive website: official page

Constantine Petrou Photiades Cavafy (as he wanted the family name to be spelled in English), son of Peter-John Ioannou Cavafy and Charicleia Georgaki Photiades, was born in Alexandria on 29 April 1863. Both his parents were natives of Constantinople, and Constantine was proud of his heritage and his illustrious ancestors. His Phanariote great-grandfather Peter Cavafy (1740-1804) was Secretary of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, while his Phanariote great-great-grandfather John Cavafy (1701-1762) was Governor of Jassium, as was his great-grandfather Michael Scarlato Pantzo (brother of Meletius, Patriarch of Alexandria), while his great-great-great-grandfather Theodosius Photiades (brother of Cyril, Bishop of Caesarea Philippi) was an Official of the Ottoman Government.

Cavafy was a cosmopolitan by birth, his family roots extending from Constantinople to London (via Alexandria, Trebizond, Chios, Trieste, Venice and Vienna), and was the youngest of seven brothers (two more elder siblings, a boy and the sole girl, died in infancy).


Cavafy made a clear distinction between his public persona and his personal life, which became a cause celebre as soon as his poetry became popular. He was, above all, a poet (in his last passport, issued in 1932, under «Occupation» he declared «Poet») and wished to be remembered solely as a poet, with no modifiers (with the possible exception of «Hellenic»). He lived a rather unremarkable public life, offering no cause for scandal to the Alexandrian community or the Athenian establishment, where he was under close scrutiny as the potential diasporic alternative to the native poet Kostis Palamas. The followers of Cavafy and Palamas first clashed in 1918, but all-out literary war was declared in Athens in 1924, only to end when Palamas published a brief and sober appreciation of Cavafy’s work. In 1926, during the Pangalos dictatorship, the Greek state honoured Cavafy for his contribution to Greek Letters by awarding him the Silver medal of the Order of Phoenix.

In his mature years, Cavafy’s interests were many and diverse, as evidenced by his personal papers, and by his unsigned comments published in the periodical Alexandrian Art (he had founded this magazine and was essentially running with the help of Aleko and Rika Singhopoulo). In 1932 Cavafy (who was a life-long smoker) first noticed an irritation in his throat, and in June of the same year his doctors in Alexandria diagnosed cancer of the larynx. He traveled to Athens for advanced treatment, which proved ineffectual. He was subjected to a tracheotomy depriving him of the power of speech, and resorted to communicating through a series of written “hospital notes”. He returned to Alexandria, where he died a few months later [on 29th of April, the day he was born] in the Greek Hospital which was close to his home (when he had moved to this apartment he had said, somewhat prophetically, «Where could I live better? Under me is a house of ill repute, which caters to the needs of the flesh. Over there is the church, where sins are forgiven. And beyond is the hospital, where we die»).

Here you can read two of his poems,


And if you can’t shape your life the way you want, at least try as much as you can not to degrade it by too much contact with the world, by too much activity and talk.

Try not to degrade it by dragging it along, taking it around and exposing it so often to the daily silliness of social events and parties, until it comes to seem a boring hanger-on.

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)


If unexpectedly, in middle night, an unseen company be heard to pass, with music and with voices exquisite, — turn not away and uselessly lament your fortune that is giving in, your work that came to nothing, the projects of your life that proved illusory from first to last. As one prepared long since, as fits the brave, bid now farewell to the departing city, farewell to the Alexandria you love. And above all, do not deceive yourself: say not that your impression was a dream, that, it may be, your hearing played you false: to futile hopes like these never descend. As one prepared long since, as fits the brave, as most fits you who gained so great a city, approach the open window steadily, and with emotion, but without the plaints and supplications of the timorous, listen — knowing it to be your last delight — listen to the elysian sounds, the exquisite instruments of the mystic company; and bid farewell to the city you are losing, farewell to the Alexandria you love.

Translated by John Cavafy

(Poems by C. P. Cavafy. Translated, from the Greek, by J. C. Cavafy. Ikaros, 2003)


A "brand new" museum at Herakleion, Crete

During next week visitors of Herakleion, the biggest city in Crete, can see a brand new museum. The local Archaeological museum is literaly brand new because the old building has been totaly restored and the exhibition is new- new.

The Greek minister of culture Panos Panagiotopoulos said today that the Archeaological Museum of Herakleion, that had been closed for restoration for eigth years, is about to open. The ceremony will be held later, but people will be able to see the whole museum that holds memorabilia of one great civilisation: the minoan.

The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is regarded as one of Europe's most important museums. The present building was constructed between 1933 and 1937 to plans by P. Karantinos, on the site of the imposing Venetian Franciscan friary destroyed by an earthquake in 1856.

The museum brings together archaeological finds from all over Crete, covering over 5500 years of the island's history. Pride of place is given to the treasures of Minoan civilisation, the entire historical course of which can thus be appreciated. Justly regarded as the home of Minoan civilisation par excellence, the museum houses the most important collection of Minoan antiquities the world over.

You can see very interesting and very beautiful objects like the jewel with the bees from Malia, the Snake Godess, the Phaestos disc or same vases called Camaraika because they come from the region Camares.

This is really a great museum and some 1 million visitors enjoy its treasures every year (except the last 8).


Where to drink a coffee, while being downtown?

When you walk across the archaeological sites at the historical center of Athens you see many trees and bushes. But in general, Athens is mostly nude of green. So, just enjoy the view and the sense of the landscape as it was during the ancient times going to Monastiraki, Plaka, or to Filopappou and to the Acropolis.

You can rest many times sitting on a stone, a bench, on some steps and then keep walking until you feel tired and stop again. If you want to have a coffee or a drink, avoid the cafeterias close to the Acropolis, they are expensive (of course there are some that are expensive but, at the same time, splendid as Dionysos- ask for its location.

You should better choose some other bar, pub, coffee shop or ice- cream shop in the neighborhood but a bit away. Walk until you like some of them and then have a look at the prices and decide. And yes, you can smoke at every shop while sitting outside.


Spring flowers everywhere

Spring is the best season to visit Athens. The weather is neither too cold nor too hot and you can enjoy walking. You will also see many flowers at parks, balconies, squares.

Unfortunately, you cannot get flowers or plants to your country due to international laws, (unless you come from Europe) but you can have with you dried herbs (basil, mint, daphne etc). You can use them when you cook, and you will like them a lot. You can also drink chamomile, local tea, and so on and you will like the way that laventer aromatizes your clothes. Just try. You will find herbs everywhere.

While walking at the historical center you will see pots with flowers in many colors. Greeks like flowers, although there are many empty balconies- as well as balconies that remind you of a garden. Enjoy the smells and the colors. And shoot everything- with your camera. The combination of nature and ancient ruins is superb, don't forget to visit an archaeological site and admire the whole, beautiful, thing.