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Greece

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GREECE

In the words of English actress Joanna Lumley, Greece is “already a secret place wherever you go, even if it's somewhere huge like Athens or Corinth. The place enchanted me.” Greece is indeed an enchanting land that evokes a fascinating mix of legendary mythology and great history with its plethora of ancient ruins and historic sites. Famous temples, fortresses, churches and palaces rising on the hillside and historic monasteries perched along the summits make it a captivating country. Greece, the country where theatre and philosophy were born, democracy was conceived and Alexander the Great, Aristotle and Archimedes belonged to was the cradle of European Civilization.

A beautiful mountainous country interspersed by some plain, Greece is surrounded on all sides by sea except the north. With the Aegean Sea to the east, the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Ionian Sea to the west, it is dotted by thousands of islands giving it a dramatic toothy-edged coastline of 13,676 km that incorporates charming white sandy beaches and shingle coves. Its unique geographical features have endowed it with a rich flora making it home to a host of rare and unique varieties defining Greece as the botanical paradise of Europe. The wildflowers offer wonderful walking paths when they flourish in the fall. The wild landscape is covered by maquis, a tangle of thorny shrubs and fragrant herbs such as thyme, rosemary, oregano, and bay, olive and myrtle trees.

Rich in artistic and cultural history, architecture, sculpture, pottery, icon painting, weaving, music, dances, jewelry making, and painting have a long-standing tradition in Greece. Icons (religious figures painted on flat panels of wood or cast in metal) are used in Greek orthodox religious rituals as well as to decorate and sanctify the houses.

A land of celebrations and festivals (panagiri), the country celebrates dozens of religious festivals throughout the year. The Orthodox Holy Week celebrations are the most prominent festivities in nearly all the towns and villages and include feasts, parades, traditional music and dances like the hasapiko, the tsamiko, the kalamatiano and the thiakos. Music and dance has a long history dating from Antiquity. The word ‘music’ itself is derived from ancient Greek. The distinct types of folk music use musical instruments like the bouzouki, the laouto, the tambouras, the zournas, the daouli, the dachares and the ziyiavioli.

Greek cuisine too basks in tradition. To the Greeks, food is philosophy. The national dish of Greece, moussaka (cinnamon spiced meat mingling with eggplant topped with a delicious creamy sauce) is still made from recipes handed down from generation to generation.

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