Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

   For 2012 years, the star that shone over the humble crib of Bethlehem led the wise men of the East, the Magi to the newborn Jesus and the salvation.
Since then, the Bethlehem’s star makes the humanity hope for a better world, peaceful and fair.
The story of the Magi, as we learned it in our childhood and according to the Christian tradition, begins many years before the birth of Christ, when a Persian prophet called Balaam, prophesied that “a star will rise and the Savior will be born”. The prophecy was passed on from generation to generation, …

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… From the hands of the conquerors, as the tradition says, the “Holy Gifts” was saved by Maro, the Christian wife of Sultan Murat II (1421-1451) and stepmother of Muhammad II. Maro transferred them to the Holy Monastery of St. Paul of the Holy Mountain Athos in Greece, where they remain till today and miraculously and continuously emit a fragrance…

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About the Mount Athos

The Mount Athos, or Aghion Oros, is not a common place to visit for a vacation, especially for women, since they are banned under a prohibition, in order to make the life of celibacy easier for the monks and hermits, who living in the most eastern peninsula of Halkidiki. It is a silence place dedicated to meditation, prayer, study and inner peace…

… Once the Bishop Nikolaj Velimirović wrote about Athos:

   “The kingdom without a crown, the State without an army, the Wisdom without school, the Cuisine without meat, the Wealthy without money, …”.

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All the above is for general purposes and for information only.

 © Italian Tutorial, 2012. All rights reserved.


Thirteen centuries after the total destruction of Olympia, between 1875 and 1881, a team of German archaeologists brought to light the ruins of Olympia, unearthing 130 sculptures and numerous traces of the great era. This discovery caused a revival in Europe’s interest for the Olympic Games.



Athens 1896: The first modern Olympic Games of 1896 in Athens were a great success. Thanks to the enthusiasm and help of the Greek benefactor Georgios Averof, the Kallimarmaro Panathenaico Stadium was prepared to accommodate the large cosmopolitan event.

On 6-15 April 1896 the first modern Olympic Games took place with great success in Athens, the birthplace of the Olympic Spirit and the Olympic Ideals, at the Kallimarmaro (= Artistic Marble) Panathenaico Stadium. The victory of Louis, a waterman from Maroussi, was the first big event of those Olympics and the name of Spyros Louis entered in history. The first Olympics were fully achieved.

 Since then, the institution of the games travels around the world, carrying the universal and timeless values ​​of Olympic Games to all peoples and cultures. Although the athletes who took part during the first modern Olympic Games did not exceed the number of 250, the Games in Athens 1896 were the largest sporting event ever!

The Greek officials and the audience was excited and asked to have the monopoly of the games. The IOC (International Olympic Committee), however, thought otherwise. It was decided that the games would start again and held every four years in different countries.

The Olympic flame is the symbol of the Olympic Games. It represents the theft of fire from the god Zeus by Prometheus. The flame represents the “endeavour for victory” and symbolises “the light of spirit, knowledge and life”. Now the Olympic flame is ignited several months before the opening ceremony of Olympic Games in Olympia, which is the altar of the Olympic flame. The lighting of the flame is achieved through the convergence of solar rays on a metal reflector, a concave parabolic mirror to collect sunlight. It is a great honour to invite someone to light the Olympic flame into the stadium. Once lit, the flame continues to burn throughout the duration of the Olympics and erased during the closing ceremony.


 The Olympic Oath is recited by one athlete and one judge in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. The athlete, team member of the organizing country, holds a corner of the Olympic flag and recites the oath: “In the name of all athletes, I promise to take part in these Olympic Games, respecting the regulations governing them, participating in the games without using additives and drugs, according to the true spirit of sportsmanship for the glory of sport and honour of our teams”.

The judge, who also comes from the host nation, does the same, but diversified reciting one vow: “In the name of all judges and officials, I promise that we run into these Olympic Games with complete impartiality, respecting and remaining true to rules governing them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship. We swear that we will take part in the Olympic Games in a spirit of chivalry, for the honour of our country and for the glory of sport”.

The Olympic Anthem: The Greek poet Kostis Palamas wrote the poem “Ancient immortal spirit” and the music is of Spyros Samaras. The Olympic anthem was written for the first Olympiad and it was sung during the opening and closing ceremony. The International Olympic Committee unanimously approved the adoption of the work of Samaras-Palamas as the official Olympic Anthem.

“Αρχαίο Πνεύμα αθάνατο, αγνέ πατέρα του ωραίου, του μεγάλου και του αληθινού, κατέβα, φανερώσου κι άστραψε εδώ πέρα στη δόξα της δικής σου γης και του ουρανού. Στο δρόμο και στο πάλεμα και στο λιθάρι, στων ευγενών Αγώνων λάμψε την ορμή και με τo αμάραντο στεφάνωσε κλωνάρι και σιδερένιο πλάσε και άξιο το κορμί …….”

“Ancient immortal spirit, pure father of beauty, great and true, come down, be reveled and flashed here in the glory of thy land and sky. In running and in fighting and in stone, shine at these noble Games’ momentum and with amaranth wreath crowned and create a worthy body of iron …..”

The Olympic Flag: Baron de Coubertin designed the Olympic flag in 1913-14. It depicts five interlocking rings on a white background. The five interlocking coloured circles represent the five continents (blue for Europe, yellow for Asia, black for Africa, green for Australia and red for America) and the meeting of the world’s athletes at the Olympic Games.

The Olympic motto: «Citius, Altius, Fortius» (faster, higher, stronger).

The Olympic Ideology: The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to participate, as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight. The essential aim is not winning, but hard battle.

Still nowadays, as in ancient Greece, the Olympics are the most important sporting competition on earth, which brings the world’s best athletes to one stage to compete for their countries.

    Good luck to all of them!

In bocca a lupo!” (=”Good Luck!“) (as Romulus and Remus, saved by the she-wolf, who took them in his mouth in a safe place).

All the above is for information only.

© Italian Tutorial, 2012. All rights reserved.

The most credible date for the beginning of the Ancient Olympic Games is 776 BC. This is based on inscriptions found at Olympia.

Olympia was a religious Greek city, where priests lived only to worship the Gods and to guard the tombs. During the Olympic Games, held in honor of Zeus, Olympia became a crowded place, where trade flourished. Around the Olympic Stadium, which could accommodate 40,000 to 60,000 spectators, was create a village of tents that housed the visitors.

Approaching the time of the Games, men who were holding olive branches trumpeted the message of the Olympic ceasefire throughout Greece, which means stopping the hostilities and banning the death penalty. In fact, during the Olympic Games, all fighting stopped and soldiers travelled to Olympia to compete in the Games and to honour Zeus. For seven days before, seven days after and for the whole period of the Games fighting was illegal and it was considered disrespectful to the Gods.

The participation to the games it was allowed only for free Greek citizens who spoke Greek and it was no permitted to the barbarians, slaves, offenders and married women; unmarried women were allowed to watch, so they could find a husband. The punishment of women in breach of this prohibition was death. However, the mother of an athlete, Kallipateira, could not resist the pleasure to see her son participating to the Games. So, disguised as a trainer, sneaked into the stadium and mixed with the crowd. But, she was recognised and condemned to death. However, she was forgiven because Kallipateira belonged to a family of famous athletes, since her father and her brothers were crowned winners in previous competitions.

Initially the only Olympic Game was Running, a speed event at a distance of 192.27 meters (= one stadium), which remained the only event until 724 BC. But why this strange distance called the “stadium“? It represented 300 times the length of the foot of Hercules. Hercules measured in a straight line 300 footsteps with his foot and the distance was called “stadium”. Later other sports were gradually added, such as Wrestling, Boxing, Pankration (a combination of wresting and boxing), Pentathlon (javelin, discus, jumping, running and wrestling), Discus, Long Jump and Javelin.The game of Jump was accompanied by flute music, which helped athletes to gain tempo and consequently speed running.

The Olympic prize: In the ancient times, the athletes fought only for glory, since the only prize was the” kotinos”, a wreath of wild olive tree from the sanctuary of Olympia. This prize was established by order of the Oracle of Delphi. But, the moral victory was of incalculable importance. When the Olympic winner returned to the city where he was born, he enjoyed great honours:  a part of the city walls was demolished, because the city that gave birth to the Olympic champion did not need walls and through the new entrance was entering the winner. Also, the names of the winners were written in columns and they were immortalized in poems and statues and they were worshiped as heroes during their life and also after their death.

The Olympic winner was a great personality, he was considered a demigod, he was under the protection of the Gods and he was exempt from taxes for all its lifetime.

Around 350 BC The Olympic Games reached their peak. But, after Greece was conquered by the Romans everything changed. There appeared new sports, like chariot races, swordsmanship, wrestling of people with beasts, etc.

The games began gradually to decline after the Roman invasion in 146 BC and became public spectacles, where athletes and judges were corrupted and the Games lost their natural beauty and splendour of their institution and were opened to all, not only the Greek citizens. However, the Games were still very popular and attracted many people.

Born initially to please the Gods of the ancient Greeks, the ancient Olympic Games declined also for religious reasons. With the prevalence of Christianity, the emperor Theodosius I, considering that the games were a remnant of idolatry, he decided to discontinue them. So, the 286th Olympiad in 393 AD was the last of the Ancient Olympic games.

The city of Olympia could not resist the extinction of the Olympic Games. One year after their removal, Olympia was sacked, during a battle between Byzantines and Goths. In 426 Theodosius ordered to dismantle and burn the remains of the glorious Olympic site of Olympia. One hundred years later, in 526, the Alpheus River overflowed, blanketing the Olympic site with sand and mud. A page of history was now closed.

In a few days the second and final part of “Olympic Games” .

© Italian Tutorial, 2012. All rights reserved.

Italy is a peninsula in southern Europe, in the center of the Mediterranean Sea.

Italy is geographically divided into three parts::

a) Mainland Italy, which is attached to mainland Europe to the north is surrounded by the chain of mountains called the Alps and stretches to the south to the region of Emilia-Romagna.


b) Peninsular Italy, which is the rest of the so-called “boot“;



c) Italy island, which is made up by the isles of Sicily and Sardinia.




    The parts of the Mediterranean Sea around Italy are called: a) the Ligurian Sea, running from Liguria and Corsica and which is small, but deep; b) the MarTirreno, which is the largest Italian sea and ranges from Corsica to Sicily; c) the Adriatic Sea, that is from the Gulf of Venice to the Strait of Otranto and is a shallow sea and d) the Ionian Sea, running from the Strait of Otranto in the south of Sicily and is a very deep sea (its depth near Greece reaches to 5000 meters).


Italy is almost 1200 km long, but it is quite narrow, approx. 530 km and it has three climates:
   a) The mountain climate or cold continental climate) is experienced on the mountains known as Alps and Apennines. The winters are long and cold and it snows a lot. The summers are short, with lots of fresh rain.


   b) The climate of the valleys and hills (which is also called moderate continental climate) is typical of the north and central Italy. The winters are cold, summers hot. Enough rain, especially in spring and autumn.



c) The climate of the coast (Mediterranean climate) characterizes the south of Italy and the islands. The winters are mild and summers hot. It rains only in winter, rarely in summer.



   Italy has many volcanoes. Some are non active, but other volcanoes, however, are active. Three active volcanoes are located in the region of Campania, near Naples; the most famous is Mount Vesuvius. Sicily has four volcanoes; the most famous is Mount Etna.


Italy has many mountains, towering over 600 meters. The Italian mountains are grouped into two chains: the Alps at north and the Apennines  at the center and south. The Alps are a natural border to the north of Italy. The Alps mountains are young and therefore have very high peaks. For example, the Mont Blanc is 4807 m high, the Monte Rosa is 4637 meters high and the Matterhorn is 4478 meters high. All three of these mountains are in the region of Valle d’Aosta. The Apennine Mountains are young, but a bit lower than the Alps; the highest of the Apennines are the Gran Sasso, 2912 meters high and the Maiella high 2795 meters.


   Italy has few valleys and many hills, especially in the center and south regions. The more important valley is the Po Valley, which leads to the Venetian Valley. Both are located in northern Italy (or Italian mainland). The Po Valley was formed by the Po River and other rivers that join the Po. In central and southern Italy valleys are few and fairly small. They are mostly near the coast.


  The hills cover most of the Italian territory. They are located mainly in the central-southern peninsula.

Italy is surrounded, except to the north, from the sea and its territory has a rich reserve of inland waters (rivers and lakes). The southern regions, however, are more arid than northern ones, because of the scarcity of rainfalls.


   Italy has few large rivers. The largest and longest river is the Po, which receives many tributaries forms a Great Basin in northern Italy. Other important basins are those of the Adige (still in northern Italy) and then the Tiber and Arno (central Italy). In southern Italy there are no large rivers and large reservoirs.


   Italy also has many lakes. The largest and maybe most famous are the Lake Maggiore, Lake Como and

  Lake Garda (the largest in Italy). They are long and narrow, because they were caused by the glaciers. In central Italy the largest lake is Lake Trasimeno (which is tectonic). In southern Italy, there are no major lakes.

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   © Italian Tutorial, 2012. All rights reserved.