Byzantines

This was a race of people who lived in Byzantium. This is the city that the Romans founded called Constantinople and later become Istanbul . This was the subject of a BBC 4 program last winter called A city of 3 names – Constantinople, Byzantium and Istanbul.

The Byzantines were famous for their religious beliefs. They created a style of art that is unique and there many museums dedicated to it. There is an exhibition on Byzantine art in Lefkás town on top of the library that I have written about previously and I have seen an exhibit in London at a Hellenic centre too. There is also one in Berlin on Museum Island.

There is however only so much information that you can take in over the course of a holiday. This is why I haven’t been in that one yet but I hope to return to Berlin to check it out. I also want to go to Istanbul to see Hagia Sophia and all of the other treasures that are inside the city as I have previously mentioned when talking about the Ottoman Empire.

Best wishes

Angela

Cathedral of the Sea on Netflix

This is a show that came out in 2018 based on the 2006 novel of the same name by the Spanish author and lawyer Ildelfonso Falcones.

He wrote about the building of a very famous cathedral Santa Maria del Mar that was built by the guild of stonemasons in Barcelona. They built it for the Virgin Mary hence the name Saint Mary of the Sea. This took place in the Middle Ages (14th century precisely) so it was a feudal society with no mechanisation. Most of the population were slaves and they lived in dire poverty as they had no property or money of there own. They were simply uneducated and illiterate labourers with no prospects of advancement. This also meant that women had no rights as they were property of first their father and then there husband. They were educated in the art of bringing up children and running a household as that’s all they were expected to do.

It’s originally in European Spanish but you can watch it with subtitles or dubbed into English. I prefer to watch shows in the original language with subtitles as I believe I get a more authentic experience then. I previously mentioned this as part of a much earlier post talking about using bilingual programs on Netflix to help further my progress in learning languages Netflix.

I love history, travel, culture as well as being overly enthusiastic about words. I also like architecture which is as much mathematics and design as well as art and I love reading!

The article on Wikipedia provides a little more insight if you wish to get to know the author, his work or the era better –The Cathedral of the Sea.

This is Greece on PBS with Michael Scott

I have been to Northern and Central Greece on a road trip and I have seen some of the magnificent treasures that are contained within. It’s fabulous that we can still look at all of this architectural, natural and archaeological evidence starting from the influential reign of Philip II. It was one of many crucial milestones in the formation of Greece which will be covered in this series of 5 programs. It’s power still resonates for all to see and will continue to echo through the ages for all to witness for eons to come I hope.

He first of all mentions the tomb of Philip II of Macedon as it is certainly a sight to behold. The museum contains the results of the excavations done on the site and the artefacts are astonishing in their brilliance. It is not much to look at from the outside but it is certainly worth taking your time to visit.

During the course of the shows he is visiting the historic sites of Northern Greece starting with Thesonlaniki and its White Tower. While it may seem odd to start a program with reference to a Tomb that isn’t actually in the second city; it is the man himself and that of his son Alexander the Great that exerts such a great influence on the development of Greek history that they have to be addressed first.

I have wanted to visit the city for a while due to its historical and cultural pedigree but I haven’t quite been able to manage it yet. It’s a considerable distance from where I usually am in Greece so it’s still on the waiting list. When I will be able to cross it off is still up for debate.

Phillipi is his next stop on his grand tour. This is a place I don’t recall ever hearing about and it’s a set of ruins. It has a Roman amphitheater and many buildings congregated in the shape of a town. As you may have guessed by its name, it was founded by Philip II. It was on the great Roman Road, the Villa Egnatia. As the program explains it was the first Christian colony due to the time the apostle Paul spent incarcerated there. This was because he disagreed with aspects of the Roman way of life as detailed in the Bible in Philippians.

Kavala (Neopolis or new city as it was known) is the port of Philippi and where we must journey next in our odyssey. We are using the Villa Egnatia here as our guide and here you can walk upon it like many others have done before you. Sights to check out are the Acropolis, 10th century castle and 16th century Turkish aqueduct. This was built in the Roman style by Sulliman the Byzantine ruler of the time and was in operation until 1911. The rest of the old town is worth your attention too since there has been a settlement on this site since the 7th century. Sounds like I’m gaining a lot more places to visit in Greece.

He next has a whistle-stop tour of places that were staging posts on the the villa Egnatia that were also used by St Paul.

This being an American program means it has a religious slant to it in addition to the historical context. Another guy annotates all of the religious parts leaving Michael, (who I believe to be English), free to present the historical parts.

You can’t really study the history of Greece without becoming well versed in the religious significance as well. This means the history of the Byzantine empire and Istanbul/Constantinople as well as that of Rome. Hence this can be a tad distracting trying to focus on so many disparate yet connected ideas and areas.

I have stayed in Rome and visited the Vatican but Istanbul remains to be explored.

His path down the east coast of Greece now incorporates Mount Olympus home of the Greek gods and adds in a visit to Meteora. Meteroa (the middle of the sky) and origin of the science that is meteorology(weather); is another famous destination containing a well known Christian monastery. This should be on all travellers bucket lists but I haven’t got there yet. It is another place that may take quite some time before I finally get round to visiting. Too many places and not enough time 😉

Although I have been to his final destination Delphi. Delphi was the home of the world renown Oracle. I have visited the temple to learn more about the history of the place as it is not too far away from the tomb I mentioned at the beginning of this article. The Nekromantium is also in the vicinity of these attractions and should be checked out to complete any excursion to this area.

Best wishes

Angela

Linguistic insights into the shared Greek and Russian cultures

Since I love both history and language I thought this video was both amazing in giving new insights and intriguing as it makes you want to learn more.

What a love for the Russian language can do for you.

Netflix

This is a brilliant platform to watch foreign language films on subjects that you are interested in. I have already posted about watching The First Line which is English but with plenty of Greek to keep me happy. I have also been watching Cathedral of the Sea which is Spanish (English subtitled) history, The Medici which is Italian history, Bolivar which is Spanish (English subtitled) Latin American history and the Last Csars which is Russian history. That last one is part dramatisation, part historical program. For pure drama in Russian with English subtitles watch Trotsky. This is not for the faint hearted as it’s quite raunchy from the start.

If you need to practice your English I recommend watching Peaky Blinders. This is on BBC IPlayer as well as on Netflix. You have 4 seasons so far to sink your teeth into. This is set in Birmingham just after World War One and the language is quite raw but it’s highly enjoyable. Not one for children but then neither are any of the above programmes either.

Do you have programs to recommend that I should watch as you don’t tend to hear about any of the ones above when asking people for viewing suggestions?

Best wishes

Angela

Festivals held in Lefkás

There is a long history of art festivals in Lefkás dating back to the 1st and 2nd Delphic festivals in Lefkás in the 1920’s.

We then got the Speech and Art festival in 1955. After this the organiser Antonis Tzevelekis came up with the International Folklore Festival. This started in 1962 and is now held every August. Initially it had only 3 countries but has now blossomed to hundreds of thousands of participants each and every year.

Cultural festival rundown
Cultural festival rundown

In the above picture it notes that Maria Callas turned up in 1964 to help kick the celebrations off.

It also mentions that in 1995 the then president of the Greek parliament Apostolis Kaklamanis who was himself a Lefkádian was attending.

The organiser Antonis Tzevelekis was himself commemorated when he died in 1989 after 30 years of dedicated to the cause. He also has a street and a square dedicated to himself in Lefkás town but I’m yet to come across a statue of his.

In the Cultural centre in Lefkás town there is a floor that contains all sorts of information about the yearly folklore festival. It costs a € to enter but you won’t know this until you open the door and someone comes rushing forward to tell you.

It’s worth it though as you get to see musical instruments from past participating countries as well as national costumes and dolls.

A traditional ladies festive costume
A traditional ladies festive costume
A traditional ladies bridal costume
A traditional ladies bridal costume

You can even try them on (not the above ones but a special selection provided for you.) But I didn’t get the feeling that was a good idea despite the empty changing room and available full length mirror. You get the idea your trespassing during the whole cultural centre not just the upper floor as it’s so empty. It feels abandoned despite it being open, staffed and well maintained.

There is also a room full of objects belonging to Antonis Tzevelekis and these phrases which are not translated but tell you about his life. An excerpt from 60 years worth of Lefkádian Art

An excerpt from 60 years of Lefkádian art
Another excerpt from 60 years of Lefkádian art
Another excerpt from 60 years of Lefkádian art

There is of course the Mardi Gras festival they have every year to celebrate the beginning of Lent. The costumes always look fantastic from the pictures friends put online and compare to festivals I have been to like Pirates Week and Batabano in the Cayman Islands as well as Notting Hill carnival in London.

The celebrations in New Orleans, the Canary Islands and Rio de Janeiro are similar I believe as there all for the same reason.

Since I’m never here that early in the season (February) I can’t tell you or show what it’s really like. If you like Museums though check out these articles

If your interest lies elsewhere have a look here to see if anything grabs your attention Series links.

Are there any specific arts festivals where you are?

Best wishes

Angela

Nikopolis

Nicopolis means Victory City in Greek and it is what Octavian built after taking part in battles in the nearby area. It is now in ruins but they are extensive. It must have been a fabulous city in its heyday. It housed a significant portion of the population of Lefkás as well as being the major city for trade, administration and religion in the surrounding vicinity. You can find details about the building of the city in the Archeological museum In Lefkás Town.

The city dominated until the middle age when the current city of Preveza starts to become prominent. Nikopolis then becomes known as Old Preveza. There is museum on the site dedicated to the finds found in previous archeological excavations.

This is the most well known historical site in the region as its power was immense and stretched out for approximately a thousand years. The Wikipedia article on Nikopolis is quite lengthy and you get articles in travel magazines from as far afield as Crete documenting the importance of this to the locality.

I will write again about this once I have actually visited as I plan to do soon with hopefully lots of pictures. I just thought this was important enough to write about twice.

Best wishes

Angela