Vibrant new street art depicting heroes from the Greek War of Independence has recently appeared on the walls of buildings across Athens, Greece’s bustling capital city.
While street art and graffiti in the Greek capital often contain political slogans or symbols of the far right or left, street artist Evrutos is now shattering the norms of his medium with his series called “1821-2021.”
The series highlights some of the most important figures from Greece’s War of Independence, which began in 1821, in honor of its bicentennial this year.
With his impactful images, Evrutos brings the heroes from two centuries ago to life –reintroducing contemporary Greeks to the figures who fought for the country’s independence in 1821.
With Evrutos’ graphic style, using bold, thick outlines and splashes of color, he sends a message to Greek society, reminding them of the contributions these great men made to Greek history, emphasizing to the younger generation that it must never be forgotten.
The Greek heroes in street art
The street artist depicts some of the country’s most venerated heroes, many of whom sport impressive headpieces and facial hair, in his vibrant new works.
Evrutos painted the Greek warrior Nikitas Stamatelopoulos, better known as “Nikitaras,” in one of his recent works. Nikitaras, who was born in Arcadia, in the Peloponnese, had a great military mind.
Due to his strategic prowess on the battlefield and incredible strength in combat, he was called “Tourkofagos,” which literally means “Turk eater.”
When Greece’s first king, Otto from Bavaria, took the throne, Nikitaras was jailed, along with his uncle and iconic military leader Theodoros Kolokotronis, since he opposed the monarchy.
He was eventually released from prison in 1841, and tragically died just eight years later, his health greatly impacted by his time in jail.
Additionally, Evrutos featured another notable Greek military commander, Georgios Karaiskakis, in another piece of street art. As a teenager, Karaiskakis was captured and imprisoned by the Ottoman ruler Ali Pasha.
After Ali Pasha witnessed the boy’s strength and intelligence, he released him from his cell and trained him to become his bodyguard.
Throughout all his years as the prisoner of the Ottoman ruler, Karaiskakis never forgot about his dream of a free Greece.
When he finally broke free from Ottoman captivity, Karaiskakis bravely switched sides, defying his former captor and fighting for the Greeks. Eventually, in 1827, he died in battle in Faliro.
“I was born a Greek, and I will die a Greek”
Another Revolutionary War hero, Athanasios Diakos, is known not only for his military might but also for his deep faith. The soldier began his teenage years at a monastery of St. John the Baptist, where he later became a monk and then a deacon.
According to legend, an Ottoman leader visited the monastery and made a comment about Diakos’ good looks, which offended the young man greatly.
He later left the monastery and became an anti-Ottoman insurgent, fighting against the occupation before the Revolution officially began in 1821. During this period, he took the name “Diakos,” which means “Deacon.”
Diakos was severely wounded in battle during the War. After suffering near-fatal injuries, the soldier was brought to the leader of Ottoman forces, who told him that he would spare his life if Diakos converted to Islam and fought for the Ottomans.
Famously, Diakos refused, stating “I was born a Greek, I shall die a Greek.” The next day he was impaled, an unspeakable death that turned the young soldier into a martyred hero and a source of inspiration for the Greek forces.