More than a thousand tourists watched the weekly “Grand Change” of the Presidential Guard in Athens on Sunday, as the Greek capital has been welcoming an unprecedented volume of tourists this summer.
The 24-hour honorary Guard, in charge of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the entrance to the Presidential Mansion on Herodes Atticus Street, has an hourly sentry change, carried out in a very slow and highly stylized marching pace.
The Changing the Guard ceremony in Syntagma Square, in front of the building of the Greek Parliament, has been attracting an increasing number of tourists.
Popular tourist spectacle
The “little changes” take place daily every hour on the hour, and involve the two incoming and two outgoing sentries, and a supervising “Corporal of the Change”. They march from their barracks, just behind the Parliament Building, along Vasilissis Sofias Avenue to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Grand Change takes place at 11 a.m. every Sunday morning, and involves the whole Guard with its officers and a military band, all marching from the Guard Barracks to the Tomb for the Change, and back -which makes a most popular spectacle for locals and tourists alike.
History of Athens Presidential Guard
The Greek Presidential Guard is the last unit of Evzones in the Greek Army, the historical elite light infantry and mountain units known for their hard-won victories.
Established by a royal decree on December 12, 1868, it was previously known as Agema, Palace Guard, Guard Company of the President of the Republic or The Royal Guard, depending on the political system it served.
Today, the Presidential Guard is a purely ceremonial military unit, in charge of the permanent ceremonial guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens’ Syntagma Square, and of the entrance to the Presidential Mansion on Herodes Atticus Street.