Nammos: How the Modest Tavern in Mykonos Became a Global Brand

Nammos Mykonos
Mykonos town. Credit: Greek Reporter

Nammos in Mykonos is regarded as one of the best beach clubs in the world, a place to see and be seen.

Well-known stars from all over the planet, the biggest names in showbiz, shipowners, businessmen, and modeling personalities visit its sunbeds every summer, while the concerts it organizes with the biggest Greek and foreign singers are considered global events.

The opening of this luxurious beach club each year signals the coming of the summer months and the arrival of glitterati from all over the world, ready to party and relax on the golden beach.

While there are numerous places on the Greek isles where gastronomic delights, yachts, and champagne are plentiful, the combination of those with such an exquisite setting makes a visit to Nammos an absolute must for travelers to Mykonos.

The Greek hospitality brand for millionaires has expanded all over the world. Nammos has opened in Dubai, Cannes, Limassol, and Qatar. If Mykonos was a country, then all these ‘Nammos’ operations abroad would be its global embassies.

The humble beginnings

Yet, the hospitality empire began as a humble fish tavern on Mykonos at the famous Psarou beach, built on an undervalued plot of land to become over the years, one of the best and most expensive beach bars on the planet.

The incredible story of Nammos began in the mid-sixties when Kyriakos Angeletakis and his wife Eleni opened a tavern. It was a time Psarou was relatively unknown and visited by few people who arrived by boat.

In the first years, the tavern was not doing very well. The tourists who chose to go to Mykonos on vacation preferred to stay in Chora, the capital, since the rest of the island lacked basic infrastructure, such as accommodations and roads. Back then, a visit to Psarou seemed unimaginable to the few tourists.

In 1985, everything changed when Kyriakos Angeletakis, the son of Andreas, took over. A young and active Mykonian, he had ambitions to fill his beach and restaurant with the crème de la crème of Athenian society. It was then that Mykonos slowly became the ultimate tourist destination for the elite of the country.

In 2002, Angeletakis sold the business to two Mykononians and an Egyptian, who renamed the taverna Nammos.

Today, ‘Nammos’ has been transformed into a luxury ‘village’ with its own mall, glamorous boutiques, spa, gym, and restaurant.

With the sunbeds on the golden sand, the cool drinks and cocktails served in the company of the best music, the authentic yet relaxing atmosphere it exudes, and the unique design that characterizes all its spaces, Nammos has all the necessary features that make up the most idyllic beach bar in the whole of Greece.

Nammos Hotel Mykonos

Although part of Nammos has been closed due to building irregularities, the brand has recently announced that it will open Nammos Hotel Mykonos, the brand’s first property, with resorts in the Maldives and Abu Dhabi on the horizon.

The pivot into hotels and resorts marks an ambitious and scalable plan from Alpha Dhabi and Monterock International to extend Nammos World’s reach and global footprint, whilst diversifying its offering, further establishing its reputation as a luxury hospitality brand that provides an unrivaled culinary experience.

Commenting on the announcement, Zannis Fratzeskos, founding partner of Nammos World, said: “Over the last decade we’ve mastered the art of creating a daytime experience like no other, and are delighted that Alpha Dhabi and Monterock International have set a vision to further fortify the Nammos World brand with the launch of Nammos Hotels & Resorts.

“The properties are set to embody the lifestyle we’ve created within an unrivaled hospitality experience, and we’re excited for Nammos’ global customers to experience the brand within a hotel setting,” Fratzeskos added.

The Lost Letters of the Greek Alphabet

Early Greek alphabet painted on the body of an Attic black-figure cup
Early Greek alphabet painted on the body of an Attic black-figure cup. Today, there are missing letters in the Greek alphabet. Credit: Marsyas / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-2.5

The Greek alphabet has changed in many ways over the course of its existence. This is hardly surprising, given that the Greeks have been using it for nearly three millennia. One way in which it has changed is that some letters that used to exist in the Greek alphabet are now missing. Which letters were these, and what do we know about them?

The first letters of the Greek alphabet

To start, let us establish how the Greek alphabet acquired its letters in the first place. According to ancient Greek historians, the Greeks adopted the Phoenician alphabet after the arrival of a Phoenician prince named Cadmus. Archaeology confirms that this occurred at some point in the ninth century BCE.

The Phoenician alphabet was composed of only consonants. When the Greeks adopted it, they modified it to include vowels as well. This was a major step forward in the development of writing.

According to Plutarch, a Greek historian of the first century CE, there were originally sixteen Greek letters. However, Hyginus, an earlier writer, reports that there were originally eighteen.

In reality, it appears that neither version is correct. Physical evidence in the form of ancient inscriptions reveals that the earliest Greek inscriptions made use of all twenty-two letters in the Phoenician alphabet. However, four of these were for sounds which did not exist in Greek, so they were modified into vowels.

Perhaps this is where Hyginus’ idea of eighteen original letters comes from, being a distorted memory of the eighteen original consonants. In any case, the total number of letters in the Greek alphabet increased over time.

Why are there some missing letters in the Greek alphabet?

Some of the letters used in ancient Greek inscriptions are simply not in the modern Greek alphabet. Why is this? Simply put, the reason is that the Greek language itself has evolved over time, and the alphabet exists to comply to the needs of the language rather than vice versa.

Additionally, different dialects of the Greek language existed within the Greek world at the same time. Therefore, the needs of each dialect would not necessarily be covered by the same letters.

In the late fifth century BCE, the alphabet used by the Ionian Greeks became the official, standardized alphabet of Athens. Over the following century, it then replaced the local alphabets of other Greek regions. By that time, the dialect of the Ionian Greeks was such that their alphabet did not make use of all the letters that had once been in use. Rather, their alphabet used just twenty-four letters. Hence, what were the letters that the Greek alphabet used to have but no longer does?

Digamma

One of the most famous lost letters of the Greek alphabet is Digamma. This had the following form:

Ϝ

It is superficially very similar to the modern F, but the sound was completely different. It was essentially the modern w sound. In fact, the original name for this letter was ‘wau’, taken directly from the Phoenician name for this letter.

San

Another lost letter is San. This had the following form:

Ϻ

Like Digamma, this looks almost identical to a more familiar letter. In this case, it looks just like the modern letter M. However, like with Digamma, the sound indicated by this ancient letter was completely different. Unlike the modern M, the ancient San, or Ϻ, was used to indicate an s sound. This fell out of use in favor of the alternative letter Sigma, written as Σ.

Koppa

Another letter that is no longer in use is Koppa, which had the following written form:

Ϙ

This is similar to the modern Q in the English alphabet, and that is no coincidence. Koppa was still part of the Greek alphabet when the Latins adopted it, which led to this letter eventually becoming the Q in English. The English alphabet originated from the Romans. The sound Koppa indicated was a k sound. It eventually fell out of favor in Greek, being replaced by the alternative letter Kappa, written as Κ.

Sampi

This next letter is called Sampi. It was written as:

Ͳ

This is very similar to the modern T, but it is unrelated. That modern letter comes from the ancient Greek Tau which, of course, had a t sound. In contrast, the ancient Greek Sampi had some kind of s or sh sound, although the exact vocalization is unknown. In any case, it fell out of favor when this sound was no longer used.

Tesla’s Optimus Robot Takes Stroll Around Lab in New Video

Tesla’s Optimus robot
Elon Musk expects 1 billion humanoid robots on Earth in two decades. Credit: Tesla

Tesla has shared a new clip of the Optimus robot, showing off how smoothly the humanoid bot can walk around.

The 80-second video, which has already been viewed more than two million times in less than 24 hours, was captioned: “Getting my daily steps in.”

Elon Musk also shared the footage with his 173 million X followers. “Optimus strolling around the lab,” he wrote.

Tesla’s Optimus robot going faster and smoother

Social media users spotted a marked improvement in the speed of Optimus compared to May 2023.

Last month, the billionaire shared a video of the robot, Optimus, folding a shirt.

The robot has come a long way since the prototype was revealed at Tesla’s AI Day in 2022. Optimus at the time appeared on stage at a Silicon Valley event, where it waved to the audience and raised its knees. Musk said the robot was a work in progress.

Optimus robots share some of their sensor components and AI software with those found in Tesla cars.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has previously said that the majority of Tesla’s long-term value will come from the robot and expects to sell significantly more robots than it does cars.

Indeed, Musk has even claimed that demand for the robot could be as high as 10 to 20 billion units, more than the number of people on the planet.

Speaking at Tesla’s AI day in 2022, Musk said that the robot has the potential to be transformative for civilization. He claimed it could lead to “a future of abundance, a future where there is no poverty, where you could have whatever you want in terms of products and services.”

As of 2022, Musk said he hoped to bring the robot to market in three to five years and that, once ready, it will be “an extremely capable” machine.

Musk: 1 billion humanoid robots on Earth in two decades

Last month Elon Musk took to social media to express his agreement with a fellow tech leader’s prediction that there will be about one billion humanoid robots on Earth in two decades.

Musk took to X, formerly Twitter, to concur with the prediction made by David Holz, the founder of artificial intelligence (AI) research lab Midjourney. Holz said in a post last week that “we should be expecting a billion humanoid robots on earth in the 2040s and a hundred billion (mostly alien) robots throughout the solar system in the 2060s.”

Musk replied, “Probably something like that, provided the foundations of civilization are stable.”

Erdogan Claims Turkey Is Becoming ‘Global Power’

Erdogan Turkey
“Türkiye is writing an epic in the defense industry,” Erdogan remarked. Credit: Turkish Presidency

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that Turkey is evolving from a regional force to a global power.

Speaking during a rally in the city of Adana in Southern Turkey, Erdogan said “Türkiye is on its way to becoming a global power, not just a regional migration,” he declared. “We are present in Libya and Karabakh. In all these places, Türkiye stands shoulder to shoulder with its brothers and walks confidently on this path.”

“With the help of God and the support of our nation, we have brought all those who oppose Türkiye to their knees,” Erdogan said. “We have never backed down in the face of attempts to invade the country.”

Erdogan lauds Turkey’s defense industry

The Turkish President lauded the country’s strides in the defense industry, noting the domestic production of weapons and the commissioning of short-runway ship TCG Anadolu, Turkey’s first LHD-class vessel.

He revealed plans to build an advanced segment of this ship and disclosed ongoing efforts to construct indigenous production submarines.

The President also cited the successful maiden flight of KAAN, the country’s fifth-generation fighter jet.

TAI KAAN fifth-generation fighter jet for Turkey
A TAI KAAN prototype during the taxiing and ground running tests on March 17, 2023. Credit: Dimir / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TUSAŞ), the warplane features advanced technology developed by ASELSAN, a leading defense firm in Turkey, including an electronic warfare system and a 360-degree electro-optical surveillance system.

The stealth, twin-engine, all-weather air superiority fighter is being produced by Turkish Aerospace Industries with the British multinational BAE Systems acting as sub-contractor.

It will initially be powered by two General Electric F-110 engines, which are also used on fourth-generation Lockheed Martin F-16 jets. Turkey launched its TF-X project to produce a national combat aircraft in 2016.

“Türkiye is literally writing an epic in the field of defense industry,” Erdogan remarked. “Türkiye’s achievements increase our determination and instill self-confidence in friendly countries.”

With high air combat range and supersonic strategic attack capabilities, the KAAN is poised to replace the F-16 in the Air Forces Command’s inventory.

“With KAAN, our country will not only have a fifth generation fighter jet, but also technologies that few countries in the world have,” Haluk Gorgun, head of Turkey’s Defence Industries Directorate (SSB), said in a post on social media platform X.

Providing insight into the aircraft, İsmail Hakkı Pekin, former chief of military intelligence, stated that KAAN’s mass production would take a decade, but once operational, the Turkish Air Force would emerge as “the region’s most formidable air power.”

Experts say KAAN has a decade or so to go before manning the Turkish Air Force squadrons in meaningful numbers.

Five Breathtaking Greek Island Monasteries Built on Cliffs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlD3D50-B5s
Holy Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa on the Greek island of Amorgos. There are countless stunning  monasteries in Greece. Credit: RBerteig/CC BY 2.0

In past centuries, Greek monks tried to build monasteries in places that were hidden or difficult to access in order to protect themselves from bandits, invaders, and conquerors.

On islands, monasteries faced increased threats from pirates, so they had to be well-fortified. The most well-protected of them all survived for centuries and is still standing proud in its remote fastness as a testament to Christian Orthodox faith and devotion.

Today, some of them are still operating and are also open to the faithful and to visitors who want to admire the monumental stone buildings that stand stubbornly in place, housing generations of ascetic monks who have lived there.

Holy Monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos—Patmos

Patmos is considered the holiest island in the Aegean. It is also called the Greek Island of the Apocalypse. It may be one of the smallest islands in the Aegean Sea, but it is home to one of the greatest treasures of Orthodoxy.

Holy Monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos, Patmos
Holy Monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos on the Greek island of Patmos. Credi: WIkipedia/Valeria Casali/CC-BY-SA-4.0

The Monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos, or St. John the Theologian, is an Orthodox monastery founded in 1088 in the main town of Patmos. In 1999, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

It was built on the exact spot where Christians believe that the Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation near the cave where he had the visions of the Apocalypse.

In 1088, Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos ceded the entire Greek island of Patmos to the monk Christodoulos. Most of the monastery was completed by Christodoulos three years later.

The exterior was fortified because of the continuing threats from pirates and Seljuk Turks, and the monastery was built on a hill higher than the cave of the Apocalypse right atop the altar of the ancient goddess Artemis.

Arriving at the monastery, the huge walls, which are a perfect example of Byzantine architecture, welcome you. Picturesque chapels, such as those of the Holy Apostles and Agios Georgios, are also located in the area.

The Holy Monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos has been active for 932 consecutive years and continues to this day to be the guardian of Byzantine tradition and the treasures of Christianity.

Panagia Hozoviotissa—Amorgos

Holy Monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos, Patmos
Holy Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa, Amorgos. Credit: Wikipedia/Zde/CC-BY-SA-4.0

You will find the Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa on Amorgos clinging to a steep rock above the endless blue of Agia Anna Beach.

The Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa has been standing there, a bright white sentinel against the grey rock surrounding it, since the year 1088.

According to tradition, the miraculous icon of Panagia arrived by boat on the beach of Asia from Hozova in Palestine, sent by a pious woman who wanted to save the icon from the Iconoclasts.

It is remarkable that the icon arrived there because the location was rumored to have been inhabited by demons.

The people of Amorgos began the construction of a church to honor the Virgin Mary, but every morning, they saw that what they had built the day before had collapsed—that is, until one day they saw their tools hanging high in an inaccessible place on the rock.

They took this to mean that the will of the Virgin Mary was to build her small church up there on that spot.

The monastery stands there today, imposing and pristine, perched on steep cliffs 300 meters (984 feet) above sea level. Incredibly, it is only visible from the sea.

The feast of the Virgin Mary is celebrated on November 21st on the island, and a big festival is organized in her honor there.

On the eve of the great feast, people who wish to participate can spend the night in the monastery. It’s a unique experience since being there at night, you feel like you’re up in the sky, and you become one with the stars that seem to touch the rock.

At dawn, the spectacle is stunning, with the sun rising up out of the sea and the incredible colors of the rising sun reflected on the waters. The celebration is very festive and attracts people from all over Greece. The monks have cod, fava, fish, wine, raki, pasteli, and other foods for sale on the day.

Under the monastery, the beach of Agia Anna is well known for its crystal-clear waters, and the chapel is considered one of the most popular for weddings. The film The Big Blue was shot there, making Amorgos famous all over the world.

Monastery of the Taxiarches—Serifos

Monastery of the Taxiarches, Serifos
Monastery of the Taxiarches on the small Greek island of Serifos. Credit: Wikipedia/C messier/CC-BY-SA-4.0

Between the crossroads to Platy Gialos and the village of Galani in the northern part of Serifos is the church of Panagia Zoodochou Pigis with its small cemetery, and opposite, the men’s Monastery of Taxiarches, dedicated to the patron saints of the Greek island, the Archangels Gabriel and Michael.

Although there is some confusion about the exact time of the foundation of the monastery, the prevailing view is that it was built in 1572.

However, it is certain that it was rebuilt in 1659 after it was damaged. A low blue door at the top of the steep stairs leads inside the monastery and its own simple, unpretentious and reverent space.

Its architectural style is unique, and it is worth noting that from 1617 to 1911, there was a school operating there.

It was looted several times during the Venetian occupation, and pirates never left it alone. This is the reason that its looks like the fortress that we see today.

The Panagia Chrysoskalitissa Monastery—Chania

Panagia Chrysoskalitissa Monastery, Chania
Panagia Chrysoskalitissa Monastery, Chania. Credit: Wikipedia/Roton Piotr/CC-BY-SA-3.0

One of the most popular Greek monasteries, due to its impressive architecture and the short distance from Elafonissi, is the Holy Monastery of Panagia Chrysoskalitissa.

The monastery is located 72 km (45 miles) southwest of Chania, Crete on a 35 meter (115-foot) tall rock overlooking the Libyan Sea.

It is a white monastery with fortress-like architecture. In fact, it is one of the most important monuments of southwestern Crete.

The church of the monastery is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

The year of the monastery’s founding is  unknown. However, according to tradition, it was built when a farmer found an icon of the Assumption on a rock. The icon is said to have been hidden there during the Iconoclasm period from 726 to 842 AD, and the icon is still in the church at the monastery.

The monastery is mentioned in the Venetian census of 1637 as Panagia Gounoskalitissa. The name Chrysoskalitissa is due to the last of the 98 steps of the monastery, which, it is said, was made of gold and was sold during the Ottoman occupation. However, legend has it that those who are true believers still see the golden step.

In addition to the unique architecture and the imposing view, once in the Monastery of Chrysoskalitissa, you will admire the legendary icon of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in the small chapel, which is said to have been constructed 1,000 years ago.

The Zoodochou Pigis—Andros

The Zoodochou Pigis Monastery, Andros
The Zoodochou Pigis Monastery, Andros. Credit: Anna Voulgari/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The largest monastery of Andros is the monastery of Zoodochou Pigis, or the “Fountain of Life.” Locals call it “Agia,” and it celebrates its feast on the first Friday after Easter Sunday. It is located between Gavrio and Batsi.

It is unknown when it was built. However, there is unconfirmed information that during the Byzantine years, it was a school and turned into a monastery in 842 by Empress Theodora.

It is also reported that many noble Andriotes were educated in the school, which produced several priests, bishops, and patriarchs.

The monastery is mentioned for the first time in a document of 1400, while in its church there is an icon with a date of 1325.

It was renovated during the 16th century and then again in the 20th, and its original Byzantine form was altered. In 1928, the monastery was converted into a convent, and today, only one elderly nun lives there.

The church of the monastery is in the Byzantine style, and its painted artworks date back to the post-Byzantine period.

Icons from the 14th and 16th centuries are still housed there as well. In the monastery, there is an important library with many books and manuscripts, a museum with sacred vestments and utensils, and a small collection of prehistoric tools found on the island.

Prescription Cannabis for Medicinal Use Becomes Legal in Greece

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Cannabis
Prescription cannabis for medicinal use became legally available in Greece and can be bought at pharmacies. Credit: Bogdan, CC BY-SA 3.0

Prescription cannabis for medicinal use became legally available in Greece for the first time on February 19th to complement the treatment of patients suffering from extremely challenging and painful conditions.

Such conditions include nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy for cancer and AIDS/HIV, pain, and spasticity in multiple sclerosis, persistent pain that does not respond to available treatments or where treatments are not well tolerated by patients. It could also help increase the appetite of patients receiving palliative care, AMNA reports.

Doctors who have the right to prescribe pharmaceutical cannabis in Greece include anesthesiologists, neurologists, and pathologists specializing in cancer, infections, and rheumatism. Prescriptions can be repeated by other doctors for six months, but the treatment must then be re-evaluated by a specialist.

Plans to allow the sale of prescription cannabis in pharmacies in Greece were announced in 2022 before their eventual implementation almost two years later.

Prescription cannabis “not a panacea”

Anesthesiologist Dr. Chrysoula Karanastasi, head of the Greek Medical Society for Cannabinoids, tells AMNA that “everyone could potentially benefit and everyone could see their hopes disappointed” as prescription cannabis is “not a panacea.”

The doctor explains that cannabinoids are a new group of pharmacologically active substances, which behave in a different way to the drugs available until now: “I would not say that they cover a specific gap so much as complement our treatment options.”

Finding the right dose is a step-by-step process that needs to be individually tailored to each patientin collaboration with the doctor, Dr Karanastasi points out.

The cost of the treatment with prescription cannabis products is covered exclusively by the patients, as there is no provision for state insurance coverage.

The recreational cannabis decriminalisation debate

The use of recreational cannabis, on the other hand, remains illegal in Greece.

There is ongoing debate for its decriminalization in Europe, as last week Germany legalized the possession of recreational cannabis for personal use, thus becoming the third European Union member state to legalize cannabis for personal use after Malta and Luxembourg.

Supporters of the legalization of recreational cannabis argue that such policies would undermine the black market, protect smokers from contaminated cannabis, and destroy revenue streams for organized crime gangs.

On the contrary, doctors share their concerns that this would also endanger the health of young people by making the drug more accessible and increasing the risk of addiction.

The International Narcotics Control Board in 2023 cited data indicating that in all jurisdictions where cannabis has been legalized, there has been an increase in cannabis-related health problems.

Aphrodite’s Throw: The Most Famous Gambling Game in Ancient Greece

gambling ancient greece
The “Vatican Amphora,” which depicts ancient Greek warriors Ajax and Achilles playing a board game. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

Gambling, one of the most common vices in the world, has a long history that dates all the way back to ancient Greece.

Records of ancient Greeks playing dice and other luck-based games are found throughout ancient literature, and are even included in the works of Homer, who is possibly the most famous ancient Greek poet in history.

Possibly the most common and popular form of gambling in Greece involved various dice games.

As in many ancient cultures, such as Iran, Egypt, and India, the earliest Greek dice were actually made of the bones of animals, called knuckle bones, or “astragaloi” in Greek.

Aphrodite’s Throw gambling game was a favorite pastime in ancient Greece, Rome

The ancient Greeks played knuckle bones, and even assigned numerical values to each of the four sides of the pieces, much like modern dice. Ancient Greeks and Romans also began to form cubic dice out of clay in later antiquity. These strongly resembled contemporary dice.

While the rules of many of these ancient games have been lost to time, scholars are capable of guessing and estimating some rules based on ancient sources.

A well known element of dice games played first in ancient Greece and then in Rome is called “Aphrodite’s throw,” which involves throwing four knuckle bones at once. If all four landed on a different number, it was considered the best result and called “Aphrodite’s throw.”

In the most simple dice game, groups would throw dice and bet on the results, hoping to get the best throws. According to the ancient Roman writer Suetonius, the Emperor Augustus thoroughly enjoyed gambling with knuckle bones.

Apart from gambling, knuckle bones may have also been used for divination in ancient Greece.

Archaeologists have also uncovered carved wooden boards that resemble contemporary board games. These tablets were likely used for some sort of game that may have also included use of knuckle bones.

Gambling and dice throwing is also a favorite pastime of the Olympian gods, as mentioned in a number of myths.

According to various versions of the tale, the brothers Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon played a game of dice in order to decide who would rule over which realm of the universe.

Practice found across the world

Mankind’s impulse to gamble has been recorded around the world throughout history. Remnants of dice-like pieces have been found in nearly every ancient civilization, and rules imposed to regulate the practice have been recorded for millennia.

Nearly all religions have some sort of rules surrounding gambling, from Judaism to Buddhism. In the Bible, the Roman soldiers are described as “casting lots,” likely throwing knuckle bones, to decide who would acquire Jesus’ robes.

Mount Athos Ban on Women Steeped in History, Mystery

Mount Athos
The grainy, black and white image taken in 1903 by a Mount Athos monk named Gabriel appears to show a woman to the left. Public domain

A group of Greek scientists announced in December of 2019 in Thessaloniki that they had discovered bones that “most certainly” belonged to a woman who was buried centuries ago in the cemetery of Pantokratoros Monastery on Mount Athos.

But this was not the only clue that the ban on females on the “Holy Mountain,” with its nearly 1,800-year continuous Christian presence, had been broken by a woman.

The peninsula of Mount Athos is home to twenty monasteries where only monks are allowed to live and only males are allowed to visit. More than 700 monks still live on Mount Athos, devoting their lives to prayer, fasting, study, and the preservation of the many icons that are among its treasures.

Mt. Athos seascape
One of the many monastery buildings on Mt. Athos as seen from the sea. Credit: Sreten Vukovic Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 4.0

The female bones were discovered during restoration work being done on the floor of the chapel of St. Athanasios of Athonitis, where all the burials of laymen connected with the monastery have taken place.

Restorer Phedon Hatziantoniou, who led the team of experts, speculated that the bones might possibly belong to a woman called Stasha, the wife of a 16th-century landlord called Barboul or Barbouli who lived at the monastery with his sons.

The remains have been sent to specialized laboratories in Athens for further examination.
“As far as I know this is the first case that bones belonging to a woman have been discovered on Mt. Athos,” Hatziantoniou said in an interview with Greek daily newspaper To Ethnos.

“It is well known that in the past, when there were invasions or revolutions, the monks opened their border and their monasteries to protect the local population,” he explained.

Mt. Athos
One of the peaks on Mount Athos, the “Holy Mountain” of Orthodoxy. Credit: Dave ProfferMt. Athos/ Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

The scientists also discovered fragments of bones belonging to men in their research. They stated, however, that these were probably workers and support staff, since monks have their own ossuary inside the monastery’s main building.

Reports of sightings of women on Mount Athos, which has been closed to females for the most part since the year 382, when it was founded as a colony of monasteries, have been quite rare over the centuries.

Was the photo of the Virgin Mary, the Panagia, herself?

However, the grainy, black and white photograph of a woman which was published in a Greek newspaper in 1903 still remains a mystery to this day with some monks claiming that they believe the unknown female on the left was the Virgin Mary herself.

The stooping figure also closely resembles a black-robed Orthodox nun.

Some monks claim that they believe the unknown female, all clad in black, was the Virgin Mary herself.

It is universally known that women are not allowed in any of the twenty monasteries of Mount Athos (Agion Oros) or indeed anywhere on the mountain itself, a rule which has been strictly adhered to since the fourth century, when the first monastery was constructed on the craggy peninsula.

As the monks say, the only woman allowed on Mount Athos is Our Lady; hence the appearance of what appears to be a woman in the photograph.

The photo was taken on August 21, 1903 by the old calendar, which Mount Athos follows, after the monks had been summoned to meet together by bells which had been rung at the St. Panteleimon Monastery.

It was the eve of the annual “nine days” of the Virgin Mary, and according to the custom in the monastery, it was time to give the poorest monks, the so-called “cellists,” or ones who spent their entire lives in small rooms, a little bit of charity, something to make their difficult lives a bit easier.

The usually-reclusive monks had gathered together and were standing in line to receive the much-needed offerings from the other monks. However, this would be the last time the monks were to receive the annual charity because the meager monastery finances did not allow the almsgiving to continue for another year.

One of the monks, with the religious name of Gabriel, owned a camera and wanted to immortalize the last time the monks were to gather together in that way to receive the alms.

Mount Athos lore says Mary appeared to show support for almsgiving

According to monastery lore, Gabriel soon saw a miraculous sight before him. Amidst all the assembled monks, there suddenly appeared a mysterious woman, all in black. He did not hesitate but immediately began taking photographs, which was a laborious process at that time with long exposure times.

The monks were convinced that the woman in the grainy photograph was Our Lady, who had appeared to express her sadness and show the monks that they should not stop their good works of giving alms to the poorest monks.

That was the sole reason why she had allowed the monk Gabriel to photograph her.

When the amateur photographer showed the photo to the rest of his fellow monks, it didn’t take long for them to understand what had really happened. They decided to continue their annual good works of charity to glorify God and His Beatitude.

The photograph was hidden for many years in the archives of the Monastery of St. Panteleimon, being released to the public only in 1997.

Religious pilgrims view the picture as undeniable photographic confirmation of a great miracle at the monastery. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople also viewed and admired the photograph on one of his visits to Mount Athos.

mt athos fire
The monastery of Saint Dionysios at Mount Athos. Credit: Fingalo, CC BY-SA 2.0 de/Wikipedia commons

When women set foot on Mount Athos

Mount Athos is of course part of the European Union, just like the rest of Greece. However, the Monastic State of the Holy Mountain and the Athonite institutions have a special jurisdiction, which was reaffirmed during the admission of Greece to the European Community (the precursor to the EU).

This empowers the Monastic State’s authorities to regulate the free movement of people and goods within its territory. Thus, it is still the case that only males are allowed to enter the territory of the Holy Mountain, which is for all intents and purposes one enormous monastery.

However, the male sanctuary of Mount Athos has been violated twelve times (officially at least) since the year 382. The following are the known incidents of this occurrence.

– In 382, by Plakentia, the daughter of Emperor Theodosius I
– In 1081 and 1108, by shepherd families (numbering more than 300)
– In 1345, by Eleni, the wife of Serbian Emperor Stefan Dusan
– In 1404, by the wife of Ioannis Palaiologos
– In 1854, by a group of young girls who sought protection after the Halkidiki uprising
– In 1905, by the young Russian princess Tatiana Nikita
– In 1929, by Aliki Diplarakou, the Greek “Miss Europe” while dressed as a man
– In 1931, by French journalist Maryse Choisy, who disguised herself as a sailor and wrote about her experience in a book entitled “One Month With Men”
– In 1948, by a group of women from the Democratic Army of Greece who broke the guard and entered as they were being chased by the Greek Army during the Civil War
– In 1953, by American teacher Cora Miller
– In 1971, by French philologist Jacqueline Michele and Italians Luisa Barbarito and Maria Pastterla

Greek journalist Malvina Karali was the most recent woman to break the ban and enter onto the territory of Mount Athos, when as she claims, she entered the sanctuary dressed as a man in the 1990s.

Despite these several instances of actual “invasions” of Mount Athos by females – whatever their reasons for this were – the 1903 photograph of a female on Mount Athos still remains an intriguing mystery.

The Greek Rivals Who United and Brought Souvlaki to Colombia

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Greek souvlaki in Colombia
From the capital of Bogota to the Caribbean coast of the country, Greek souvlaki is becoming popular in Colombia thanks to football rivals Petros Gkrilis and Giorgos Sitaras. Credit: GreekReporter

The story of two Greek immigrants in Colombia serves as a lesson of what the nation can achieve when united.

Petros Gkrilis and George Sitaras come from Thessaloniki. They are fanatic supporters of the city’s eternal rivals PAOK and Aris respectively. They proudly wear their club’s jerseys in Colombia, speak with passion about their love for their idols back in Greece and they both claim their team is the jewel in Thessaloniki’s sports crown.

Yet they have managed to show to the entire world that football rivalries are nothing compared to all the other things in life which unite people and bring them together.

Greek Souvlaki in Colombia

Gkrilis and Sitaras went to live in the nation of Colombia several years ago and amazingly enough, they both decided to work together to create what was destined to become Colombia’s most famous Greek restaurant.

The business of the two Greeks in Colombia served the traditional Greek souvlaki, skewers of gyro meats wrapped in traditional pita bread and stuffed with Greek salad ingredients, French fries, and of course, the famed tzatziki dip.

Their restaurant, dubbed ‘Cafe Grecia y Souvlaki’ was located in Colombia’s favorite travel destination, Cartagena, and made souvlaki known to almost every Colombian or tourist who visited this Caribbean city.

Greek Giorgos Sitatras in Bogota, Colombia
Giorgos Sitaras outside his souvlaki shop in Bogota, Colombia.

A few years ago, the two friends sold their shop and decided to open their own businesses in different parts of the country.

They never stopped working together, however, since their friendship, nurtured through years of hard work in their restaurant, is much stronger than one might think.

Greeks in Colombia
Petros Gkrilis at ‘Pame na Fame’ in Santa Marta, Colombia

What if Gkrilis is a die-hard supporter of PAOK and Siataras passionately supports Aris?

“Living abroad, I’ve learned to respect every (football) fan,” Gkrilis told Greek Reporter. “What matters is to be a good human being,” he maintains emphatically.

The example of the two Greeks in Colombia is one of mutual respect, solidarity and understanding – unlike the tribal fanaticism among die-hard football fans in Greece.

Maybe the two Thessaloniki giants should take up Gkrilis’s suggestion that at their next football clash they should invite the two friends to open the game.

“My big dream is for Giorgos and myself to go together to either Toumba [PAOK’s football ground] or Charilaou [Aris’s football ground] and open the game. So fans would understand that this rivalry has to cease.”

“As Greeks, we can achieve so many things when there is no egoism, or toxic pride,” Sitaras says.

Their relationship is a shining example of how the Greek diaspora can put aside differences for the common good. It also shows what the nation can achieve if it stands united for a common purpose.

Greece’s Beautiful Mount Ziria, Birthplace of God Hermes

MOUNT ZIRIA hermes
Maia gave birth to Zeus’ son, Hermes, in a cave near the lake Dasios on Mount Ziria, Greece. Credit: ulrichstill/ WIkimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 2.0

According to the legend, the Pleiad known as Maia gave birth to Zeus’ son Hermes in a cave near the lake Dasios on Mount Ziria near the village of Trikala.

Also known as Mount Kyllini or Mount Cyllene, this mountain is famous for its association with the god Hermes. It rises to 2,376 meters (7,795 ft) above sea level, making it the second-highest point on the Peloponnese.

Mount Ziria

Mount Ziria is located west of the valley of Flabouritsa in the Peloponnese, and it is home to a magnificent landscape.

The biggest village in the area is Trikala, an emerging tourist destination located on the western side of Mount Ziria.

Its dry climate and convenient location, only 143 kilometers from Athens (88 miles), make it a popular destination despite the season not only for the Greeks but also for international tourists.

On the northern side of Mount Ziria, there is an important ski center with a 100-meter-long baby lift and a 400-meter cable lift. The valleys and mountains of Trikala allow for relaxing hikes in the surrounding area of Lake Dasios, which has a small island.

Hidden paths in the mountains boast impressive pine forests that call for tranquil walks and exploration just as Hermes would see fit.

Hermes, Son of Zeus

According to Greek mythology, Hermes was the second youngest of the Olympian gods.

In the mythology of Ancient Greece, Hermes is known as the herald of the Gods; he is in charge of protecting travelers — as well as thieves and liars — and also guides souls to the underworld or Hades. For his great cunning and insight, he is considered the God of all thieves.

In the very first hours of his life, he somehow escaped from his cradle, making his way across the countryside and stealing some of Apollo’s oxen. In Homer’s works, The Iliad and The Odyssey, although this tradition is not mentioned, Hermes is characterized as a cunning thief.

greek mythology
Ancient Greek statue of Hermes by Praxiteles. Credit: Paolo Villa/Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY 4.0

At first, Hermes was a god associated with the underworld. In ancient Greece, he was worshipped as “the god of the way between the lower and upper world;” this position gradually expanded to include roads in general, and from there borders, travelers, sailors, and commerce, as well.

Usually, Hermes is described as freely navigating from the world of the mortals to the realm of the divine.

He was also the conductor of souls into the afterlife and therefore considered the protector of roads and travelers, as well. His symbol is the Greek kerykeion, two snakes wrapped around a winged staff depicting carvings of the other gods.

In the Roman adaptation of the Greek religion, Hermes was identified with the Roman god Mercury, who, although inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics, such as that of a patron of commerce. In the Greek interpretation of the Egyptian gods, he compares it to Thoth.