Key Appointments In Turkey’s New Cabinet

Turkey's new cabinet.
Turkey’s new cabinet appointed by President Erdogan. Credit: Anadolu

Recep Tayyip Erdogan named the cabinet of his new government after swearing in for his third term as head of state in Turkey on Saturday.

Turkey’s leader changed almost all of his cabinet members, except for the ministers for health and culture. Outgoing ministers Mevlut Cavusoglu (Foreign Affairs), Hulusi Akar (Defense) and Suleyman Soylu (Interior) were not reappointed.

Cevdet Yilmaz, who has previously served as minister of development, deputy prime minister in charge of the economy and has been the chairman of the Turkish Parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission since November 2020, was appointed vice president.

Surprising cabinet appointments in Turkey’s key ministries

Former economy chief Mehmet Simsek, a respected economist who has previously worked for Merill Lynch, was appointed Treasury and Finance minister, in a move that is perceived by analysts as signaling Turkey’s return to orthodox economic policy as Simsek is known to oppose Erdogan’s unconventional policies, Al Jazeera notes.

Diplomat and intelligence chief Hakan Fidan was named minister of Foreign Affairs, while military chief General Yasar Guler takes over the position of defense minister.

Erdogan has appointed only one woman minister in his new cabinet.

Turkish-Belgian diplomat and former Member of Brussels’ Parliament Mahinur Özdemir Goktas will head the ministry of Family and Social Services.

The surprising appointments reflect the challenges that Erdogan is faced with as his new term in Turkey’s presidency begins.

Addressing the country’s economic troubles will be Erdogan’s priority with inflation running at 43.70 percent, partly due to his unorthodox policy of cutting interest rates to stimulate growth.

Turkey’s longest-serving leader also faces considerable diplomatic challenges amid tensions with the West.

NATO allies are anxiously waiting for Ankara to greenlight Sweden’s attempt to join the United States-led defence alliance, before a summit in July.

Turkey’s new Parliament after Erdogan win

Erdogan won the May 28 run-off against a powerful opposition coalition and despite an economic crisis and severe criticism following a devastating February earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people.

He won 52.2 percent of the vote while his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu 47.8 percent, official results showed.

In the first round of the elections on May 13, the Justice and Development (AK) Party, chaired by Erdogan, emerged as the top party in parliament, securing a total of 268 seats.

In addition to the AK Party, its People’s Alliance partners, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), won 50 seats and New Welfare Party (YRP) won five, securing a combined majority of 323 seats out of the total 600 in parliament.

With 169 deputies, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), along with its coalition partner, the Good (IYI) Party, got a total of 212 seats in parliament, representing the main opposition, Nation’s Alliance, according to Anadolu.

The remaining 65 seats in the Turkish Parliament were won by the Labor and Freedom Alliance, made up of the Green Left Party with 61 seats and the Türkiye Labor Party (TIP) with four.

10 Novels On Greece Let You Travel Without Leaving Your Chair

Greek Acropolis Pathenon Athens
Getting to Greece doesn’t always require a journey by land or sea — merely a suspension of disbelief. There are many wonderful books about Greece and works of Greek literature to explore. Credit: Mintcanary  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

Reading Greek literature or authors who have written novels on Greece can send you on an adventure without having to worry about tickets or time.

If you just cannot visit this summer, Greek Reporter has honed in on ten authors who make it easy to travel to Greece and to live the adventure without leaving your chair in the backyard.

There is a long list of authors who have embraced Greece over the centuries. The authors Greek Reporter has selected have not just written about the sun-kissed land of Apollo. A few have even changed careers and made Greece home. These writers have shared their experiences by offering perspectives of Hellenic culture, myth, and passion in their stories—whether fictional crime mysteries, historical fables, or memoirs of a life well lived.

The authors of novels on Greece can offer you an introduction if you have never been there, rekindle a memory of a journey long past, or refresh recent memories of a visit. Their books on Greece take you to the islands and the blue Aegean, the mountain villages of the mainland, the bustle of the Acropolis, or the northern city of Thessaloniki.

The authors of these novels on Greece are listed in alphabetical order by the author’s name.

Aurelia Smeltz

Aurelia, who uses her first name only in her writing, spent almost four decades resourcing sponsorships and drafting proposals for organizations, companies, and government services before she began writing novels on Greece for her own pleasure.

The Pennsylvania native said “As a writer I am a mythologist. I love and I am very attached to myths. Maybe that’s why I travel as a hiker to the ‘unwritten parts of Greece,’ as I like to say. These places are full of so many mysteries.”

Aurelia and her husband, Jack, traveled to Greece regularly every summer for a period of twenty years. After Jack’s death, she continued to return “home” to Greece for a few weeks every summer. She writes articles about Greece for a variety of publications.

Aurelia Labyrithine Ways
Author Aurelia of “Labyrinthie Ways” Credit: Greek Reporter

Labyrinthine Ways, by Aurelia

Labyrinthine Ways is a celebration of the mysteries, magic, myths, folklore, archaeology, distinctive cuisine, rugged landscape, and courageous and indomitable people of Crete. The story unfolds in modern times with flash-backs to the days when Constantinople and then Venice ruled Crete.

We learn of the fables and legends related to these times as they are recalled today with vivid detail by men in the kafeneía of mountain villages. Into these labyrinthine paths wander tender and vulnerable souls on journeys of self-discovery. Among them, is a young wayfarer haunted by the mysterious Crete that dominated and tormented the life of Nikos Kazantzakis, Crete’s most famous novelist and the author of Zorba the Greek. Labyrinthine Ways is a novel that paints a portrait of the many magical and mysterious faces of Crete.

Sharon Blomfield

Sharon Blomfield is a writer and traveler who found herself somehow invited to tour an odd hobbit-like house in the South Seas, to drink wine in the kitchen of a sunburned chalet in a high Alpine pasture, and to be a guest at a Greek island wedding. Her stories and photographs have appeared in both Canadian and other foreign newspapers and magazines, such as The Globe and Mail, the National Post, The Boston Globe, and France’s Courier International. She lives in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada with her husband, who is a photographer, and fellow traveler, Jim Blomfield.

The year 2006 brought the couple to Greece for the first time, to the island of Sifnos. It was meant to be a one-time visit, but what Bloomfield hadn’t counted on was how the kindness of its people and the unexpected adventures she encountered there would melt her heart. They were drawn back almost every year after that, always for a month at a time. Sifnos turned her into an author of novels on Greece and a blogger.

Author Sharon Bloomfield “Sifnos Chronicles 2: More Greek Island Tales.” Credit: Greek Reporter

Sifnos Chronicles 2: More Greek Island Tales, by Sharon Blomfield

A taverna…a monstrous platter of fish…then a second. We didn’t order these, don’t really like fish. But they’re a gift, the cook is watching and the giver is too. Life in a secluded Greek fishing village embraces two Canadian travelers, wraps them in its arms and overwhelms them with gifts. Friendship, laughter, cheeses, and coffees galore. Those fish. Such encounters with the unexpected, the sometimes perplexing but always soul-affirming, are the kind of magic that rewards those who travel, not to see all the sights this world has to offer, but to slow down and savor. The kind of magic that, an ocean away, makes these Canadians feel they have come home.

Leah Fleming

Leah Fleming, who was born in Lancashire, England to Scottish parents, is married with four adult children and four grandchildren. She writes her novels on Greece full time from the slopes of an olive grove in Crete and from her haunted farmhouse in the Yorkshire Dales.

Enid Blyton stories were her first page turners, particularly The Secret Island. During school, Shakespeare’s plays caught her imagination. Thomas Hardy’s novels and John Donne’s poetry gripped her with tragic stories and their sense of place. Fleming graduated from Leeds University in the swinging sixties and taught in Adult literacy classes and primary schools.

Leah Fleming A Wedding In An Olive Garden
Author Leah Fleming “A Wedding In the Olive Garden.” Credit: Greek Reporter

A Wedding In the Olive Garden, by Leah Fleming

Sara Loveday flees home and crisis to the beautiful island of Santaniki. Here, amid olive groves and whitewashed stone villas, where dark cypress trees step down to a cobalt blue sea, Sara vows to change her life. Spotting a gap in the local tourist market, she sets up a wedding planning business, specializing in “second time around” couples.

For her first big wedding, she borrows the olive garden of a local artists’ retreat, but almost at once, things begin to go wrong. To make matters worse, a stranger from Sara’s past arrives on the island, spreading vicious lies. Can her business survive? And what will happen with the gorgeous new man who she’s begun to love?

Rebecca Hall

Rebecca Hall, a Rough Guide co-author on Greece and the Greek islands, has contributed to numerous publications. After extensive global travels, Hall left the UK to return to the country she fell in love with—Greece, where she teaches English, writes, and wryly observes that the chaotic nature of her adopted country actually suits her personality quite well.

All travel experiences and particularly living in versatile cultures, have helped to shape who she is today. Her novel on Greece has been adapted into a screenplay, and in the near future, it will come out on screen. When not writing, she’s drinking coffee with friends or sourcing a new place to eat baklava.

Rebecca Hall Girl Gone Greek
Author Rebecca Hall “Girl Gone Greek.” Credit: Greek Reporter

Girl Gone Greek,  by Rebecca Hall

Rachel is finding it increasingly difficult to ignore her sister’s derision, society’s silent wagging finger, and her father’s advancing years. She’s traveled the world, but now finds herself at a crossroads at an age when most people would stop globetrotting and settle down.

She’s never been one to conform to the nine-to-five lifestyle, so why should she start now? Was it wrong to love the freedom and independence a single life provided and to put off the search for Mr. Right and the children? With sunshine in mind, Rachel takes a TEFL course and heads to Greece after securing a job teaching English in a remote village.

She wasn’t looking for love, but she found it in the lifestyle and history of the country, its culture and the enduring volatility of its people. When Rachel moved to Greece to escape a life of social conformity, she found a country of unconventional characters and economic turmoil. The last thing she expected was to fall in love with the chaos that reigned about her.

Victoria Hislop

Victoria Hislop’s first novel on Greece, The Island, held the number one slot in the Sunday Times paperback charts for eight consecutive weeks and has sold over two million copies worldwide. The Island became a television series in Greece, which achieved record ratings for Greek television.

Hislop studied English at Oxford and worked in publishing, PR, and as a journalist before becoming a novelist. She is married with two children. She was recently awarded honorary Greek citizenship because of her works of literature on Greece. She returned to Greece for her third novel, The Thread, taking as her backdrop the troubled history of the city of Thessaloniki in a story that spans almost a century, beginning with the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917.

Victoria Hislop One Night In August
Author Victoria Hislop “One Night In August.” Credit: Greek Reporter

One August Night, by Victoria Hislop

August 25, 1957—The island of Spinalonga closes its leper colony, and a moment of violence has devastating consequences. When time stops dead for Maria Petrakis and her sister, Anna, two families splinter apart, and for the people of Plaka, the closure of Spinalonga is forever colored with tragedy. In the aftermath, the question of how to resume life looms large. Stigma and scandal need to be confronted and somehow, for those impacted, a future built from the ruins of the past.

This novel on Greece returns to the world and characters Hislop created in The Island. It is finally time to be reunited with Anna, Maria, Manolis, and Andreas in the weeks leading up to the evacuation of the island…and beyond.

Marjory McGinn

Marjory McGinn is a Scottish-born author and journalist brought up in Australia and now based in Cornwall, England. Her journalism has appeared in leading newspapers and magazines in the UK and Australia. In 2010, she moved to Greece with her husband, Jim, and famously crazy dog, Wallace, for an adventure in the wild Peloponnese. It lasted four years and became the basis for her three novels on Greece.

Marjory McGinn How Greek Is Your Love
Marjory McGinn, author of “How Greek Is Your Love?” Credit: Greek Reporter

How Greek Is Your Love? by Marjory McGinn

This sequel to the novel “A Saint For The Summer,”  is a page-turning mystery drama full of romance and humor. Expat Bronte McKnight is in the early days of her love affair with charismatic doctor Leonidas Papachristou, but as Bronte tries to live and love like a Greek, the economic crisis spawns an unlikely predator in the village.

While she begins to question her sunny existence in Greece, an old love from Leonidas’s past also makes a troubling appearance. Now working as a freelance journalist, when Bronte is offered an interview with a famous novelist, and part-time expat, it seems serendipitous. The encounter becomes a puzzle that takes her deep into the wild Mani region of the southern Peloponnese, for which she enlists the help of her maverick father, Angus, and the newest love of her life, Zeffy, the heroic rescue dog. The challenges Bronte faces bring dramatic, as well as humorous outcomes, as she tries to find a foothold in her Greek paradise. But can she succeed?

Jeffrey Siger

An American living on the Aegean Greek island of Mykonos, a native of Pittsburgh and former Wall Street lawyer Jeffrey Siger has created the character of Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis. He gave up his career as a named partner in his own New York City law firm after 9/11 to write mystery thrillers that tell more than just a fast-paced story.

Siger explores serious societal issues confronting modern day Greece in a tell-it-like-it-is style while touching upon the country’s ancient roots in his novels on Greece. The New York Times Book Review honored Siger’s work by designating him as Greece’s thriller novelist of record, and the Greek Government’s General Secretariat of Media and Communications has selected him as one of six authors—and the only American—writing mysteries that serve as a guide to Greece.

Jeffrey Siger A Deadly Twist
Jeffrey Siger, author of “A Deadly Twist.” Credit: Greek Reporter

A Deadly Twist, by Jeffrey Siger

When Athens journalist Nikoletta Elia disappears while on assignment on the island of Naxos, her editor calls on Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis to investigate. Sent to report on the conflict between preservationists and advocates for expanded tourism, Nikoletta is approached by a fan who takes credit for several suspicious deaths she’d reported on in the past.

The assassin claims to have abandoned that life, and convinces the reporter to write about him and his murderous exploits for hire. Kaldis sends his deputy, Yianni, to look into her disappearance when an unidentified body is found at the base of a cliff. Who is the mysterious corpse, and where is Nikoletta? Leads turn into more dead bodies in this twisting tale of greed, corruption, and murder that puts Kaldis, his family, and members of his team in the path of a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to keep dark secrets buried—forever.

Suzi Stembridge

Suzi Stembridge, who was born in Yorkshire, UK, founded and ran three businesses—Girl Friday, Filoxenia, a specialist Greek Tour operator, and Greco-file. She has spent the last ten years writing the series Jigsaw unashamedly with a Greek bias in her novels on Greece. The family saga is packed with adventure, and there is a strong historical and travel theme to the books which span a 200 year period.

Her first venture into travel was as an air hostess in the early 1960s when with minimal training, she was placed in the only cabin crew on flights going to Greece. Suzi, who was educated in North Wales, is an Open University BA Honors graduate and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists. She is married with two adult children.

Suzi Stembridge No Ordinary Greek Odyssey
Suzi Stembridge, author of “No Ordinary Greek Odyssey” Credit: Greek Reporter

No Ordinary Greek Odyssey, by Suzi Stembridge

A memoir illustrated with nearly a hundred black and white photographs are part of No Ordinary Greek Odyssey. This work captures the beauty and history of Greece in the thirty years between 1960 – 1989. It records Greece as it was at the time and as Stembridge experienced it. It offers some of the history, the culture, and spirit of Greece. It continues when, as a family, the Stembridges travel around remote coastal villages and into the blue-green mountains or cross the sea on very basic Greek ferries, smelling the pale blue thyme permeating their Greek meanderings.

Marissa Tejada

Marissa Tejada, a freelance writer, wrote Chasing Athens while she was living abroad in Europe. The year her novel on Greece was released, it ranked highly on several Amazon bestsellers lists. The romantic comedy was later recognized with a Five Star Readers’ Choice Review Award. She also founded one of the first travel sites focused on Greece, the award-winning blog called Travel Greece, Travel Europe.

Marissa Tejada Chasing Athens
Author Marissa Tejada “Chasing Athens.” Credit: Greek Reporter

Chasing Athens, by Marissa Tejada

When Ava Martin’s new husband unexpectedly ditches her months after they’ve relocated across the world to Greece, the heartbroken American expat isn’t sure where home is anymore. On the verge of flying back to the States with her tail between her legs, she makes an abrupt decision to follow her gut instead and stay on in Greece.

She soon discovers that the tumultuous, culture-rich Mediterranean country is coloring her life in a way no place else can, changing her forever. But where is it that she belongs? Ava’s newfound independence throws her into the thick of Athenian reality, where she has brushes with violent police riots and gets a taste of both the alluring islands and the city nightlife.

Sofka Zinovieff

Sofka Zinovieff was born in London, with a White Russian legacy and close relations who left Soviet Russia for the UK shortly after the October Revolution. She grew up in Putney in southwest London.

She studied social anthropology at Cambridge University. Later on, she earned a PhD after living and carrying out research in the Peloponnese. Zinovieff has worked as a journalist and book reviewer for various British publications. She has written several books, from memoirs and biographies to novels on Greece. Zinovieff has lived and worked in Russia and Italy, and has spent many years in Greece. She and her Greek husband, Vassilis Papadimitriou, live between Athens and London. They have two daughters.

Sofka Zinievoff Euridice Street
Sofka Zinievoff’s “Euridice Street: A Place In Athens.” Credit: Greek Reporter

Euridice Street: A Place In Athens, by Sofka Zinofieff

We gazed transfixed across the small, strangely tropical bay at the bottom of the hill, and the surrounding palm trees and sandy beaches. Beyond the bay was the wide expanse of the Saronic Gulf, with its distant traffic of boats leaving for the islands and returning to the port at Piraeus.

This was Sofka Zinovieff’s first sight of the view from Eurydice Street. It was so irresistible that she and her husband immediately knew that they would make their home there. The author had fallen in love with Greece as a student but little suspected that, years later, she would return for good with an expatriate Greek husband and two young daughters.

This book is a wonderfully fresh, funny, and inquiring account of her first year as an Athenian. The whole family have to come to grips with their new life and identities: the children start school and tackle a new language, and Sofka’s husband, Vassilis, comes home after half a lifetime away.

Meanwhile, Sofka resolves to get to know her new city and become a Greek citizen, which turns out to be a process of Byzantine complexity. As the months go by, the author discovers how memories of Athens’ past haunt its present in its music, poetry, and history. She also learns about the difficult art of catching a taxi, the importance of smoking, the unimportance of time-keeping, and how to get your Christmas piglet cooked at the baker’s.

Meet Sparta, the 28,000 Year Old Perfectly Preserved Lion Cub

Sparta, Lion cub Siberia
Credit: Center of Paleogenetics

Scientists say the remains of a lion cub, named Sparta and found in Siberia in 2018, are 28,000 years old and in excellent condition.

They say the lion cu, may still hold some of its mother’s milk inside it.

The cub was a female cave lion which researchers named Sparta. Her remains were discovered in permanently frozen ground at the Semyuelyakh River in Russia’s Yakutia area.

The remains of another ancient cave lion had been found nearby in 2017. It was a male that researchers named Boris.

The findings were part of a study published in the journal Quaternary.

According to the study, the cubs were found fifteen meters away from each other. However, scientists claim many generations separated them. The research showed that Boris lived around 43,448 years ago.

Cave lions died out thousands of years ago. The two cubs, aged one to two months old, were found by mammoth tusk collectors. Mammoths were large, hairy prehistoric elephants with very long tusks.

“To my knowledge, this is the best-preserved frozen specimen from the last Ice Age ever found,” study author Love Dalén, an evolutionary geneticist at Stockholm University’s Centre for Palaeogenetics, tells NBC News. “Sparta is in near-perfect condition.”

Cave lions coexisted with early humans for thousands of years, according to the study. For example, the Chauvet Cave in France depicts cave lions drawn on walls. The early cave paintings are estimated to be more than 30,000 years old.

The coloration of cub fur appears different than that of mature cave lions, requiring further study to determine if aging causes changes. Researchers also noted similarities in the fur between the big cats and lions of the Ice Age that still roam the savannas of Africa. The species is thought to have smaller manes than African lions while adapting to colder climates.

Other lion cubs found in Siberia

Two other lion cubs have also been found in Siberia’s Yakutia area in recent years.

Valery Plotnikov is one of the study’s writers. He told Reuters that Sparta was so well-preserved that her fur, organs, and skeleton were still intact.

“The find itself is unique; there was not any other such find in Yakutia,” he said.

Plotnikov added that the scientists hope to find evidence of mother’s milk inside Sparta in order to learn about the diet of cave lions.

There have been numerous other such similar discoveries in Russia’s larger Siberian area in recent years. Climate change is warming the Arctic faster than the rest of the world. That increase in temperature has melted the ground in some areas that were permanently frozen.


Geology of Greece: How the Country’s Beautiful Landscape Formed

Greece geology landscape
A stunningly unique phenomenon of geology in Greece: The Folded Marls near Agios Pavlos, on the island of Crete. Credit: Tony Cross.

By Tony Cross

Greece and its geology are a wonder of nature, with the nation a paradise blessed with high mountains, blue seas, and over six thousand islands. But it’s all a big geological accident, the result of millions of years of violent earth movements on a planetary scale.

Geology in Greece: in the beginning…

The story of Greece and its geology begins around 250 million years ago when the continents had all come together into one single land mass that geologists call Pangea.

The area that would one day become Greece lay on the southern shore of what would eventually become Europe and on the northern edge of a great ocean called Tethys. On the southern edge of Tethys lay the continent that would one day become Africa.

The Earth’s crust is not all the same, nor is it a single unit. The crust making up the continents is very thick—30 km to 40 km (18.6 to 24.85 miles) thick—and thicker still under mountain ranges. The crust under the oceans is quite thin, however, at only around 7 km (4.3 miles) thick.

In addition, the crust is not one single unit but is broken up into various-sized chunks known as tectonic plates. These plates move relative to one another because they are literally floating on the deformable layer of the upper mantle beneath them in much the same way that a ship floats on the sea.

In some places, these plates are moving together, and where oceanic crust is pushed into continental crust, the thinner oceanic crust is forced beneath the thicker continental crust and down into the mantle, where it begins to sink and melt. Geologists call this type of plate boundary a subduction zone.

The Greek landscape and geology that we see today is here because of a subduction zone. Without it, Greece would simply not exist.

The compressive phase

Around 150 million years ago, the great continent of Pangea started to break up. The African plate began to move northwards, and the Tethys Ocean started to shrink. The northwards movement of Africa meant that the oceanic crust beneath Tethys was subducted under the southern edge of the continental crust of Europe.

As the oceanic crust under Tethys slid beneath the continental crust of Europe, all of the rocks that had formed on the ocean floor over many millions of years were scraped off by the leading edge of the European continent. These rock scrapings, which would have been hundreds of meters thick and many kilometers long, were piled up one on top of the other on the southern edge of Europe.

This rock pile (geologists call it a nappe) was likely many kilometers thick in the end. It contained all the rocks that would eventually form Greece’s geology all piled up in the same place.

Greece geology landscape
A thrust fault near Kavousi, Crete. Credit: Tony Cross.

The photo shown here is of a large sea cliff near Kavousi on Crete. The rocks on the left are a gray color with clearly defined horizontal layers. Those on the right are a greenish brown color with a nearly vertical layering. Clearly, this cliff is composed of two very different rock types.

The rocks on the left are limestones while those on the right are phyllites. The compressional forces of the subduction zone forced the phyllites over and on top of the limestones. The junction between the two (known as a thrust fault) lies roughly in the center of the picture, running diagonally up from right to left.

Millions of years of weathering and erosion have ground both sets of rocks down so that to the casual observer today, they appear to be a single unit.

The tensional phase

Around 65 million years ago, the continent of Africa finally collided with the continent of Europe and closed the Tethys Ocean forever. It would eventually be reborn as the Mediterranean Sea.

When two continental plates come together, there is no subduction since they are both too thick. Instead, the continents themselves are deformed, and mountains are created. In the west, this collision formed the Alpine mountains while in it formed the Balkan mountains in the east.

In these mountain areas, the continental collision destroyed the subduction zone, but in the area in between, where modern Greece lies, the subduction zone remained active.

Even though Africa could no longer move northwards as fast as was previously the case, the oceanic plate in the area of Greece was still sinking into the mantle. As it sank, the subduction zone itself rolled back southwards. This rollback of the subduction zone put the nappe pile under enormous tension.

When rocks are placed under tension, they break, causing normal faults. One side of the fault moves downwards on a sloping surface to relieve the tension. Normal faults often occur in parallel and in swarms leaving alternating areas of high ground with lower ground in between.

The rollback of the subduction zone caused massive parallel swarms of normal faults in the nappe pile. Because the subduction zone is fixed in the east and in the west, the rollback created an arc that is ever expanding as the rollback progresses.

Greece geology landscape
A normal fault in the Corinth Canal. Credit: Tony Cross

The photo above is of a small section of the north wall of the Corinth Canal. The rocks here are nicely layered; we can see yellow, white, red, and black layers.

The two diagonal lines in these rocks are normal faults, breaks in the rocks caused by tensional forces due to the rollback of the subduction zone. The rocks to the right of each fault have dropped down relative to the rocks on the left; this is clearly visible in the displacement of the colored layers of rock.

The total vertical displacement here is only a few meters, but in the massive regional faulting that shaped Greece and its geology, displacements are measured in kilometers.

The modern topography of Greece

Looking at a topographical map of Greece today, you can see how a subduction zone, starting roughly in the area of the north Aegean and rolling back southwards in an expanding arc would create the “ripped” and “torn” appearance of Greece today. You can also see how regional faulting created the alternating series of high mountain ranges and islands, with lower plains or sea in between.

The Pindus Mountains, for example, the backbone of mainland Greece, run southeastward in a gently curving arc. On both sides are lower plains. These mountains, like so many others in Greece, are bounded by massive regional faults.

The expanding arc of the subduction zone caused extensive local faulting, too. On Crete, for example, all of the mountain ranges are bounded by faults. They stand tall because the ground around them has dropped due to faulting. Such local, fault-bounded structures are widespread in Greece.

What about the volcanoes?

There are many volcanoes in Greece—on Santorini, Milos, Nisiros, Methana, and Sousaki among others. Some are active, like Santorini; most are dormant, like Milos, and one or two are extinct, like Sousaki.

If you look closely, all the Greek volcanoes sit on an arc that parallels the arc of the subduction zone but is north of it by about 100 km.

As the oceanic plate is subducted deep into the mantle, it begins to melt. Magma from the melting plate rises to the surface where it erupts, forming volcanoes.

The hot springs of Thermoplyae (of Spartan fame) sit at one end of this volcanic arc; the hot springs of Pamukkale in Turkey sit at the other. In between are all the Greek volcanoes, formed above the spot where, deep in the mantle, the subducted oceanic crust is melting.

Greece’s geology continues to change

The subduction zone today runs in a great arc down the western side of the Ionian Islands, around the Peloponnese and south of Crete, and then curves up northwards again past Kasos, Karpathos, and Rhodes.

Greece and its geology as we see these today are not an end point, however; this is simply the way things are right now.

The subduction zone is still active, and the oceanic plate is still descending as Africa creeps northward. The subduction zone is still rolling back, and the arc is still expanding. That’s why we have so many earthquakes in Greece—we’re still being torn apart by tectonic forces.

We don’t need to worry about this too much though, as these geological processes happen on a timescale that is measured in millions of years. Chances are, that beautiful Greek beach in the travel brochure will still be there when you arrive.

Inside the Magnificent Minoan Palace of Knossos in Crete

Minoan Knossos Palace
The Minoan palace at Knossos. Credit: Gary Bembridge /Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-2.0

The Palace of Knossos, located about five kilometers (three miles) south of Heraklion on Kephala hill, was the largest of all the Minoan palaces in Crete.

It was also at the core of the highly sophisticated civilization that flourished on the island over 3,500 years ago.

The discovery of the Minoan Palace of Knossos

The discovery and subsequent excavation of the palace dates back to the beginning of the twentieth century. Before then, Knossos had only served as a place mentioned in Greek mythology.

The first modern scholar to take a serious interest in the area was the German Heinrich Schliemann, who, in 1870, had excavated the site believed to be Troy.

Schliemann was certain that a major Minoan palace lay hidden near Heraklion, but the Ottoman authorities who still ruled the island at the time denied any permission to dig there.

Years afterward, the British archaeologist Arthur Evans, inspired by Schliemann’s ideas, reached Crete to negotiate the purchase of a portion of land in Knossos.

He began excavations in 1900, and in a matter of days, he found enough evidence to indicate the presence of a huge palatial complex.

Restoration of the site

Controversial restoration efforts took place thanks to Evans’ personal ownership of the site and its wealth.

He named the civilization “Minoan” after the legendary king Minos, and he also took liberties rebuilding the site that have been debated by different archaeologists ever since.

He roofed the Throne Room, reconstructed the Grand Staircase, and replaced columns.

Evans also ordered the reconstruction of walls with frescoes and even added a conjectural Piano Nobile (upper story) using concrete.

Even though his works are largely based on personal ideas, it is also true that without his restoration, it would have been impossible to deduce what the massive complex could have looked like in the past.

Therefore, if visitors want to see one of the most magnificent remnants of the Minoan civilization, they should put up with some controversy and visit the archaeological site of Knossos.

What to see at the Minoan Palace of Knossos

The West Court

This area, believed to be the marketplace, was certainly a place devoted to public meetings.

There, visitors can find three big circular pits, probably silos or depositories, which were also used as rubbish tips by the end of the Minoan era.

The Central Court

The central area of the palace presents a courtyard where modern paving covers the oldest remains found in the site, dating back to the Neolithic era.

Some speculate that this used to be the scenery of the well-known bull-leaping ceremony while others say that the space would not have been enough for the acrobatic movements required for the performance.

The Piano Nobile

The Piano Nobile is a reconstruction completely made from scratch by Evans, and its main value lies in the sights it offers of the whole complex and the storerooms.

Many consider the disposition of the area rather confusing and out of place.

The Throne Room

The Throne Room at Knossos. Credit: Rolf Dietrich Brecher/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-2.0

Easy to spot due to the lines of tourists waiting to visit, the throne room hosts a worn seat made of stone while, next to the walls, there are lines with stone benches.

Archaeologists believe that the room was the seat of a priest or priestess rather than a ruler.

This idea is also backed up by the presence of a sunken bath, which was probably used for ritual purification since it has no connection to the palace’s drainage system.

The Royal Apartments

The Dolphin Mural in the Queen’s Suite at Knossos. Credit: Chris 73/Wikimedia Commons/ CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Grand Staircase, a masterpiece which is an integral part of the architectural design of the spectacular Minoan Palace at Knossos, leads visitors to the royal apartments.

The most beautiful rooms in the palace are a clear example of the importance luxury and comfort had for the Minoans. The so-called Queen’s Suite has its main room decorated with the famous frescoes of the dolphins.

Some argue that these rooms would have been too small to fit the royalty, more likely located in the upper areas of the palace.

Therefore, they are also identified as residencies for priests or important nobles.

The Queen’s Bathroom has a clay tub protected by a wall with a flushing lavatory with a drainage system.

The King’s Room, located above the Queen’s Suite, has a stunning reception known as the Hall of the Royal Guard as well as the ruler’s personal chamber, or the Hall of the Double Axes.

The Workshops

This zone is thought to have been the area where smiths, potters, and other craftsmen would manage their trade and skills.

In the workshops, it is also possible to see the characteristic huge terracotta vases.

This is also a good place to to admire the bull relief fresco located in the north entrance.

The Drainage System

Best seen from the back of the Queen’s Suite, the well-known, complex drainage system of the palace consists of interconnecting terracotta pipes running underneath the complex. Whole sections of it are perfectly visible.

Tips for visiting

  • You can reach the site by local bus if you are staying in Heraklion (€1.5 / $1.85 per person per route, buses N° 2 and 4). The bus stop is very close to the entrance.
  • The Palace of Knossos is the largest Minoan site on Crete, making it very popular. During summer, it gets very busy, and it might be necessary to wait in long lines to buy a ticket.
  • Combining a visit to the palace with a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion helps in making the most of the trip. This will allow entry to both places without waiting in line once again, and you can save a few euros.
  • Allow for plenty of time to see the site and the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion if you are seriously interested in its history.
  • Much of the site is not covered by trees, so it is difficult to find a shady spot. A hat, sunscreen, and water are essentials.
  • You can take pictures at Knossos, but you are not allowed to use a camera with a tripod or a large professional camera.

The History of the Ancient Greek City of Thebes

“View of Thebes,” 1819, by Hugh W. Williams. Credit: Google Art Project/Public Domain Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

The ancient Greek city of Thebes played a central role in the long pageant of Greek history; appearing in many of the age-old legends of Greek mythology, it was part of the Mycenaean civilization during the Bronze Age.

Later becoming embroiled in the many conflicts between it and other Greek city states, Thebes (Θήβα, Thíva), in Boeotia, Central Greece once was the setting for the exploits of Cadmus, Oedipus, Dionysus, Heracles and other figures from Greek mythology.

Archaeological digs in Thebes and its vicinity have revealed evidence of a Mycenaean-era settlement, as well as clay tablets with the Linear B script, indicating the importance of the site in the Bronze Age.

Thebes played central role in Greek mythology, military history of nation

Thebes, the largest city of the ancient region of Boeotia, was the leader of the Boeotian confederacy, an alliance that was founded in 379 BC after a rebellion freed the cities of Boeotia from Spartan dominance.

It was a major rival of ancient Athens, and sided with the Persians during the 480 BC invasion under the Persian king Xerxes. Theban forces under the command of Epaminondas ended the Spartan hegemony at the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC. The Sacred Band of Thebes (an elite military unit) famously fell at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC against Philip II and Alexander the Great.

Prior to its destruction by Alexander in 335 BC, Thebes was such a major force in Greek history that it was the most dominant city-state at the time of the Macedonian conquest. During the Byzantine period, the city became famous for its silks as well.

Thebes is situated on a plain between Lake Yliki (ancient Hylica) to the north, and the Cithaeron mountains, which divide Boeotia from Attica, to the south. It is about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of Athens.

Cadmea, Thebes
The remains of the ancient citadel of Thebes, the Cadmea, whose founding dates back to time immemorial. Credit: Nefasdicere/CC BY-SA 3.0

The record of the earliest days of Thebes was preserved in legends that rival the myths of Troy in their cultural ramifications and the influence that they exerted on the literature of the classical age.

The foundation of the citadel Cadmea by Cadmus, and the growth of the Spartoi, or “Sown Men” which was most likely an etiological myth explaining the origin of the Theban nobility which bore that name, was also a seminal legend about the history of Thebes.

The immolation of Semele and the advent of the god Dionysus, as well as the building of the famed “seven-gated” wall by Amphion, which were referenced in the tales of Oedipus and Antigone, and the sagas of the origins of Zethus, Antiope and Dirce, played their part as well in cementing this city in the long history of the Greek nation.

The tale of Laius, whose misdeeds culminated in the tragedy of Oedipus and the wars of the “Seven against Thebes” and the Epigoni, and the downfall of his house, are also part of the lore of Thebes, as well as Laius’ pederastic rape of Chrysippus, which may have provided an etiology for the practice of pedagogic pederasty for which Thebes was famous.

Silver stater Thebes
A silver stater, or coin, showing the Theban shield and an image of the god Dionysus. Credit: Exekias /CC BY 2.0

Legendary founder of Thebes was Cadmus, brother of Queen Europa

The Greeks believed that Thebes was founded by Cadmus, a Phoenician king from Tyre (now in Lebanon) who was the brother of Queen Europa. Cadmus was famous for teaching the Phoenician alphabet and building on the Acropolis of Thebes, which was named the Cadmeia in his honor; it became an intellectual, spiritual, and cultural center of the region.

Archaeological digs in and around Thebes have revealed cist graves, which are small stone coffin-like boxes or ossuaries used for the bodies of the dead, dating back to Mycenaean times. These graves contained weapons, ivory, and tablets written in the Linear B script — a precious link to the origin of this writing system.

The Dorians’ eventual conquest of Thebes is the origin of the stories of the successive attacks on that city.

The central position and military fortifications of the city raised it to a commanding position among the Boeotians, and from its early days its inhabitants established complete supremacy over the outlying towns.

By the time of Homer’s Iliad, which is believed to have been written around the middle of the eighth century BC, Thebes was already referred to as “Seven-Gated Thebes.”

In the late 6th century BC, Thebans had their first military conflict with the Athenians, who helped the small village of Plataea to keep its independence against them, and in 506 BC it repelled an attack into Attica.

Siding with Persians in Xerxes’ invasion of Greece

Historians speciulate that this long-standing rivalry with Athens may have led to Thebes siding with the Persians in their invasion of Greece in 480–479 BC. Although a contingent of 400 was sent to Thermopylae and remained there with Leonidas before being defeated alongside the Spartans, the governing aristocracy soon afterward joined King Xerxes I of Persia, fighting zealously on his behalf at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC.

The victorious Greeks subsequently punished Thebes by depriving it of the presidency of the Boeotian League; an attempt by the Spartans to expel it from the Delphic amphictyony, or religious association of tribes, was only frustrated by the intercession of Athens.

In 457 BC, Sparta, needing an ally against Athens, reversed her policy, reinstating Thebes as the dominant power in Boeotia. The great citadel of Cadmea served this purpose well by holding out as a base of resistance when the Athenians overran and occupied the rest of the country in 457–447 BC.

In the Peloponnesian War, the Thebans, embittered by the support that Athens gave to the smaller Boeotian towns, and especially to Plataea, were the firm allies of Sparta. In 424 BC, at the head of the Boeotian levy, they inflicted a severe defeat on an invading force of Athenians at the Battle of Delium.

After the downfall of Athens at the end of the Peloponnesian War, Thebes formed the nucleus of the league against Sparta. At the Battle of Haliartus in 395 BC and the Battle of Coronea in 394 BC, they again proved their military capacity by standing their ground against the fearsome Spartans.

However, the ultimate result of the war was especially disastrous to Thebes, while its power was further reduced in 382 BC, when a Spartan force occupied the citadel by a treacherous coup de main.

Three years later, the Spartan garrison in Thebes was expelled and a democratic constitution was set up in place of the traditional oligarchy. In the consequent wars with Sparta, the Theban army, trained and led by Epaminondas and Pelopidas, proved itself formidable.

Years of desultory fighting, in which Thebes established its control over all Boeotia, culminated in 371 BC in a remarkable victory over the Spartans at Leuctra. The winners were hailed throughout Greece as champions of the oppressed.

They carried their arms into Peloponnesus and at the head of a large coalition, permanently crippled the power of Sparta, in part by freeing many helot slaves, who formed the basis of the entire Spartan economy.

Decline and destruction of once-great city of Thebes

However, the predominance of Thebes was short-lived, with Thebes’ renewed rivalry with Athens, and the death of Epaminondas at the Battle of Mantinea in 362 BC; the city was then relegated to a secondary power.

In the Third Sacred War, in 356–346 BC with Phocis, Thebes finally lost its predominance in central Greece. The Thebans then lost the decisive battle of Chaeronea, and along with it every hope of reassuming control over Greece.

An unsuccessful revolt in 335 BC against Philip of Macedonia’s son Alexander the Great while he was campaigning in the north was punished by Alexander and his Greek allies with the destruction of the city; its territory was divided between the other Boeotian cities.

The Thebans themselves were cruelly sold into slavery.

Alexander spared only priests, leaders of the pro-Macedonian party and descendants of the poet Pindar. According to Plutarch, however, a special Athenian embassy, led by Phocion, an opponent of the anti-Macedonian faction, was able to persuade Alexander to give up his demands for the exile of leaders of the anti-Macedonian party — most particularly the orator Demosthenes — and not sell the people into slavery.

Hellenistic and Roman eras in Thebes

Plutarch, however, writes that Alexander grieved after his excess, granting them any request of favors.

Alexander’s father Philip had been raised in Thebes, albeit as a hostage; historians believe that Philip had later honored them, always seeking alliances with the Boeotians, even in the lead-up to the Battle of Chaeronea.

Thebes was also revered as the most ancient of all Greek cities, with a history of over 1,000 years by that time. Plutarch wrote that, during his later conquests, whenever Alexander came across a former Theban, he would attempt to redress his destruction of Thebes with favors to that individual.

Restoration by Cassander, successor to Alexander

Following Alexander the Great’s death in 323 BC, Thebes was re-established in 315 BC by his successor, Cassander. By this action, Cassander sought to rectify the perceived wrongs of Alexander – a gesture of generosity that earned the new leader much goodwill throughout Greece. Loyal allies in the Theban exiles then returned to resettle Thebes.

Cassander’s plan for rebuilding Thebes ultimately proved successful; the Athenians, for example, rebuilt much of the wall around the city. Major contributions were sent from Megalopolis, Messene, and even as far away as Sicily and Italy, for this purpose.

Despite the restoration, Thebes never again regained its former prominence. The city later became allied with Lysimachus and the Aetolian League.

Byzantine Thebes

During the early Byzantine period, Thebes served as a refuge against foreign invaders. From the 10th century onward, Thebes became a center of the important new silk trade, its silk workshops importing soaps and dyes from Athens. By the middle of the 12th century, the city had become the biggest producer of silks in the entire Byzantine empire, surpassing even the Byzantine capital of Constantinople.

The women of Thebes were famed for their skills in weaving the delicate threads. Theban silk was prized above all others during this period, both for its quality and its excellent reputation.

Although plundered by the Normans in 1146, Thebes quickly resumed its prosperous trades; it continued to grow rapidly until its conquest by the Latins during the Fourth Crusade in 1204.

It then became ruled by the Duchy of Athens as of the year 1210. Because of its great wealth, the city was selected by the Frankish dynasty de la Roche to be its capital, before it was permanently moved to Athens.

After 1240, the Saint Omer family controlled the city jointly with the dukes of the de la Roche family. The castle built by Nicholas II of Saint Omer on the Cadmea was one of the most beautiful of Frankish Greece.

Latin rule over Thebes lasted to 1458, when the Ottomans captured it. In the modern Greek State, Thebes served as the capital of the prefecture of Boeotia until the late 19th century, when Livadeia became the capital.

Notable Thebans

Notable people who hailed from Thebes in ancient times include the poet Pindar (c. 518–443 BC), the painters Aristides of Thebes (4th century BC); and Nicomachus of Thebes (4th century BC); and the Cynic philosopher Crates of Thebes (c. 365 – c. 285 BC).

Notably, St. Luke the Evangelist, who died in 84 AD, was said to have been buried in Thebes, although his remains were later taken to Padua, Italy.

A native of the ancient Greek city of Antioch, Luke was a physician; his polished Greek, beyond that of any other New Testament writer, has been n noted by scholars. Since he uses the term “we” in many different passages in the Book of Acts, it is believed that he accompanied St. Paul on many of his journeys.

New DNA analysis performed on the body that was in the ancient lead coffin in Padua tentatively supported the belief that it was indeed that of St. Luke, who is considered the author of the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, according to a report from the New York Times.

Dr. Guido Barbujani, a population geneticist at the University of Ferrara, Italy, used DNA from a tooth found in the coffin, concluding that the DNA was indeed like that of people from the region of Antioch. Radiocarbon dating also showed that it had belonged to someone who died between the years of 72 A.D. and 416 A.D.

Ancient sources state that St. Luke died at the age of 84 in about the year 150 A.D. in Thebes. The coffin with his remains was first taken to Constantinople in 338 A.D. but was later transported to Padua, Italy.

Barbujani’s report was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

The modern city of Thebes has an important archaeological museum, the remains of the Cadmea citadel, and scattered ancient ruins.

Atwood: The Death Row Inmate Turned Orthodox Monk Before Execution

frank atwood monk
Frank Atwood. Credit: Screenshot Youtube

Death row inmate Frank Atwood who was executed in Arizona by lethal injection on June 8th, 2022 had become a Greek Orthodox monk prior to his execution.

The 66-year-old convict, who was sentenced in 1987 for the kidnapping and murder of 8-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson in 1984, had converted to Greek Orthodox Christianity two decades ago.

The Vicki Lynne Hoskinson murder case

Eight-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson went missing after leaving her home in Tucson to place a birthday card in a nearby mailbox in September 1984, and her body was found in the desert in April 1985.

Frank Atwood was traced down as her abductor through witness testimony and physical evidence, which the convict alleged in a later appeal was planted on his car.

He was arrested ten days after the girl’s disappearance and seven months before her remains were discovered in a condition that made it impossible to determine her cause of death.

While no physical evidence in Atwood’s car—seen outside her school on the day of her disappearance—could be linked to Vicki’s person, accident reconstruction experts matched the pink paint on the bumper of Atwood’s vehicle to the color of the paint on Vicki’s bike, as well as other evidence of the collision on the bike.

Throughout his time in jail, Atwood contended that police had tampered with the evidence found on his car, but his appeals for judicial review of his case were denied.

Atwood had been charged with and convicted for lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under 14 in 1975, just a few years before Vicki’s murder.

By April 2021, Atwood was one of twenty Arizona death row inmates who had exhausted all their appeals. At the time of his execution, he was in a wheelchair, suffering from a spinal condition.

“Today marks final justice for our daughter Vicki Lynne. Our family has waited 37 years, eight months and 22 days for this day to come,” Debbie Carlson, Vicki Lynne’s mother, was reported saying as she attended Atwood’s execution.

After her daughter’s murder, Carlson became a victims’ rights activist.

Atwood’s attorney, Joseph Perkovich, said in a statement that his client’s execution doesn’t resolve what he said were unanswered questions about the case.

Atwood was tonsured a monk hours before the execution

Following his correspondence and eventual marriage to a Protestant Christian woman in 1991, Atwood has baptized a Greek Orthodox Christian in 2000.

His spiritual adviser, Elder Paisios, from the nearby Saint Anthony’s Monastery, told the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency in May that he was certain Atwood had experienced “a complete transformation of life.”

Paisios said the authenticity of Atwood’s faith was to such a degree that he had never before witnessed among hundreds of others who had come to him, adding that Atwood unfailingly followed his instructions and kept to a daily routine of prayer.

Atwood’s last address to the public and the victim’s family was published online on May 25th.

According to Frank Strada, Arizona Department of Corrections director, Atwood’s final statement before he died was the following—first addressing Elder Paisios, who accompanied him to his execution:

“Thank you, precious Father, for coming today and shepherding me into faith. I want to thank my beautiful wife who has loved me with everything she has. I want to thank my friends and legal team, and most of all, Jesus Christ through this unfair judicial process that led to my salvation. I pray the Lord will have mercy on all of us and that the Lord will have mercy on me.”

Atwood had been tonsured a monk with the name Ephraim hours before the execution.

Why Greek Island Houses Are Blue and White

Blue and White houses on the Greek Island Santorini
The iconic blue and white Greek houses of Santorini. Credit: Greek Reporter

World famous destinations such as Mykonos and Santorini are easy to identify in photos thanks in part to their distinct architecture. Influencers love taking pictures in front of the islands’ whitewashed homes and blue accents and doors. But why are Greek island houses blue and white?

Many people recognize blue and white as the iconic colors of Greece. They’re the colors of the flag. They are also the colors of the bright sea and sky synonymous with the beautiful Mediterranean.

However, on the Cycladic islands, the distinctive blue and white colors of homes are not based on the colors’ symbolism within Greece. In fact, there were several reasons behind this iconic characteristic of Greek island architecture. These were mostly practical reasons.

Cooling down island homes in the summer

Many homes on islands like Mykonos, Paros, and Naxos were originally built out of stone. This was a practical decision since wood was not easily found on rocky Aegean islands.

However, the rocky terrain is of a darker color. This presented a problem during the sunny Greek summers. The sunlight beating down on the homes would be absorbed by the dark stones, making the interior unbearably hot.

Hence, residents began painting the stones white in an effort to cool down their indoor spaces. The process worked, resulting in cooler, more comfortable island homes.

How Cholera Affected Home Design

In 1938, a national order mandated the painting of island homes in blue and white. At the time, Greece was suffering an outbreak of cholera during the dictatorship of Ioannis Metaxas. In an effort to curb the disease, he ordered citizens to whitewash their homes.

This might sound strange today, but the whitewash used to paint the houses contained limestone. Limestone is a powerful disinfectant, and not many others were in common use at the time.

Greek citizens thus whitewashed their homes to help sanitize them and reduce the spread of cholera.

What about the blue color of Greek island houses?

Greek islands homes in Amorgos
The Greek island of Amorgos, showing old windmills atop its highest point. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Though blue is the most common accent color for doors and shutters in the Cycladic islands, it’s not the only one. In fact, if you walk around many islands, you will notice accents of red, green, and brown, in addition to blue.

However, the vibrant blue color still dominates the Cycladic landscape. Why is that?

Well, it comes down to cost. Fishermen and other seafaring men painted their windows and shutters with whatever was left over after painting their boat. Because of its components, blue was usually the cheapest paint color available.

The blue used for Greek island homes was made from a mixture of limestone and a cleaning product called “loulaki,” which was a kind of blue talcum powder most islanders had readily available at home. Therefore, blue paint was a very easy color for them to make.

Military dictatorship enforces color scheme on Greek islands

The pretty colors of Greek island homes became mandatory during the military dictatorship that took over Greece in 1967. The regime believed the colors would inspire patriotism and were reflective of Greek nationalism.

Eventually, they passed a law in 1974 to mandate the painting of Greek island homes in blue and white.

Although these regulations have now been relaxed, the blue and white colors of the Greek islands have become a huge draw for travelers. Therefore, many islanders continue painting their homes in these colors. Essentially, this is both for the practical reasons they started using these colors and because they are good for tourism.

Wandering around the Cycladic islands today, visitors can easily find homes with original earth-colored stones or slightly different colors. However, blue and white still dominate Greek island design, and island homes are known for this popular color scheme worldwide.

Greek Merchant Mariner Recalls Bermuda Triangle UFO Sighting

Greek Merchant Mariner Recalls Bermuda Triangle UFO Sighting
A UFO as photographed in the Bermuda Triangle by the US Navy. Credit: US Navy

Greek Merchant Marine radio operator Polycarp Spentzas had an indescribably strange and unforgettable experience while working aboard the vessel “Pothiti SWJC” in 1978 off Bermuda.

But he certainly wasn’t the only person to observe these odd occurrences in the last few decades.

Over the years there have been a multitude of odd, unexplainable and unsettling occurrences in that famed area between Bermuda in the north, the Bahamas in the south and Miami Florida in the west, including the disappearance of twelve US Navy crewmembers on a seaplane patrolling there during the Second World War, on July 10, 1945.

They had left the Banana River Florida, Naval Air Station the night before for a training flight to Great Exuma in the Bahamas. The last time they were ever heard from was 1:16 AM the next day, at a position of 25.22N, 7734W, near Providence Island. No trace of the crew or their aircraft has ever been found.

Late that same year, another military flight, with 14 airmen aboard, was lost — and then the plane sent out to try to locate that aircraft, carrying thirteen men — was also lost. By some counts, there have been as many as 155 people who have perished in that otherwise idyllic, turquoise-hued stretch of water east of Miami.

For Spetzos, the merchant mariner, the legendary dangers of that area (Bermuda Triangle) suddenly became personal in 1978, when in the course of his normal duties he observed the following strange events unfold.

As he recalls it, “We started from Porto Matanzas, Cuba, bound for Algiers, with an average speed of 11 miles. Shortly before 12 noon local time, the officers of the ship’s bridge began to notice that it appeared to them that the ship was sailing at unusually high speed — but the instruments showed a constant speed of 10 to 11 nautical miles an hour.

“Some of my colleagues initially hypothesized maybe I had made a mistake in timing, since I was the radio operator. But that did not happen; and the ship continued to tear through the waves like a dolphin.

“At 12 noon,” Spentzas continued, “the captain asked the second officer to put a Pakistani sailor at the wheel, since he himself did not feel well. He could not lift his arms and his body felt too heavy all over.

“Soon the electrician arrived on the bridge after coming up from the engine room, upset that he had noticed that all the clocks on the boat had gone ahead two whole hours.

“Additionally, the helmsman was unable to hold a steady course, because the compass, which was gyroscopic and shielded from electromagnetic fields, was turning like crazy! So, he had to put on the autopilot and we managed to maintain a steady course.

The UFO sighting

The seasoned merchant mariner goes on to relate “But the strangest of all was something that happened a little after 5 pm. The cook and I were playing backgammon in the smoking room, when suddenly we looked back and saw, to the left of the ship, i.e., the northwest side, just a few miles away, a large, white unidentified flying object in the sky. Then there appeared two smaller flying objects to the west of the large one and indeed, one of them was attached to it. ‘Experiments of Americans,’ I assumed.

“I left immediately and went to the bridge to ask, full of anguish, if someone else had seen these bizarre devices. Not one had noticed. However, I was sure that something strange was happening with time and how we were affected by the acceleration of the movement of the UFOs.

Spentzas explains “I looked at my watch and time had passed. I put the Radio receiver to 500 KHz, to fill in the calendar and heard Morse code — but it was unnaturally quick. I put out a time request signal to 15 MHz RWM (Radio Moscow) and heard the answering time signals too quickly — so fast that I thought it was the station’s fault.

Bermuda Triangle
Credit: Flickr/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The Greek crew and the strange and inexplicable events of the Bermuda Triangle

“I jumped from my chair, opened the window of the chart room and looked at the Captain. I could use the Morse system, but noticed that my hands could not handle even or five letters per minute — and it took about two minutes to just walk to the chair for the transmitter.

“Upset, I told the captain: “My hands are just not working, they’re not listening to me!” He replied that nobody should touch the ship’s autopilot.

Spentzas relates that “The next day, the crew was discussing the strange events that had happened to everyone.

“A sailor complained that once he lit a cigarette, he didn’t have enough time to smoke, because it burned immediately. The Second Mate, who served on the midnight to four AM shift, had gone to his cabin and was brushing his teeth before he went to bed. He suddenly cried out that the time had just changed to 23:40, so he did not have time to sleep.

“All of us felt bradycardia, an abnormally slow heartbeat, as well as hypothermia, during that time.

“For years now,” Spentzas explained to interviewers, “I have tried to explain these curious occurrences. I believe that the bradycardia and reduced crew reflexes are due to what is called ‘gravitational time dilation.’ Gravitational waves (varyonia) emitted by the acceleration of UFO for take-off and other movements, caused a biochemical changes in the metabolism of the human body. This process occurs according to the theories of Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein,“ Spentzas concluded.

Whatever actually happened, it was experienced by more than one person that strange day in the Atlantic. Time will tell if any more evidence will ever be found of the bizarre happenings in this region of the ocean.

Information for this article was previously published in the Greek daily Adesmeftos Press on August 17, 1995.

Angelina Jolie Plays Maria Callas in New Biopic

Maria Callas and Angelina Jolie. GreekReporter Collage. Photo Credit: 1) public domain, 2) Wikipedia/Gage Skidmore/CC BY-SA 2.0

Angelina Jolie will play the legendary Greek-American soprano Maria Callas in the biopic Maria. The film will be directed by Pablo Larraín and written by Steven Knight, who recently worked together on the film Spencer.

Blue chip outfit FilmNation has newly boarded world sales and is launching ahead of the market, which gets underway in early June. The film, which was first revealed last fall, is based on true accounts and will tell the tumultuous story of the world’s greatest female opera singer, relived and re-imagined during her final days in 1970s Paris. Additional casting is underway.

Speaking about the biopic, the film’s director stated that “having the chance to combine my two most deep and personal passions, cinema and opera, has been a long-awaited dream.”

“To do this with Angelina, a supremely brave and curious artist, is a fascinating opportunity,” Larraín remarked. “A true gift.”

Larraín’s credits also include No, The Club and Neruda. Most recently, he directed the Stephen King series Lisey’s Story.

Angelina Jolie thrilled to bring Maria Callas’ legacy on screen

Following the press announcement of the new biopic, Angelina Jolie said she is thrilled to bring the legacy and turbulent life of Maria Callas to the big screen.

Jolie stated, “I take…the responsibility to Maria’s life and legacy [very seriously]. I will give all I can to meet the challenge.”

Angelina Jolie was last seen in Marvel’s Eternals and Taylor Sheridan’s thriller Those Who Wish Me Dead. She is the director of the upcoming war drama Without Blood, starring Salma Hayek.

Callas, once hailed by Leonard Bernstein as “the Bible of opera,” is also linked to another of Larraín film titled Jackie. The focus of the film is her legendary love affair with the Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, who eventually married Jackie Kennedy.

Maria Callas, the Greek icon with the immortal voice

The American-born, Greek-raised diva was a world-renowned opera singer. She was married to the wealthy industrialist, Giovanni Battista Meneghini, from 1949 to 1959. However, Callas’ most notable relationship was with shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.

aristotle onassis maria callas
Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis on board the yacht.

The opera singer was born Sophia Cecilia Anna Maria Kalogeropoulou on December 2, 1923 in New York, but her family name was later shortened to Callas. She began performing at the young age of eight.

Maria Callas lived in New York for the first thirteen years of her life, so she was proficient in English, but she also spoke Greek at home with her parents. Later on, she resided mainly in Europe but often returned to the U.S. from 1959 to 1974 to perform.

Callas reminded opera that it is also a type of theater and that the “long lines of paunchy and plump singers that come along to push out a tune on center stage are no longer acceptable,” as a French correspondent wrote after her death in 1977.

Callas died at her Paris home on September 16, 1977 at the age of fifty-three after having suffered a heart attack.