Changing of the Guards outside the Parliament Building in Athens, Greece

So I watched the Evzones guards outside the Hellenic Parliament building on Monday in Syntagma Square. Here’s a video that shows some of this very long, drawn out ritual.

Although the guards change hourly, there is a big ceremony once a week. These ceremonial guards, the Evzones, stand motionless at the tomb of their Unknown Soldier. They are volunteers—Getting into this unit is an honor, and they have to be over 6 ft. tall. They wear white tights, a white skirt, a white blouse with very full sleeves, an embroidered vest, red cap, and shoes with big pom-poms. The uniform is based on the clothing of the Klephts, mountain fighters who fought the Turks from the 15th Century until Greek independence in the 19th Century.

The two guards stand inside small guardhouses. Just before the ceremony they step outside it, and soldiers in regular uniforms tidy them up. We watched a guy smooth out the tassels on the guard’s sash so each thread laid flat.

At the appointed time a military band comes down the street, followed by dozens of these guards. After they reach the paved area in front of parliament, there is a lot of marching around, presenting arms, etc. Eventually, the two replacement guards go up the few steps to the booths and the other two leave.

These four guys do what looks like a ballet—They move in controlled slow motion, in perfect sync, first dragging their foot backward, then raising that leg out straight before taking each step. It takes them awhile to go anywhere! Eventually the two new guards are in place, and everyone else marches off.

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