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November 17th: The Athens Polytechnic uprising

November 17th is one of the Greek National Holidays and is about the student uprising that took place in the Greek Polytechnic University in 1973. That was the day when the massive demonstrations against the Greek Military Dictatorship escalated to an open anti-junta (junta is the name given to the military regime of that period in Greek) revolt and ended in bloodshed in the early morning of November 17 after a series of events starting with a tank crashing through the gates of the Polytechnic.

But how did all of these happen?

The Greek Junta had abolished a lot of civil rights, it dissolved political parties and it exiled and tortured politicians as well as citizens because of their political beliefs, in order to control every aspect of the politics. It had even interfered with student syndicalism since 1967, by imposing their own student leaders in the national student’s union. Thus, the first massive public reaction against the military regime started by the students on February 1973. Law students went on strike and barricaded inside the buildings of the Law School of the University of Athens. On November, students at the Polytechnic went on strike, started protesting against the junta and constructed a radio station constantly broadcasting the following message: “Here is Polytechneion! People of Greece, the Polytechneion is the flag bearer of our struggle and your struggle, our common struggle against the dictatorship and for democracy! “

After those events, Metapolitefsi (which means the change of the political system) took place. and it includes the transitional period from the fall of the dictatorship to the Greek legislative election of 1974 and the democratic period immediately after these elections.

Today, November 17 is considered a holiday in Greece for all educational establishments. Most schools and universities are closed or hold commemorative services, usually the day before. The commemoration day ends traditionally with a demonstration that begins from the campus of the Polytechneio and ends at the United States embassy. Very often, there are protests during the day, so avoid the centre around the area of the Polytechnic.




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Christmas in Athens, 2014

Christmas is finally coming! Athens is putting on its festive mood! ;)

Decorations and preparations in our beautiful city have already started! This year the central square of Athens, Syntagma, is going yo have a really unique piece of art, completely different to previous years. Last year, the decorations were eco-friendly and most of them were made by children and students of Athens’ primary schools, using only recycled material to decorate the trees in the Square in their own way. Continuing a spirit of creativity, this year, we are going back to the Greek traditions! This time, we decided to decorate a boat, which you can see lit up in the middle of the square.

The Christmas boat comes from a tradition in the islands where children used to sing Christmas songs, carrying around small wooden boats illuminating their way and having enough space to store the treats they got. Another tradition is that families used to decorate boats to welcome back the seamen around Christmas time.
On December 10th, everything was everything was ready and at 6pm the Mayor of Athens (Yorgos Kaminis) officially announced the start of the Christmas Celebrations and all the festivities began! It means that every day and night, for one month, you will have the chance to enjoy lots of free shows prepared by hundreds of musicians, actors, dancers and many other artists! There will be street events, concerts, exhibitions, educational programs and a lot more, all aiming to show the multicultural character of Athens. Doesn’t it sound great???
So, come to Athens and enjoy yourselves! Merry Christmas Everybody!!!


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