Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 2, 2017

Stepping out

We loved our visit to Athens earlier this year. A highlight was watching the changing of the guards in front of the Presidential Mansion and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Syntagma Square.

The guards belong to an elite light infantry unit, the Evzones. The guards change every hour. Each soldier guards for about an hour, 3 times in a 48 hour period. They must stand perfectly still, without any facial expression or movement.

The guards get some protection from the elements standing beside litttle white huts that offer some shade, but not much. We were there on a fine day, but it was already hot on a spring morning.

Just before the change time 3 soldiers march towards the square.

They turn to face the Square and are met by a couple of soldiers who check their uniforms.

The 2 who have been on guard move away from their positions to face the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

2 of the new soldiers then step forward and move to the centre of the square.

The soldiers finishing their shift move off.

This is a very serious business.

The new guards are checked and they take their places.

…and their motionless hour begins.

The uniform of the Presidential Guard has historical meaning. The official uniform is worn only on Sundays and National holidays. On other days there is the doulamas, a special uniform that the soldiers of the Macedonian Struggle used to wear. This uniform is blue in winter and brown in summer.

I was especially impressed by the shoes, called Tsarouchia. They are red, made of leather with a pompon on the front. Each shoe weighs 3 kilos.

I can’t imagine wearing all those clothes in the heat of summer. If I had to do it I would request a sleeveless cotton top, with a lightweight pleated shirt and a parasol to carry…I don’t expect to get a call any time soon.

It would be great to see the full ceremony which takes place at 11.00 am on Sundays…next time.





  1. There are some excellent museums on the neighbouring street which are under-visited

    • We went to the Acropolis Museum , the Archeological Museum and the Benaki Museum. We will try some others next time.

      • byzantine art museum is good and the cycladic art one is amazing

      • That sounds like a plan for our next visit.

  2. It is said that when the Evzones were combat units, the pompons were replaced by sharp blades which were used in hand-to-hand (or perhaps foot-to-foot) confrontations. I think I prefer their ceremonial role…

  3. It is a really intriguing uniform and i had no idea the shoes were so heavy. I must say they have rather nice legs:)

    • They have solid thighs. It must be all that leg lifting.

  4. They are fabulous… all that discipline and precision…I wouldn’t like three kilos on each foot but can think of a few ways to use the pom-poms !!!

    • It was fun to watch.

  5. A parasol, Deb, are you serious…!!! I cracked up laughing at the thought. Those pom pom shoes are works of art, I must say. Hmmm…interesting to read about the history of those uniforms. I wonder if these soldiers feel ridiculous in those full pleated skirts, woollen stockings and pom poms? Espied a sweaty armpit, so, they must feel the heat. Such handsome soldiers!

    • They wear their uniforms with pride and it shows. I couldn’t manage all that clothing, I would be far too hot.

  6. Yes, love the shoes! Thank you for this very interesting post. Now I know a little of what I missed when I visited Athens during protests.

    • There was a huge demonstration in the city when we were there, but it didn’t affect us too much. We loved Athens.

  7. I have extended family in Greece and I saw the changing of the guard for the first time as a 12 year old. It’s quite something to see. The discipline and concentration is a superpower, I’m sure, and it’s an incredible honor to hold that position. There are so many lovely and amazing things about this country.

    • We loved Greece and will definitely return.

  8. Wow that is some discipline they have there (proving yet again why I would be hopeless in that job). And 3 kilos a shoe? Wow!

    • I know I couldn’t stand still that long and I would be so hot in all those clothes.

  9. I love their uniforms. Adding this to my Athens to-do list.

    • Athens is great. We loved our time there.

      • I’m doing a Star Clipper cruise leaving from there and going to Malta where my grandfather was born. I’m just a bit excited.

      • That sounds wonderful! I went to Malta many years ago…fascinating.

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