Monthly Archives: February 2017

A March to the Little Monastery


Syntagma Square(Metro is on the Left)

That winter afternoon in January 2017 was no reflection of the probably heated day in September 1843, when King George I had faced a military uprising and had conceded the nation’s first constitution. We looked around to see the fountain in the Syntagma or Constitution Square. People were flitting in and out of the metro station that lay beside the marble steps at the far end of the square. The flight of stairs climbed to a street and beyond that was the Greek Parliament House.
‘Follow Ermou street opposite the Syntagma Square,’ had said my wide-eyed Greek colleague, ‘you will reach Monastiraki.’
It was late in the afternoon, so we headed straight for the recommended street, towards the flea market and the eateries. Walking through the signs of lifestyle brands we passed by a street vendor selling chestnuts. The scent of Greek coffee emanated from a push cart not far from another seller offering pastries and bread.
Amidst the curtain of people and outstretched leaves of potted olive bushes lining the street, I noticed a dome ahead on the street. It was a medieval church; a home to calmness amidst the chaos of the bazaar. Later, I found out that the Church of Panaghia Kapnikaria that was built around 11th century over the ruins of an ancient temple, dedicated either to Demeter or Athena.


Ermou Street

The Byzantine-styled church was to be pulled down during the construction of the Ermou street in 1834, but it was saved thanks to the rallying by King Ludwig of Bavaria. He was the father of Modern Greece’s first king after the nation gained independence from the Ottoman rule in 1832.

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A Roman Stopover

img_8333A trip to Rome is said to be incomplete without tossing change into the Trevi Fountain. Sounds wishful! Not really on a winter’s day, when the coin is most likely to bounce off the frozen surface and strike some bystander in the eye.
So, on my last trip to Rome, fountains were out of the question. Instead, I chose to fight the cold and march to a place frequented by every Roman who lived a couple of millennia ago, the Flavian Amphitheatre or the Colosseum.
Walking through the seeming ice free streets was easy, but a random ice-filled crack on the pavement nearly slid me off balance. Cold apart, the crack and crevice speckled streets could have been any other part of South Asia, for most of the traders and tourist guides and artists seemed to be from the sub-continent, mainly from Bangladesh.

The Flavian Amphitheatre was called so because it was commissioned by the Flavian dynasty emperors who came after Emperor Nero. But the name apparently came from a statue of Nero that stood in the vicinity. The Statue was inspired by the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Expectedly, Nero posed in the similar stance and semblance of Helios, the sun God. Later, the infamous emperor’s successors moved the Colossal statue next to the Amphitheatre.

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