Greece interesting facts – fun facts you didn’t know about!
Greece is one of the most important countries in the history of western civilization. Many historians refer to it as the cradle of western civilization as it was very influential in the past. Cities such as Athens still hold many ancient historical buildings that people flock to in droves. It’s an extremely popular tourist destination and the country is certainly full of its fair share of history.
Whether you have Greek ancestry or simply find the past of Greece to be interesting, it’s always fun to learn more about a country. Greece has a lot of fun trivia for you to dig into. The unique blend of intriguing modern culture mixed with legends from the past provides a lot of entertaining material to look at. Take a look at these fun facts about Greece and you’ll see exactly why so many people make it a vacation destination every year.
Greece interesting facts #1
Democracy Started in Athens
Athens is regarded by most historians as the birthplace of democracy. In modern times, there has been some debate about whether there were rumblings of democratic structures of government elsewhere in the world prior to Athens. Regardless of any theories about this, Athens remains the inspiration for the democratic nations that were to come in the future. Greece was unique in its structure at the time and each of its cities had its own way of doing things.
The Athenians didn’t create the first democracy overnight, though. It took a lot of political and social unrest to arrive at democracy as a necessary conclusion. There was a lot of discrimination and inequality that preceded these ideas. It was essentially class warfare that led to democracy being created and democratic ideals were shaped by principles of equality and freedom.
Greece interesting facts #2
Greece Is Truly Ancient
Many people visit Greece because it has such an interesting history. Some people don’t realize how truly ancient Greece is, though. The city of Athens has been populated for over 7,000 years. There has been no break in the chain between the past and present times.
The same Athens that you can go visit today has never stopped having people living there.
A lot has changed over the years, of course. It has weathered many different social and political changes through the course of its long history but it’s still standing. It’s the oldest city in Europe by far and is definitely a destination that you’ll want to visit someday.
Greece interesting facts #3
The Greeks Don’t Actually Call Their Country Greece
This is pretty weird to think about but the Greeks don’t even call their country Greece. They actually refer to their country as Hellas or Hellada. Its official name is the Hellenic Republic and it has always been Hellas, even in ancient times. English-speaking peoples refer to it as Greece based on the term Graecia, which is Latin for “land of the Greeks.”
The Romans popularly used Latin, of course. Being that Rome was so influential in the eventual development of western society, many of the English naming conventions are somewhat derived from Latin. It’s sort of funny to think that a society such as Rome that changed the name of gods from Zeus to Jupiter also wound up altering the popular name for the land those gods originated in. It’s a peculiar coincidence but is also very fitting.
Greece interesting facts #4
You Can Still Visit Ancient Greek Temples Today
There are a plethora of different ancient Greek temples that you can visit today. Bear in mind that these temples are incredibly old and most of them are only partial structures at this point. Through years of experiencing war and being tested by the elements, many parts of these structures have been lost to time.
Even the structures such as the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion, where only a few pillars are left standing, can be a sight to behold.
One temple that is remarkably well-preserved is the Temple of Hephaestus. It was built in the 5th century BC and still has the vast majority of its structure intact. Visiting these sites is very interesting for anyone who is intrigued by ancient Greek mythology. The architectural design is undoubtedly beautiful and you’ll have a very good day checking out what the sites have to offer for modern eyes.
Greece interesting facts #5
Greek Weddings Are Really Rowdy
Most people have probably heard the stereotypes about Greek weddings. They’re well-known for being super rowdy and kind of crazy. This stereotype happens to be true, mostly. You see, the actual weddings in Greece are usually very formal but it’s the receptions where everything becomes exceptionally raucous.
People dance without inhibition at these wedding receptions. It’s traditional for the family to perform a “bride’s dance” that is led by the bride. People break plates at these weddings, too. This is not as crazy as it seems as it’s just a ceremonial act of celebration using plates made out of plaster.
Greece interesting facts #6
The Olympics Originated in Greece
One of the most well-known fun facts about Greece is that it is the birthplace of the Olympics. This is only sort of true; really, it would be more accurate to say that Greece inspired the modern-day Olympics. Historians say that the first ever Greek Olympics was held to celebrate a religious event in 776 BC. They were held to celebrate the highest god of Mount Olympus, Zeus.
Many of the games held in these Olympics were quite different than what people are used to seeing today. The most unusual game to modern eyes would be the sport of chariot racing. This definitely had the potential to get bloody and dangerous. It was a spectacle that the Greeks very much enjoyed, though.
here was also an ancient sport known as pankration that was a combination of wrestling and boxing. If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because this is really very similar to modern mixed martial arts. In some ways, you could say that ancient Greece held the first MMA competitions in their ancient Olympic games. Boxing itself was a popular sport for these games too and the combat didn’t have weight limits imposed.
One last Greece interesting facts nugget of wisdom for you is that the ancient Greek Olympics were performed in the nude. You’ll be forgiven for doing a double take as most people with modern sensibilities find that to be quite funny. There were some competitors who would wear restraints for their genitalia that were not unlike modern thong underwear. Regardless of whether all competitors were totally nude, this is definitely an interesting fact.
Greece interesting facts #7
Greeks Don’t Like Waving with an Open Palm
Greece is a country of many old superstitions and because of this, many modern greetings or actions aren’t seen as acceptable there. One generally harmless gesture that could be taken the wrong way in Greece is waving. If you wave at someone with an open palm, a Greek native will find this to be insulting. People generally greet others with closed palms in Greece.
Greece interesting facts #8
Voting Is Not Optional
No Greece interesting facts list would be complete without mentioning their modern voting conditions. You see, the Greeks take their elections incredibly seriously. You aren’t allowed the option to stay home and let the other citizens decide who is going to become your next political leader. All Greek citizens over the age of eighteen are required by law to get out and vote.
In some ways, this could lead to more people maintaining informed positions on the politics of their land. Greeks have a reputation for being opinionated and this isn’t a bad thing. When you compare Greek voting numbers to those of the United States of America, where only a fraction of the population actually exercises their voting rights, it’s pretty interesting. Some might say that forcing someone to vote is against personal freedoms, though, so it’s a give and take situation.
Greece interesting facts #9
Family Units Live Together for a Long Time
In Greece, family units typically stay together for a very long time. It’s normal for children to stay with their parents until they become married. People don’t send the elderly to retirement homes, either, as they usually wind up living with their children or grandchildren until their demise. The sense of family unity in Greece is truly very strong.
Greece interesting facts #10
Some Laws Prevent Wearing High Heels in Certain Places
This is definitely a weird but interesting fact about Greece. Certain historical sites have banned the wearing of high heels. This is because a high heel is more likely to damage important historical sites. There have been studies that show that the amount of pressure that a high heel puts on a certain point is very high. This could lead to creating cracks in the ancient stone and the Greeks take maintaining their ancient structures very seriously.
Even if this seems silly to you, it’s definitely sensible to try to safeguard these historical sites for future generations. Being that Greece is home to many of the oldest historical sites in all of Europe, it’s truly a land full of wonder. It might be best to leave your favorite high heels back at the hotel when you’re going to visit an ancient temple site or something else that has historical significance. Even if you look really nice in those shoes, it just isn’t worth destroying part of history.