Monument of the Unknown Soldier
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The Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Athens is dedicated to the fallen in the national struggle. It is located at the lower part of the high wall surrounding the Greek Parliament building.

The memorial is located between two monumental staircases, which lead to the main entrance to the Parliament. There is a bas-relief on the wall behind the grave, which depicts a fallen soldier, surrounded by quotes from the famous funeral speech of Pericles. The wall surrounding the monument is engraved with the names of places where the largest and bloodiest battles of the Greeks took place.

The Monument to the Unknown Soldier is guarded 24 hours a day by two Evzones who are members of the presidential guard, a specially selected elite unit of the Greek army.


The idea of creating a Monument to the Unknown Soldier came to the French after the First World War, during which millions of people had died. In the following years, other countries followed the example of France.

Following the example of other Europeans, Greece decided to establish a national Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Athens in early 1926. The Syntagma square, which was properly organized for this purpose, was chosen for the construction of the monument. The initiative belonged to the Minister of war Theodoros Pangalos. The notice of the competition, the text of which was written by the Deputy Minister of defense, was published in the government newspaper of February 28, 1926. The competition was won by the architect Emmanuel Lazaridis.

The unveiling of the Monument to the Unknown Soldier, which was created by the sculptor Fokion Rok under the direction of Lazaridis, took place on March 25, 1932, on the anniversary of the Independence Day of Greece, in a festive atmosphere and with great solemnity.

The responsibility for the honorary protection of the monument was assigned to the “Guard of the President of the Republic”, which was later renamed the “Guard of the Monument to the Unknown Soldier”. It retained this name until 1935. Later, a new one appeared — the “Presidential guard”, which remained almost until the end of the dictatorship in 1967. After the political changes of 1974, the name "Presidential guard" was officially adopted.

Nowadays it is one of the most important places in Athens. The main element of the monument is a large bas-relief representing the dying Greek armed soldier Kostas Demetriadis.

On the left and on the right, one can see other inscriptions telling about historical battles where the Greek soldiers were involved. The last battle took place in Cyprus in 1974.

Presidential guard and changing of the guard

The soldiers of the presidential guard are called "Evzones". The unit was created by king Otto to protect the Royal family. Their uniforms are based on the traditional costume of the southern Greece of the 19th century. The red felt hat in the Ottoman style symbolizes the bloodshed in the revolution against the Ottoman occupation, and the black tassels represent the tears of the Greeks, which they had shed during 400 years of Ottoman rule. 400 kilt folds are equal to the number of years during which the Greeks were enslaved.

Two of the most significant dates in the country's history are celebrated annually at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens:

  • March 25 (the Independence Day). On this day in 1821, bishop Germanos of Patras officially announced the beginning of the Greek people's revolt against the Ottoman rule by raising a flag. This happened at the monastery of the Holy Lavra in Kalavrita, in the mountains of the Northern Peloponnese.
  • October 28 (the “No” Day). During World War II, in response to the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's ultimatum to surrender Greece under the threat of military invasion from Albania, the Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas replied with one simple but clear word: “No”.

If you have an opportunity to visit the Monument on these days, be sure to do so.

Every hour, the Evzones perform a "changing of the guard" at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier. The ceremony begins when new soldiers are marching down the street from their barracks at the edge of the National Botanic garden. The Evzones get to the square and stand waiting to take the place of their predecessors.

The Evzones, who have remained motionless for 45 minutes, as the rules strictly prescribe, begin to march in lockstep, waving their arms, perhaps to restore blood circulation. The next Evzones take their place headed by the commanding officer. The changing of the guard lasts for 15 minutes. This is a very spectacular show!

The Monument to the Unknown Soldier is located at Syntagma square (Constitution square) in Athens, in front of the Greek Parliament building.

You can get to it by the underground. To do this, get off at “Syntagma” station (red and blue lines).

There are also buses No. E14, X14 that run to the “Afeteria” stop. To reach the “Syntagma” stop, you should take buses No. 227, 230, 790, 856, A2, B2, trolleybuses No. 1, 2, 4, 5, 11 and trams No. T4, T5.


  1. The Parliament building has a very rich history. During the monarchy, it was a Royal palace. Walk around the building and take a photo.
  2. To the right of the Parliament is the National Botanic Garden. You can enter it for free.

The best time to visit the Monument of the Unknown Soldier

  • The changing of the guard ceremony is particularly solemn at 11 a.m. on Sundays. Dozens of people gather in the main square of the country to see the ceremony.
  • March 25 and October 28.