Each year on the 25th March, Athens comes to a standstill for Greek Independence Day, which commemorates the start of the Greek War of Independence in 1821. It is also the religious holiday of The Annunciation that is observed on this day by Eastern Orthodoxy.
The festivities in Athens start one day prior on the 24th March with the annual students parade. School students and other youth associations march through central Athens past Hellenic Parliament in Syntagma, dressed in school uniform and traditional dress.
On the 25th March, the grand military parade commences from mid morning making its way from Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, past Hellenic Parliament and the Academy of Athens on Panepistimiou Street. The grand parade includes squadrons from the Hellenic Armed Forces, civil and military marching bands followed by a procession of military vehicles. The parades are attended by the president of Greece and other dignitaries, along with hundreds of locals who gather in city squares all over Athens.
We recommend getting into Syntagma Square with time to spare as access into the city will be difficult with road closures around the major arterial roads. Previous years parades have started at 11am.
Annunciation Day will be commemorated in other parts of the city with street processions and marching bands. The religious significance relates to the archangel Gabriel who is said to have appeared before the Virgin Mary to tell her that she would bear the son of God. Churches such as the Metropolitan Cathedral in Athens and St Dionysios Church in Kolonaki will hold major services on the day and all are welcome.
Why Athens Tips: The Greek custom on Annunciation Day is to eat “bakaliaros skordalia”, a delicious fried salted cod with a garlic sauce made of potato and olive oil. Available from food vendors and tavernas throughout Athens.
The Acropolis Museum provides free entry on the 25th March in celebration of Greek Independence Day and will be open until 8:00pm.
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