educational books

Education System in Greece

Each time, referring to various historical sources, we can see that the level of education and science in ancient Greece was the most advanced at that time. It was a country with developed art, science and culture, as can be judged preserved manuscripts and sculptures.

Initially, the Greek education system consisted of 3 main levels:

  1. initial cycle of education;
  2. middle cycle of education;
  3. high educational cycle.

In 1997, UNESCO adopted the classification levels and now the system comprises 7 levels as follows:

  1. pre-school education;
  2. primary school;
  3. secondary school;
  4. middle school;
  5. high school / college;
  6. university;
  7. doctoral program.

Primary education in Greece begins in kindergarten, or “zero level” – as otherwise called. The purpose of kindergarten is to support and strengthen the educational process conducted by the family. The main task, which adheres to the system of education in Greece in early childhood education is to strengthen the psychokinetic, social, emotional, intellectual and moral qualities of the young children.

There are various centers which operate all day long with classes for small children from 4 to 6 years, the number of which is constantly growing. Kindergarten is a preliminary step that helps children prepare for elementary school.

The first elementary school lasts 6 years, starting at 6 and ending at 12 years. The purpose of the primary school is to give the child a balanced physical and mental development. And regardless of gender, children can participate in public school life.

There is an increasing number of primary schools that can provide in-depth training programs. Apart from all these institutions giving primary education, there are schools for children with disabilities. Since 1996, Greece began to emerge as country taking into account the religious, cultural and social identity of pupils.

Students graduated from elementary school receive a certificate that is subsequently sent to the gymnasium, where they continue their education further. Gymnasiums represent the second level of education (which also approved by the Ministry of Education in Greece), where children are taught at the age of 12-15 years. Students need to pass a special transfer exam at the end of each school year, otherwise they are left for the second year.

High school graduates receive a special certificate that gives the opportunity to continue their study at the lyceum. Those graduates who are 18 years old can enroll to vocational training programs.

Further up the educational chain is lyceum which consists of 3 classes. Students who achieved great marks in high school are accepted to Lyceum without prior examination. Upon completion of all three classes the graduate is issued a certificate of complete secondary education.

The higher education in Greece provides for a wide selection of topics studied. In addition to the main technical and humanitarian faculties, some institutes offer courses in arts, religion, tourism, navy, and public science.

The main requirement for admission to University is the availability of a certificate of complete secondary education. On admission applicants must pass an entry exam, which consists of two parts: written and oral examinations.

All foreign students can get a free education in Greece, but the main criteria for admission is a good knowledge of the Greek language. Fortunately there are hundreds of good language courses that will improve your language skills at low cost.

The period of study at the University may take up to 4 years, with few faculties taking even longer. The academic year consists of two semesters, each lasting 13 weeks. After the end of 4th year of study, students must pass exams of professional suitability, after which they are granted their academic degree.

The very last stage is doctoral education. The admission is open only to those graduated from University and the study can take a few years. Those who wish to enroll should demonstrate perfection at least in one foreign language.

We hope this article has familiarized you with educational system in Greece, and perhaps, convinced you to visit this wonderful country!

Hairstyles Ancient Greece

Hair Style and Fashion of Ancient Greeks

It is that unusual Greek civilization with its natural and simple hairstyles that served the basis for the Ancient World fashion. All neighbouring countries have adopted their style at some point, which was later inherited by the Roman Empire. Ancient Greece was the foundation of all Western culture. Their costumes, architecture, philosophy and mythological traditions were inherited and are presented in the following centuries.

The most ancient Greek civilization was Minoan in Crete, which has existed since 7000 BC until 1600 BC. From many drawings on vases and frescoes, we know that people of that period were whites with black hair, and blondes – representing the Mycenaean civilization.

Men wore natural wavy hair and beards were in fashion. The Trojan had black hair, and hairstyles of their women were neatly stacked. The way the hair was trimmed and laid, indicated the social status: servants were seen with hair usually cropped and upper-class people flavoured their long shiny tresses with olive oil. Married women braided hair as a sign of their marital status. The fresco “Blue Woman” (1600 BC) depicted these hairstyles.

Goddesses such as Athena, Aphrodite, Artemis, and Cassandra portrayed with long hair and braids. There is an assumption that the blonde hair was the desired colour at those times. The efforts that ancient Greek ladies applied to lighten their hair were not straightforward. They used anything from urine and vinegar to direct sunshine.

Women often supported their hairstyles with diadems, tiaras, bonded crowns or hoops. Although some of them looked quite simple, they were often made of gold and decorated with jewels – to emphasize the status of its owner.

The next grand period in ancient Greece was Hellenism, which began with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. Since that time we can see those well-preserved drawings showing people’s hair artificially curled or braided. Greek women would wash their hair with olive oil to give them a shiny look and silky touch. Then she could make gentle waves with appliances resembling the curling wands of our days with the only exclusion that the iron barrels were heated in the fireplace.

In this time we can see some various hairstyles, such as the one called “the melon” which consisted of hair combed back with a pin, or a special style, found in the sculpture of Aphrodite (330 BC), showing the way two hair nodes are connected at the top of the head. This sculpture was named “Head Bartlett” and captures the beginning of the Hellenic period.

Men’s style was not so much different from the past with wavy hair and beards that were neatly trimmed, curled and combed. This work was entrusted to hairdressers. The art of cutting and shaving was an important profession in ancient Greece. The first hairdressing salon appeared at that times and quickly became a meeting place for men, who were gathering there for a long time discussing politics, philosophy, and various local news.

Fashion is passing, but style remains, so even today you can learn a lot from ancient Greeks. Whether you are curious about their culture or just want to surprise your friends on a Theme Party day with extravagant goddess costume – there is something for everyone!

Monastry of Arkadi

The Monasteries of Crete Island

The majority of Greeks identify themselves as Orthodox Christians, and one of the largest centers of religious life of the country is the island of Crete. The number of functioning monasteries here is quite large and their inhabitants are strictly reclusive.

As for the architecture, it will surprise the visitors with huge diversity. There are small temples with modest decoration, monasteries, fortresses and even cells carved into the rock. Almost all of them have own souvenir stores where you can buy products made ​​by monks. This can be wine and brandy, olive oil, natural soap, wax candles, incense, and of course, the icons.

Especially popular among tourists are the faces of the saints carved out of wood, made ​​of silver or gold leaf elements. Each monastery has its own visiting hours, so check them before you plan a visit.

Arkadi Monastery, Rethymno

This shrine is a true symbol of Cretan freedom, as in the 19th century monastery played an important role in the uprising against the Ottoman Empire. In the 16th century the temple was a place for art and science, and it hosted a school and a library. Now the monastery, whose architecture incorporates elements of Baroque, is a quiet peaceful place. You can check the fascinating history of the temple in the museum where you will see some valuable relics and ancient icons.

Preveli Monastery, Rethymno

It is believed that the monastery, located on the southern coast of Crete, has existed since the 14th century, although the first mention of it dates back to 1594 year. Like many churches of Crete, it has a proud history of fighting for the freedom of monks and education. Now here is a museum where you can see some precious old icons and get their copies. There is holy spring, quenching the thirst of monks and visitors. There is also a small zoo, which is rarely opened to visitors, but guests often go to the bars to see the new arrivals.

Toplou Monastery, Lassithi

After numerous restorations, Toplu monastery became one of the most visited on the island of Crete. The temple is surrounded by thick walls and has a bell tower. There is a well located in the center of the monastery, whose water saved the lives of the monks during the various sieges. The monastery is proud of its unique collection of icons. The icon of John Kornaros is considered to be the most significant item that has no copies.

Agia Triada Monastery, Chania

This Orthodox monastery with Doric columns is known by many from the “Zorba the Greek” movie. The temple built in the 16th century on the peninsula was considered the richest in Crete in those days, being the only monastery in force on the island during the Turkish rule. Today it employs Cretan religious school, an extensive library, and unique exhibition of icons and engravings. Local monks produce olive oil, honey and several varieties of tea.

Kera Kardiotissa Monastery, Lassithi

The most famous monastery of the central part of the island was built in the 13th century. Unfortunately there is only one church preserved and it’s decorated with frescoes and magnificent icons. The main shrine is an icon of Kera Kardiotissa, known for its beauty and ability to give health. Her miraculous powers also help women suffering from infertility. The monastery is situated among tall trees on the hillside. Now in its territory there is a museum with religious books and utensils.

Metaxa Reserva

Greek Metaxa: Brandy or Cognac?

Any traveler coming back home from unforgettable holiday will bring not just his memories, but some traditional hand-made souvenirs that will remind him of the place he visited. There are products that have become the embodiment of the country at the international level, like the famous Greek drink Metaxa.

The history of Metaxa goes back to 19th century, when young Spyros Metaxas had an idea of creating a new drink, made of local grapes and based on ancient wine-making traditions. In this regard, he left the family business in Halkida and settled in Piraeus, where in 1888 he built the first factory producing a new drink.

Already since 1892 the product began to be exported to the Ottoman Empire and Egypt. Metaxa immediately became the benchmark of Greek elite and was valued accordingly. The company has become a supplier of the Greek Royal House, and later – the Imperial Houses of Serbia, Germany, Bulgaria and other Central European countries, as well as distant Ethiopia.

At the same time Metaxa appeared in Russia. Before the Revolution of 1917, the Greek company was the official supplier of the Russian Imperial House. Metaxa headquarters located in Athens still cherish the good memories and the gold medal handed by Alexander III to his favorite manufacturer. In those days, the production in Russia alone has reached 100,000 barrels per year.

In 1895, Metaxa won the gold medal at the prestigious International Exhibition in Bremen.  After the death of Spyros Metaxas in 1909, all rights of ownership passed to his sons, who have strengthened the company’s growth and popularity. Another achievement came in 1915, when Metaxa was awarded with the Grand Prix of the International Exhibition in San Francisco.

The secret of success is recipe despite the simplicity of the process: 3 types of Greek grapes mixed with a mature muscat wine from the islands of Samos and Lemnos. The mixture is aging in French oak barrels for three years. In turn, the French oak gives the drink a beautiful golden color and a specific velvety aftertaste. But most importantly, the natural flavors of herbal mixtures that include rose petals and distilled water provide Metaxa with sweet and tart taste at the same time.

The company was able to survive over the time despite the two world wars. Moreover, in 1968 the factory was moved from Piraeus to Kifissia near Athens, where it remains to this day. Since 2000, Metaxa became a part of the group of companies Remy Cointreau. At present, the total export volume amounts to 60% of its beverage production, which is shipped to 120 countries worldwide.

Metaxa is included in the prestigious list of the 100 Most Popular Spirits of the World, becoming a kind of symbol of Greece, which is considered a legacy of Dionysus in glass amphora!

Greek Salad

A Few Words about Authentic Greek Food

The ancient Greeks were famous for their longevity. Until now, the scientists are trying to unravel the reasons behind this phenomenon. The secret is in their food which played an important role in maintaining a good health.

Their diet consisted of elements that do not increase blood sugar levels and do not lead to weight gain and obesity. The most popular goods presented on the average Greek table were fish and seafood, olives and olive oil, vegetables, milk, soft white goat cheese, fruits, nuts, honey and bread.

Fish – the most accessible source of power and the simple ways of fishing were known at the Stone Age. It follows that there was never a lack of high-grade animal protein. All that could be used in fresh form was consumed; the rest was salted or dried out for a long-term storage.

The olive oil became an integral part of traditional cuisine. The sacred tree of the ancient Greeks has played an important role in everyday life. Numerous myths and other ancient written sources indicate that olive oil was widely used for food preservation, in soap-making, cosmetics, medicine, as well as in religious and funeral rituals. However, the main purpose of cultivating olives and olive oil production was to use them for food.

Olive oil is a source of healthy life and one of the 10 most useful products. It has beneficial effects on our skin and promotes proper development of the human body. No coincidence that olive oil is one of the main export products of the Greeks. Salted olives, pickled and used as a snack, side dish, seasoning for fish – you name it!

A few words about bread, which was often served as a separate dish in ancient Greece. Usually prepared from inexpensive varieties of wheat flour and barley, this bread served as the main food for commoners. Such products as honey, oil and milk that were supplementary to bread, were highly expensive and therefore treated as delicacies.

The Greeks preferred the meat of wild animals and birds as the livestock slaughter was highly impractical due to it obvious benefits (milk, wool and workforce). The honey was replacement of sugar while dried fruits and nuts were served for dessert.

While wine was overpriced in the Middle East, for Greeks it was the most common and cheap drink. It was usually diluted due to high concentration. People drank the wine from special glasses representing a deep saucer with two handles on the sides. Wine, along with olive oil was pride of the Greeks and strategically important product that was exported in large quantities abroad.

Greece is the birthplace of European winemaking. On the island of Crete the grapes have been cultivated for nearly 4,000 years! Bear in mind, there is a myth saying that the God of wine Dionysus married Cretan princess Ariadne.

The most famous and ancient Greek wine is retsina, however experts do not classify it as a wine. Unique white or pink drink is great for everyday use and usually served with appetizers. Retsina has a resin, hence the name. In ancient times, the wine bottles were sealed with a mixture of plaster and resin in order to last longer. Nowadays resin is specifically added to wine at the stage of fermentation.

No feast is complete without wine or retsina, and many ancient Greek dishes have survived the history and came virtually unchanged. You can see that, being one of the most delicious cuisines in the world, Greek food is also one of the healthiest for our body! Bon Appetite!