Evzonas or Tsolias
Duty and Privilege
The Evzones, also known as Tsoliades, form the Presidential Guard, established in 1868. They guard the Monument of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Hellenic Parliament and the Presidential Mansion. Through the participation of the battalion in the last hundred fifty years of Greek battles, the Evzones have become symbols of bravery and courage.
It refers to the uniform of the Greek warriors during the War of Independence (1821) against the Ottomans.
White skirt of the uniform has 400 folds to represent the 400 years of Ottoman occupation over the Greeks.
Phareon which is the Evzone’s hat, made from red baize with a black tuft that symbolise the tear of Christe.
White shirt with loose leaves that presents the purity of the Greek fight.
Fermeli, is the waistcoat and is handmade (costs about €7.000) with many golden wrought on it, also forming letters X and O (for Greek religion).
Tsarouchia, the traditional shoes of Evzones which are red, made of leather, with a small tuft in front. Eeach shoe weighs aproximately 3 kilos and has 60 nails. The tuft used to cover a sharp blade for hand-to-hand combat in the old days.
Fringes, blue and white standing for the Greek flag.
Garters which are black made of silk.
Belt from leather holding the ammunition and bayonet pocket.
Gun (Μ1 Garrand) which is the most difficult piece to carry, not only for its gravity but also for the physical pressure that exerts to the soldier’s body.
Changing of Guards
Every Sunday morning at 11 am is the parade to the Unknown Soldier with the official costumes, the most spectacular of all the Changes of Guards, visitors favorite event with evzones.
Every evzonas guards for about an hour, 4 times in total every 24 hours. Throughout these 60 minutes, they have to stand perfectly still for two periods of 25 minutes. During the changing, they work in pairs so they can perfectly coordinate their moves. The moves are carried out in slow motion to protect the blood circulation after one hour of immobility.
Tears of a soldier
The severe training of this proud soldiers focus on body control. The evzones not only are obliged to stay still but are also not allowed to look anyplace but straight and keep their eyes open. During the training they practice to hold the eyelashes open for 2,5 minutes. Then they have tears, they blink and they start again.
Comes from the Homeric word “evzonos” which means the lightly armed warrior.