“We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our art have their roots in Greece.”
So wrote the great English Romantic poet Shelley in "Hellas", his ode to the Greek uprising against Ottoman rule, which began March 25, 1821. His famous words capture the fierce philhellenism – love of Greece and its history - that swept Europe and the United States at the time.
If you happen to be visiting Athens on March 25, you’ll find the streets of the historic centre lined with Greek flags and patriotic crowds - just as they are every year - as Athenian families turn out in their thousands to commemorate the Greek War of Independence. During this hugely popular national holiday, the main festivity is a grand military parade from Syntagma Square, attended by the President of Greece and key members of the Greek Orthodox Church, and shadowed by jaunty school parades in Athens and all across the country. This stately procession generally kicks off at 11am and lasts for around 90 minutes. It proceeds down Panepistimiou Street, past graceful neoclassic landmarks like the Academy of Athens and the National Library, and ending in Omonia Square. If you want a good vantage, we recommend bagging your spot in Syntagma Square by 10am, or skip Syntagma and head straight for the prime viewing that's usually to be had outside the Attica department store.
At some point, amid all the pomp and pageantry, you’re sure to notice the unmistakable aroma of frying fish. Follow your nose. It’s your chance to sample a delicious Greek Independence Day tradition known as bakaliaros skordalia - a fried salted cod with a garlic sauce made of potato and olive oil. Tavernas and food vendors across town will be dishing up this fishy treat that’s also linked to the Greek Orthodox religious observance of The Annunciation on March 25 (the day when the Virgin Mary learned she would bear the Son of God).