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Greece Useful information, Demographics & History

Population: 10,964,020.

Capital: Athens (population of 3,192,606)

Area: Greece is situated in Southeastern Europe, with an area of 131,957

Prime Minister: Mr Constantinos Karamanlis. Greece is a Parliamentary Democracy.

Greek Flag:

Parliament: Three hundred elected members with elections held every four years

Currency: is euro. member state of E.U. since 1981.The Greek economy adopts the principles of free enterprise

Electric Current:The standard in Greece is 230V AC (50Hz). Appliances from North America require a transformer and British ones an adaptor.

Public Holidays 2006
1 January: New Year's Day
6 January: Epiphany
6 March : Ash Monday
25 March: National Holiday
23 and 24 April : Easter
1 May : May Day
12 June: Whit Monday ( Holiday only for public sector)
15 August: Dormition (Assumption) of The Virgin
28 October: National Holiday
25 and 26 December: Christmas

Shopping: Greece is the ideal destination to shop for a wide variety of products, catering to everybody’s tastes and wishes. Prices are very reasonable in relation to product quality and visitors will be able to find something for every budget.

Shops are open Monday through Friday from 09.00 till 14.30 and on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday also from 17.30 through 20.30. On Saturday shops open from 09.00 till 15.00, while they are closed on Sunday. Supermarkets and kiosks may stay open till 22.00.

More specifically, in the centre of large urban areas as well as in tourist areas, tourist shops and kiosks are open from early in the morning till late at night, seven days a week.

History:The earliest traces of human habitation in Greece date from the Palaeolithic period (120,000 – 10,000 B.C. approximately).

During the subsequent Neolithic period (7,000 - 3,000 B.C. approximately), civilisation flourishes in Greece. A plethora of Neolithic settlements and cemeteries have been discovered in Thessaly (Sesklo, Dimini), Macedonia, the Peloponnese et al.
The beginning of the Bronze Age (3000 - 1100 B.C. approx.) is marked by the appearance of the first urban centres in the Aegean (Poliochni on the island of Limnos). Flourishing settlements are found on Crete, the Greek mainland, the Cyclades and in the Northeastern Aegean, regions where characteristic cultural patterns develop. At the beginning of the 2nd millennium B.C. organised palatial societies appear on Minoan Crete, resulting in the development of the first scripts. Using the palace of Knossos as their centre, the Minoans create a communication network with peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean, adopt elements of their cultures, and in turn have a decisive influence on the cultures of the Greek mainland and the Aegean islands.

On the Greek mainland, the Mycenaeans, taking advantage of the destructions caused on Crete by the eruption of the volcano on Santorini (around 1500 B.C.), step forward and become the leading force in the Aegean during the last centuries of the 2nd millennium B.C. The Mycenaean citadels in Mycenae, Tiryns, Pylos, Thebes, Gla, Athens and Iolkós constitute the centres of bureaucratically organised kingdoms. The extensive destruction of the Mycenaean centres around 1200 B.C. led to the decline of the Mycenaean civilisation and the migration of large parts of the population to the coasts of Asia Minor and Cyprus (1st Greek colonisation).

After approximately two centuries of economic and cultural inactivity, known as the Dark Ages (1150 – 900 B.C.), the Geometric period follows (9th – 8th centuries B.C.), the beginning of the Greek renaissance. It is marked by the formation of the Greek city-states, the creation of the Greek alphabet and the composition of the Homeric epics (end of the 8th century B.C.). The subsequent Archaic Period (7th- 6th centuries B.C.) is an era of major social and political changes. The Greek city-states establish colonies as far as Spain to the West, the Black Sea to the North, and North Africa to the South (2nd Greek colonisation) and lay the foundation for the peak of the classical period. The hallmark of the classical period (5th – 4th centuries B.C.) is the cultural and political predominance of Athens; so much so that the second half of the 5th century B.C. is called the “Golden Age” of Pericles. With the end of the Peloponnesian War, in 404 B.C., Athens loses its dominance.

New forces emerge during the 4th century B.C. With Philip II and his son, Alexander, Macedonians start playing a leading role in Greece. Alexander’s expedition to the East and the conquest of regions as far as the Indus River radically change the situation in the then-known world. With the death of Alexander, the vast empire that he created is divided among his generals, leading to the creation of the kingdoms that will prevail during the Hellenistic times (3rd -1st centuries B.C.). During this period, the Greek cities remain more or less autonomous, but they have lost much of their old power and prestige. The complete and final conquest of Greece by the Romans in 146 B.C. incorporates the country into the vast Roman Empire. During Roman occupation (1st century B.C. – 3rd century A.D.), most of the Roman emperors, who are admirers of the Greek culture, are friendly towards the Greek cities, and especially Athens. Through the travels of Apostle Paul during the 1st century B.C., Christianity, the new religion that will gradually dethrone the worship of the Dodecatheon (the Twelve Gods), is spread all over Greece.

Nowadays visitors of the country can see the “fingerprints” of Greek history from the Palaeolithic period to the Roman era at the hundreds of archaeological sites, as well as in the archaeological museums and collections scattered all over the country (the Greek mainland and the islands).

The decision of Constantine the Great to move the empire’s capital from Rome to Constantinople (324 A.D.) shifted the focus to the eastern part of the empire. This move marks the beginning of the Byzantine era during which Greece is part of the Byzantine Empire. After 1204, when Constantinople is seized by Western crusaders, parts of Greece are given away to Western leaders, while the Venetians occupy strategic positions in the Aegean (islands or coastal cities), in order to control trade routes. The reoccupation of Constantinople by the Byzantines in 1262 marks the last phase in the empire’s existence. The Ottomans gradually start seizing parts of the empire from the 14th century A.D. and complete its destruction with the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. Crete was the last part of Greece to be occupied by the Ottomans in 1669. Approximately four centuries of Ottoman occupation follow until the beginning of the Greek War of Independence in 1821.

Numerous monuments from the Byzantine period and the Ottoman occupation still subsist, such as Byzantine and Post-Byzantine churches and monasteries, Ottoman buildings, enchanting Byzantine and Frankish castles, various other monuments as well as traditional settlements , many of which retain their Ottoman and, partly, Byzantine structure.

The result of the Greek War of Independence was the formation of an independent Greek kingdom in 1830, which, however, covered only a restricted territory. During the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, new areas with Greek populations are gradually integrated into the Greek state. Greece’s territory reaches a maximum after the end of World War I, in 1920, with the substantial contribution of prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos. The Greek state takes its contemporary form after the end of World War II with the incorporation of the Dodecanese Islands.

In 1974, after a seven-year dictatorship, a referendum was held and the system of government changed from a constitutional monarchy to a Presidential Parliamentary Democracy; Greece has been a member of the European Community/Union since 1981.

Paul Footsteps
AD 32/35 Paul’s conversion
45/46 Death of James
46/47 1st missionary journey (Acts 13-14)
48/51 2nd missionary journey (Acts 15:36 – 18:22)
50 Paul reaches Corinth
54-57 Paul stays in Ephesus (Acts 19)
57-58 Paul in Greece (Acts 20)

- Paul’s ministry spanned 30 years (Acts)
- Because of Paul, Christianity spread to Syria, Turkey and Greece
- Paul was in Caesarea for 2 years. Luke was with him and during the shipwreck
- Paul was instrumental in the death of Stephen
- Paul’s 1st reported sermon was at Antioch
- Paul was a major historian who spread the Word which changed the world
- Paul was a Rabbi - Well-versed in Greek literature
- Paul started his journeys in Turkey, then to Greece, then to Rome
- Paul wrote 1 Corinthians written in Ephesus
- 2 Corinthians written in Macedonia (Syria) after hearing that the Corinthian church is restoring good relations with Paul. It was written around AD56. It was the most intensely personal of Paul’s letters. Paul feels an intense burden for the church and their spiritual progress.
- Romans written in Corinth (Greece) – Known as Paul’s gospel manifesto
- Galatians written on Paul’s 3rd missionary journey
- Timothy – Written to Christians at Corinth and groups at Athens and Cenchrea
- Paul addressed Ephesians elders (Christians). Only address mentioned by Luke in Acts
- Paul foresaw what would happen to the Church mentioned in Rev 2:2
- Paul wrote: Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, Philemon, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus

- Athens – Home of the Epicureans (Lovers of pleasure). Athenians thought of Jesus and the resurrection as 2 deities.
- Some Greeks believed in immorality of the soul but not resurrection of the body
- Paul called this city a city full of idols.
- Location of the Agora (marketplace) where Paul spoke.
- Also location of small hill below the Acropolis known as the Areogagus. Paul left Athens without starting a church and only saw a few converts. He left and went to Corinth.
- Paul called it a “A myriad of idols.” He debated this argument in the Agora (marketplace).

- Paul received a receptive audience.
- A sizeable church was established.
- When the Jews heard of a growing church, they sought to harm Paul.
- Silas and Timothy stayed behind, but Paul left for Athens.

- It stands between the Aegean and Adriatic seas.
- Paul stayed there 18 months on his 2nd journey. He founded the church (AD 54). The city was destroyed and rebuilt by the Romans. Known as the cosmopolitan city where Greeks, Latins, Syrians, Asiatics, Egyptians and Jews lived.
- 1 & 2 Thessalonians written in Corinth around AD50-51
- Paul felt that it he establishes a church here, the Word will quickly spread far and wide. The town was dominated by the Temple of Aphrodite (goddess of Love). It was built on the heights of the Acropolis, where thousands of prostitutes and a racial hotchpotch gave the city an unsavory name. The city was a by-word for excess and sexual license. The city was made up of a few Jews and lots of gentiles, men of wealth but mostly lower classes.
- Many were converts from pagan background who prided themselves on intellectual prowess.
- Paul found friends in Aquila and Priscilla who were tentmakers. Paul stayed here 18 months.
- Paul wrote 2 letters to the Thessalonians.
- Cenchreae is a port city in Corinth.
- Sprawling seaport 3 ½ miles wide. It offered direct passage from the Aegean to the Adriatic Seas. Nero attempted to build a canal across it, but this was not realized until the 19th Century. Known as a cosmopolitan center of commerce and trade. It enjoyed lavish prosperity but attracted unsavory characters. Strabo said there were 1,000 sacred prostitutes in the Temple of Aphrodite. Upon his arrival he met Aquila and Priscilla who had recently moved to Corinth from Rome after the emperor of Rome said that all the Jews had to leave Rome.
- Paul preached in the synagogues weekly. Jews were incensed and lied about Paul. Paul was brought before Gallio. Gallio said it was jealousy and refused to adjudicate the case. Paul returned to Antioch.

- Aquila and Priscilla (A&P) were co-travelers with Paul to Corinth, Ephesus and Rome
- Aquila & Priscilla were tentmakers and leather workers.
- Paul stayed at Aquila & Priscilla’s home for over 2 years.
- Apollos’ (an Alexandrian) salvation was due to A&P. He became a man of great influence in the Corinthian church

A multi-breasted goddess. Also known as Artemis. Temple was erected to her was one of the 7 Wonders of the World. It is 4 times the size of the Parthenon. The “Sacred Stone” was a meteorite, supposed to resemble the goddess and was kept in the Temple.

- It was a great commercial center. The city was a bridgehead between East & West
- Non-Jews were prohibited from entering the inner court of the Temple.
- One of the 3 major cities of Eastern Europe. Paul taught here for over 2 years. Paul ran into adversaries calling them, “the beasts of Ephesus,” He said that the Corinthian church was turning the gospel into “freedom for moral anarchy.”
- Then Paul sent Silas to feel the place out, before going there himself.
- Major metropolis of the Eastern Empire. Home of Dianna, goddess of fertility also known as Artemis. Paul stayed there 2-3 years on his 2nd journey.
- Numerous miracles were performed here. Sent Timothy from here to Corinth to see how the church was doing.
- Demetrius was threatened by Paul’s success of the gospel and summoned other silversmiths and encouraged them to incite a riot.
- 2 of Paul’s companions Gaius and Artistarchus were seized, dragged into Ephesian theatre of 24,000 spectators.
- Paul was unharmed but moved to Macedonia and then to Greece.

- Known as the “Hill of the Areopagus” where Paul delivered messages to the Athenian philosophers. It was used solely for debates. Paul debated the resurrection of Christ, but philosophers mocked this idea. There were only a few converts and no church was established.

- Paul spoke to groups of women including Lydia who was Paul’s 1st convert in Europe.
- Paul exorcized the slave girl on his way to pray. Paul & Silas were put in prison. The
- Prison doors opened and they walked out. Jailer took Paul & Silas home with him, where
- The Jailer and his family were converted and baptized into Christianity. Paul claimed to be a Roman. Paul left with Silas & Timothy for Thessaloniki.
- Site of the pivotal battle in the Roman civil war: A battle between Cassius and Marcus vs. Anthony and Octavian. Anthony and Octavian won decisively which started the expansion of the Gospel.
- This led to the creation of the East/West Empire. The place where Paul and Silas were beaten.

- Sea port capital city of Macedonia (Syria)
- The location of Jason’s house (were Paul stayed). Jason was attached and arrested. When Jason was released, Paul, Silas and Timothy left town.
- For 3 consecutive Sundays, Paul expounded on the gospel and many were added to the kingdom. Jewish leaders were upset and accused them of treason. A mob stormed Jason’s house when they could not find Paul, they beat up Jason. Because of this beating, Paul and Silas left for Berea

- During the Hellenistic age called the Greek age, some Greeks especially those living in Alexandria adopted Greek as their main language. The Septuagint was translated into Greek and commissioned by Ptolemyll and completed by the middle of 2BC.
- During the 3 months Paul was in Greece, he visited: Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, and Corinth and Athens. Paul wrote Romans when he was in Greece



Your Visit in the Port at Patmos
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The Life of Paul the Apostle with TV host Rick Steves
(40 min. 32 sec.)
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