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4 things you never knew about Greece

So how much do you know about Greece? Maybe that the country has one of the oldest civilizations in the world or that if you take a vacation there you’ll need to arrange euro exchange for your dollars? While this fascinating country is famous for a great number of things, there are perhaps a few lesser known facts about Greece. Here are four things you never knew about Greece:

The Olympic Games were a religious event

The Ancient Greeks started the Olympic Games – that is a well-known fact – however what is less well-known is the fact the games were part of a religious event to celebrate the father of the Gods, Zeus. Athletic contests were one way to honor the Gods, so it made sense to hold a recurring event at an important religious temple, Olympia. Only free Greeks could enter and all participants were male and competed in the nude[1].

Greece has 22 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Greece has an incredibly rich history and with it comes a wealth of historic monuments, many dating back thousands of years. With 22 in total, Greece has one of the highest numbers of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world; including the Acropolis in Athens and the fortified medieval city of Rhodes[2].

The first ever cookbook originated in Greece

Way back in 320BC, the Greek poet Archestratos published what is regarded as the first ever cookbook[3]. While you might think of France and Italy as having some of the best cuisines in the world, Greece has a number of nationally renowned dishes to tantalize your taste buds. If you plan to take a vacation there, make sure you try the moussaka, Greek salad and souvlaki – delicious!

Greece is battling with the UK over ancient treasure

Greece has long campaigned for the return of a collection of 2,500-year-old classical Greek marble statues called The Pantheon Marbles, which form part of the Elgin Marbles. The pieces were removed from the Parthenon in Athens by British ambassador Thomas Bruce over 200 years ago are currently situated in British Museum.

The Greeks believe that the sculptures, which were originally obtained by Bruce through the use of a controversial permit issued by Ottoman authorities, are not the property of Britain and therefore should be returned to Greece. To date, there is still no resolution of this matter and the Pantheon Marbles remain in the British Museum.

[1] Perseus Digital Library (2011).

[2] UNESCO World Heritage Centre (2011)

[3] Your Greece (2011).

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