Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ever Been to an Ottoman Bath?

We have.

The Bey Hamami or Baths of Paradise, were the first Ottoman Turkish baths to be built in Thessaloniki in the year 1444. It consists of a double room with separate sections for men and women. At the time, there was no communication between the two sides. Once inside, you stayed on your side. The sections are symmetrical to each other with a parallel axis. The entrance to the men's section was of course wider and better decorated. It is located on Egnatia Street, while the entrance for women, more simple and small, is on the north side of the building. The rooms of the two parts were built in a traditional way, with the coldest room first, then the warmer room and then the main and hottest room. Finally there are individual hot rooms, where you could take off all your clothes in order to sweat. The walls are in contact with the heat coming from a fire beneath. There are marble tablets in the warm rooms for both men and women, with water to cool it. ~source

the entrance and the coolest room on the men's side

in  the warmer room

one of the smaller private rooms

our guide describes the baths and their function

amazing light came in  through the ceiling dome

the hottest room with more private rooms off to the sides
One of the Five Pillars of Islam is prayer. It is customary before praying for Muslims to perform ablutions. The two Islamic forms of ablution are ghusl, a full-body cleansing, and wudu, a cleansing of the face, hands, and feet with water. In the most extreme of cases, cleansing with pure soil or sand is also permissible. Often, hammams are located close to mosques and other places for prayer for those who wish to perform deeper cleansing. ~wiki

Remembering the 300

You must watch 

yes, this is where it really happened

beautiful landscape - so peaceful

the monument to Leonidus

Leonidas (c. 530-480 B.C.) was a king of the city-state of Sparta from about 490 B.C. until his death at the Battle of Thermopylae against the Persian army in 480 B.C. Although Leonidas lost the battle, his death at Thermopylae was seen as a heroic sacrifice because he sent most of his army away when he realized that the Persians had outmaneuvered him. Three hundred of his fellow Spartans stayed with him to fight and die. Almost everything that is known about Leonidas comes from the work of the Greek historian Herodotus (c. 484-c. 425 B.C.).

The Last Sunday in March

Just a few snaps and thoughts from our last Sunday in March.

It is still kinda cold, grey, and threatening rain. Everyone here is pretty darn tired of it!

We grabbed a sandwich by an old church on Ermou and watched the people go by. A great opportunity to think of the bigger things in life like tradition, life, and what is edifying.

We sought out a sweet (our favorite - kreme pie), and headed for a sweet little cafe just off the main thoroughfare. Just a couple of business down from where we were sitting, there was a traditional Greek men's club meeting in a cafe dressed in their traditional costumes - very cool!

After enjoying a light salad and a cappuccino, we set our sights for home, We gave to some of our favorite needy, visited our favorite bread ring vendor, and watched all the people strolling along Ermou. This part of Athens I will miss.

Oh, and when we arrived in Syntagma Square, there was a portable geodesic dome set up. Wow! It was the European Space Expo and spanned the Square. We popped in for a quick look - it was a free interactive information expo. Pretty well done, too.

On our way through the metro station, we noticed the time - was it that late, already?? Spring forward for the time change from daylight savings to standard time took place today... So, we strolled through the National Gardens, exploring a few paths we hadn't been on before, and finally made our way out near Zappion. Along the way, a feathered friend posed for me. How nice.

The European Space Expo
one of the needy near the fountain

a couple of the traditionally dressed men

awesome traditional costumes

y'know, sundials don't work very well with no sun

one of many Eurasian Magpies - they are beautiful when they fly and have very long tailfeathers

along Ermou - yep, they were good enough that we put some change in their case

Macedonian Mound Tombs

On our exploration of Northern Greece, we had the pleasure of visiting several mound-type vault tombs created by, and for, Macedonian people of importance. Some of the tombs were built for unknown people. The photos of the one below was for a military general. There is always a facade, and and inside room divided into two portions - a front area and a back. Some of these have been looted, but the ones at the ancient site of Aigai (Vergia), the first capital of Macedonia, had not been. Unfortunately, I was unable to photograph those royal tombs, but had the pleasure of touring the museum. You will want to check out the website to see some of the most fantastic finds I have seen while I have been in Greece, including a solid gold box containing the bones of a woman (link below), along with, what is believed to be, the armor and shield of Alexander the Great. The tombs at Aigai are thought to be the final resting place of Alexander the Great's father Phillip II, and his wife (in one tomb), Phillip's other son and his young wife with their infant son (in the second tomb), and the child son of Alexander the Great (in the last), who was the crown prince at the time.

Due to politics of the time of Alexander the Great's death, there was intrigue as to who would take the throne. It was apparently the best for the family to be killed to make way for a new dynasty, thus the killing of the entire family.

Like I said, we had opportunity to see these vault tombs built into mounds that appeared as grass-covered hillsides; they were opened for our class to see, but are not open to the public generally. Click HERE for more information on the tombs in Aigai. 

paintings on the facade - photos displayed
as they were when they were first found

this is the general who was entombed here (apparently)

a straight-on shot of the facade

this is how the paintings look today

and a sneaky view of the painting found inside these tombs - amazing!

Saturday, March 28, 2015