Monday, December 31, 2012

Greece through pictures according to Reuters

The current economic, social and political crisis, which has hit Greece, is reflected in the lens of numerous Reuters photographers, showing various aspects of life within 2012.  As seen in the pictures the difficulties of the European country is evident, worsening by the day. However, everyone is hopeful for a better future.

-A man who sits in front of this impressive graffiti of a man screaming.
-Athenians gathered in Syntagma Square, centre of the Greek capital, in order to receive free vegetables,          January 2012.
-The centre of Athens is damaged after a riot, February 2012.
-Replacing a torn Greek flag on top of Parliament, April 2012.
-An old, troubled lady.
-The victorious atmosphere after Golden Dawn’s win in the last elections
-Special Forces in flames in Syntagma Square, September 2012.
-A naked man welcomes Chancellor Merkel in Greece, October 2012.
-Euro 2012, Greece vs. Germany, a Greek supporter in a bar in Berlin is watching the game.
-New Democracy’s central election booth. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Monastery of Kykkos, Cyprus

The Monastery of Kykkos, the richest and most lavish of the monasteries of Cyprus, is found in the region of Marathasa. It is situated on a mountain peak, at an altitude of 1318 metres northwest of Troodos. Dedicated to Panagia, it possesses one of three icons attributed to St. Luke the Evangelist. The icon, covered in silver gilt, is in a shrine made of tortoise shell and mother - of - pearl that stands in front of the iconostasis.

The monastery was founded sometime between the end of the 11th century and the beginning of the 12th century, during the reign of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos (1081-1118 AD). Unfortunately the monastery burned down several times and nothing remains of the original structure. Blessed with divine grace, Cypriot hermit Isaiah miraculously cured the emperor's daughter of an incurable illness. As a reward, he asked for the icon of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) kept at the imperial palace at Constantinople. Though grieved at the prospect of losing his precious treasure, the emperor sent it to Cyprus with fitting honours together with funds to pay for the construction of a monastery where the sacred relic would be kept. At the hermit's request, the emperor’s representative in Cyprus Manuel Vutomites also endowed the monastery with three villages. As the gift was later confirmed by imperial charter, the monastery is considered to have been established by imperial decree.

The first President of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios III, served here as a novice. At his own wish he was buried on the summit of Throni, 3 kilometres west of the monastery, and not far from his native village of Panayia. The monastery produces zivania and a variety of other alcoholic drinks and holds religious celebrations on September 8th (Birth of the Virgin) and August 15th (Dormition of the Virgin).

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Olympic Mascots

2012 was a special year for London, since it held the Olympic Games. Still, the British capital has a feel of greatness, due to the success of the Games. One aspect which fascinates many, bringing excitement before, during and after the Olympics are the Mascots. The mascots began their Olympic history since the 1972 Munich Games, becoming therefore an important element of the Olympic image. As a popular image of vitality, a mascot manifests the Olympic spirit, communicates the concepts of each Olympic Games, promotes the history and culture of the host city and creates a festive atmosphere for the games. Mascots act as a vehicle for expressing the Olympic spirit to the general public, children and adults.
Here we will show all the mascots from 1972 -2012. The varied sizes, colours, themes show the differences between the host cities.

Waldi, the dachshund, was the mascot of the 1972 Munich Olympics. Very popular in Bavaria, Waldi also possesses qualities that are indispensable to an athlete: resistance, tenacity and agility. These are among the reasons he was chosen to be the mascot. Waldi was dressed in pastel colours in order to express the gaiety and joy of the Olympic festival.

Montreal’s mascot from 1976 was Amik, a beaver named for the Algonquian word for beaver, the national animal of Canada, symbolising also hard work. Algonquian is the most commonly spoken language amongst Native Americans in Canada.

The Moscow Olympic Mascot, 1980, was called Misha, which was a bear, developed by the renowned illustrator of children’s books Victor Chizikov. Misha became an instant international success.

The 1984 Los Angeles mascot was Sam, designed by Walt Disney. Sam is a cartoon eagle who is dressed in the style of the legendary Uncle Sam, with a star-spangled background in red, white and blue, the national colours of the USA. Commercial use of Olympic mascots was initiated at this point.

The 1988 Olympic mascot was a small tiger named Hodori, representing Seoul. Hodori was designed as a friendly tiger that portrayed the friendly and hospitable traditions of Koreans. Ho derives from the Korean word for tiger, whilst Dori is a diminutive for boys in Korea. The friendly tiger of Seoul wore the Olympic Rings around its neck, much like a medal, while sporting a traditional Korean dance hat on its head.

The mascot from the Barcelona Olympics was a dog named Cobi. The Barcelona Olympic Organising Committee had specially produced a TV series for Cobi to portray the spirit of the games.

Izzy, the mascot of the 1996 Olymic Summer Games in Atlanta, was the first mascot designed on a computer. Izzy is an amorphous abstract fantasy figure whose name was derived from the question: What is it?

Syd, Olly and Millie are three native Australian animals chosen as mascots for the Sydney 2000 Games. They represent earth, air and water. Olly, a name derived from the word Olympic, is a kookaburra that epitomises the Olympic spirit of generosity; Syd, derives from the Australian capital Sydney, which is a platypus that represents the environment and captures the vigour and energy of Australia and its people; Millie symbolises the millennium, which is an echidna, a technology whiz and information guru, with all the facts and figures at her fingertips. 

The Athens 2004 Olympic Mascots, Athena and Phevos, with their wide feet, long necks and tiny heads, are based on dolls, thousands of years old, found at archaeological sites in Greece. Greek mythology had it that Phevos and Athena are brother and sister, named after two Greek gods: Phevos, the god of light and music and Athena, goddess of wisdom and patron of the city of Athens.

The 2008 Beijing Games mascots were called Fuwa, meaning “Good Luck dolls”. They were designed by Han Meilin 1000 days before the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics. The Fuwas comprise of five members, representing the five traditional Chinese elements that include Beibel, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini. The five figures also represent the five Olympic Rings.

The London 2012 mascots were Wenlock and Mandeville, the latter being the mascot for the Paralympics. Wenlock’s name was inspired by the Wenlock Olympian Society, an annual Olympic event held in Wenlock, England. Wenlock wears five bracelets, representing the five Olympic rings. The three points on his head symbolise the three podiums of the winners. The shape of his head is the same shape as the Olympic stadium and on his body the logo of the game is printed. Mandevielle, on the other hand, wears a pink watch set to 0:20:12 and on his head there are three points in red, blue and green representing the agitos, which is the symbol of the Paralympic Games.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Obesity in the world

Obesity seems to be a timeless issue; however, it is safe to claim that it grew out of proportion during the 20th century with the global increase in fast food restaurants that have scattered all around us. In an age of plenty everyone has the luxury of eating whatever they like and want. On the other hand healthy eating has been limited to those who are aware of this problem.

The USA together with many other First World, Western, nations have a great problem when it comes to obesity. In America, 36% of adults and 17% of children are obese, which is an alarming statistic; if the current statistics continue increasing, then by 2030 half of the population in the USA will be not only overweight but obese. Here, in Britain 25% of women and 24% of men are obese, showing that we are also following the bad example laid down by America and the fast food tradition. However, due to globalisation and the spread of fast food shops, obesity seems to have spread to other regions of the world, such as Mexico, Brasil, China and many more. 

Wealth is another reason why obesity prevails. Bikes are left aside and cars have taken their place. Everything can be done without us leaving our houses. Exercise can be limited to merely walking around the house. Food Adverts, nevertheless, seem to be persisting in order to push their products harder.
According to Christopher Murray from the University of Washington, since 1990 obesity has grown faster than any other cause of disease. Every state needs to deal with this great issue. If not, then it will have to spend more in its health sector, in order to deal with it when it is, unfortunately, too late. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio is Florence’s oldest bridge, built in 1345 by Neri di Fioravante, with its elegant structure on three arches. A characteristic feature of this bridge is the row of small houses on either side; in the 14th century, the features were much more regular, and as time passed they have acquired the picturesque variety which we all admire today.
At the centre of the bridge, the buildings are interrupted and an opening allows a fine view of the Arno and the other bridges. On either side of the bridge workshops of artisan goldsmiths are still functional. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Clock Towers

Clock Towers are today admired for their aesthetics; however, they once served an important purpose. Before the middle of the 20th century, most people did not have watches, whilst even prior to the 18th century home clocks were very rare. The first clocks didn’t have faces, but were solely striking clocks, which surrounded bells to call the surrounding community to work or o pray. They were therefore placed in towers so the bells would be audible for a long distance. Clock towers were placed near the centres of towns and were often the tallest structures there.

The use of clock towers dates back to the antiquity. The earliest clock tower was the Tower of the Winds in Athens that featured 8 sundials. In its interior, there was also a water clock, i.e. a clepsydra, driven by water coming down from the Acropolis.
Here, the clocks and clock towers are from the South England city of Winchester, the first capital of England. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas..! Christmas is considered to be one of the biggest Christian celebrations, being specifically the Mother of all other Christian celebrations. Without it we could not celebrate the other major feasts.
Here I give a favourite Christmas Carol in two versions, "Carol of the Bells", which points out the spirit of these holy days!

Monday, December 24, 2012

London Facts

The world's first traffic light was erected outside the House of Commons in 1868. It blew up the following year, injuring the policeman who was operating it.

Cars are requiredby law to travel on the right-hand side of the road in Savoy Court - this was originally decreed by Parliament in 1902 so that theatregoers could decamp from their carriages directly into the Savoy Theatre.

Arsenal is the only football club to have its own, eponymous Tube station, even though London's arsenal was based in Woolwich.

St Thomas' Hospital used to have seven buildings, one for each day of the week, supposedly so that staff knew on which day patients had been admitted. Only two of the buildings remain.

Brixton Market was the first electrified market in the country and stands, as a result, on Electric Avenue.

The Monument to the Great Fire of London was also intended to be used as a fixed telescope to study the motion of a single star by Robert Hooke, who designed the structure with Sir Christopher Wren.

Only six people died in the Great Fire of London, but seven people died by falling or jumping from the Monument to it before a safety rail was built.

The nursery rhyme Pop Goes the Weasel refers to the act of pawning one's suit after spending all one's cash in the pubs of Clerkenwell.

The circular church of Nôtre Dame de Paris in Leicester Place off Leicester Square has a crucifixion mural, including a self-portrait, painted by the French artist Jean Cocteau in 1960.

The Piccadilly Circus statue known as Eros, is actually intended to depict the Angel of Christian Charity, and is part of a memorial to the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury. Its stance, aiming an arrow up Shaftesbury Avenue, is thought to be a coarse visual pun.

Pubs in Smithfield, such as the Fox and Anchor, and in Borough, such as the Market Porter, are licensed to serve alcohol with breakfast from 7am to fit in with the hours worked by market porters.

The only true home shared by all four Beatles was a flat at 57 Green Street near Hyde Park, where they lived during the autumn of 1963.

London was the first city to reach a population of more than one million, in 1811. It remained the largest city in the world until it was overtaken by Tokyo in 1957.

The only London theatre not to close during the war was the Windmill in Soho, which then offered a variety show mixing comedy acts with semi-nude female tableaux. It is now a table-dancing club.

The Dome, the focus of the Millennium celebrations, is the largest structure of its kind in the world - big enough to house the Great Pyramid of Giza or the Statue of Liberty.

Elephant and Castle derives its name from a craftsmen's guild, whose sign featured an elephant in reference to the ivory handles of the knives they made.

Mayfair is named after a fair that used to be held in the area every May; Piccadilly after a kind of stiff collar made by a tailor who lived in the area in the 17th century; and Covent Garden was originally the market garden for the convent of Westminster Abbey.

London's smallest house is three-and-ahalf-feet wide, and forms part of the Tyburn Convent in Hyde Park Place, where 20 nuns live.

It is illegal in London to have sex on a parked motorcycle, beat a carpet in a public park, or impersonate a Chelsea pensioner - the latter offence is still theoretically punishable by death.

Marble Arch was designed by John Nash in 1828 as the entrance to Buckingham Palace, but was moved to Hyde Park when Queen Victoria expanded the palace. It contains a tiny office once used as a police station.

There is a 19th century time capsule under the base of Cleopatra's Needle - the 68ft, 3,450-year-old obelisk on the Embankment - containing a set of British currency, a railway guide, a Bible, and 12 portraits of "the prettiest English ladies".

Only one British Prime Minister out of 51 who have held the office since 1751, has ever been assassinated - Spencer Perceval was shot at the House of Commons in 1812.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Metropolitan Church of Saint George, Nafplio

The Metropolitan Church of Saint George is one of the most important and oldest churches in the city and many great events from Greek history took place here. It is believed to have been built in the early 16thcentury, during the time of the first Venetian occupation of the city. After the invasion of the Ottoman Turks, the church of Saint George was the site of the reception for the victorious commander-in-chief, Francesco Morosini. During the second Turkish occupation, the church was once again turned into a mosque, and after the liberation of the city in 1822, Saint George became Orthodox. The church is built in the basilica style, with a dome and murals that must have been created during the second Venetian Occupation, around the beginning of the 18th century, in a western style. In fact, the depiction of the Last Supper is a copy of the well-known composition by Leonardo Da Vinci. In 1823 the murals were re-painted by Dimitrios Vyzantions, the author of the famous “Babylon”.

Funeral ceremonies of many famous figures from the Greek revolution have been held in Aghios Georgios, such as Palaion Patron Germanos and Dimitrios Ypsilandis. It was here, amidst great solemnity, that the funeral service of the murdered Greek governor, Ioannis Kapodistrias was held. It was to the church of Aghios Georgios that Otto, first King of Greece, came on 25th January 1833, as soon as he arrived in Nafplio, which was then the capital of Greece. Today, the throne where the young Otto sat during services can still be seen. The narthex and bell-tower were added in 1834 by the regent who ruled until Otto came of age, in order to commemorate the king’s arrival to the city. It was at this time that the church became Nafplio’s Metropolitan church. South of the church is a very important building that dates from the time of the first Venetian occupation, as does the church itself. It is two-storey and surrounds the church in an L shape. Around 1812 it must have housed the Venetian Religious School, while during the 19th century the building had various uses, such as printing press, or an orphanage. We know that in 1824 it housed the Ministry of Education, whilst in 1830, the Hellenic School.