Church of Holy Sepulchre


Madaba map: Constantine’s basilica

  • Constantine’s Basilica (4th-7thC)

   The Church was established in 333 by the Roman emperor Constantine, after his mother, Queen Helena, marked the place of Golgotha during her visit in 326AD. The site was selected based on memories of the site as an execution place, and on the existence of a garden, tombs and fragments of wood planks.

  The large basilica was leveled by the Persian intrusion (614AD). The new church was built on top of it, so few remains of the foundation are left. However, this basilica is illustrated in the Byzantine mosaic map of Madaba, which was discovered in 1884 in a Byzantine church in Madaba, Jordan. This ancient map, laid out in the 6th C AD, shows the map of the Holy Land, with dozens of illustrated sites, including Jerusalem and the original basilica that once stood there. It has three doors on the front, parts of one of them survived in the current structure.

  • Restored Basilica (7th-11th C)

   After the conquest of Jerusalem by the Arabs (638AD) the basilica was partially restored on a smaller scale. It was initially  honored by the new rulers, who respected Jesus and his burial place. However, it was again leveled in 1010AD by the Arab rulers when their faith became more extreme. This destruction may have sparked the Crusaders waves of conquest, which aimed at regaining the control of the Holy city and rebuilding the church.

  • Crusaders (11-12th C)

   In 1099AD the Crusaders take the city and hold it until 1187.  They restored the basilica and inaugurated it in 1149AD as St. Sepulchre. After the surrender and fall of the city to the Saladin army, the Arabs honored the church, and the key to the church was kept by Arab families – until this date.

   The third Crusaders campaign (1189-1192) attempted to recapture the Holy city and regain control of the church, but failed. However, a treaty between Richard and Saladin (1192-1195) allowed pilgrims to visit the church. Five more Crusades (1204-1270) also failed to regain the city.

  • Modern times

   In July 1927 the church suffered damages in the 6.3 magnitude earthquake .

   The church is controlled by different Christian denominations within the church, each having a part of it: Catholics, Armenian, Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic and Ethiopian. The Muslim families have the key to the main door since 1187, and used to sit in the entrance, manage the church, and mediate  between the different denominations. It is opened to the public and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors year round.


     A floor plan of the church is seen below. The Holy Sepulchre (tomb, marked in orange) is located in the center of the Rotunda hall, under the larger dome. Inside the church are many altars and points of interest; they are detailed in the sections below, with smaller maps that pinpoint the specific location inside the church.

You can point and click on most of the sites to navigate to the selected description.


The photos below follow a clock wise tour of the church, starting from the entrance on the south side.

(a) General view:

 A general view of the structure is seen from the bell tower of the Redeemer church, on the east side of the Holy Sepulcher. The larger dome is located over the Rotunda, the round hall where the tomb of Jesus is located. The smaller dome on its right is located over the Catholicon hall.

View of the Holy Sepulcher from the east side

(b) Yard and entrance:


   The church of the Holy Sepulcher, the site of the crucifixion and burial site of Jesus, can be approached from the St. Helena alley in the Christian quarter, through a gate, as seen on the right side.

    After passing the gate, there is an open yard before the church. On both sides of the yard are small churches, while the entrance to the Holy Sepulchre is located on the north side of the yard, as seen below.

Entrance to the Church through St. Helena alley

Yard in front of the Church of Holy Sepulcher.

   This is the view from the yard on the south side of the church, where the main door is located.  There are a pair of doors, but the right door is blocked off.  On the right side are stairs that lead to the Catholic’s Chapel of the Franks, the 10th station on Via Dolorosa (- stripping off Jesus garments).

Entrance to the Church of Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem.

   In the base of the middle column on the left door is a large crack. There are reports on a fire that came out of that column in 1547. This incident is regarded by Greek Orthodox Christians as a miracle of the Holy fire that happened after they were banned from entering the Church, and helped them to reclaim rights of access.

   Other cases of the “Holy fire” occurred inside the church near the tomb of Jesus, or during a Greek Orthodox ceremony held on the night before Easter day. In such ceremonies the Patriarch lights up a fire, symbolizing the resurrection,  and passes the fire to torches held by the crowd.

   In one such case (1834) the fire caused a great panic, and hundreds of pilgrims that packed the halls were crushed when the crowd pushed their way out.

(c) Stone of Anointing (Unction):

   After entering the doors, the hall opens to the southern hall. On the floor near the entrance lays the stone of anointing. According to tradition, the body of Jesus was laid on this stone after it was removed from the cross.   The plan of the church is seen on the right; the location of the stone of Anointing is marked by a red marker close to the southern main entrance.

   In the photo below – the stone of anointing (unction) greets the visitors, who kneel, pray and kiss the stone. Above the stone are lamps, each donated by one of the denominations.

Church of Holy Sepulcher: Stone of Anointing

   This tradition is based on John 19: 40: “Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury”.

   This is also illustrated on the wall mosaic above the entrance (see part of it on the right side).

Part of the mosaic painting above the entrance; shows the body of Jesus on the stone of Anointing

A closer view of the stone of Anointing is seen below.

Stone of Anointing

A view from the from the Crucifixion altar – on the second floor – is seen below.

Stone of Unction (Anointing) from the Crucifixion altar

 (d) Catholicon:

   The eastern dome and galleries are part of the Catholicon (“general”). This is a large Greek Orthodox cathedral, seen in the photo below.

   The plan of the church is seen on the right, with the location of the cathedral marked by a red marker in the center of the church.


The Catholicon, which parts of it is seen below, was the main part of the Crusader church.

The Catholicon.

 (e) Armenian Chapel:

   West to the Anointing stone is a small Armenian shrine, seen in the photo below.The plan of the church is seen on the right, with the location of the Chapel marked by a red marker on the southern side of the Rotunda.

Armenian chapel south to Jesus Tomb.

The photo below shows a view from the east side.

Armenian chapel

(f) Rotunda and Aedicule:

   The heart of the Holy Sepulchre is a round hall (“Rotunda”). Here, in the center of the circle, the tomb of Jesus is located in a smaller structure – the Aedicule – which has two chambers (the Chapel of the Angle and the room of the tomb).  The plan of the church is seen on the right, with the location of the Rotunda marked by a red marker on the western side of the church, below the main dome. The tomb is marked by an orange color in the center.

    The photo below shows the ceiling of the hall. The natural light filters in from the top of the cape, casting a holy spell over the hall. The dome, 11M high, is supported by 18 massive columns, and the only major part in the church that corresponds to the Constantine church.

Holy Seplucher: The Rotunda

The tomb of Jesus is located in the center of the hall, within the structure (Aedicule) seen below.

Tomb of Jesus within the Rotundo.

(g) Chapel of the Angel:

   The entrance to the tomb is through a narrow door on the east side. There is normally a queue to the enter the inner chamber.

Entrance to the tomb of Jesus

   The first chamber is called the “Chapel of the Angel”. A fragment of the blocking stone of the Sepulchre is stored here. It is called after the angel that removed the stone. The Biblical text (Matthew 28 2-3): “And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow”).
Chapel of the Angel inside the tomb of Jesus

(h) Tomb of Jesus:

Behind the Chapel is another narrow door which leads to a smaller chamber – the tomb of Jesus.

Entrance to the tomb of Jesus

Parts of the tomb’s interior is seen below.  The room of the tomb is 2M by 93cm.  A marble lid covers the tomb.

Interior of the tomb of Jesus.

(i) Coptic Chapel:

   Behind the tomb of Jesus is the Coptic chapel .

 The plan of the church is seen on the right, with the location of the Chapel marked by a red marker on the western side of the church, adjacent to the Tomb of Jesus.

(j) Jacobite Chapel:

   Behind the tomb of Jesus, on the western side of the Rotunda walls,  is the Jacobite (Syrian Orthodox) chapel.

 The plan of the church is seen on the right, with the location of the Chapel marked by a red marker on the western side of the church.

 The chapel, seen below, is located in the 4th C Constantine church walls. The altar and walls around it were damaged by fire. On the southern side of the chapel are 1st C Jewish tombs. According to tradition, they are of Joseph of Arimathea and Nikodemus who took down and buried the body of Jesus (Luke 23: 50-56).

Jacobite chapel

(k) Chapel of Mary Magdalene:

   On the north side of the Rotunda, the hall of the tomb, is the Franciscan Chapel of Mary Magdalene. Mary of Magdala (Migdal) accompanied Jesus on his way to the cross and burial (Mark 15, 47: “And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus beheld where he was laid”) .

 The plan of the church is seen on the right, with the location of the Chapel marked by a red marker on the north-western side of the church, adjacent to the Rotunda.

   The altar is on the left side (shown on the next picture), while the Rotunda is seen in the background. On the north side of the chapel are more rooms.

Chapel of Mary Magdalene

  A view of Mary Magdalene is seen in the photo below.

(l) Greek Orthodox chapel –  Prison of Jesus:

      On the North-Eastern side of the Church, walking around the northern ambulatory,  is a Greek Orthodox  chapel of the Prison of Jesus.

 See plan of the church on the right; the location is marked by a red marker on the north-eastern corner of the church.

   A view of the chapel at the end of the northern walls is seen below. According to tradition, Jesus and the two thieves were housed here before the crucifixion.

Prison of Jesus

  On the floor, in front of the chapel,  is a mosaic figure of a double headed eagle – symbol of the Byzantine empire and the Greek Orthodox church.

   Before the entrance to the Prison of Jesus is a smaller chapel of the handcuffs of Jesus, seen on the right side.

  Under the altar, behind a glass window, are two holes in the floor. According to tradition, these holes (seen below) are the imprints of the feet of Jesus. Pilgrims leave notes inside the window.

Holes under the altar

Inside the inner room is the chapel of Prison of Jesus.

Prison of Christ

   A closer view of the altar is seen below. Pilgrims, who come to pray here, light up candles which leave black smoke marks on the walls.

Prison of Christ

(m) Greek Orthodox chapel – St. Longinus:

   Along the eastern ambulatory of the Church are three chapels – St Longinus, Division of the Holy Robes and the Derision chapel. The first of these three chapels is the Greek Orthodox chapel of St. Longinus.

 See plan of the church on the right; the location is marked by a red marker on the north-eastern side of the church, near Jesus Prison.

  This chapel memorizes another event of the crucifixion. Longinus, a Roman Centurion who commanded the soldiers that stood watch at Golgotha, was an eyewitness of the final moments of Jesus. This shock his soul and he later confessed  (Matthew 27, 54): “Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God”.

St Longinus

(n) Armenian chapel – Division of Holy Robes:

      On the eastern side of the Church is an Armenian chapel of the Division of the Holy Robes.

 See plan of the church on the right; the location is marked by a red marker on the eastern side of the church, near the steps to the underground level.

   This chapel memorizes the event when the soldiers divided Jesus’ clothes as booty. As per the Bible (John 19 23): “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.”.

Chapel of Division of Robes

  A view of the chapel, and its location in the eastern side of the Church, is seen below. The steps down to St. Helen are seen on the right side.

(o) St. Helen Chapel:

      On the east side of the Church are 29 steps that lead down to the Chapel of St. Helena, honoring the mother of Emperor Constantine who discovered the cross and vault in her visit (326AD).  This is a beautiful Armenian chapel. 

 See plan of the church on the right; the location is marked by a red marker on the eastern side of the church, in an underground level.


Steps lead down to the Chapel of St. Helen

  Along the walls of this wide staircase is ancient graffiti of crosses, as seen below. Those were scratched by medieval pilgrims.

Steps on the way down to St Helen chapel, with ancient graffiti.

The photo below shows the interior of the chapel with its large mosaic floor.

On the south side is a large painting showing the scene of the discovery of the cross.

St Helen Chapel - discovery of Jesus cross and sepulchre

   A smaller chapel is located on the north side of the main altar, and is dedicated to the “Good” (penitent) thief, St. Dimas (Dysmas). This thief, crucified alongside Jesus, repents of his sins and asks Jesus to remember him in his kingdom (Luke 23 42): “Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”.

St. Dimas - the "Good" thief

(p) Finding of the Cross Chapel :


   At the lowest chamber, 13 stairs under the Chapel of St. Helena (and towards east), is a cave called the “Finding of the Cross”.

   See plan of the church on the right; the location is marked by a red marker on the most eastern side of the church, two levels below the main floor.

    This is the place where Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, found the fragments of the cross (on the right side).

Finding of the cross chamber

   On the left side of the chapel (see photo above) is a statue of Helena, holding the cross. Under it is an altar with the inscription seen on the right side. It was donated by the Austral-Hungarian Prince Maximilian, which later became the King of Mexico.  This was erected in 1857 and restored in 1965.

   The remains of the cross were relocated to Rome, and are on display in the “Holy Cross in Jerusalem” church (“Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme”).

Tablet under the status of Helena - St.Helena chamber

 (q) Greek – Derision chapel:

      On the eastern side of the Church is the Greek chapel of the Derision.

 See plan of the church on the right; the location is marked by a red marker on the eastern side of the church, near the steps to the underground level.


  Derision,  meaning treating with contempt, memorizes how the mob derided Jesus by mocking and laughing at him.


Derision chapel

 Under the altar, within a glass box, is a section of a stone column. According to tradition, Jesus was tied up to the pole.

Chapel of Derision

 (r) Chapel of Adam:

   Under the Calvary, on the first floor near the stone of Unction, is a small Greek Orthodox altar in the “Chapel of Adam”. According to tradition, the  the  burial site of the first man was at the site of the crucifixion.

 The plan of the church is seen on the right, with the location of the chapel marked by a red marker – in a small niche below the Greek Orthodox Calvary.

   The chapel of Adam, the first man, is seen below. Inside the altar, on its eastern side, is the Golgotha rock behind a window. A crack in the rock is, according to tradition, the result of an earthquake caused during the crucifixion. This is according to the Bible (Matthew 27, 51): “Jesus, when he had cried again… and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent”. This crack is also seen on the floor above the chapel.

Chapel of Adam

 (s) Greek Orthodox Calvary:

     On the south side of the church, near the entrance,  is a stairway leading to Golgotha, the traditional site of crucifixion.

 The plan of the church is seen on the right, with the location of the steps marked by a red marker near the entrance to the church. 


Stairway to Golgotha

   The steps lead to Golgotha on the second floor.  There are two chapels on this side of the floor – the Crucifixion altar (Greek Orthodox Calvary) and the Nails of the Cross Altar.

   The plan of the church is seen on the right, with the location of the Greek Orthodox Calvary marked by a redmarker on the second floor. 

   The Greek Orthodox Calvary (place of skull – Golgotha), seen below. According to tradition, Jesus is crucified here on the rock of Golgotha and dies on the cross.  It is also marked as station 12 in the way of the grief (Via Dolorosa).

Greek Orthodox Calvary.

   The  Greek Orthodox crucifixion altar places the exact site of the crucifixion. A silver disk with a central hole, underneath the altar, marks the spot on the rock where the cross stood; pilgrims kneel and kiss the spot, as seen below. The silver icons of Virgin Mary and St John are on Jesus side.

   Another view of the altar is seen below. On each side of the altar is a black marble disk that show the position of the crosses of the two thieves that were crucified with Jesus.

  The rich colors,  glittering silver and golden lamps – create a unique atmosphere and cast a special Holy sensation – a common theme in all Greek Orthodox churches.

Greek Orthodox calvary chapel

   Another photo of the altar is seen below with the rock of Golgotha behind the glass. The crack in the rock continues down to the chapel of Adam on the lower floor, and according to tradition the blood of Jesus dripped down the crack to the skull of Adam.

Greek Orthodox calvary chapel

 (t) Latin – Nails of the Cross:

   The Latin (Franciscan) altar on Golgotha is called the  “Nails of the Cross Altar”, and is adjacent to the Greek-Orthodox chapel. Here, according to tradition, Jesus was nailed to the cross.

   The plan of the church is seen on the right, with the location of the Latin altar marked by a red marker on the south-east side of the second floor. 


  The altar is marked as station 11 on Via Dolorosa, and is located just behind the wall of the 10th station (Chapel of the Franks).  The mosaics on the ceiling preserved a 12th C mosaic figure of Jesus. The more modern mosaics above the altar illustrate the crucifixion, the holy women at the foot of the cross, and the sacrifice of Isaac. This nave was constructed and designed in 1937  by Antonio Barluzzi, the famous Italian church architect who built many Franciscans churches in the Holy Land.

Station 11 - Nails of the Cross

Biblical references :
  These references describe the site of crucifixion and burial of Jesus.

Matthew 27:33, 35, 59-60

“And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull”…

“And they crucified him”….

“And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed”.

Mark 15:22, 46

“And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.”

“And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.”

Luke 23: 33, 53

In Luke the name is Calvary (from Roman, meaning also place of skull):

“And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him,…”

“And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchrethat was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid”.

John 19:17, 40-41

“And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha”.

“Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid”.

Scenes from the wall Mosaic above the entrance to the Church:

a: Jesus is taken down from the cross

b: Laid down and wrapped in the linen

   c: Laid into a new rock-hewn tomb

Film on plight of migrants in Greece released to the world


Crowd-funded film cataloguing the living conditions of migrants pulls no punches.

A chance email by a Somalian teenager in Athens opened the way to a series of shocking and untold stories that came to life in ‘Into the Fire’, a 40-minute crowd-funded film on the plight of migrants in Greece. Describing what they filmed as ‘unsettling’, the directors also intend to take the concept of crowd-sourcing into new territory

A hard-hitting documentary which shows the plight of refugees and migrants in Athens was released on Monday via YouTube in an experiment in distribution that its directors hope will bring the film all over the world and in different languages.

Into The Fire runs for 40 minutes and was directed by Guy Smallman and Kate Mara.

Its origins go back to this time last year when the two directors came to Athens to make a series of short films about austerity.


“What we discovered during our one day of filming on the situation of refugees in Greece was unsettling… The film grew in an organic fashion that surprised us. It seemed to have a life of its own and drag us along in its wake 

– Directors Guy Smallman and Kate Mara


Before they left, they were contacted by a teenage refugee from Somalia, who emailed them a list of problems that he and his friends were facing. They all met up, opening the door to many contacts in the migrant world and to untold and shocking stories, recorded as a short series of interviews. 

“What we discovered during our one day of filming on the situation of refugees in Greece was unsettling. Once we got back to London, we secured additional funding, to be able to go to Greece a second time and take a closer look at what was happening. From that starting point, the film grew in an organic fashion that surprised us. It seemed to have a life of its own and drag us along in its wake,” the directors said.

Shot and edited with sensitivity and compassion, it doesn’t pull its punches and makes for harrowing viewing in parts. It gives incredible insights to the reality faced by people who simply want to lead peaceful, normal lives.

The release took place simultaneously on websites, blogs and other platforms around the internet.

Having relied on crowd-funding for part of the production costs, those behind the film say they are taking the concepts of crowd-sourcing one step further.

“These days, everyone is talking about crowd-funding. Part of the production of Into the Fire was also crowd-funded. We are going one step further: Not only the production, but also the distribution of Into the Fire is crowd-sourced. On April 21 Into the Fire will be released on simultaneously on various websites and platforms around the internet.”

For the launch, they managed to have the film subtitled into nine languages –  Albanian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian and Spanish – using social media networks. A team of volunteers has translated the film into a number of languages and new volunteers are still adding more languages.

The strategy of crowd-sourcing the production, launch and distribution of the film, its creators hope, will made those who view it active participants, commentators and amplifiers when it comes to opposing the conditions visited on the victims in the story.

Public screenings of the film are planned for Europe and Northern America, and those behind the film invite anyone to organise their own screening.



The Estia bookstore of the past

The bookstore of the hearth

“A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.” Jerry Seinfeld.

The bookstore of the hearth

The Estia bookstore of the past.

I remember receiving my first book from Greece as a gift from a returning aunt. Attempting to open it, I was disconcerted by the revelation that every second page was stuck together, necessitating the use of a knife in order to liberate the treasures that lay hidden within. Even before immersing myself in the reading of the text, I could not but indulge in the tactile pleasures of Greek typesetting. Unlike the dead flat, spirit levelled type of say, a Penguin book, Greek type impressed itself firmly onto the page, causing an innumerable array of lexical undulating bumps, ridges and valleys, serving as landmarks for the reader as he traversed any particular kingdom of the empire of the Word.

My favourite books were those that retained the polytonic system, as opposed to the current austere monotonic monstrosity. Not only was this system integral to a proper understanding of Greek grammar and the connection between the modern and ancient languages, it was also very pretty and lent itself well to being gazed at adoringly by the discerning eye. As time passed and polytonic books became scarce, I invariably sought after books published by one of the most venerable and significant book stores and publishers of Greece, the «Βιβλιοπωλείον της Εστίας» (Estia) or Bookstore of the Hearth, which during its 128 year history, and up until its tragic closure in March of this year, was responsible for the publication of over 4,000 new titles, encompassing the works of some 1,500 Greek authors, all in the polytonic system.

To loiter around the shelves of Estia bookstore in its penultimate place of abode, Athens’ Solonos Street, which should be renamed Book Street owing to its concentration of purveyors of the printed word, was to be immersed in a particularly olde worlde literary culture of a type that long ceased to exist in the Australian world of the large commercial book chains. During my first visit to the bookstore, back in 1992, I revealed my Greek Australian provenance by browsing the shelves. Immediately I was set upon by a member of the staff who asked me what in particular I was searching for. «Τίποτα το ιδιαίτερο,» I responded. «Απλά, χαζεύω.» My inquisitor looked me up and down incredulously, before shrugging his shoulders and sighing in resignation: «Ναι, φαίνεται ότι έχεις χαζέψει.»
The concept of browsing was unknown. Patrons instead would arrive seeking a particular book or a particular author, the concept of leaving one’s literary activity to pot luck seeming ludicrously disrespectful. Given that just like an iceberg, not even a tenth of the titles available were on display, should one have wanted to browse, such a pursuit would have been rendered impossible. In this, it is quite plausible that Estia bookstore formed the inspiration for the book hunters in Walter Moers’ classic ‘The City of Dreaming Books’, for the cavernous and seemingly endless basement of the bookstore housed a vast number of hitherto unknown and precious titles on an infinite number of subjects. Yet amidst the chaos, the owners seemed to know the exact position of all of the books in their possession, and a good many of the authors personally themselves.

Furthermore, unlike the generally clueless staff of the bookstores I had come to patronise in Melbourne, the staff of Estia seemed to be possessed of a disconcertingly inordinate facility for literary criticism. I remember one hairy, unshaven and yellow toothed cashier interrogating me as to my choice of Thrasos Kastanakis’ classic of ambition and redemption «Ο Χατζή Μανουήλ.»He would not let me leave the store to devour my purchase until he had expounded why, in his view, the author was suffering from psycho-sexual problems and how this can be revealed in his literary tropes. Then he prescribed a compulsory reading list of other worthy Greek authors and demanded that I come in to discuss each one with him after I had been suitably enlightened.

Loitering also provided unprecedented opportunities to meet literary luminaries, for Estia truly was the entrepot of the Greek literary scene. On any given day, numbers of sundry politicians, actors, poets, writers and thinkers could be found in the store, seeking particular publications, enquiring as to the sales of their own publications or, even more often, those of their rivals. It was in this way that I was able to meet, albeit gushingly and with a complete loss of articulation, the great Antonis Samarakis, the erudite yet urbane Freddy Germanos, and not a few politicians whose names I will forebear to blight the august pages of this publication.

The Estia bookshop was one of those rare things in modern Greece, one of the twelve oldest businesses in the country, stemming five generations and providing a tangible link of continuity and an unparalleled commitment to the publication of Greek literary works, many of which have been of immense significance to modern Greek culture.

If one considers that in the year that Estia was founded, seventy per cent of Greek males and ninety two per cent of Greek females were illiterate, the effect that Estia had upon Greek cultural life can be viewed in perspective. Through its publication of a literary journal, it was able to provide a mouthpiece for the legendary “generation of 1880,” comprised of such writers as Kostis Palamas who were concerned with folklore, everyday life and introducing the demotic tongue, rather than slavishly following European literary models.

Such an endeavour would continue through the publication of translations of ancient Greek works, making these available to the public, often for the first time, and reached its apogee when Kostas Sarantopoulos, who presided over the bookstore between 1925 to 1972, instituted the publication of the “New Series of Greek Literature,” featuring the works of the influential ‘generation of 1930’, Seferis among them, whose writings finally emancipated modern Greek literature from European domination.

What granted especial significance to Estia, constituting it as the hearth of Greek literature, was the commitment to the publication of truly worthy literary works, avoiding the commercialisation of best-sellers or, unique to Greece, the selective promotion of works on a political or ideological basis. The targeted publication of the writers of the ‘generation of 1980’ such as Tatsopoulos, Homenidis, Tamvakakis and others, continued Estia’s tradition of purveying Greek literature hand in hand with its propagators, in a most beneficial partnership. The commissioning of worthwhile translations of non-Greek authors, such as Gunter Grass and Milan Kundera was also a labour of love, making accessible important works the owners believed that the public should be exposed to.

At first, I thought that the announcement of the closure of Estia was an April Fool’s joke. After all, would not the populace rise up in anger or righteous indignation at the news that one of Greece’s oldest institutions was no more? Would not public collections be instituted, wealthy benefactors contacted, writers and politicians mobilised to save the hearthland of Greek literary activity at a time when thinkers and writers are needed more than ever to rethink and restructure the permutations of Greek society? Apparently not. There were no protests, no taking to the streets or ritual burnings of rival bookshops. Instead, the news was received in muted silence, as if, in this period of economic and spiritual crisis, while the closure of a family business is a tragedy, the closure of a bookstore is irrelevant as it is a luxury. Yet arguably it is in those books in the bowels of Estia, recording the trials, tribulations and passions of generations of Greece that lived through worse times than the present, that will offer the guidance, strength and consolation the Greek people so sorely need in order to sustain them as they slowly make their way out of the abyss. It is in Estia and its cultural heritage that the arsenal for recovery can be found. As Doctor Who would put it, albeit paraphrased: “You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world!”

* Dean Kalimniou is a Melbourne solicitor and freelance journalist.






Revealing the Shrine of Remembrance’s Hellenic roots

From Anzac to Ancient Greece

From Anzac to Ancient Greece

The bronze Symbol of Glory at the summit of the Shrine’s pyramid roof is based on the Choragic monument of Lysicrates that still stands in Athens. In this picture the symbol’s creator Harry Chalmers (top left) poses precariously with colleagues after its installation. PHOTO: SHRINE OF REMEMBRANCE ARCHIVE.

While the grand porticos of the Shrine of Remembrance remind any visitor that the glories of ancient Greece were uppermost in the minds of its architects, perhaps few know how deeply the classical allusions lie in Victoria’s most symbolic building.

A war memorial in Melbourne was proposed immediately after the First World War ended in November 1918.

Various projects were put forward, including a victory arch and a memorial hospital, before a competition launched in 1922 generated 83 entries. Melbourne architects Phillip Hudson and James Wardrop were announced the winners.

In 1924 Hudson, a WWI veteran himself, looked to Ancient Greece to evoke classical virtues in his design for the Shrine, on the site beside St Kilda Road which he saw as similar to the Acropolis.
Hudson believed that Australia’s experience and sacrifice in the First World War would find in the architecture of classical Greece a fitting and enduring reflection.

The Shrine’s design is based on two great buildings from the Classical period; the Parthenon, and the ancient Mausoleum of Mausolos at Halicarnus (now Bodrum in Turkey), known to the ancients as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The pyramid roof was inspired particularly by the 4th Century BC mausoleum. Sketched reconstructions of the ancient tomb, destroyed long ago, have for centuries influenced funerary architecture

And whilst it was the mausoleum that informed Hudson’s thinking on the shape and proportions of the building, it was the Athenian Parthenon that inspired the entrance porches including the Doric order of eight columns.

Hudson made all vertical lines of the Shrine incline towards a point of convergence 2.25 kilometres above ground level. A similar technique called entasis was employed by ancient Greek architects to correct optical distortions.

The tympanum – the triangular stone facade above the portico column on the north side of the Shrine – represents the ‘call to arms’, with an ancient Grecian goddess representing the mother country, appealing to her children to defend her, alongside the terror and chaos of war. Beside them an old man remembers the brave deeds of his more potent youth.

If you lift your head to the Shrine’s top-most feature, the Symbol of Glory at the apex of the pyramid roof crowns Melbourne’s memorial to the fallen and the service of successive generations. Based on an ancient Greek trophy – the Choragic monument of Lysicrates – and made of bronze, it was cast by Melbourne sculptor Harry Chalmers.

Each Anzac Day morning just before sunrise, a light (installed in the 1980s) shines out from the top of the Symbol of Glory during the Dawn Service.


Γιάννης Πάριος: «Είναι ζωοποιός ο έρωτας!»

Γιάννης Πάριος: «Είναι ζωοποιός ο έρωτας!»

Μαθαίνεται ποτέ η «ύλη» του κεφαλαίου «έρωτας»;

«Νομίζεις ότι τη μαθαίνεις, αλλά όχι, δεν μαθαίνεται και αυτή ίσως είναι και η τεράστια γοητεία του.

Ότι όσο κι αν τον ξέρεις, σε εκπλήσσει κάθε φορά και σου ανατρέπει όλα όσα πίστευες ότι είχες καταλάβει. Δεν υπάρχουν συνταγές για τον έρωτα, δεν υπάρχουν όροι.

Κάθε φορά βάζεις ένα νέο στοίχημα» τόνισε στο TVΈθνος ο Γιάννης Πάριος. Έχει χορτάσει από στοιχήματα;  «Δεν είμαι νηστικός, αλλά δεν χορταίνεις ποτέ από έρωτα.

Πάντα θέλεις να υπάρχει στη ζωή σου -κι ας έχεις φάει τα μούτρα σου κι ας έχει πονέσει. Θες να ξεκουραστεί λίγο η ψυχή σου και μετά ξανά- Είναι ζωοποιός ο έρωτας!»


Σταύρος Νιάρχος: Στο… μεροκάματο όπως όλοι!

Σταύρος Νιάρχος: Στο… μεροκάματο όπως όλοι!

Τι και αν είναι γόνος μιας εκ των πλουσιοτέρων οικογενειών του κόσμου;

Ο Σταύρος Νιάρχος είναι ένας άνθρωπος όπως όλοι και για τον λόγο αυτό έχει επιλέξει να εργάζεται ως υπάλληλος σε γνωστό επενδυτικό γραφείο.

Η θητεία του σύμφωνα με την εφημερίδα Παραπολιτικά, στην EIM Group του δισεκατομμυριούχου Arki Busson η οποία διαχειρίζεται hedge funds δισεκατομμυρίων ξεκίνησε το 2011.

Ο Σταύρος Νιάρχος έπιασε δουλειά έπειτα από συνεννόηση του πατέρα του, Φίλιππου με τον Busson.

Ο Φίλιππος Νιάρχος ήθελε ο γιος του να δουλέψει σε ένα προστατευμένο περιβάλλον όπου θα ερχόταν σε επαφή με τα χρηματοοικονομικά, καθώς θα τον διαδεχτεί μια μέρα στο τιμόνι της αυτοκρατορίας που έχει χτίσει.

Ο Σταύρος Νιάρχος έπιασε δουλειά με κέφι, ενώ μάλιστα την πρώτη του μέρα τον υποδέχτηκε ο ίδιος ο Busson στα γραφεία.

Παπαρίζου-Καψάλης: Μαζί και στα δύσκολα

Παπαρίζου-Καψάλης: Μαζί και στα δύσκολα

Η Έλενα Παπαρίζου ταξίδεψε στον τόπο καταγωγής του αρραβωνιαστικού της, Ανδρέα Καψάλη στον Πύργο του νομού Ηλείας.

Η τραγουδίστρια βρέθηκε εκεί το Σαββατοκύριακο! Το ζευγάρι έφυγε το απόγευμα της Παρασκευής από την Αθήνα και έμεινε δύο 24ωρα. Ο λόγος του ταξιδιού τους;

Ο Ανδρέας έπρεπε να βρεθεί στο μνημόσυνο των σαράντα ημερών ενός αγαπημένου θείου του και φυσικά η Έλενα ήθελε να είναι δίπλα του, σύμφωνα με το περιοδικό ΟΚ.

Ο φωτογραφικός φακός τους εντόπισε έξω από το νεκροταφείο του Πύργου το περασμένο Σάββατο, όπου είχε τελεστεί το μνημόσυνο.

Actress Nia Vardalos chats with us on her most important role ever!


Photo Credit: Rudy Lorejo Photography

The Second City gave Nia Vardalos a foot in Hollywood’s door but before her first big break in cinema, the Windy City was once home for her. From Winnipeg to Chicago, she set her life in comedy sharing The Second City stage with the likes of Chris Farley, and many more. She’s best known for her movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding that she’s written and starred in. For those of you who don’t remember, the movie was set here in our favorite city, Chicago.

Recently we’ve been seeing Nia everywhere on TV. This time touring for her new book called Instant Mom. Her Chicago book signing was held at the National Hellenic Museum and the #ChicagonistaLIVE caught up with her for a quick on-camera interview. Candidly she described her book as containing some “excessive name droppings”. It shed some light on how her career began with her now long-time friends, the super couple Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks. She then took her readers to what she now plays the most important role of her life: A mother. Instant Mom is about her often painful journey in finding her daughter through adoption. She talked about challenging moments like the 13 failed IVFs and on a happier note with just 14 hours notice of finally becoming a mom to a 3 years old. It was a laugh-out-loud book but be ready for a box of tissues! Instant Mom is by far the most honest parenting book I’ve read in a long time. Go get the book, but first check out our #ChicagonistaLIVE interview below.

By the way, she even mentioned about a new movie she’s working on!