The change of the guards

The Evzones, or Evzoni (which means “well-armed”), is the name of several historical elite light infantry and mountain units of the Greek Army. Today, it refers to the members of the Presidential Guard, an elite ceremonial unit that guards The Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, The Presidential Mansion and The Gate of Evzones camp in Athens City.

An Evzone or known as a Tsoliás stands in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Greek Parliament . Every hour of the day, on the hour, there is a change of the guard. The duties of the soldiers are part of a ceremonial nature.

Every soldier guards for about an hour, 3 times in total every 48 hours. Throughout these 60 minutes, they have to stand perfectly still until it is time to switch with another guard. During the changing, they work in pairs so they can perfectly coordinate their moves. The soldiers of the Presidential Guard are selected according to their height, excellent physical condition and psychological state as well as character and morality. Furthermore they follow a hard training before they become part of this honorary unit. Apart from staying still, the soldiers must also not make any face or eye move and must not show any expression.

Their uniform of the Presidential Guard has a historical meaning. It refers to the uniform of the Kleftes and Armatoloi, two groups of Greek warriors during the War of Independence against the Ottomans. In fact, the white skirt of the uniform has 400 folds to represent the 400 years of Ottoman occupation over the Greeks. The most visible item of this uniform is the fustanella, a kilt-like garment. Their distinctive dress turned them into a popular image for the Greek soldier, especially among foreigners.

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