Phanariotes of Wallachia and Moldavia (Romania)

Under the Ottomans, there were areas of that empire that were either self governed or controlled outright by Greeks. In fact, the early Ottomans are more benign than many have given them credit for. Greeks prospered as they generally had a good handle on commerce and merchant trading. In Constantinople Greeks continued the level of…

Greek speakers of Jordan: Ramadan and a Greek spirit

As I was planning my trip to Jordan, a representative of the Greek Youth innocently pointed out, “you do realise its Ramadan here in Jordan!” I had of course completely and utterly forgotten it was Ramadan.

The Kingdom of Commagene

As witnessed by an ancient traveller… Around 163 BCE I happened upon a mountainous kingdom located on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, in what is now Turkey, bordering Syria. This was the year when this kingdom was truly recognised, after breaking away from the Greek ruled Seleucid Kingdom. The name Commagene refers…

Pericles: an interview from 5th Century Athens

After years of being turned down by Pericles for an interview, finally he has taken the time out to speak me after he delivered the Funeral Oration. Here Pericles tells us about his childhood, his love of Athens, democracy and why Sparta must be defeated. BC: You are known as the First Citizen of Athens,…

Lesvos: fall in Love and the liberation of the island

Event held on November 9, 2016 delivered at Mytilene House with 200 people in attendance “Lesvos will continue to function as an island. That is what we are, an island. It is not a Dubai, it is a remote island.”  Good evening, how is everyone? I’m here to talk you a little about a film…

Ten of the best Greek islands by a seasoned traveller

Billy Cotsis has travelled to 65 Greek islands and counting. Here he recalls HIS top ten favourite islands based on personal experiences, beauty, aura and history. They say that Greece has 227 inhabited and 6000 uninhabited islands. They also say that each one has a story to tell; I have been lucky enough to have…

The Republic of the Ionian Islands

When the Byzantine Empire came to an end in 1453, a number of small strongholds held out. These were eventually swept aside by the might of the Ottoman Empire; the Morea, Empire of Trebizond and the Principality of Theodosia in the Crimea circa 1475. The entire Greek world was either under the Sultan or Latin…

Back to the Future: the Hellenes of Armenia

Travelling through the picturesque mountains of Armenia, one can’t help be transformed to another time and place. This can’t be Europe! With little evidence of the hustle and bustle of a Rome and none of the pollution one would find in a big city, Armenia is a breath of fresh air. And with the absence…

From Cleopatra to Averoff, just a quiet day in Hellenic Alexandria

Alexandria, there is no place like it. A Hellenic city, still influenced by its Greek roots and a passionate Greek Community, this Mediterranean delight has had a profound effect on history and Hellenism. As I sat by the 1920’s style Greek owned cafe opposite the harbour, I reflected on 2 simple questions I had asked…

Once were Greeks … the Hellenes of Auckland and New Zealand

It was at the home of school teacher Ilias Pavlidis that it hit me. Auckland is essentially Greece in disguise. For what you will find here, nestled amongst the population of 1.6 million is a small Greek community that brings to you all the wonderful aspects of filoxenia that one traditionally finds in a village….

The Despotate of Epiros: another forgotten Greek kingdom

When we think about Greek empires we tend to think of the achievements of Alexander, Ptolemy, the Spartans, Corinth or the Byzantine Empire. Who can begrudge the heroic defiance of Constantine in 1453 or the last stand of Leonidas as their respective territories were challenged? Heroism, glory, romance, passion. Image credit: Wikipedia

Bulldogs Bite: Multiculturalism and Rugby League in ‘Greek’ Belmore

For sheer athleticism and history, Rugby League is a sport which can captivate and at the same time divide opinion for its ability to give itself a headache every other week. League attracts almost as many negative stories in Sydney as positive ones, which can at times frustrate the fans and those who have grown…

Football and a Greek identity in many leading clubs in Europe

It is fair to say that football was a creation of the ancient Greeks and Romans, playing a brand that required kicking ‘balls.’ The name given to the sport was episkyros by Antiphanes, eventually making its way to Rome, Alexandria and other cities. In Rome, the balls were first filled with air and as has…

A Leonidas in Brussels: an Overview of the local Greek Community

Sitting in the aptly titled Pita (Greek) Street in the centre of Brussels having a yeeros and speaking Greek…my trip to Belgium began in earnest. I had ventured here on the recommendation of a priest. A few years ago I had met Father Christos Sidiropoulos who drives from Belgium to Rotterdam in The Netherlands to…