Greece Travel Guide logo

Greece Travel Guide


 Greek Island Guide


Hotels of Greece



Now You Don't See It; Now You Do!


LAST summer I rented a house on Evia, an island running down the eastern mainland of Greece . I decided to get out of Athens for a bit of peace, sea, hills, and some of the good vibes that Evia is renowned for because it has several auspicious ley lines, or in lay-speech, energy points. I got a whole lot more energy than I bargained for because during my eight-month stay, half a kilometre above my peaceful little dwelling there were erected 50 wind turbines connected to a power generator next to my house.

I had planned to stay there forever, sitting on one of the many terraces watching the sun go up and down, sipping various Greek beverages and avoiding work. Instead, I'm back in Athens working hard thanks to Themistocles and his ancient Greek building techniques - and I don't just mean the wind turbines.

These techniques were first documented after the Persian wars, which ended in 479 BC. Themistocles has become the hero and role model for all modern ancient Greeks (or "Grecians" as named by US President George W Bush) who carry on that ancient tradition of building anywhere. Athens had just been razed to the ground by the Persians who burnt and looted and Themistocles built his wall on this scorched earth. Following his example, today the modern ancient Greeks build their nice summer houses on the scorched earth left by the most recent forest fire. You can see this if you drive in any direction out of Athens .

The cunning ploy behind the Themistoclean wall-building was, and remains, not to permit anybody to be aware of what you're doing until after you've done it! The Athenians had been forbidden by the Spartans to build a wall surrounding Athens . These two were in alliance, both fighting the Persians equally, but the Spartans wanted to be on a more equal footing after the Asiatic menace had been thwarted and guessed correctly that if the Athenians built a stone wall around Athens, they would soon be vying for dominance in Greece.

Our hero, Themistocles, the Athenian general aka 'The Wall-Builder', would have none of this, so he headed down to Sparta and persuaded these troubled folks that the Athenians had no intention of building a wall thus the Spartans didn't need to come nosing around Athens, did they? Meanwhile, back at The Wall, which is a perfect example of the excellent Greek organisational skill to pull things off fast at the last minute, Themistocles' builders were flinging together a six-kilometre long wall using anything at hand, including grave stones, old monuments and little Percales' piggy bank.

Sound familiar? In Greece , the town planners have made it illegal to build on most of the land in Greece . Does this bother the descendants of Themistocles? The law can be bypassed if you can prove that you already have a house there. So the ancient modern Greeks go out for an ouzo with the village planner and this runs on into the evening when they invite him out to dinner, and hey, back at the barren scorched piece of earth, there are four newly built walls complete with shutters and doors nailed on, ready for the photographer and the somewhat grateful town planner.

Which brings me back to my summer cottage in the middle of a field on Evia and my landlord, a diligent follower of the Themistoclean wall-building tradition, whose motto is "Build fast, summer's on its way! " We named our chimney "Athena" because it had an inversion problem like Athens '. My living room had the smell of a polluted Monday morning.

If you don't believe me about Themistocles' wall, go check it out in Koukaki, where the Hotel Divani Acropolis is built, right on top of Themistocles' handiwork. Does this appear suspicious to you?

Return to Adrian's Articles

Help Support Matt's 
Do you enjoy using my site? Have you found it entertaining as well as useful? If so please show your appreciation by booking hotels through the travel agencies and the links found on my
 Athens Hotels page. The small comission I make on the bookings enable me to keep working and in most cases you won't find them any cheaper by searching elsewhere. You can also book at's Athens Page and they give me a small percentage on each booking.

Return to Athens Survival Guide