I have just visited the island where the first flag of Greece was created. It is here where the true independence of Greece began in 1807 and wherefrom the revolution against the Turkish Empire spread over the country. This is Skiathos Island(see the map).
Three days after the referendum in Greece in 2015, we were ready to visit a place so full of history, tradition, revolt and freedom that only one who is ready to really understand Greece, would feel our anxiety. We have visited Greece almost every year since 2008. Skiathos, this beautiful island where Greece found its origin as an independent nation-state in the 19th century, was our first destination. We knew nothing about the flag and about the importance of the island. Now, we were waiting for a small bus to take us to Evanghelistria Monastery. There, the monks created the first flag of Greece. There, the bells called for freedom and independence and the entire Greece knew the time had come and the battle was about to begin. We had to feel the area in order to understand the spirit of Greece independence and need for justice. And the highest peak in Skiathos Island, where Evanghelistria Monastery was founded in 1794, was the place.
|To Evanghelistria Monastery in Skiathos, Greece|
There was a 60 years old woman who wanted to join us on our visit to the monastery. She wanted to find the holly water spring. According to legend, that water cures. Only a few are interested in the history of the place. You walk alone on the independence of Greece like the country did 200 years ago. Anyway, the woman was told that there were snakes near the spring and that she was not allowed to go.
To get to Evanghelistria Monastery, one needs to take a small bus. 15 minutes. And then you understand. The monks and freedom fighters who swore on the Oath of Freedom here in 1807, could see the area, could see the sea and knew when to enemies were about to come. It is the highest peak of Skiathos Island.
|View from Skiathos highest peak-Evanghelistria Monastery|
The independence of Greece began. Athens was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1452. The Islands were forced to surrender in the late 17th century. Yet, the Greeks have never accepted the Turks. The Islam was a primitive religion in their opinion although the Orthodoxism has been tolerated by sultans. We found here, at Evanghelistria Monastery, a different world. We felt like being in 1800 when a nation who had to fight against invaders, since Sparta decided to do so and Xerxes, the defeated Persian Emperor, started a different kind of battle: it was the battle for freedom this time but it was on its own land.
|Evanghelistria Monastery - Skiathos, Greece|
Guns, a cross, a flag and walls. You can't bet the monks here at the place where the first flag of Greece was created, don't hide pistols, swords or knives somewhere in the neighborhood, ready to get them and start the fight again. Everything in the area is ready for war. A few monks live here. They answer your questions. They guide you even to the toillet, They gave the holy water our friend was looking for. They do not smile. A friendly and kind look is the only thing you'll get.
|Evanghelistria Monastery Skiathos Greece|
The Kollyvades were monks who left Athos after a fight against the community of the Holy Mount and founded the New Orthodoxy in the middle of the 18th century. It was a movement worried about the spiritual renewal of the Greek people. Kollyvades comes from Kollyva which is boiled wheat, used during funeral services. They came to Skiathos Island. And in 1807 the bells called for freedom and independence. They also made the first flag of Greece, here at Evanghelistria in Skiathos.
|Bells called for the independence of Greece, 1807|
|The loom where the first flag of Greece was created|
|Flag of Greece - Evanghelistria Monastery, Skiathos|
Thank you for reading our post and for sharing. You may find interesting The River Styx-the ancient Greek river of the dead.