The long and honorable history of the Greek Presidential Guard (or Proedrikí Frourá in Greek) started on a day much like this, 152 years ago, in the newly established modern Greek state.
This distinguished, battalion-sized military unit, dubbed Agema at the time, was established by a royal decree on December 12, 1868, exactly 152 years ago.
The Greek Presidential Guard prides itself as being the last unit of Evzones in the Greek Army, the historical elite light infantry and mountain units known for their hard-won victories against the nation’s enemies.
Because of the prestigious status of this elite, independent battalion, all men who were members of the Agema ranked one rank higher than they had ranked in their former positions. In other words, every ordinary soldier who was a member of the Agema was equivalent to a lance corporal, instead of a private.
The Presidential Guard of Greece is also honored as the only military unit which is allowed to raise and lower the Greek flag on the holy mountain of the Acropolis in Athens.
Today, the Guards have become one of the major tourist attractions in Athens, and, much like in London, the famous ”changing of the guards” is a must-see spectacle for visitors to the Greek capital.
Their movements are conducted in a very slow and highly stylized manner. They change positions with each other every fifteen minutes and stand at attention, completely motionless, in the meantime.
There are two types of Changes of the Guard.
The ”Little Change” takes place every hour, and the ”Grand Change” takes place every Sunday at 11 o’clock in the morning. On Sundays, the entire Guard, with its officers and military band, marches from the Guard Barracks to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and back in downtown Athens.
Among the most distinctive features of the Guard soldiers is the well-known Evzone uniform they wear, which evolved from the traditional clothing worn by the klephts in the Greek War of Independence.
152 years after its official establishment, the Presidential Guard is still there, reminding the entire world of Greece’s glorious military history.