You don’t have to be crazy to take on the First Cemetery of Athens, but it helps: crazy to know more about Greek history, crazy to spend hours wandering its narrow lanes looking for familiar names and pausing over the obscure ones, crazy enough to brush the debris from a long forgotten tomb or two, to get to know the haunts of the cemetery’s cats, to be up close and personal with its imposing trees - and crazy enough to pretty much forget all the while that right under our feet is a vast and growing city of the dead!
I first got to know the First Cemetery while writing a text for my Blog Churches in Greece. http://churchesingreece.blogspot.gr/ I called this particular text “Waiting in Style” because this cemetery is the crème de la crème of Greek cemeteries – literally the haunt of the famous and the wealthy of Athens. I was shocked at how difficult it was to find a grave, even those of venerated heroes of the Greek War of Independence.
I discussed this with my good friend Filia who shares my love of Greece and its turbulent past. We decided that a few excursions to the First Cemetery could be interesting, that we would see what we could find.
We found a lot: hundreds of names that still resonate in Greece today. It quickly became something of an obsession. Here was modern Greek history laid out in neat rows right under our feet! How cool is that? What an opportunity. We decided to delve deeper. The result is this blog.
Filia is a pure Greek from Icaria and Chios via Chicago; I am an adopted Greek via Scotland and Canada.
Filia Xilas Pattakou