On this day in 1821, the city of Tripolitsa was once again declared to be Greek. The siege/fall of Tripolitsa to revolutionary Greek forces began in the summer of 1821 and marked an early victory in the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire. It is also known for the massacre of its Muslim and Jewish population, which occurred after the city’s fall to the Greek revolutionary forces. The siege and eventual fall of Tripolitsa was an idea earlier conceived by Theodoros Kolokotronis, because he calculated that this would be a heavy blow for the Turks and would certainly give a major advantage to the Greeks, since Tripolitsa was the administrative hub of the Ottoman Empire in Morias (the Peloponnese) and home to probably half of the Turkish population in the district. The anniversary of the liberation of Tripolitsa is honored every year with events that go on for many days in the presence of high officials and a massive crowd. These celebrations include a Divine Liturgy and an Archieratical Doxology held in the Cathedral of Agios Vasilios of Tripolis, a celebratory speech, a memorial service, and a wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb of the bishops and dignitaries, a parade in the center of Tripolitsa, and finally, traditional dancing in the main square.
On this day in 1687, the Acropolis in Athens was attacked by the Venetian army that was trying to eject the Turks from the city, ultimately severely damaging the Parthenon. The Parthenon’s construction, directed by Athenian statesman Pericles, began in 447 BC and was completed by 438. It remained intact for about a thousand years even as it was converted into a Christian church, possibly in the 5th century AD, and then a mosque by the Turks in 1460. In 1687, gunpowder stored in the Parthenon exploded, however, when the Venetians were fighting the Turks. A powder magazine located in the temple blew up, destroying the center of the building. The explosion destroyed the roof and left only the pediments standing. Between 1801 and 1803, a large part of the sculpture that remained was removed, supposedly with the Turkish Sultan’s permission, by the British nobleman Thomas Bruce (AKA Lord Elgin), and sold in 1816 to the British Museum in London.
Also on this day in 1989, Pavlos Bakogiannis, the Greek politician and magazine publisher, was gunned down and murdered outside of his office building in Athens by the terrorist organization 17 November. Bakogiannis was born in 1935 in a small village in Evritania, Central Greece. His father was the village priest. He studied in Athens and Munich and worked for Deutsche Welle as a newscaster on their Greek language radio program. Bakogiannis returned to Athens in 1974, accepting a position at the Greek Radio and Television station ERT. That same year he married Theodora (Dora) Mitsotakis, the daughter of politician Konstantinos Mitsotakis. In 1982, he became the publisher of the magazine ENA. A few months before his death in June of 1989, Bakogiannis entered politics as an elected member of parliament representing Evritania. Dimitris Koufodinas, Iraklis Kostaris, and Alexandros Giotopoulos were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Bakogiannis in December 2003.
On this day in 1949, George Dalaras, the Greek singer, was born in Piraeus, Athens. He is the son of Lukas Dalaras, a rebetiko singer of the 1950s and 60s. Since the release of his first album in 1969, he has recorded over 70 personal albums and worked with many Greek composers including Mikis Theodorakis and Giannis Markopoulos. His politically charged songs about everyday people have made some dub him ‘the Greek Bruce Springstein’. Dalaras has explored jazz, pop, rock, Greek folk music, Latin, Bosnian, Baltic, flamenco, classical, Israeli, Arab, and other styles throughout his long, illustrious, continuing career.