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November 17th

A Somber Commemoration

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Each year, November 17th is filled with commemorations of November 17th, 1973, when a student uprising at Athens' Polytechnic University was brutally suppressed by the military government which had seized power.

Protesting the "Colonels"

The government of the "Colonels" was backed by the United States as part of a Cold War strategy to reduce the influence of communism in the region. Because of the U.S. support of this suppressive regime, many Greeks still harbor resentment toward the United States and distrust its interventions.

Date Gave the Name to Greek Terrorist Group

November 17th is also the name taken by a home-grown Greek terrorist group originally formed to destabilize the government of the Colonels. Though the colonels are long out of power, the group itself still exists and has been responsible for explosions and the assassination of a British military attaché in 2000.

While many recent arrests have drastically curtailed the group's activities, some Greeks fear that the U.S.-led war on terrorism could result in increased pressure to root out all past and present November 17th members.

This is a tricky issue as some believe that virtually all of the major Greek political parties had ties with the group in the early days when opposition to the Colonels' government was vigorous and widespread.

What's the Effect on Your Travel in Greece?

November 17th parades and protests always disrupt travel to some degree, especially in major cities, and this year will be no exception.

To avoid encountering this activity, ask your hotel staff what streets are likely to be involved and plan accordingly. Most commemorations will be in larger cities, with Athens seeing the most vigorous displays. The areas almost certain to be affected will probably include the Polytechnic University, the American Embassy, the French Embassy, and the related streets surrounding those areas. You may also want to rethink booking a hotel right on Syntagma Square, traditionally a popular protest location due to the presence of the Greek Parliament building. It just might be an ideal time to take that overnight trip to Delphi.

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