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Strange quirks of history


Abraham, contrary to what was commonly held until recently, did not come from the village of Ur in Mesopotamia, but rather the town of Urfa in southern Turkey. The confusion, as one might have guessed, was likely a consequence of phonetic confusion. Long ago, Abraham, the father of monotheism, had lashed out against Nimrod, the…

Zoe Porphyrogenita

My favorite empress is Zoe Porphyrogenita, from the Greek meaning “born into the purple,” signifying the child was born to the reigning emperor, for the prince or princess would see the purplish porphyry columns within the ornate palace. She was the daughter of Emperor Constantine IX, the perfect embodiment of frivolity and indifference during his long reign….

Scotland and Northumbria

Since first discovering Scotland, when I was sent there during my adolescence to learn English, I have felt attached to the country. Scotland has everything I love: romantic monuments, ghosts by the dozen, charming cities, and a countryside amongst the most beautiful in Europe. Scotland reminds me of Greece, but with different colors. Greece is…

History’s Greatest Natural Disaster

Cretan artifacts are unique, unlike those of any other civilization. How had such a civilization vanished? What had become of the Minoans of Crete? It was a mystery.               In 1965, I married my wife Marina. To celebrate, we took a cruise that stopped at the island of Santorini….

The Love Story That Led To World War I

Many years ago, when I began attending the Salzburg music festival, I became well acquainted with my distant cousins, the Hohenberg princes. I was particularly fond of them. They were friendly, funny, and lively. They were also the grandchildren of one of most history’s most famous tragedies. At the end of the 19th century, Archduke…

Aghia Fonissa

The island of Cythera: I discovered this magical place thanks to one of its great admirers, my friend Fivos. He showed me her treasures, both known and unknown, and in particular, the splendid and terrifying ruins of Palaiochora. – – – – Fivos had a surprise for me. A peak upon which stands a medieval…