Syntagma Square is named after the greek word for Constitution. The name of the square derives from the fact that Greece’s first constitution was proclaimed by a reluctant King Otto from a palace balcony in 1843.
This palace is now the parliament and is the building that presides on the Square. In front of it, goose steping evzones in tasseled caps, the tranditional fustanella (a type of white kilt), and wooly leggings change their guards at intervals in front of the Tomb of the Uknown Soldier; on Sunday just before 11am a full ban and the entire corps parades from the tomb along Irodou Attikou to the rhythm of camera shutters.
Hemingway, among others, impugned their masculinity, but they are in fact a highly trained elite corps with rigorous height and weight requirements; formely they were recruited almost exclusively from the mountain villages.
The vast postwar development altered the neo classic 19th century architecture of the square and the centre of the city. One of the buildings that have survived the Athens grandest Hotel Grande Bretagne.
In the course of one of the more nefarious episodes of British meddling in Greek affairs, it nearly became the tomb of Winston Churchill. He had arrived on Christmas day 1944 to sort our the Dekemvriana, the events of December, a month of serious street fighting between British forces and Communist-led ELAS resistance movement, whom the British were trying to disarm.
The square is still the principal venue for mass demonstration, whether trade unions protests or gatherings of thousants of political party supporters. The square is also a meeting point for the Athenians and the starting point to a walk to Plaka and Monastiraki Area.