Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
The soldiers wear 7-pound shoes and stand motionless for more than 100 hours a month.
Since 1868, Greece's presidential guards ("Evzones" in Greek) have carried out a couple of key duties. Each day, they raise and lower the flag atop of the rock of the Acropolis and guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
These tasks sound simple. But being an Evzone is no easy feat. The ceremonial military unit guards wear handmade uniforms that include a white kilt (with 400 pleats to represent 400 years under Ottoman occupation) and red leather clogs (which weigh over seven pounds). Putting on the uniform requires two soldiers to help each other.
Michael Palin discovers the routine of Greece's presidential guards in an episode of Around The World in 80 Days (1989)
Evzones also undergo a strenuous training regime. Each presidential guard must be prepared to raise his legs to shoulder height as he marches and to stand motionless for over 100 hours a month. The rigorous preparation is most noticeable when Evzones are under duress from either bad weather or angry demonstrators. Then, they remain unflinching without orders to stand down.
Reuters photographer John Kolesidis recently documented the daily routine of the guards. He observed that it's "surreal to watch them stand still while a virtual war is raging around them or while little children tease and harass them, often pinching them to make sure they are alive."
Below, Kolesidis's stunning photographs: