In the first 10 day of May, I made a kind of wrestling pilgrimage in the Balkans visiting folkstyle wrestling fields and attending local folkstyle competitions in Greece, Bulgaria & Romania.
In the album section, I created an album ?Palaistra? with some pictures from northwestern Greece (the area between Thessalon?ki and the Bulgarian border):
The Wrestling Talk Forums - akzent's Album: palaistra in Greece
Palaistra (or Palaestra, or Palestra, derived from ?pali? = wrestling) is the Greek word for both the ancient Greek wrestling arena and the wrestling school: Palaestra - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The palaistras disappeared after the ancient Olympics got outlawed as pagan festival 1600 years ago.
In the 1970s, Greeks from northwestern Greece (the area of the town Nigrita) began to build new palaistras to hold there (instead of on open grass fields) their folkstyle competitions. Now there are 2 palaistras in Nigrita and 5 other in the surrounding villages.
I posted pictures of 4 different palaistras.
Viewed from a distance, they look like swimming pools.
Each one is built at a church and wears the name of the patron saint of the particular church. At the feast of the saint, folkstyle competition is held in the palaistra.
Using the symbolism of the ancient palaistra, the local Greeks try to establish continuity with the past, but their folkstyle has almost nothing to do with the ancient Greek style. It is a mixture of freestyle (resembles actually the US folkstyle, no throws, no gut wrenches etc) and oil wrestling. There is no weight division, but a division in 4 master classes according to the results of the previous season: A (the best, almost all of them over 90 kg), B, C, D. The rules, especially the time limit can vary in the different towns/villages. At the 2 competitions I attended, the matches in the A-class had a time limit of one hour. The quarters began at 8 pm and the finals ended almost at midnight.
The spectators are quite heated when cheering their favorites or disapproving referees calls. That is why in the most palaistras, the wrestling field and the spectator area are separated with a grid. Seen from the spectator area, wrestling on the grass field looks like cage wrestling.
At one of the competitions I attended, FS world champ Radoslav Velikov (BUL) wrestled.