Bright pink, fuchsia, deep red, and sometimes even orange, the bougainvillea vines are unquestionably the icons of the Greek summer. You see them climbing on walls, and balconies, on terraces, or simply in large garden pots, beautifully adorning homes, shops, churches, restaurants, cafes, and bars, not only on islands but in Athens too. The warm Mediterranean climate helps a lot because bougainvillea loves the sun and hot temperatures. You simply cannot miss them, because they captivate your eyes and fill your holiday pictures with color and summer vibes.
The bougainvillea symbolises different things for different cultures, but in Greece, they are regarded as a symbol of abundance, hospitality, and passion. They can reach up to 40 ft, believe it or not, and that is why as soon as they start climbing, it will not be easy to stop them. The flowers of the bougainvillea are actually white, but it is the bracts that give those really bright and striking colors you see. The bougainvillea was brought to Greece probably from South America at least two centuries ago through trade. Due to the plant’s tolerance to salt, and its preference for warm weather, it grew in Greece and the Mediterranean region in general, quite easily. The contrast of the white-washed walls and the blue windows with the bright fuchsia of the bougainvillea is simply enchanting; you are doomed to fall in love with this plant, and it seems to know just how charming and majestic it is.
You will find bougainvillea in most Cycladic and Dodecanese islands, in Santorini and Amorgos, in Naxos and Paros, all the way to Symi and Rhodes, but you will find them in Athens too, in the flowery corners of Plaka and Thissio, just beneath the Acropolis. A simple Instagram or Pinterest search will convince you about the unquestionable reign of the bougainvillea over the Athenian neighborhoods. They usually start blooming in May and keep their gorgeous colors until the winter.
Greek summer and bougainvillea belong together, forming an unbeatable combination and a feast for the eyes. When they bloom they satisfy our eyes’ need for beauty and signal hope in our hearts. So the next time you visit Greece, do not forget to take a bougainvillea picture; you will not be able to resist it anyway. Apart from color, they say it brings luck and passion to your life. Now, you would not want to miss out on that, would you?