50 Shades of Blue

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Dalene & Pete Heck

To anyone who has visited the Greek islands, it should come as no surprise that Greece has never quite settled on the shade of blue to be used in their flag.

According to a 1978 law, the shade of cyan is specified for current use. However, the word cyan incidentally also means the word blue in Greek, leaving it entirely open for interpretation. The intent is to have it a lighter shade (similar to the UN flag), but the one more commonly seen today is several shades darker.Β 

One weekend in Greece and we completely understand the inability to specify a particular color. How to choose only one from the multitude of blues that paint the landscape?

The azure of umbrella shades and painted stairs. Rippling ultramarine in the shallow harbours. The rich, deep Palatinate blue of the clear sky as the sun dips below of the horizon.

Greece Blue 01
Greece Blue 02
Greece Blue 09
Greece Blue 05
Greece Blue 04
Greece Blue 10
Greece Blue 11

Is it any wonder that there is such confusion?

32 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • May 15 2013

    I’m here in Cyprus, where in the south they do a lot of Greece-worship. They put the Greek flag next to their own everywhere, and I’ll think of this post each time I see the flag from now on!
    Adam Pervez recently posted..2 Burmese Monks, No Common Language, Tons Of Fun

  • May 15 2013

    I love the colours. They pop out for sure! Great blues. I would love to see more “theme” posts like these. They’re great!

    • May 16 2013

      Hey, thanks Jeff! Whenever I thought of Greece before we visited, I always thought of the color blue (thanks to Mama Mia!), and it really didn’t disappoint. So many shades! Couldn’t think of a better way to capture it. πŸ™‚

  • May 15 2013

    Beautiful photos! A great idea for a post.
    Thomas Dembie recently posted..Luxor Egypt Travel Tips

  • I’ve always thought of it as being cerulean πŸ™‚ Lovely photos!

    • May 16 2013

      That is my favorite blue! I always thought the flag was something like that too, but I guess it can be whatever they like!

  • Christine
    May 15 2013

    Now you understand why I’ve been urging you to go to Greece all this time! You must go back.

    • May 16 2013

      Haha, yes, thanks for the “gentle” prodding Christine! Greece has moved to the top of our “must-house-sit-there” list! Would love to spend a month or two ambling around an island. πŸ™‚

  • These photos are absolutely stunning. When I think of Greece, I always think of blue, and I haven’t even been there!

    • May 16 2013

      I was the same way Rika. Greece = Blue. I’m glad it lived up to my expectations (and then some).

  • Mom
    May 15 2013

    Gorgeous,gorgeous pic’s. Am so glad I got to share that with you kids.

    • May 16 2013

      Us too Mom! Wish we could have carried on with you to Athens!

  • May 16 2013

    Gorgeous! You really captured the essence of the place. Love the octopus tentacles!
    Heather recently posted..Baisha Village and China’s Famous Medicine Man

  • May 16 2013

    That’s no exaggeration – I remember it well, there are at least 50 shades. These are wonderful shots and I’ll lose a lot of time this week just scrolling through again and again but what a way to procrastinate! πŸ˜€
    Maria recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – Solitude

    • May 19 2013

      Maybe even 50 thousand. So many! Whenever I thought of Greece, I thought of the color blue, and I was not disappointed to see how true that relation is.

  • May 16 2013

    I’ve always been trying to save Greece as a special destination with someone very special, but your photos are making not care to wait anymore. I love that it’s so blue there. An excellent contrast to all the white buildings. Alluring!

    • May 19 2013

      It would be an excellent place to *save* for sure, but at the same time, when you go back to a place with someone new, it can be like seeing it all for the first time anyways! Why wait? πŸ™‚

  • May 18 2013

    So much blue! I love the collection of shots – I can’t even pick a favorite!
    Amanda recently posted..Going on a Safari – In Pittsburgh

    • May 19 2013

      Thanks Amanda! I couldn’t pick one either. I totally understand why you are making your way back to Greece this summer. πŸ™‚

  • Laura @Travelocafe
    May 18 2013

    Wonderful night photo! Blue happens to be my favorite color. πŸ™‚

  • May 18 2013

    I’m in east EU now, and I really need to get to Greece! Time to make that plan!
    Justin @ True Nomads recently posted..Date a boy who travels

    • May 19 2013

      You are not far at all Justin! Get over there!

  • May 19 2013

    LOVE the pictures!

  • Liz | Two Weeks to Travel
    May 20 2013

    I spent a summer in the Greek Islands a few years ago and it was awesome. The place is so beautiful and yes just bursting with various shades of blue from the sky to the ocean.

  • Beautiful photos. Loved the one with the octopus. I havn’t made it to Greece yet. Next time I am in Europe I think the south and east will be my priorities

  • August 16 2013

    Wow. These photos are simply beautiful. You’ve just inspired me for a new post! πŸ™‚ Thank you.

  • August 18 2013

    Gorgeous photos! The waters look so clear!

  • Glenys
    January 10 2014

    Oh I want to go to Greece sooo much!. I was there about 30 odd years ago and I don’t know when I’ll ever get back there…. The photo’s you posted are beautiful……

  • September 23 2015

    The Greeks really know their Branding 101, eh?? The blue skies, blue seas, blue-domed churches, blue everything are just perfect to make all your photos pop! And while we love blue, let’s not forget about the whites too. I was practically swooning at all the white houses in Greece. There’s a reason white is part of the Greece flag too, hehe.
    Andrew Darwitan recently posted..Greece D2 & D3: 8 Postcard-Ready Spots in Mykonos

  • November 16 2017

    I didn’t know this fact about the flag, how interesting.There’s something special about the light in the Aegean that makes all these shades of blue and white dance.

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