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The Spectacular Easter Flames On Santorini’s Pyrgos

Santorini Easter
Santorini’s Pyrgos shining against the night sky on Easter. Credit: Stefanos Simeonidis

Santorini is already renowned for its magnetic lure for every traveler looking to experience an holiday in Greece. Beautiful white beaches that are dotted with villages along its coast are second to none in their unflinching ability to capture the imagination of visitors.

Easter in Greece is something to behold. The holiday is singularly one of the most important holidays in the Orthodox liturgical year and its defined by the lively celebrations that light up the island. Even Christmas falls to second place to Easter!

The heart of Santorini’s Easter celebrations is picturesque village of Pyrgos. Often overlooked for being away from the island’s beaches, Pyrgos, or Pyrgos Kallistis which translates to the beautiful tower, is beating heart of Greek Easter celebrations and it is on the holiday that it literally shines bright. 

Sadly, Pyrgos and its Easter traditions are among the unfortunate casualties of Greece’s battle with the COVID 19 pandemic. This year will mark a somber first; a year without visitors to bask in its Easter festivities.

Pyrgos alight against the night sky for Easter

Every year, Pyrgos has a set of traditions for the Easter season. 

The most readily recognizable Easter tradition is the walking the path of the Epitaph. Every year, the ceremony known as the procession of the body of Christ takes place. Beginning at the steps of the Church of the Virgin Mary, the procession moves with thousands of people following behind through Pyrgos’ narrow streets. 

The entire path is navigating by following the countless tiny flames that light the way. Mounting the rooftops of the colorful homes, Pyrgos’ youth place thousands of tin cans and ignite them to set the scene for the epitaph. Viewed from the outside, Pyrgos itself glows against the night sky, a romantic sight that makes a visit an unforgettable scene for the lucky visitor. 

The locals may admit the spiritual significance is secondary, but the Easter celebrations’ beauty makes it such a beloved tradition in Pyrgos. 

The flames will not go out in Santorini’s Pyrgos

Sadly, the number of visitors arriving to partake in this tradition does not promise to be the same as in past years. For the last year, the pandemic has dried up the number of visitors coming to Santorini, usually a must for any traveler on to the Greek isles. 

Greece is hoping to see a rebound in tourists coming to pay a visit and is getting ready for its reopening on May 14. With Orthodox set to take place on Sunday, this means Santorini and Pyrgos will miss out on capturing the hearts of fortunate visitors who arrive in time for Easter. 

A lack of visitors does not mean Pyrgos’ residents plan to let the flames go out this year though. 

The flames that light up the way of the annual procession are the main attraction every Easter. Locals now have a new plan to turn each of their homes into a light to guide it along its path by lighting a small candle or lantern in their window for it to follow. 

Pyrgos’ Easter traditions will outlast COVID 19 again and again, meaning locals will get another chance to share it with visitors soon enough. But even as the pandemic has taken such a toll on everyone, it has not put out the Easter flames that light Pyrgos every year.

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