Although Santorini is a rather small island it is overrun with religious monuments including chapels, churches and monasteries that are scattered throughout its various villages. Sanctity emanates from each temple and they all boast a long history and unique holy icons. Some are tiny chapels dug into the rock. Many are simple, whitewashed churches adorned with blue domes. And others are remarkable cathedrals and glorious monasteries that stand out for their majestic characteristics. Yet each and every temple is attuned to the rest of the island and notable for its delicate construction. There are both Orthodox and Catholic churches, basilica and byzantine cross types.

With more than 600 temples in the whole island it becomes clear that you will most certainly set eyes on them whenever you go. This great number is a result of the locals’ efforts and religious fervor which was reinforced after the successive volcanic eruptions that hit Santorini causing tremendous damage. Consequently, they do worth a visit for their aura, special architecture and colors, impressive bell towers, lovely locations and the amazing views some of them offer. It is no wonder that thousands of people from all over the world choose Santorini for their marriage.

Visitors will be lucky if they have the chance to attend a feast day that crowds of people celebrate with food, drinks, traditional music and dancing. These festivals are organized to honor the various patron saints that each church is dedicated to. They are part of the traditions of Greece and taking part will be a totally memorable and entertaining experience. The religious monuments constitute an integral part of the inhabitants’ lives. Some of the most prominent and stately are presented below.

Profitis Ilias Monastery

The monastery of Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elias) was founded at the beginning of the 18th century, at the crest of the Prophet Elias Mountain and therefore provides magnificent panoramic views on the whole island. It suffered serious damage during the earthquake of 1956 but it remains a glorious fortress with a staggering steeple. The monastery holds the Icons and Relics Collection of Pyrgos which boasts important exhibits, such as manuscripts and old books, a collection of ethnographic material and displays on printing, candle making, shoemaking, winemaking and local food. Last but not least, it has an imposing wooden carved iconostasis.

Agios Nikolaos Monastery

The monastery of Agios Nikolaos (St. Nicholas) is situated between the villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli. Initially it had been founded on Skaros in 1651 and was transferred to its current position in 1820. It is the only Greek Orthodox convent in Santorini and is dedicated to three saints; Agios Nikolaos, Agios Panteleimon and Zoodohos Pigi. It possesses a unique Byzantine icon of Saint Nicholas and a splendorous carved iconostasis.

Panagia Episkopi Church

The beautiful church of Panagia Episkopi that is dedicated to the Assumption of Virgin Mary lies in Mesa Gonia village. It dates back to the 11th century and it has survived various invasions, earthquakes and fires. Today it is considered an important Byzantine monument of Santorini. The church is admirable for its exemplary religious paintings and icons, including an invaluable icon of Virgin Mary. Sadly, a number of icons have been stolen. It also stands out for its tiled roof, unlike the majority of the white-domed or blue-domed churches in Santorini.

Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral

The Orthodox Cathedral is located in the beautiful capital of Santorini, Fira, and offers spectacular views on the impressive caldera and the volcano. It was built in 1827 and reconstructed to its current form after the destructive earthquake of 1956. Both its exterior and interior are imposing with elaborate arches, a staggering bell tower, admirable frescoes and mosaic flooring. It is entirely whitewashed and visitors gaze it with admiration and awe.

Catholic Cathedral

The Catholic Cathedral that is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist lies at the center of the capital Fira, in the Catholic Quarter. It was constructed in 1823 and was restored later, after the volcanic earthquake of 1956. It has a combination of pale blue, grey and beige colors and its style is baroque. This overwhelming cathedral is accompanied by an elegant steeple with a clock.

Agios Nikolaos Marmaritis Chapel

A lovely, tiny chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas can be found at the entrance of Emporio village. It used to be a sacred site and it served as a family tomb but later it was converted into a Christian church. The construction is made exclusively of grey marble and that is where it took its name “Marmaritis” from. Additionally, inside the square chapel there is a marble icon of the Saint. On the outside there is a small yard with two church bells.

Panagia Sergena Church

A very impressive church lies outside the settlement of Vothonas. The church of Panagia Sergena is literally carved into an arresting volcanic rock and creates an overwhelming site. The interior is special as well and a narrow helical path will lead you there. During the Ottoman Rule the church was used as a refuge. A visit to this unique remote church and its beautiful peaceful surroundings will be a memorable experience for visitors.

Agios Charalambos Church

A notable church is that of Agios Charalambos in Exo Gonia village that was founded in 1705. It is one of the biggest churches of Santorini and due to its position it provides fantastic views. Α special characteristic is its tiled roof, a rare sight among the churches of the island. The size, the beautiful beige color and the lovely position make the visit totally worthy.
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