Festival of Saint Panteleimonas

The monastery of Saint Panteleimon, near Vlasti Kozanis, celebrates its patron saint. Many pilgrims arrive to pray and at the same time the villagers climb the mountain on the back of their horses.
Photography / Text: Michael Pappas

Just arrived at the monastery of Saint Panteleimonas, which is located above the village of Vlasti Kozanis. Tomorrow is the celebration of the monastery. It's a good thing I brought along my coat as the weather is very cold due to high altitude. The village of Vlasti sits at 1180m!

I woke up at 7, whereas preparations start at 9. They prepare the horses so that they gallop to the monastery. They start off at around 9:30. 

The first riders reach the monastery after about an hour. I had arrived by car so that I would reach before them. The riders enter the monastery on the back of their horses to light a candle. 

All riders had arrived by the end of the Mass and wait further down the road so they stay out of way of the many pilgrims arriving to pray. 

At some point, musicians arrive and start a dance. 

The whole scenery looks as if we are in a movie. At a beautiful place you can listen to the music by brass instruments and everyone is dancing. 

Everyone starts to go back to the village. 

Everyone at the village is outside on the streets, waiting for the horses to come through. 

The streets and all the shops, where the horses will come through are packed with people since very early in the morning. 

The brass instruments lead the course and music can be heard everywhere in the village.

The special thing here is that the riders go inside the shops on the back of their horses to get their treats. I have never came across a similar event around Greece so far. 

What I enjoyed the most is the "Great Dance" that takes place some time before nightfall at the fields around the village. 

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Festival of Saint Panteleimonas

Epar.Od. Anarrachis - Eratiras Vlasti
Vlasti, Western Macedonia, Greece