Good Friday in Santorini island

Once in a year in Santorini island and during the Holy Week of the Greek Orthodox Easter a one-of-a-kind Epitaph procession takes place at the quaint village of Pyrgos.
Photography / Text: North2South Photographers

Our return in Santorini island this year to work as freelance photographers for second season in a row coincided with the Holy Week of the Greek Orthodox Easter, so we had the chance to experience one of the most sublime Good Friday processions in Greece. Once in a year the procession takes place at the traditional village of Pyrgos which is located 10 kilometres southeast of Fira, the capital of Santorini, on top of a hill and displays an astounding panoramic view of the whole island.

On Good Friday, we reached Pyrgos around 8 o’ clock, left the car and headed by feet towards the numerous churches which are built around the old Venetian castle that dominates at the peak of the hill. The uphill footpaths were crowded with tourists and locals, although what drew our attention was not the crowd, but the hundreds of aluminum cans, stuffed with flammable materials that were placed everywhere, from rooftops of the houses to walls of the castle.

When the church clocks struck 9, a man standing on top of a dome fired off a signal flare and simultaneously dozens of young men situated all around the village ignited with blowtorches the cans.


The atmosphere in a matter of seconds became phantasmagorical and the flames lighted the night. The strong winds that blew at the top of the village caused the flames to flicker creating an apocalyptic scenery which seemed as if it had jumped off the pages of the Bible.

Meanwhile, after the deposition from the Cross, the funeral procession of Jesus Christ began.

We followed the Epitaph (the tomb of the Christ) procession around the narrow alleys and footpaths of the village, escorted by hundreds of people, mainly faithful locals who chanted in mournful mood the wonder hymns of the Orthodoxy, until it was brought back to the Presentation of the Virgin Mary church.

Capturing and observing the Good Friday procession in Pyrgos was undoubtedly one of the most thrilling events of the Easter period that we have ever experienced in Greece. It is a must-see for whomever happens to visit Santorini during the Holy Week in Easter.

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Good Friday in Santorini island

Epar.Od. Pirgou Kallistis - Profiti Ilia Pirgos Kallistis
Santorini, South Aegean, Greece