Pyrgos Village, Santorini Island
I hike to Messa Gonia one morning and decided to follow the trail all the way up to Pyrgos. It's not that steep but near the top the trail has some areas where its made of pumice and a bit dusty. Most of the trail is very nice, esp. the lower half where it goes thru Messa Gonia. This trail really gives you a different view of the island as it feels like your stepping back in time 50 yrs or more.
The Santorini Animal Welfare Association (SAWA) has an animal sanctuary in the heart of the village of Pyrgos. If you find a sick or injured animal on the island you can bring them to the Animal Hospital they operate in Messaria. They have a Veterinarian who can help them. SAWA was started in March 1994 with 80 members and elected Margarita Valvis as their President. Members pay an annual fee to support their work, transport and feed sick animals. They now even have a chapter in Mainz Germany!
They have collection containers for donations outside of their gates in Pyrgos and at the Animal Hospital. Please donate generously!
Said to be the highest village in Santorini, Pyrgos is your typical quaint Santorini town. The village charm is reached by a few minutes walk going up to the hill (follow the sign that lead to the bar). Enroute you will pass narrow alleys with houses and structures in their usual Santorini architecture. From the topmost part where the main Orthodox church is located, you can have a nice view of the surrounding areas.
Midway to the top, you will meet some elderly with a mule for picture taking. Let's say it's part of the experience. You may or may not have your picture taken with the poor animal but a few coins and this elderly will be sure thankful.
Pyrgos was one of five fortified towns built by the Venetians in the 15th century, and therefore one of the oldest villages on the island. It was built on the slope of the 566m-high Profitis Ilias hill, and was the capital of the island until the early 1800s. The village still preserves the structure and characteristics of the fortified Venetian town, and is formed by traditional Cycladic houses, Byzantine churches, and Medieval manors built around a Venetian castle. From the castle you'll have an incredible panoramic view of the whole island.
It is a very picturesque village worth seeing.
Pyrgos was born in the Middle Ages and, in order to protect its people from enemies, it was build as a labyrinth of narrow streets. Most of the buildings don't have windows on the lower floors so that every street looks the same. In addition, some of them ends with a wall. No wonder that invaders got lost and ended up in a dead end where the inhabitants of Pyrgos could attack them almost whithout risks.
Now a modern village has grown outside the old one, but the labyrinth still makes its victims among tourists: we got lost several times!
The old village of Pyrgos is clustered on the hill – a maze of narrow alleyways and walkways far too narrow for anything but a donkey and cart. There are numerous churches which tell of a deeply religious society at one time. Many of the churches are very tiny and easy to miss, I think maybe they were for private family prayer. There are excellent views from the remains of the castle at the top over the island but, as on the day we were there, it can get very windy.
Times are changing here but more slowly than the villages on the rim of the caldera such as Fira and Oia. Some of the old properties have been renovated, there was a souvenir shop and one place had been converted into a small hotel, but others remain run-down or derelict. The local resident on his sleepy donkey was making a few euros from encouraging tourists to take pictures of him !
Pyrgos is interesting as it shows what life must have been like before tourism, however, to me the old village still had an air of melancholy. I noticed one place that was probably a small holding once – it consisted of a modest farm building, an enclosed area presumably for animals and a little field of grass – but the place was long deserted except by the wind.
We stopped for a tasty lunch in the newer part of Pyrgos at Taberna Kallisti. If you would like more details have a look at Andrew’s pages, (alucas).
Most chartered day trips to Santorini from Paros or other islands will include a stop in Pyrgos for good reason....the views from here are amazing and the climb up the winding streets is lovely (if not HOT in the summer!) However, when we were there it was so windy it was hard to cope! But, we still enjoyed it a lot! It is an easy drive and afterwards, we ate at a little taverna at the bottom of the stairs up to the village where we had delicious Greek salads, youghurt and honey and of course a little Ouzo!
This is a town that's worth a stop. Lose yourself in the streets and have a look at some of the colorful streets and buildings. It's not a hidden treasure but if you're an explorer like me, you'll enjoy an hour or two here.
There's a bit of a sprawling modern part to Pyrgos, the bit you arrive in first when you walk in, or where you get off the bus if you take the bus. To see "real" Pyrgos you have to venture up into the old village with its narrow whitewashed streets and alleyways, full of steps, tunnels and churches.
Some of the houses in the old village are derelict, some are most fabulously restored and many lie half way between these extremes.
The alleyways are so narrow and steep that no vehicles can manage them, not even the scooters that seem to get everywhere. The only thing you'll see in the old village is donkeys. This pair were bringing building materials for some of the restoration work going on in the vilage.
Most paths lead up hill (don't they always) and at the top is an old castle that contains a variety of architectural ruins and churches.
There's not a lot left of Pyrgos castle, just the shells of its walls and ruins inside. There's also a collection of churches (or church-like buildings) inside, one of which houses an icon museum. It's an interesting place to spend a half hour or so and one of the best things is the fantastic views over the Santorini countryside that you get from the walls of the castle. You can see every side of the island and almost every town and village, with the exception of Perissa which is hidden by the large landmass between it and Kamari.
There are literally dozens of churches in Pyrgos of all shapes and sizes from small chapels to huges almost cathedral size affairs. I think our guidebooks put the number at 45 - you'd be hard pressed to find them all as some are almost invisble, blending into the surrounding houses and streets so that sometimes you just stumble upon one unexpectedly. 45 may seem like a lot of churches for such a small village, but then Santorini has I think about 365 altogether on what is really quite a small island.
Pyrgos lies in the middle of the island a few km south of Fira. It was roughly 30 minutes walk from our hotel to the village, which stands on the top of a hill and is visible from all around (see photo). This position also means that the views from the village are fantastic, taking in both coasts and the sprawl of sugar cubes that is Fira, Firostefani and Imerovigli. It's an impressive sight, and possibly the best place to view the island from.
Pyrgos is a delightful village. It has it all church, castle ,views and a lovely selection of tavernas to eat in. We walked right up to the top of the village where we found a lovely little church and a cafeteria. The owner was buzzing around taking orders, and warning everyone that you can not use the toilet unless you are a customer. We ordered 2 coffees and sat down to enjoy the spectacular view. After coffee I went downstairs to pay, i paid owners wife and made my way to the toilet. WAIT ! was the shout, you mut be customer to use toilet ! After much protesting by myself and his wife I was finally allowed to go. see pics- I could not resist taking photo`s of toilet after all the carry on to get there.
Pyrgos itself belongs to the oldest settlements on the whole island. It's a jumble of old white houses and small alleys. It's very romantic place. Here you can find a place where you won't be disturbed and annoyed by anyone. I took pleasure in strolling through the alleys and having look at old white greek house yards. The labyrinth of alleys climbs to the a Venetian fortrees crowned by several churches. Clamber around the battlements and enjoy sweeping views over the entire island and gaze at the marvellous sunset.
MUST go to Pyrgos and explore the ruins and beautiful houses. I could have spent a couple of days here.
I felt as if I was on top of the world literally when we reached the ruin at the top. Such an amazing feeling!
I was also lucky enough to get the best shot with limited time (shown) of the 3-tiered bells and church from the back of the little niche gift shop. I now speak to the shop owners via email. They were lovely. (Not sure if they are still there though). they also took me underneath the shop to show me the ruin they had done up.....was great to be able to see inside one of these beautiful greek island houses.
You may even be lucky to see an old lady in mourning who stands about 3 foot! Be prepared to give her money to have a photo with her though!
I didn't manage to get to here for sunset....would have been nice - but many say Oia is the best in the world ... I can see why....