Pyrgos Village, Santorini Island
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.
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!
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.
A visit to the village of Pyrgos is a must on any visit to Santorini.
It is located high up in the mountains and offers superb views across the island to the Caldera.
They claim to have 40 blue domed churches in Pyrgos alone, and there are hundreds of "blue domed" churches in view from here, You can buy local "firewater" wine on the steps on your way up to the monestary.
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.
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).
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.
This church is at the very top of a steep hill in the village if Pyrgos, hike up past the locals selling strong homemade wine and see this whitewashed church........beautiful!
Then wander through the narrow cobbled streets and enjoy the atmosphere!
There are plenty of photographic opportunities here looking out across the Caldera and the blue domes scattered across the island, as you are so high up its an ideal opportunity!
The roads up here are very steep and very narrow so if like me you are afraid of heights prepare yourself for an erratic journey!!!
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!
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.
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.
The Pyrgos settlement is made for locals, not for tourists, so it's a refreshing break from Fira and Oia to see people going about their daily business. Among things to check out from this high island vantage point is the main church at the top of the village. Nice view from there at sunset, and the church is nicely lit after dark.
In any Greek restaurant, and any Greek travel book you will almost always find pictures of the whitewashed churches with blue domed roofs, it is quite likely that they are pictures from Santorini, they are everywhere and make spectacular pictures!
You will find them here clinging to the clifftops, or most spectacular of all in my opinion in the small village of Pyrgos high up in Santorinis mountains.
Pyrgos village is located high on Santorini and commands a fine view of much of the island. From here you can walk to Profitias Ilias mountain (1 1/2 hrs according to the tourist info), or stroll around in the little settlement, which has mostly new houses. A fine church tops it all. A restaurant a bit below the village caters for larger groups and is apparently a favourite among - exactly - tour groups. I tried that one 3 years ago, and it was ok, but hurried. This time I tried one of the tavernas at the village centre, the roundabout plaza which is also where the Pyrgos bus stops (Pyrgos-Fira & Pyrgos-Akrotiri). The restaurant is called Kallisti, check it out on my restaurant tip page.