Pyrgos Kallistis, or simply Pyrgos, is one of Santorini’s most beautiful sights, a seductive destination just ten kilometers from Fira. It is the place to go to explore island architecture and tradition without the tourist hubbub of Oia, for example.
It is the highest village of the island, positioned to offer breathtaking views in all directions, but its charm relies on its urban structure, with houses built amphitheatrically at the top of the hill, with medieval architecture, labyrinthine streets, fortified walls, and hidden passages. The village will captivate you. Pyrgos was one of the five castles of the island and the seat of the Kallistis municipality from 1835 to 1914. In 1997 the village was annexed to the municipality of Thira. The castle, or as locals call it, the Kastelli, was damaged by the earthquake of 1956, but its ruins still stand, providing the perfect backdrop for the fires lit on the night of the Epitaph. In fact, this is an occasion for the whole village to celebrate, and you will see fires in tin lamps everywhere around the village and this is also where you can see the most impressive Good Friday procession in Greece.
Next to the castle you will find the pristine white Agia Theodosia with its Santorini-blue dome. On the west side of the castle, you will find one of the oldest churches of Santorini, Theotokaki or Assumption of Mary, which is believed to date from the 10th century. Finally, at the highest point of the castle, a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary dominates the sight with its elegant silhouette. This is where the the village gathers to celebrate Easter and the Epitaph. Lovers of religious art should also visit the Church of the Holy Trinity for its collection of icons and relics. The most notable exhibit here is an icon of St. George, dating from the 15th century.
Sunsets in Pyrgos Kallistis are as full of color and vivid as observed from any other point on the island. The village is just a short distance from Ormos Athinios, the primary seaport of Santorini, and the only port with regular passenger ferry services linking the island to Piraeus, the Cyclades, and Crete.