Monastery of Profitis Ilias, a Must-see in Santorini

The Monastery of Profitis Ilias stands on the highest peak of the island at an altitude of 567 meters above the sea level. It is located three kilometers away from the village Pyrgos in Kalliste, in the southeastern part of Santorini. You’ll reach it within 40 minutes when you drive from Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa.

Monastery of Profitis Ilias on the highest peak of the island

The mountain of Prophet Elias
The mountain of Prophet Elias (Image by Clearchus P. Kapoutsis, via Wikimedia commons.

The mountain of Prophet Elias is the highest peak of the island. It stands 567 meters above the sea level and, together with Mesa Vounos, the hill of Gavrilos (Emporeios), and the Monolithos rock, forms the pre-volcanic segment of Santorini. At its top, the Monastery of Profitis Ilias (or Prophet Elias), counts among the island’s oldest and most important Orthodox landmarks.

Founded in 1711 by Gabriel and Ioakeim, the sons of Antonios Belonias and Aikaterini Sigala the daughter of Ioannis, from the village Pyrgos, the monastery was build in the style of a fortress and played an important role in the cultural life of the community. For example, it established the Greek-Orthodox School in Thera in 1831 and also provided for the needs of the public school of Thera. It also had a significant contribution to the social life of the island, nursing the poor and the sick, funding the Leprosarium of Thera, among other charities. In mid 19th century, the monastery also served as a place of exile for clergymen.

The Monastery of Profitis Ilias is a religious complex with several dependency churches and chapels. The monastery can be visited every day, with the chapel of Hagios Nektarios offering daily officiations. A detailed program can be seen on the official website of the attraction (linked above).

Besides the architectural features of the Monastery of Profitis Ilias, you can also see the religious art. Although the monastery functions as a museum, it is also worthy of a visit for its impressive gardens. Around 10000 plants, flowers and trees have been planted around the monastery, and an orchard of over 700 olive trees completes the picture.

The best time to visit the monastery is for the annual pilgrimage on July 20, the feast day of St. Elias, when the locals flock to the monastery for the Big Esperinos (evening prayer) and the vigil that follows it.

For other must-see attractions in Santorini, see this link.


Featured image by Bernard Gagnon, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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