Santorini is home to many churches of unparalleled beauty scattered all over its land, from tiny charming chapels to massive monasteries. One of them is the glorious monastery of Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elias), one of the oldest of the island. It is situated on the summit of Mount Profitis Ilias that lies on the southeast edge of Santorini, 3 kilometers away from Pyrgos village, the highest settlement of the island.
The monastery, whose exterior stone walls resemble a fortress, was built by two monks in 1711. In that era it was an important cultural and educational center that undoubtedly offered a great social work. For 39 years it ran a school where Greek language and literature were taught. It played a large role on the growth of the society and it also did a remarkable charity work. Aside from that, it conducted a prosperous trade business in the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea with its private ship. It finally went through serious damage from a severe earthquake that hit Santorini in 1956.
What makes the monastery noteworthy, other than its history and importance, is the fact that it is built approximately 565 meters above sea level, making it the highest point of the whole island. Thus, it becomes clear that the view from there is for a fact unrivaled. You can admire an exclusive view of the entire island and those around and take striking photographs. Especially during the sunset time you will find yourself in a state of rapture.
The monastery holds an impressive bell tower and is surrounded by four other churches and chapels, those of Agioi Konstantinos and Eleni, Agia Triada, Agios Ioannis and Hypapante. The Folklore and Ecclesiastical Museums and the Icon and Relics Collection of Pyrgos are housed in Agia Triada, where you can witness old furniture, ecclesiastical items, religious books and documents, sculptures and other art works and, of course, unique holy relics and icons that date back to the 17th century.
To reach the monastery you should take the uphill path from the central square of Pyrgos that will lead you there. On your way you will set eyes on vast vineyards and impressive mountainous landscapes. It is an ideal route for trekking and when you arrive you will be rewarded with the panoramic views and the serenity it has to offer. It will leave you a very good impression and images you will treasure for life.