Did you know that Santorini has more than 450 churches of all shapes and sizes? While Santorini is a quite small island, it is densely packed with churches, chapels, and monasteries that can be found across the island’s villages. The iconic blue domes of Santorini are pretty much in every postcard you will purchase and even the protagonists of almost every touristic Greek campaign. Each church has its own history and a feast to honor its patron saint with large festivals. In the lives of the locals, religion is very important. Let’s explore together some of the most remarkable churches on the island!
Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral, Fira
The white-painted impressive Orthodox Cathedral in Fira is at the very beginning of the main path of Fira. The area around the cathedral is very nice with an amazing view and the inside of the cathedral will blow your mind. The Cathedral built in 1827, however, the devastating earthquake of 1956 damaged it significantly. Soon after, it restored it again! Nowadays, it is famous for its mosaics, impressive bell tower, and rolling arches that create a tranquil courtyard. Beautiful frescoes painted by local artist Christoforos Asimis adorn the interior of the church.
Catholic Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Fira
The first Catholic cathedral on Santorini is located near the north end of Fira. It was constructed in 1823 but was seriously damaged in the earthquake of 1956; it was restored for 20 years and reopened in 1975. The cathedral consists of a central nave, two side aisles, and three entrances. It catches the eye from afar due to its peach exterior color and length. There is also an elegant clock tower that proudly stands over the place.
Catholic Church of the Dormition, Fira
The Catholic Church of the Dormition, also known as The Three Bells of Fira, is a Greek Catholic church in Fira. The church attracts a significant number of visitors and is one of the most photographed spots on Santorini. The church was built on the site of a smaller church built in the 17th century near the town of Fira. The three bells, blue dome, and picturesque views of the Catholic church have made it popular. It is located in Fira, on the edge of the cliffs that dominate western Santorini.
Panagia Theoskepasti chapel, Imerovigli
Panagia Theoskepasti Chapel, perched on the edge of a cliff underneath Skaros Rock, is one of Santorini’s most famous landmarks. It’s a bit of a walk to get to the small chapel with the blue dome as it is at the very end of the hiking trail of Skaros rock, but the views over the impressive caldera and the surrounding islands are well worth it. Elias Venezis (major Greek novelist) inspired by its incomparable beauty and wrote a tale about the little church.
Aghios Spirydonas and Anastaseos churches, Oia
The blue domes of Santorini’s Aghios Spyridonas and Anastaseos churches in Oia are among the island’s most photographed blue domes. Both structures are classic examples of the island’s Cycladic architecture and are located right next to each other. The Anastasi church was built in 1865, and the Aghios Spirydon church two years later, in 1867. The Aghios Spyridonas took its name from Saint Spyridon, who is honored by both Eastern and Western Christians. The Anastaseos, which means “Resurrection” in Greek, is a church dedicated to Jesus Christ’s Resurrection.
Profitis Ilias Monastery, Pyrgos
Profitis Ilias Monastery is located on a mountain that bears the same name, which is 3 kilometers from Pyrgos village, the island’s highest settlement. The Monastery was once a center of cultural, intellectual, and economic influence while it was also a Greek school. Built-in in 1712, Profitis Ilias is one of Santorini’s oldest monasteries which rebuilt in a fortress-like style after the earthquake of 1956. The monastery’s religious icon-filled chapel is open to the public today, and you can buy products grown and crafted by the monks who live there. The view from the top will leave you in awe as you can see the whole Santorini and the surrounding islands from a distance.
Zoodochos Pigi church, Kamari
If you follow the dedicated path below the Mesa Vouno mountain of Kamari that leads to the cave of Zoodohos Pigi below Ancient Thira, you’ll find the little church of the Life-Giving Spring (Zodochos Pigi) tucked into the rock. The path up to it is steep and a little uneven but it makes for an excellent workout. Next to the church, there is a 26-meter-long cave with a natural spring that once served as the primary source of drinking water for both Ancient Thera and the entire island. Outside the small chapel, a gorgeous view down on Kamari beach and the beautiful blue Aegean will welcome you.