The Striking Churches of Oia, Santorini…

It is a combination of the blue domes, unique architecture, magnificent setting and Mediterranean light that make the many churches in Oia so outstanding. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

It is a combination of the blue domes, unique architecture, magnificent setting and Mediterranean light that make the many churches in Oia so outstanding. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

I’ve blogged about the churches on Santorini before, but their beauty, surroundings, and unique architecture are such that they are worth revisiting— often. Most of these photos are from the village of Oia and the surrounding area that contains some 70 churches.

The obvious question here is ‘Why so many?’ One or two large churches could easily accommodate the population, especially since the majority of the population is Greek Orthodox. The answer lies in the fact that Oia is a fishing village and the life of a fisherman is filled with danger.

When things become iffy, religious folks, and even not so religious folks start talking to God and making promises. “Get me through this and I’ll do so and so…” There is a long list of options. In Oia, for those who could afford it, the offering became “I’ll build you a church.”

To make things a little more personal, the fishermen dedicated their churches to whatever saints they thought were looking out for them. The saint was their go-to guy (or gal), their direct line to God. And even today, the feast day of the saint is a big thing at the various chapels.

One final note: many of the churches are privately owned, passed down within a family for generations from the original builder.

Another photo of the same church that I took. This one from a different angle. A separate post could easily be made on each church in Oia.

Another photo of the same church. I took this one from a different angle. A separate post could easily be made on each church in Oia.

The Church of St. George, set off by dramatic clouds occupied my camera for 30 minutes.

The Church of St. George, set off by dramatic clouds, occupied my camera for 30 minutes.Lightning rods also adorn the church.

Moving back, this arch provided a fun composition for the church. I suspect it has been used for the same purpose thousands of times. (grin)

Moving back, this arch provided a fun composition for the church. I suspect it has been used for the same purpose thousands of times. (grin)

A side view of the church.

A side view of the church.

A view of the dome...

A view of the dome…

And the bell tower. The walls seemed to be glowing.

And the bell tower. The walls seemed to be glowing.

Many of the churches are smaller and more personal, built by families as thanks for surviving sea journeys and passed down to family members over generations.

Many of the churches are smaller and more personal, built by families as thanks for surviving sea journeys and passed down to family members over generations. Love the salmon pink.

I always appreciate it when nature provides a convenient frame for my photos.

I always appreciate it when nature provides a convenient frame for my photos.

Think of the imagination that went into the decision to put white rocks in front of this white church.

Think of the imagination that went into the decision to put white rocks in front of this white church.

A back view of the church with Oia, Santorini stretching out in front.

A back view of the church with Oia, Santorini stretching out in front.

This looked like a very old church to me. Notice how it is built into the cliff. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

This looked like a very old church to me. Notice how it is built into the cliff. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The Anastasis Church in Oia provides a striking view of the Aegean Sea.

The Anastasis Church in Oia provides a striking view of the Aegean Sea.

Another view of the church.

Another view of the church.

The Church of Panagia Platsani is the first church we encountered in Oia. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The Church of Panagia Platsani is the first church we encountered in Oia. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The church's bell tower. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The church’s bell tower. Again, the sky provided a dramatic backdrop. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

I don't have the name for this church but thought it was quite striking.

I don’t have the name for this church but thought it was quite striking.

A final view looking out into the Aegean and the walls of the caldera that forms Santorini, a solemn reminder that this is earthquake country. NEXT BLOG: Friday's essay— Escape from Alaska

A final view looking out into the Aegean and the walls of the ancient volcano that form Santorini, a solemn reminder that this is earthquake country. NEXT BLOG: Friday’s essay— Escape from Alaska

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 comments on “The Striking Churches of Oia, Santorini…

  1. These are beautiful! Interesting that so many are privately owned. I liked your idea that they are the result of , “If you… I’ll build you a church.” I can think of a few wishes I have that I would gladly build a church for in return. Makes me think that the people there were granted their desires.

  2. Absolutely love this photo gallery. I may never get to Santorini, but I really want to. The whites of the buildings make such a nice contrast with the blue of the sea. Nowhere else like this, I guess. Thanks for sharing.

  3. The place is absolutely stunning. There’s a cathedral in Galveston that’s painted white, and the effect is much the same, especially in winter when there are deep, blue skies. Granted, it’s not Santorini, but there’s something about that pristine combination that stirs the soul.

    Do you have any interior photos? Are they as simple in line, inside. I imagine that the light could be wonderful.

    • “Stirs the soul.” Like the great cathedrals of the world do.

      No, I am sorry Linda, we didn’t get inside, although we did visit Greek Orthodox churches on other islands. Most have a no-photo policy. I googled Santorini churches and checked out photos other people had taken. Inside photos are rare.

      Stunning is a good description. i would love to go there and live for a couple of months. –Curt

  4. Took my Mom on a cruise around the Greek Islands years ago, after my Dad died. It was a wonderful experience. Santorini was magical but we only had 1/2 day there. Would love to go back and spend a few weeks there to really soak it all in. Lovely photos!

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