Pyrgos, Santorini

GreeceSantorini › Pyrgos Village
by Santorini Dave • Updated: January 27, 2021

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souvenirs for sale

Many craft vendors and souvenir shops in the charming hillside village of Pyrgos.

Pyrgos Information

Pyrgos, Santorini – Video

Lay of The Land
The picturesque and traditional village of Pyrgos is the highest settlement and former capital of Santorini. It sits at the foot of Mount Profitis (1981 m) and was built on pre-volcanic land. Despite Santorini being one of the most popular destinations of the world, Pyrgos retains an unruffled air of casual and cool, seemingly unaffected by tourism. This pace makes Pyrgos an ideal spot for those seeking the “real” Santorini experience, away from the cruise ship crowds.

Strategically and amphitheatrically built at this elevation, the village offers gorgeous panoramic views of the entire island. The hillside village is a typical Cycladic fortress community with labyrinthine, narrow, winding streets fortified with thick walls and hidden passages. It’s considered to be the best preserved medieval settlement on the island, and was declared a protected village in 1995. The narrow alleyways of Pyrgos, off the main square, are littered with blue-domed churches, restaurants, cafes, small galleries and shops sometimes tucked away and only visible as you navigate up and down the alleys.

The Main Square
The charming main square or village center is shaded by tall trees, and some quaint cafes, tavernas, mini-markets and tourist shops can be found here. Afternoons tend to be busy in the village when locals get together for ouzo or tsipouro and meze (small dishes meant to be shared).

The Kasteli
The ruins of a Venetian castle (Kasteli in Greek), built in 1580, towers over the village at the peak of this hill, and was once the island’s administrative center. A 7.7 magnitude earthquake in 1956 destroyed a good portion of the castle and its surrounding structures, but the Kasteli is still fairly well-preserved.

History
During the Byzantine Era, and later during the Frankish occupation, the Aegean coast suffered incessant pirate raids, so the islanders were forced to build fortified settlements in more inaccessible areas. Feudal lords lived in the settlements’ tower structures (the Goulas) that served as a defensive stronghold, observatory, and also a warehouse for agricultural crops. Five examples of this feudal arrangement, which flourished in Medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries, can be found on Santorini: Pyrgos (being the “newest” of the five), Akrotiri, Emporio, Oia and Skaros.

Underground passageways were used in emergencies when citizens had to escape invaders. About 70 families lived inside the castle walls. Another settlement was built just outside the castle walls where later, the first school in Santorini was founded.

Attractions

  • Pyrgos is surrounded by vineyards and there are plenty of wineries to visit near here, the closest one being Santo Wines with spectacular caldera views. Others nearby are: Hatzidakis, Art Space Winery in Exo Gonia, Canava Roussos in Episkopi Gonia , Artemis Karamolegos, Estate Argyros, Koutsoyannopoulos Winery and Museum . The Santorini Brewing Company where they make the local Donkey beer is about 3 km from the village as well.
  • Church of Agios Nikolaos Theotokaki: Dating to the 1300’s and renovated in the 1600’s, this is one of the oldest churches on the island, distinguished by its blue dome and 6-bell tower. Map.
  • St George Church/Eisodia Tis Theotokou: This picturesque church dates to the 17th century and is one of the most important churches on the island. Located just behind Franco’s at the top of Pyrgos, this is the easiest church to recognize in a large cluster of churches in the castle grounds, including the Virgin Mary Church. Map
  • Museum of Icons and Ecclesiastical Artifacts: Right next door to St. George Church is a small museum of 17th and 18th-century religious artifacts inside a former Catholic convent, Agia Triada. Map.
  • Pyrgos Castle: The castle ruins are not much to see on their own. The main reason to visit here is to see the panoramic view over the island and to visit the several churches surrounding the grounds. Located behind Franco’s. Map.
  • Church Christos (Metamorfosi Tou Sotiros): The Church of Christ is an imposing church perched just above the main square, notable for its architectural design. Map.

Pyrgos

panoramic views

Pyrgos has gorgeous panoramic views out over Santorini from end to end.

village center

The main road runs through the middle of town.

village center

A wide sidewalk passes by the plaza at the center of town.

Kantouni Cafe just off the main plaza.

blue church on hilltop

Hilltop church with Oia visible in distance.

donkey at viewpoint

Donkey tied up at beautiful viewpoint.

Cava Alta restaurant

Cava Alta restaurant’s rooftop patio.

white church

An iconic blue domed white church.

Small souvenir shop

Small souvenir shop along a staircase.

Souvenirs sale

Village alleys are lined with souvenir shops.

Souvenirs

Local crafts, ceramics, and a variety of souvenirs.

Gorgeous views over the countryside

Gorgeous views over the countryside from between souvenir stalls.

Bells and postcards for sale

Bells and postcards for sale.

white staircase

Typical staircase climbing up the village hillside.

Pedestrian walking area

Pedestrian walking area.

walking signs

Pedestrian signage.

parking area

Parking area close to village center.

Carpe Diem Hotel pool

The infinity pool at Carpe Diem Hotel.

Typical archway

A typical archway found in the village’s winding alleys.

hilltop church

St George Church at the top of the village.

Colorful alleyways

Colorful alleyways.

public bus

Public bus arriving from Fira.

parking lot

Public parking lot.

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