Given that the beautiful island of Santorini is relatively small, it is quite easy to get around, especially if you are brave enough to rent a car in Greece. Whether you have a car or not, it is easy to travel the island during your Santorini vacation. You can head to different villages and beaches by way of public bus or taxi, and if you are really up for some fun you can travel by way of a rented motorbike. Regardless of how you get there, there is one village you are definitely going to want to save some room for while you are at Santorini. Pyrgos is a village located basically in the middle of the island, just 4.5 miles southwest of Fira. It is a picturesque, whitewashed village of around 700 people that is set into the side of a mountain. It is the kind of Greek island village you picture when conjuring up various visions of the sights of Greece.
The highest point on Santorini is Mount Profitis Ilias, which rises over 1,800 feet. Pyrgos is built on the slopes of the mountain, and from its vantage point, panoramic views of practically the whole island can be viewed. Out in the distance you can see the shimmering sea lapping the shores at some of the best beaches in Greece, and you can spot other whitewashed villages tucked among cliffs and hillsides. Pyrgos Greece is one of most well-preserved villages featuring the whitewashed Cycladic style. Found among the whitewashed houses are medieval manors, Byzantine churches and ruins of a Venetian castle.
Pyrgos Greece was once the capital of Santorini, until the early 1800's, and as such, has quite a bit to show off as a result of its privileged past. Don't even try to count the number of churches you will find here on one hand, or six hands for that matter. There are 33 churches found in Pyrgos Greece, making it conceivable that here you will find the most churches per capita of anywhere in the world. As you wind through the tight streets of Pyrgos, you quickly realize why the village is one of the highlighted Greece tourist attractions. From its zenith at the Kastro, where the Venetian castle is, the roads run down and around like a series of belts. Walking through the village, you will find many walled alleys winding past the assortment of houses and churches. Along the outer perimeter of Pyrgos, the houses are built along the old wall that once served to help protect the village in the middle ages. Once the danger of pirate raids began to diminish, villagers started to build homes outside the wall. Another interesting Greek islands city with medieval attributes is Rhodes Town. Rhodes Town is the capital of the island of Rhodes and its medieval Old Town is a designated World Heritage Sight.
Among the many churches of Pyrgos Greece, notable entries
include the church of Theotokaki, the Metamorphosis Sotiros,
the Agia Theodosia, and the Isodia tis Theotokou. Theotokaki
is particularly interesting because it dates back to the
10th century, making it one of the oldest churches on
Santorini. It is also noteworthy for its frescoes and
aged icons. The Monastery of Profitis Ilias is, however,
the most famous of the sights in Greece found at Pyrgos.
It is an easy find atop the highest point of the island,
and is only a little over two miles from Pyrgos proper.
Two monks founded the monastery in 1711, and to this day
it retains a special place in the hearts of Greek islanders.
During the long Turkish occupation of Santorini, a secret
school existed in the monastery where the Greek language
and culture were both preserved and taught. There is a
small museum in the Monastery of Profitis Ilias that is
free of charge. Whether it is open or not is another story.
That all depends if the caretaker is around or not. The
museum features a model of the old school that is set
in a monk's cell. Another model depicts an old world
blacksmith and carpentry shop. Other displays include
various ecclesiastical items.
Between visiting all the sights in Greece, such as those found at Pyrgos, a bit of a break is in order. There are all kinds of Greece tours that one could arrange, but for wine connoisseurs in particular, a welcome diversion in Pyrgos Greece is a wine tour. SantoWines is located in Pyrgos and it is the biggest wine producer in Santorini. SantoWines is the name for "The Union of Santorini Cooperatives". The group's goal was to form an appellation for Santorini Wines, from which the result is the Appellation of Origin Santorini of High Quality. The headquarters for the appellation is in Pyrgos, as is the head company. There is a branch outlet for SantoWines in Athens if you can not get to Santorini, but would still like to sample some of their wines.