The monastery of Mount Profitis Ilias is perched on the mountain of the same name, the highest point on Santorini at 1,853 ft (565 m) above the Aegean Sea in the south of the island. Built in the early 18th century out of sizeable stone and resembling a fortress, the monastery was dedicated to the prophet Elijah and initially enjoyed great wealth. It once also functioned as a secret school of Greek culture during the dark days of Turkish occupation of the country, but its power began to decline in 1860 and it was badly damaged by the earthquake in 1956. Today Profitis Ilias is successful once more; its three domed church has become a museum hosting an exceptional and significant collection of Greek Orthodox icons, early, hand printed books and bibles, wrought-iron artwork, wooden carvings and elaborately embroidered clerics’ robes. The resident monks put on displays of traditional carpentry, shoemaking, local cooking and wine making as well.
The monastery courtyard and gardens are a popular spot to watch Santorini’s fabled sunsets and it is possible to see right to the hilltop village of Oia from the top of Profitis Ilias. Panoramas also take in the patchwork of plains and vineyards sit in the mountain’s lee, sheltering the young vines from hot winds blowing in from North Africa.
Pyrgos, Santorini. Open Apr–Oct daily 10am–4pm. Admission €3. A long hike up hill or best accessed by car or guided tour from Fira up an extremely winding road. Dress appropriately, covering legs and shoulders.