Walk on the path from Pyrgos to Emporio

Text and images by Themis Badas

From the first days I stepped a foot on the island of Santorini, I had heard through discussions with friends that the island has to show other, diverse beauties, apart from the very touristic and popular.

More authentic and more -Santorini-, for people who want to see the traditional Santorini image, and go for a while, a journey back to the history of the island!

One of the routes that belonged to this category, and which I long wanted to do, was that on the path from Pyrgos to Emporio.

I called George, Eleni and Christina, sharing my idea and my enthusiasm for the route, and very quickly settled.

At about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, we found ourselves on a road trip to the village of Pyrgos.

We left the car to the side of the road, we gazed at the direction we would follow, and we started.

The path starts at the right side of the provincial road of Pyrgos, which goes up to Prophet Elias, just a few meters after the road that goes down to Emporeio.

From there, we began our journey, gazing at Oia in the far and right, midway Kameni, Magalochori, on the left Akrotri, and further to the left of Prophet Elias’ Rock, and at his foothills, Emporeio.

On our left, the Rock of Prophet Elias dominates and protect us from the south-east winds, while our right, daisies and all sorts of flowers, free foals and geese, and deep blue Aegean …

On the dirt road that descends, on a left turn that is gradually revealed, suddenly from nowhere, a picture emerges from the past of Santorini, and more generally of Greece … A native riding his donkey, and next to him another donkey loaded with straw … On the side, left and right along the dirt road, daisies, deep meadows, and even further on the background, the sea…

I think this image could be identical to what one would have seen by walking on the same path, 50 or 100 years ago … This is a special feeling, and of course I wanted to capture it in the memory of my camera, which is clearer than mine… Continuing for about half a kilometer on the same dirt path, Emporio emerges in front of us.

Out of the dirt trail we walked in, the old cobblestone path appears in front of us, which according to sources, was built in the 17th century, …

The landscape is getting more and more beautiful, as the picturesque atmosphere of the background ‘’strikes red level’’…

It is again the feeling that I touch a moment from the past …

In front of the beautiful, cobbled path descending between stone-built partitions, defining the boundaries of the length of estates, suddenly Emporio appears straight in front of us.

Suddenly, on my right I see, against the sun light, a figure that tries to appear through the leaves inside the meadow…

Suddenly a second one appears from nowhere…

I stop walking, and try to observe more clearly, finally distinguishing a foal and a donkey who stands and observes me, with the same curiosity that I show … Without a second thought, I photograph their forms, and I try to call them approaching me. Either by successfully “flirting” or by curiosity, they finally start approaching me until they stop right in front of me at half a meter.

By expressing my good intentions, with a smile on my lips, I take a couple of pictures.

It is very special that animals can clearly recognize their enemies and friends …

By making a little jump, I pass the stone wall to get closer to them, always watching not to scare them …

The smile on my face looks so deep, as if it will stay there forever …

Continuing on the path after this very special and pleasant stop, descending I meet the prickly pear trees that some of my friend’s described to me, as well as a vegetation that, as we continue, looks more and more dense and varied.

After about 1 kilometer on our left, in a ravine, there is a beautiful, but ruined settlement in which the monastery of Saint Catherine dominates …

Here the prickly pear trees have literally flooded the settlement and the landscape looks unreal … Everywhere forms of all shapes.

Squares of houses, circular of the threshing floor …

The settlement abandoned, seems to have frozen there, at a time in the past, when the conditions forced its population to leave it… Its beautiful landscape, more accurately the diversity of the landscape, is something to be experienced only by visiting this area of ​​Santorini.

The path that now joins the main road that crosses the settlement is lower than the level that houses are built. Above our heads, arches that act as bridges to communicate with neighboring buildings, the prickles all over to the left and right, and in the background above, the monastery of Saint Catherine. We climb the stairs to the Monastery, taking the opportunity to see from above the landscape of the settlement as well as the merchant, which is noticeably closer to us. To the left, as we see from the monastery of Saint Catherine, at the foot of the Rock, and 100 meters from us, there are the ruins of an estate, once the monastery.

Continuing towards Emporio, we find the first houses with the beautiful courtyards and the even more beautiful traditional wooden entrances, in every color imagined… The architecture of the buildings, traditionally touched by modernity, is a beautiful background in our journey.

Up on the background, giving the center of Emporio, the peak of the Panagia of Messani bell tower is now distinguished.

We are now in Emporio or Neimporio, which, according to the existing theories, comes from the word “εμπόριο” either because there was the sale of all goods or because of the fact that there was the commercial harbor of Ancient Eleusina in the area.

 Another theory says the name coming from the words new and Bourg (Bourg: “medieval fortified village”) and meant a new village.

Entering the village of Emporio with the narrow alleys, countless narrow and small chalets leading to the most picturesque and beautiful houses, the colors, the architecture of the buildings, everyone will experience what love at first sight means!

The labyrinthine paths within the merchant village are a maze that everyone wants to be lost in, and let themselves drift into the whirlpool of time and space.

His beauty, his aesthetics, his architecture …, insurmountable …!

Walking through the “labyrinth”, we end up in the center of the village, and the church of Panagia Mesani, with its beautiful, elegant icon, the bell tower …

The sun has now sunk, and the colors in the sky dye the clouds, purple, violet, blue …

Our journey has come to an end, and has filled us with images and feelings that have surpassed our expectations and our imagination …

The journey to the past and history is over, and returning to now, the reality of the present more beautiful …

The walk on the path from Pyrgos to Emporio takes approximately 2 hours and is about 6 km route.

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