Vóthonas - Pýrgos - Profítis Ilías - Emborió

Evaluation: This is a fairly short hike, really through the interior of Santoríni, reminding you of bygone days and taking you to areas not frequented by ordinary tourists. The optional detour via the 567 metres-high summit of the Profítis Ilías is a must – this hike gets an evaluation of **.

Estimated time: The hike in itself takes about 2h10 (actual walking time): 30 minutes to hike from Vóthonas to Pýrgos, some 10 minutes to walk through the village of Pýrgos, then, possibly, 30 minutes to the summit of the Profítis Ilías and 20 minutes to descend again; finally, it will cost you some 40 minutes to hike from Pýrgos till Emborió.
Because the monastery on the Profítis Ilías is closed between 1pm and 5pm, you should make sure to leave Vóthonas around 11 o’clock – which means that you have to catch the bus or a taxi from Firà at about 10.30am at the latest. Until late at night you can take the bus back from Emborió to Firà (however, the bus from Períssa only gets to Emborió once every hour, so you should write down the hours of the bus before your departure).

Route description:  On the bus square of Firà you can find out whether the bus to Pýrgos and Períssa also goes via Vóthonas – otherwise, you can take a taxi (which cost us 6 € in the year 2006).

You should ask the bus or taxi driver to get off in the large bend of the asphalt road at hotel Kalliesperis. Straight across you go down the few steps between two houses and in this way you arrive at a small concrete road – you follow this road to the left. You walk past the sports field and you thus get to a small street. You go down into the valley until you reach a church with a blue dome. Via a staircase-street you continue into the eroded valley – you can already see Pýrgos high up in front of you. You arrive at the church of Panagía, remarkable because of the clock tower, the blue domes and the huge eucalyptus tree. You go to the right, past the church, and you then take the small street off the left, at a heavy electricity pole.

The Panagía church in Vóthonas.

You pass some tumbled-down houses, still bearing the obvious traces of the earthquake of 1956 – the fancy streets and shops of Santorini seem very far away from here! Also striking are the deserted old houses, hewn out in the pumice deposits  – there are even a couple of new houses, also partly constructed in the pumice. After 2 minutes, just before you get to a white staircase, leading to a chapel with a clock tower on the right, you find a narrow path off the left. This path is mostly covered with the ancient paving and sometimes it is a little overgrown. It runs through small, eroded valleys and sometimes past small vineyards; it shows you how the island of Santoríni looked like in earlier days.

Some 7 minutes later you get between walls and you can already see Pýrgos fairly nearby in front of you. After following this trail for about 12-13 minutes you arrive at another world for a short while: you get to the asphalt road with a lot of tourist buses. From here you have a great view on the central part of the island with the towns of Firá, Messariá and Vóthonas, and also the airport on the right.

You continue towards the right, by following some concrete. Almost immediately, though, you find another beautifully paved trail that goes further up – unfortunately, there is also some plastic, left behind by the farmers.... 

The old monopáti from Vóthonas to Pýrgos.

After three more minutes you get to the end of the nice trail and you keep going up on a steep slope – quite strenuous, but your view gets even more beautiful. After another 2-3 minutes you arrive at a small asphalt road, just underneath Pýrgos, and you take a right. Slightly further, past a workshop, you take the concrete road on the left. You continue and a little later on you keep to the right; you thus get to some ancient paving again. In this way you meander in the direction of the church. Almost above you keep to the right again and you thus reach one of the churches of Pýrgos; on the right you have a wonderful view towards Akrotíri.
You walk through the village, past hotel Zannos, under the kastello, and then on the right of a second church. You go down and you thus get underneath a third church; from here you have a nice view on the two large churches with blue domes and typical clock towers.

One of the large churches of Pýrgos.

When you get to a white chapel you go left and via a kind of play ground of a language school you reach the Platía St. Melekou, which is rather a crossing with shops and outdoor terraces
At this point you rather not take the asphalt road on the left; instead, you take the nicely paved street, which runs on the left-hand side of and parallel to the main road. After about 5 minutes you thus leave the actual village and you arrive at the asphalt road, which you follow in the direction of the Profítis Ilías. Some 4 minutes later, at the final houses, you notice a trail paved with cobbles on the left; there is also a small sign "Profitis Ilias by foot", underneath a cross.

[If you would rather not make the detour to the Profítis Ilías, you should continue on the asphalt road for another 10 metres; you then take the gravel road off the right, next to a vineyard.]

This beautiful trail goes up gradually, between walls – first on a ridge and then on the slope of the mountain. Along the way you notice plenty of vineyards on the slopes towards Akrotíri on your right-hand side – used for the famous sweet white wine of Santoríni. Behind you, the panoramic view on Pýrgos + Firá is really beautiful.

The path towards the Profítis Ilías.

After 23 minutes you cross the asphalt road and on the opposite side you find a narrower path that continues midst pumice stone. Another 3 minutes later you reach the asphalt road once more, at the foot of some military buildings. You follow the road on the right and after a couple of minutes you already get to the monastery, on the top of the Profítis Ilías, where you also notice 5 large and a couple of small aerials – it has just been 30 minutes since you left Pýrgos.

The monastery, founded in the year 1711, has a very rich history and also today it possesses a marvellous collection of icons and old manuscripts, and a beautiful ethnographic collection. This monastery can be visited every day, but it is closed during the long lunch break, from 1pm onwards. It is a pity that the entire neighbourhood and the summit of the hill are totally destroyed because of the military installations – but still, the view to the north, with Ia, Firà and Kamári, is truly fantastic.

After your visit and a possible picnic you return the same way you came and you follow the asphalt road going down. You curve to the right and you get to a straight stretch of asphalt that runs underneath the military buildings. In the meanwhile, you look out for a path made of pumice stone, which goes down on the left (on the place where also the electricity poles go down on the left). After 2 minutes you cross the asphalt road again, but straight ahead the trail continues beautifully. The path is very obvious and it runs straight to Pýrgos.

The monopáti that descends towards Pýrgos.

Along the way you notice again how many vineyards are still situated on the slopes of the Profítis Ilías.

The vineyards on the slopes of the Profítis Ilías.

After 20 minutes already you arrive at the asphalt road again, nearby the first houses of Pýrgos. You go left on the main road, but after 10 metres already you see a gravel road on the right, between a house with lanterns and a vineyard. On the left of this road you find a trail covered with gravel and pumice stone. The traces of manure tell us that this trail is still frequented a lot. A couple of minutes later you get between walls made of lava rock. You walk midst the vineyards again, studded with black stones – in summer it can be really hot over here.

The vineyards with the lava stones, that absorb the warmth.

After some 8 minutes the trail is better paved and it continues between lava walls. 

Even on Santoríni you can see traditional scenes...

After 12 minutes all together you reach a sandy road which you follow to the left when you get to a bend. Some 1-2 minutes later, though, you find the continuation of the trail on your left-hand side. You now follow a marvellous trail between walls, which descends steeply towards Emborió. Finally, the path curves all the way to the left and via a concrete slope you reach the valley. You take a right, of course, and you proceed for another 2 minutes – through a beautiful little street, underneath two arches.

A little street in the oldest part of Emborió.

Further down you arrive at a concrete street, which you keep following. The street zigzags, but you go straight ahead all the time. You walk underneath some churches and after 6-7 minutes you go left (at a fire plug). Some 3-4 minutes later (at a school) you keep to the right and then you continue straight ahead. You walk underneath another school and you thus get to a kind of square or crossing, on the road from Períssa to Firá.

Past the playground you notice the impressive church. 

The church of Emborió with in the back the Profítis Ilías.

Over here you can wait for the bus.

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