Monastery of Profitis Ilias (Moni Profitou Iliou)
Set 1,853 ft (565 m) above the Aegean Sea, this fortress-like monastery is one of the most striking sights on Santorini and a highlight of many driving tours and shore excursions, along with Red Beach, the Minoan ruins at Akrotiri, Oia, and the village of Megalochori. Join a group tour via minivan or opt for a more flexible private tour with a customizable itinerary.
The monastery courtyard and gardens are a popular spot to watch Santorini’s fabled sunsets, and many sunset tours on the island make a stop here to take in the view. Alternatively, wine lovers can opt for a sightseeing tour that includes a wine tasting at an island cellar, or there are photo tours of the most scenic spots on the island for photography buffs that stop to capture the view from the monastery.
Things to know before you go
- Moni Profitou Iliou is a photographer’s paradise, with views over the hilltop village of Oia and the patchwork of plains and vineyards below. Be sure to bring your camera to capture these vistas when visiting.
- You must have shoulders and knees covered to enter the church and monastery, so dress accordingly.
- Navigating the steep roads to the mountaintop monastery can be tricky, so consider joining a small-group or private driving tour.
- The historic monastery has numerous flights of steps and may be hard to navigate with a wheelchair or stroller.
How to get there
The Monastery of Profitis Ilias is located high in the mountains on the south side of Santorini, and is difficult to reach with public transportation. Drive or join a tour or shore excursion that includes transportation up the extremely winding road to the mountaintop outpost.
When to get there
The high-altitude monastery offers a cool and quiet refuge during the hottest and most crowded summer months. Known for its spectacular vantage point at sunset, the monastery is best visited in the late afternoon as the sun begins to dip beneath the Mediterranean Sea.
History and Highlights of the Monastery of Profitis Ilias (Moni Profitou Iliou)
This historic monastery was initially dedicated to the prophet Elijah and enjoyed great wealth in the 17th and 18th centuries; it also functioned as a secret school of Greek culture during the dark days of Turkish occupation. Its power and wealth began to decline in the mid-19th century and the complex was badly damaged by the earthquake in 1956. Today Profitis Ilias is successful once more; its 3-domed church has become a museum hosting an exceptional and significant collection of icons, hand-printed antique books and bibles, wrought-iron artwork, wooden carvings, and elaborately embroidered clerics’ robes. The resident monks put on displays of traditional carpentry, shoemaking, cooking, and winemaking, as well.