'Kandylakia' or 'Eiklisula', which means little church. Unfortunately it won't be long until you come across quite a few on the main roads of the island, mainly found on bad bends, some are very small and hard to see, whilst others are easily visible. Most travellers assume, often quite rightly, that they are built by the families of people who have died in tragic accidents, but they are also built by people who have been miraculously saved. Sometimes often to publicly thank a saint for help and assistance, not commemorating a tragedy at all.


Some are quite unique and differ remarkably from the customary ones designed to represent houses, Byzantine churches, and some even looking like headstones, whilst other are just simple metal boxes on skinny wire legs. Materials used vary, depending on the choice of the family - some are metal or wood, others are ornate and made from marble. Each one is made by local tradesmen for the family. Repeatedly you will see at least one icon of a saint and a oil candle, placed inside each shrine, the top of the box crowned with a cross.  However, some families include small bottles of Holy Oil, icons, pictures or possessions of the deceased, some with the name and date of the person's death inscribed or written on the 'kandylaki'. Strong ties to family and cultural heritage guide the tradition of erecting a 'kandylakia'. Lasting memorials to lost relatives are an essential part of Greek culture, family members recite prayers there regularly and tend to the shrine as lovingly as they would a gravesite. Hence the 'kandylaki'  or 'Eiklisula', being reminiscent of a tiny church safeguarding the memory with icons, Holy Oil, and candles.

If the candle goes out the first driver who notices this will go to the shrine, stand a moment in prayer, and light a fresh candle. Shrines to pagan gods were built in the same spots and for the same purpose - to provide the traveller with a moment of rest and  reflection. Where there is a beautifully built shrine, look at the edges of the groves beyond. There is often an older predecessor, sometimes less carefully tended, but still remaining as a testament of past faith. As family fortunes improve, so do the shrines. In other parts of Greece, the shrines take on the appearance of miniature chapels, sometimes with interior spaces large enough to hold small ceremonies.

Other names include - Ikonostasia - Proskinitaria - Ikonostasen and Ikonismata.



 More Culture pages
: Easter : Christmas : Cretan Wedding : Baptism : Roadside Shrines : Kafenion : Periptero :
: Raki : Komboloy : Hunting Season : Black Veil : Cretan Dagger : Cretan Biscuit :
: Threshing Circles : Tavli : Puppet Theatre : The Mitato :



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