Friday, 16 September 2011

Greece - Roadside Shrines

So, I've just had a lovely week of all inclusive wonderfulness and 30odd degree heat (LUSH!) but I am now back and don't worry my little shrine obsession didn't go very far. I remember many years ago when I visited Greece being fascinated by these often ornate little boxes by the side of the road. Co-incidentally I had decided to E-mail a friend of mine who I met when I was last in Greece about these objects for some more information. 

She informed me they were memorials for people who had died and were often tended to by family members lighting candles and sometimes even writing letters. The boxes seemed to be full of images of Byzantine Icons (Saints as I understand it) and personal items. I felt a bit weird about photographing them so I saw far more than I photographed. As you can imagine they're all placed in dangerous places as they are accident sites so not the easiest things to get to and when they were in towns I was worried about seeming disrespectful by the local community with less than no knowledge of Greek! 
So these are the images I have collected of a few I saw. 

This was the closest memorial to my hotel on the side of a busy road. As you can see there are various images of byzantine icons and burners to be lit by relatives or friends. The plastic bottles often contained oil or flammable substances to fuel a flame. 

This second example seemed a lot more personal to me with less bought for purpose items and was far more accessible so an enclosed front had been included. This was less ornate in appearance. 

There were many many examples that I drive past or saw at a distance that I just think are beautiful and intriguing items that I would love to know more about. There were some great shops in Rhethymnon which was the nearest town to where I was staying selling fab Byzantine items which I think would be for the purpose of these shrines. I bought some and did get some very strange looks lol When I get chance in natural light I will put them on here to look at. There were also large roadside shops selling the empty memorial boxes in all shapes colours and sizes in brick and wood mostly. They looked very grand. 

I also visited a Monastery in Margarites where I lit a candle for my late father and enjoyed the beautiful imagery on the walls. 

 I have never been particularly religious myself but have a particular interest in religious imagery and I have some old bibles mostly for their history and the messages to love ones inside the front covers always intrigue me. It seems to me that the memorials by the roadside are stunning examples of memorials and tributes to a love one. It struck me how they didn't seem at all depressing or tampered with in any way by the roadside. Unfortunately, such a think in Britain would probably be vandalised. Their is a great sense of respect in the Greek culture and this is a ritual as part of their nationality that I greatly admire. 

I wish to learn a bit more about the Byzantine icons and what a few of them mean and I will post some of my icon pieces on here soon. 


1 comment:

  1. Love this post and your photos are fantastic! I agree, sadly here in America, a roadside shrine would be vandalized. I think in Greece and also in Mexico, they have more respect for the dead. Byzantine art is so lovely, how cool that you got your hands on some pieces for your shrines. :)