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After each big wave, the passengers on the boat shouted: "Well done captain, may the Seven Children bless you". The captain, a young man, smiled awkwardly while holding the boat's wheel firmly in his capable hands. The turbulence didn't last for more than ten minutes and calmness returned when the boat entered the arc of the volcano’s caldera.
Only by boat
Every year on the 4th of August in Santorini, those who want to worship at the Saint Seven Children's chapel have to pass this small test. Access to the small chapel, which almost seems as it has been nailed on caldera's base, can be gained only by a boat from Oias Amoudi's port. There is no other way for someone to get there, not even on foot, even if he is the best climber in the world.
In the cleft of the rock, which looms threateningly above, and under unbearable heat, violinists and lutists play and sing the songs of the islands. For 24 hours the music doesn’t stop and worshipers dance on the tiny beach in front of them. When the dancers have no space to dance, some of wade into the water and keep on dancing. The song and the relentless dancing drive the pilgrims to a state of ecstasy.
Bread and tomato croquettes
Hundreds of meters above the chapel, at the top of the rock, stand luxurious and exaggerated hotels. In the centre of the caldera some enormous cruise-ships offer their passengers luxurious but standardized vacations. On the other hand, at the feast of the Seven Children, which is not internationally known, music and endless dancing are offered in memory of the seven children sacrificed for their faith.
Visitors are also offered wine, bread and tomato croquettes, which taste heavenly in honor of the Seven Children. Don't ask for the croquettes’ recipe, because unless you take tomato seeds and volcanic soil from Santorini they will never taste the same.
TEXT-PHOTOS: GEORGE ZAFEIROPOULOS