Monday, 22 August 2016

The Curious Kandylakia Of Greece

Drive any distance in Greece and you'll start to notice curious monuments along the side of the road. Little structures, as if someone built little houses on stilts and spread them around the country.

Kandylakia are actually small shrines, generally shaped like tiny churches, complete with an interior space big enough to hold a handful of icons and candles. Why?

The Kandylakia are placed at the spot of an accident. They commemorate/memorialize the loss of a loved one. Families maintain the shrine, paying homage.

Or not. It turns out, a person doesn't actually have to die in an accident to warrant a Kandylakia. A close call is worth commemoration. Or a Kandlylakia can serve as a 24/7 proxy for a church when the church is closed. Just place outside the entrance.

One thing is definite, the Kandylakia are everywhere in Greece, the variety is enormous and seeing them along the road serves as a reminder about driving safely and the fleetingness of life.

Exhibit A.

A Kandylakia can get elaborate, looking like a miniature Greek Orthodox church (alas, a pre-fab model widely available at landscape dealers). Typical interior scene.


Interior portrait and three-legged warning in front of a cemetery.

Decomposing shrine.

Depending on weather and condition, the interiors can slip into abstraction.

Dangerous pass.

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