Santorini and the Vrykolakas
Believe it or not, the picturesque country of Greece was once believed to be the most vampire infested of all the world. Specifically the island of Santorini was said to be the home of countless undead, mainly the dreaded Vrykolakas.
If you were to look up information on Santorini Island you would be amazed that such a stunning and breathtakingly beautiful place was once a land of fear and misery. Ages ago the island’s inhabitants were believed to be the leading experts on vampires, destroying them to be exact. Many people would capture vampires and bring them to the island to be taken care of by Santorini’s best. The island’s vampire reputation was documented by various travelers who only spread the word more. Montague Summers, who visited the island in 1906-1907 and Father Francois Richard also spread the vampire tales, as did Paul Lucas in 1705.
The island’s own special vampire was the Vrykolakas (also Vyrkolatios). This vampire is like many in the sense that it drinks blood and of course, harms mortals. The ways to be turned into this vampire were many and varied.
- Those that were stillborn or died without receiving their final rites.
- Those who were conceived or born on a Holy Day (considered a great blasphemy).
- Those who ate the meat of an animal that had been accidentally killed or not properly slaughtered.
- Those that didn’t have a proper burial.
- Those that died that had lived sinful lives.
- Those whose corpse was passed over by an animal before burial (measures were taken to prevent a dog or cat from jumping over the body while it laid out).
- If another vampire killed you.
And the list goes on and on. There seemed to be a million and one ways one could be turned into a vampire in Greece.
This vamp was wicked and evil, but also a bit mischievous. It liked to kill by sitting on and crushing a sleeping victim. Sometimes the Vrykolakas would sneak into a home and pull on the bedclothes of someone asleep or it would eat all the food and wine left out for the next day’s meal. It would even mock people on their way to church or go so far as to pelt people with rocks as they walked to church. Clearly a troublemaker. But these traits and myths vary from village to village, each place having its own version of what a Vrykolakas is and what it did. In most places they did tend to agree on the methods of destruction, which was to either chop off the vampire’s head or impale it on a spike. Others believed that only a man of the church could kill a vampire.
As said before, all around Greece they had different versions of the Vrykolakas and even different names for it but people did know to get rid of their vampire they needed help or advice from the vampire hunters of Santorini.