Tourism Ireland

Experience The Chios Rocket War in Vrontados, Greece

by Matt Rimer

Sep 19, 2015

Rouketopolemos, The Chios Rocket War in Vrontados, Greece © Adam Rifkin | Flickr

Trends / Unique Itineraries & Tours

While the origin of the Chios Rocket War is largely uncertain, one popular theory dates to the Turkish occupation of the island. The myth explains the Greeks were banned from celebrating Easter Sunday. In resistance, they faked a civil war with harmless rockets to divert the Turks and prayed in secret.


Currently, Rouketopolemos (or “the rocket war”) takes place between two rival churches: St. Mark’s and Panaghia Ereithiani. This once-a -ear feud features hundreds of fireworks, handmade from gunpowder and household materials, shot from the roofs and high hills surrounding each house of worship. Their objective is to hit the other church bell about 1,000 feet away, as many times as possible before the night is through. Meanwhile, in each building, churchgoers take part in a serious Easter mass.



The next morning, the two sides report their total number of church bell hits; however, each side inevitably (and lightheartedly) claims to have struck the other bell more times. At this point, rivaling factions decide to settle the argument the following year, keeping the tradition alive. For visitors of the area, the Chios Rocket War is one of the most sought-after experiences.



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