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  • Agios Markos
    Agios Markos The Church of Agios Markos
  • Panagia Erithiani by Night
    Panagia Erithiani by Night The Churches under Fire
  • Vrontados
    Vrontados The City of Vrontados
  • Panagia Erithiani
    Panagia Erithiani The Church Of Panagia Erithiani
  • Rocketwar By Night
    Rocketwar By Night The Fight In The Holy Night

Welcome to Rocketwar.com!

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Welcome to the Rocket War website, which was created to show you a yearly spectacle that takes place on the island of Chios, Greece.

This website has been created specifically to document and capture this amazing event, in which over 60,000 rockets are fired from the residents of two opposing camps to each of the other's rival churches in the parishes of Saint Mark and Virgin Mary Erethianis.

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Easter Rocket War hits Vrontados

In a bizarre but long-cherished local tradition, two Orthodox churches in the town of Vrontados fire rockets at each other's churches - while services are held. The objective is to hit the other church's bell, but many rockets go astray, causing locals to rush frantically for cover. And some say they are sick of having to repair their damaged homes.

Dangerous work

So-called "gangs" from the two rival parishes - Saint Mark and Panagia Erithiani - spend months preparing more than 25,000 rockets.


Chios local

About 150 people are involved in their production, using bronze and wooden tools to prevent any sparks igniting the volatile black powder mixture. "A good rocket has to fly fast, go far and stay lit until the end," explains rocket maker Vassilis Barkoulis.
"You have to be careful in the details and process of its construction for a rocket to be good. If you do that carefully, you can have yourself a good rocket."
The work is carried out in derelict buildings with the doors left open - should an extremely speedy exit be required following an explosion. There is also the danger the police may pay an unwelcome visit - technically making the rockets is illegal, although police largely turn a blind eye to the proceedings.

Mysterious origins

Several days before the event, residents carefully board up both churches' windows and doors and wrap wire sheeting around the buildings to protect worshippers. Use of the rockets dates back to the 19th Century On Easter Sunday evening, as mass is said in both churches, the rival parish "gangs" set to work, lighting fireworks and aiming them haphazardly at each other's church bells.

Amid the melee, priests in both churches attempt to continue with mass, although the deafening sounds of fireworks and cheers as the rockets hit their targets often drown out the proceedings entirely. Locals are not sure of the tradition's origins, although it is possibly linked to stories of the island's sailors, who used to battle pirates with cannons installed on their ships and began a custom of firing them at Easter.

In the late 19th Century, when Ottoman occupiers confiscated the cannons over fears they would be used in an uprising, locals resorted to firing rockets instead. Residents also admit it is not the most safety conscious of ceremonies, with several fires in recent years sparked by rockets and even a few deaths."We live as hostages to this tradition," one local lamented.
"We can't breathe when it takes place, we have to be on standby in case a fire breaks out, because if you are not careful you can even lose your house."

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Rocket War From The Eyes of Europe

Residents admit that it is not the most safety conscious ceremony, but every Easter Sunday on the small Greek island of Chios a fireworks war breaks out between two rival parishes. In a bizarre but long-cherished local tradition, two Orthodox churches in the town of Vrodandos fire rockets at each other's churches - while services are held inside them.

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A Belgian Volunteer Describes The Event

Vrontados, a small town on a calm Aegean Sea. However this town has a peculiar habit. Every year on the evening before Easter the night sky gets lid up by thousands of flashes. This is the Rocket War. In Vrontados there are 2 churches, Agios Markos and Panagia Erithiani. In a very folkloristic manner rockets are being fired at those churches by the two competing communities of the village.

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South Side or North Side?

During the Rocket War, we went up the hill inside a half-built house. From there we had a tremendous view on the valley: we could see both churches and almost all the spots from where they launched the rockets:

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The Rocket War Seen by Aurélie

The goal of this war is for the teams to hit the opponent´s church, the bulls eye being Saint Markos bell's and Virgin Mary Erithianis´ clock. The first being the North and the latter one the South side. Every person present must choose a side and support one of the shooting teams.

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Préparation des Fusées

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Les fusées sont faites à la main car il est la tradition locale.

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La Guerre Pendant la Journée

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La préparation pour le grand événement aux pâques commence.

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.. Et la Guerre Pendant la Nuit

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Quand la guerre commence, il a l´air de pleuvoir du feu.

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Après la Guerre

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Après la guerre des fusées, il faut qu´on range.

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