Greece’s first crematorium near Athens offers alternative to burial

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Greece’s first crematorium near Athens offers alternative to burialA crematorium is now operating in Greece in the town of Ritsona, 50 miles north of Athens

It was many years in the making, with fierce resistance from opponents including the Greek Orthodox Church, but a crematorium is now operating in Greece in the town of Ritsona, 50 miles north of Athens, giving people who want the return to ashes an option other than burial.

The private facility is owned by Antonis Alakiotis and gives people who prefer cremation the chance to have it done in Greece, instead of going to Bulgaria where the experience for their families has been surreal.

In a feature, Public Radio International (PRI) wrote about the difficulties Greeks have faced, illustrated by Avrilia Kosmaidou – a former worker in the funeral business – who said she wanted to fulfill the last wish of a friend, Theodora, and went to crematorium looking for an urn.

The crematorium opened in September 2019 and she was glad it did so that she could honor her friend’s desire. “Theodora was my sister; I can’t call her just friend,” Kosmaidou told PRI’s The World after her friend died from a respiratory illness while suffering from cancer.

Oddly, public crematoriums have been legal in Greece since 2006 but no government or municipality has dared take on the Church, which forbids cremation, although it was a common practice in ancient Greece.

Other reasons cited have included no suitable place to locate one, but cemeteries are filling fast as with a falling birth rate there are more coffins than cribs in Greece and more and more people are looking at cremation for reasons other than religious.

Kosmaidou said Greeks who wanted to be cremated were forced to go to Bulgaria, where she said facilities aren’t suitable and almost no one speaks English, providing records in Bulgarian.

“The crematorium [in] Bulgaria is very old, and the smoke that comes out is very heavy, even though they have renovated it,” she said. “They burn (the dead) with flowers, varnished coffins (or) without coffins — they are completely disorganized. It’s a mess.”

Alakiotis, the co-founder of the Greek Cremation Society and president of Crem Services, a private cremation facility and ash scattering service, had been fighting for a crematorium in Greece for more than 20 years.

“In the beginning, there was no law allowing for crematoriums to be built in Greece. It has been discussed many times in the past, also with the death of (singer) Maria Callas, but the Greek Orthodox Church was against it,” Alakiotis said. She was cremated in Paris.

Read the full story at thenationalherald.com

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinationsGreek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Photo Source: flickr.com License: CC-BY-SA Copyright: Arcturus Aldebaran

 

 

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