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Eternal flame

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Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin eternal flame memorializing losses during World War II .

An eternal flame is a flame, lamp or torch that burns for an indefinite time. Most eternal flames are ignited and tended intentionally, but some are natural phenomena caused by natural gas leaks, peat fires and coal seam fires, all of which can be initially ignited by lightning, piezoelectricity or human activity, some of which have burned for hundreds or thousands of years.

In ancient times, eternal flames were fueled by wood or olive oil;[citation needed] modern examples usually use a piped supply of propane or natural gas. Human-created eternal flames most often commemorate a person or event of national significance, serve as a symbol of an enduring nature such as a religious belief, or a reminder of commitment to a common goal, such as diplomacy.

Religious and cultural significance[edit]

A chancel lamp hangs above the altar of St. Matthew's German Evangelical Lutheran Church

The eternal fire is a long-standing tradition in many cultures and religions. In ancient Iran the atar was tended by a dedicated priest and represented the concept of "divine sparks" or Amesha Spenta, as understood in Zoroastrianism. Period sources indicate that three "great fires" existed in the Achaemenid era of Persian history, which are collectively considered the earliest reference to the practice of creating ever-burning community fires.[1]

The eternal flame was a component of the Jewish religious rituals performed in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple in Jerusalem, where a commandment required a fire to burn continuously upon the Outer Altar.[2] Modern Judaism continues a similar tradition by having a sanctuary lamp, the ner tamid, always lit above the ark in the synagogue. After World War II, such flames gained further meaning, as a reminder of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. In traditional Christian denominations, such as Catholicism and Lutheranism, a chancel lamp continuously burns as an indication of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.[3]

The Cherokee Nation maintained a fire at the seat of government until ousted by the Indian Removal Act in 1830. At that time, embers from the last great council fire were carried west to the nation's new home in the Oklahoma Territory. The flame, maintained in Oklahoma, was carried back to the last seat of the Cherokee government at Red Clay State Park in south-eastern Tennessee, to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, North Carolina, and to the Cherokee Nation Tribal Complex in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.[4]

In China, it has at times been common to establish an eternally lit lamp as a visible aspect of ancestor veneration; it is set in front of a spirit tablet on the family's ancestral altar.[5]

In Judaism, there is a concept of a נר תמיד or everlasting flame. This is commonly found hanging in front of the Aron Kodesh (holy ark) in orthodox Synagogues. It is meant as a remembrance of the Temple. Occasionally this flame is a fire which is kept lit 24/7. Other times it is merely electric and stays on all the time.[citation needed]

Extinguished flames[edit]

Prismatically broken eternal flame at World War II memorial in East Berlin
  • The eternal flame that was part of the East German "Memorial to the Victims of Fascism and Militarism" at the Neue Wache in East Berlin was removed after the 1990 German reunification. In 1993, the space was redesigned without a flame and rededicated as the "Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany for the Victims of War and Tyranny".
  • Llama de la Libertad lit by Augusto Pinochet in 1975 in to commemorate the 1973 Chilean coup d'etat against Salvador Allende. It was extinguished in 2004.[11]
  • A 23-metre (75 ft) high Eternal flame monument was erected in Belgrade in 2000, to commemorate the victims of 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. The flame was extinguished just months later, after the overthrow of Slobodan Milošević.
  • A lighthouse-like memorial in the suburb of Eira in Helsinki, Finland was originally erected in honour of the Finnish seamen and seafaring. It later became a symbol of those who have perished at the sea, the Baltic Sea in particular.[12] A minor controversy arose when the flame was temporarily extinguished, to conserve gas, technically meaning the flame was not an eternal one. It had been relit but in the middle 2010s, the city of Helsinki grew tired of having to relight the flame and decided to put it out for good.[13]

Current man-made eternal flames[edit]



  • Minsk, at the Victory Square, lit in 1961.
  • Baranovichi, at the memorial of the fallen during the Great Patriotic War, lit in 1964.
  • Brest, near the ruins of the Engineering Administration, lit in 1972.[14]


Bosnia and Herzegovina[edit]

Eternal Flame in Sarajevo




Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with eternal flame beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris




  • Dublin, at the junction of Amiens St and Memorial Road, the Universal Links on Human Rights by Amnesty International, honouring prisoners of conscience.
  • Dublin, at Merrion Square Park, the National Memorial to members of the Defence Forces burns to honour those who have lost their lives in the service of the Irish State.
  • Kildare, a perpetual flame burns in the town square. It was formerly housed, since 1993, at Solas Bhríde, a sanctuary run by the Catholic Brigidine sisters. The modern flame rekindles the original one burned by the sisters of Saint Brigit in Kildare, which was extinguished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
  • New Ross, at a new monument to Irish emigrants. On June 18, 2013, a torch from the eternal flame at the John F. Kennedy grave at Arlington National Cemetery was used to light this flame.



The eternal flame at Brothers' Cemetery, Riga, Latvia
  • Riga, at Brothers' Cemetery or Cemetery of the Brethren (Brāļu Kapi), a military cemetery and national monument memorializing thousands of Latvian soldiers who were killed between 1915 and 1920 in World War I and the Latvian War of Independence. The memorial was built between 1924 and 1936, and designed by sculptor Kārlis Zāle.



  • Luxembourg, near the Place du Saint-Esprit, in memory of all Luxembourgers fallen in World War II.


  • Floriana, inaugurated in 2012. Two eternal flames are placed beside the War Memorial, dedicated to all the Maltese dead of World War I and World War II.[16]







Eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Moscow






Eternal Flame in Vinnytsia

United Kingdom[edit]

  • London, at the New Scotland Yard. The flame commemorates, as the inscription notes, "those who have lost their lives in the service of the Metropolitan Police".
  • Liverpool, at the Anfield stadium, in memorial to those who died in the Hillsborough disaster.
  • The 'Peace flame' in Derry, at the 'Peace Garden', to symbolise the renewed hope and peace created in the city in the post-Troubles era. Opened in 2013 by Martin Luther King III.[22] The flame was extinguished during 2017-2018 by a group of vandals.[23] The flame has since been re-lit.

North America[edit]


  • The Flame of Hope in London, Ontario, at 442 Adelaide Street, where Frederick Banting did theoretical work leading to the discovery of human insulin. It will remain lit until diabetes is cured. It was lit by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 1989.
  • The Centennial Flame in Ottawa, Ontario, first lit in 1967, is in the spirit of an eternal flame; however, it is annually extinguished for cleaning and then relit. It commemorates the first hundred years of Canadian confederation.
  • The Centennial Flame on the grounds of the Alberta Legislature Building in Edmonton, Alberta commemorates the same milestone as its counterpart in Ottawa. The flame burns from a metallic cauldron and is located south along the walkway from the south entrance of the Legislature between the south side of Legislature Building Road NW and Fortway Drive NW. Another eternal flame is located on the grounds of the Legislature honours those fallen in the line of duty working for the province.
  • The Eternal Flame in the Peace Garden in Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto City Hall. It was lit by Pope John Paul II in September 1984 and symbolizes the hope and regeneration of humanity.
  • The 2004 Olympic flame remains burning in a memorial park in the Greek town area of Toronto.

United States[edit]

Eternal flame war memorial in Bowman, South Carolina
  • Eastlake, Ohio: eternal flame located at the boulevard of 500 flags in honor of all those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks. Sits beside a piece of steel beam from the World Trade Towers.



South America[edit]

The Pira da Liberdade, Brazilian eternal flame, in São Paulo
The Pantheon of Fatherland and Freedom, Tancredo Neves, in Brasília


  • In the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires. It was lit on August 17, 1947 to honor the tomb of General José de San Martín, whose remains rest inside it; and the soldiers who fought and perished in the wars for Argentina, Chile and Perú's independence from the Spanish crown.
  • In the National Flag Memorial (Argentina) in Rosario, Santa Fe.
  • In the 'Monument to the dead of the Malvinas War' (Caidos en Malvinas) in Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires.





Australia and New Zealand[edit]

Eternal flame at the Shrine of Remembrance, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia






  • Tbilisi, at the roundabout and underpass of Hero's Square.


Raj Ghat, Delhi


Api Biru or "Blue Lava" as seen at night on Kawah Ijen, in Indonesia
  • Api Abadi Mrapen (Mrapen Eternal Fire), Grobogan, Central Java. It was used as a torch flame source for the 1st GANEFO. It died out on the 25th of September 2020, possibly as a result of nearby mining activity.[32][33]
  • Api Abadi Sungai Siring (Siring River Eternal Fire), Samarinda, East Borneo.
  • Api Biru (Blue Fire), Ijen, Banyuwangi, East Java. This phenomenon comes from the ignition of sulfur continuously erupting to the surface. Its electric-blue flames are visible only at night.
Kayangan Api, an eternal flame in the middle of teak forest in Bojonegoro


Zoroastrian Eternal Flame at the Fire Temple in Yazd, Central Iran



Peace Flame at the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima, Japan


  • Almaty, the Monument to the Unknown Soldier (from Soviet times).


Bishkek eternal flame



An eternal flame is featured on the New Design/BSP series Philippine 1000-peso bill.

South Korea[edit]





  • Accra, Ghana: The Eternal Flame of African Liberation.


South Africa[edit]


Trinidad and Tobago[edit]


Naturally fueled flames[edit]

Fires of Chimera at Yanartaş, Çıralı, Turkey
The Darvaza gas crater, near Derweze, Turkmenistan, has been burning since 1971.
Tour guide cooks pancakes on natural flames at Murchison, New Zealand.

Fueled by natural gas[edit]

Fueled by coal seams[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ mondial, UNESCO Centre du patrimoine. "Takht-e Sulaiman". UNESCO Centre du patrimoine mondial.
  2. ^ Leviticus 6:12: "And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings" Biblos Cross-referenced Holy Bible (King James version)
  3. ^ Hall, Ashley (2012). "Sanctuary lamp". Kountze Memorial Lutheran Church. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  4. ^ a b From the First Rising Sun: The Real Prehistory of the Cherokee People and Nation According to Oral Traditions, Legends, and Myths. Charla Jean Morris. Author House, Bloomington, IN: 2011. Page xvii.
  5. ^ "Settling the Dead: Funerals, Memorials, and Beliefs Concerning the Afterlife". Asia for Educators, Columbia University. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
  6. ^ Larson, Jennifer Lynn (2001). Greek Nymphs: Myth, Cult, Lore. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 162. ISBN 978-0-19-514465-9.
  7. ^ Pajón Leyra, Irene (2023). "Islands and their marvels as structural principle in the so-called historiographical section of the De mirabilibus auscultationibus". In Stefan Schorn, Robert Mayhew (ed.). Historiography and Mythography in the Aristotelian Mirabilia. Rutgers University Studies in Classical Humanities. Taylor & Francis. p. 133. doi:10.4324/9781003437819-2. ISBN 9781000986105.
  8. ^ "Vayikra (Leviticus): Chapter 6". Jewish Virtual Library.
  9. ^ "Lighting the Perpetual Flame of Brigid - A brief history of the flame". www.kildare.ie.
  10. ^ "Kildare Round Tower and St. Brigid's Fire Temple". September 8, 2010.
  11. ^ "Apagan la "Llama Eterna de la Libertad" encendida por Pinochet". ABC Color (in Spanish). October 19, 2004. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
  12. ^ "Merenkulkijoiden ja mereen menehtyneiden muistomerkki". Julkiset veistokset (in Finnish). Helsingin kaupungin taidemuseo. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  13. ^ Eklund, Ville: Muistomerkin "ikuinen tuli" sammuili jatkuvasti tuulenpuuskiin Helsingissä – kaupunki sammutti tulen: "Ei ole ollut vuosiin ikuinen", MTV Uutiset 3 November 2018. Accessed on 9 January 2021.
  14. ^ "The Eternal Flame". old.brest-fortress.by.
  15. ^ "Pazardzhik became a home of peace" (in Bulgarian). PZ. September 24, 2023. Retrieved September 24, 2023.
  16. ^ "Eternal flame will honour the war dead in Floriana". Times of Malta. January 4, 2012. Archived from the original on January 8, 2012.
  17. ^ Eternal fire at Mamayev Kurgan – photo
  18. ^ Eternal fire at The Square of the Fallen Fighters in Volgograd – photo
  19. ^ "El Ayuntamiento de Madrid instala un pebetero en Cibeles en recuerdo de las víctimas del coronavirus: "Vuestra llama nunca se apagará en nuestro corazón"". Hazte socio de eldiario.es (in Spanish). Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  20. ^ Wallace, Ellen (December 22, 2012). "Eternal flame in Canton Glarus may go out". Geneva Lunch. Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
  21. ^ Krummenacher, Jörg (December 22, 2012). "Keine Versöhnung vor dem ewigen Licht". Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
  22. ^ "Derry's children united to light flame of peace". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk. May 15, 2013. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved January 1, 2024.
  23. ^ "Mayor urges vandals to respect city peace flame". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk. May 11, 2018. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved January 1, 2024.
  24. ^ "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier". UShistory.org. Independence Hall Association. Archived from the original on January 11, 2015. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  25. ^ Glenn D. Porter (August 31, 2004). "Eternal Flame Is Out, But Who Cares?". Philly.com. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  26. ^ "Eternal Flame: Daley Plaza, Chicago, Illinois, 60601". Chicagoarchitecture.info. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  27. ^ "POW/MIA Reflection Pond and Eternal Flame". Ovmp.org. Ohio Veterans Memorial Park. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  28. ^ "Família mantém aceso fogo de chão em fazenda há 200 anos no RS" (in Brazilian Portuguese). G1. September 15, 2014. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  29. ^ "Ministerio de Defensa pagará el gas de la llama de la libertad". Emol (in Spanish). El Mercurio. October 8, 2003. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  30. ^ Punta Arenas apaga la última Llama de la Libertad que ardía durante todo el año
  31. ^ Peri, Dinakar (January 21, 2022). "Amar Jawan Jyoti merged with flame at National War Memorial". The Hindu. Archived from the original on January 21, 2022. Retrieved January 21, 2022.
  32. ^ 6 Tempat Wisata Melihat Api Abadi di Indonesia, 5 October 2020. Accessed on 4 February 2021.
  33. ^ The Extinguishing Of The Mrapen Eternal Flame, 2 October 2020. Accessed on 23 March 2023.
  34. ^ Nihonsankei. "Miyajima". The three most scenic spots in Japan. Archived from the original on December 15, 2007. Retrieved June 25, 2007.
  35. ^ Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (2000). "Guided Tours to Peace Memorial Park and Vicinity". Hiroshima Peace Site. Retrieved June 25, 2007.
  36. ^ "Things to do in Lumbini". BBC. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  37. ^ "The Red House". Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  38. ^ Hosgormez, H.; Etiope, G.; Yalçin, M. N. (November 2008). "New evidence for a mixed inorganic and organic origin of the Olympic Chimaera fire (Turkey): a large onshore seepage of abiogenic gas". Geofluids. 8 (4): 263–273. doi:10.1111/j.1468-8123.2008.00226.x.
  39. ^ "The Extinguishing Of The Mrapen Eternal Flame". VOI - Waktunya Merevolusi Pemberitaan. October 2, 2020. Archived from the original on May 22, 2023. Retrieved July 30, 2021.
  40. ^ "Obor SEA Games XXVI Mulai Diarak dari Mrapen" (in Indonesian). Tempo Interaktif. October 23, 2011. Archived from the original on October 27, 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
  41. ^ Krajick, Kevin (May 2005). "Fire in the hole". Smithsonian Magazine: 54ff. Retrieved October 24, 2006.

External links[edit]