Eternal flame

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For other uses, see Eternal flame (disambiguation).
For the concept in the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, see Flame Imperishable.
Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin eternal flame memorializing losses during World War Two.

An eternal flame is a flame, lamp or torch that burns continuously for an indefinite period. 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 thousands of years.

In ancient times, human-tended eternal flames were fueled by wood or olive oil; 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 international peace.

Religious and cultural significance[edit]

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.

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 Talequah, Oklahoma.[3]

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.[4]

The eternal flame commemorating American President John F. Kennedy after his assassination in 1963 is believed to be the first such memorial to honor a single, known individual (as opposed to flames commemorating one or more unknown soldiers).[citation needed] In the wake of the Kennedy memorial, eternal flames have been used throughout the world to honor persons of national or international significance.

Extinguished flames[edit]

A prismatically broken eternal flame at World War II memorial in East Berlin.

Current manmade eternal flames[edit]

Europe[edit]

Armenia[edit]

Azerbaijan[edit]

Belarus[edit]

Belgium[edit]

Bosnia and Herzegovina[edit]

Eternal Flame in Sarajevo

Bulgaria[edit]

Croatia[edit]

Finland[edit]

  • Helsinki, a lighthouse-like memorial in the suburb of Eira. Originally erected in honour of the Finnish seamen and seafaring. It has later also become a symbol of those who have perished at the sea, the Baltic Sea in particular.[7] A minor controversy arose when the flame was temporarily extinguished, to conserve gas, technically meaning the flame was not an eternal one. It has been relit however.

France[edit]

Georgia[edit]

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

Germany[edit]

Hungary[edit]

Ireland[edit]

Italy[edit]

Latvia[edit]

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.

Lithuania[edit]

Luxembourg[edit]

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

Moldova[edit]

  • Chișinău, a flame dedicated to Chișinău's unknown soldiers who died in World War II

Netherlands[edit]

  • Amsterdam, at the Hollandsche Schouwburg, in memorial of the Dutch Jewish people who were killed in World War II
  • Maastricht, at the Market Square, a statue of Jan Pieter Minckeleers, a Dutch scientist and inventor who discovered illuminating gas (coal gas) and was the inventor of gas lighting.
  • The Hague, at the Peace Palace, dedicated to the idea of international peace

Norway[edit]

Poland[edit]

Portugal[edit]

Russia[edit]

Serbia[edit]

Spain[edit]

Switzerland[edit]

Transnistria[edit]

Ukraine[edit]

Eternal Flame in Vinnytsia

United Kingdom[edit]

North America[edit]

Canada[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 His Holiness Pope John Paul II in September 1984 and symbolizes the hope and regeneration of mankind.
  • 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

Mexico[edit]

Nicaragua[edit]

South America[edit]

The Pira da Liberdade, Brazilian eternal flame, in São Paulo

Argentina[edit]

Brazil[edit]

Colombia[edit]

Australia[edit]

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

Asia[edit]

India[edit]

  • New Delhi, India, at the Raj Ghat, in memory of Mahatma Gandhi at the site of his cremation. The date that this flame was first lit is not known at present.
  • New Delhi, India, at the India Gate, first lit in 1971 to honor 90,000 soldiers, including an Unknown Warrior, who died in World War I and later conflicts
  • Kargil War Memorial, Drass. The eternal flame was lit to glorify the Indian victory of 1999 and to pay homage to martyrs who laid down their lives for the cause of the nation.
  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India, to remember the victims of the 2004 Asian Tsunami, unveiled in 2005
  • Shirdi, India, at the Dwarka Mai Mosque, lit by Sai Baba of Shirdi in the late 1800s
  • Some ancient temples in south India are known to have eternal flames burning since centuries. Most established temples (such as Tirumala-Tirupati, Mantralayam, etc.) have eternal flames.

Israel[edit]

Japan[edit]

Peace Flame at the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima, Japan

Kazakhstan[edit]

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

Kyrgyzstan[edit]

Bishkek eternal flame
  • Bishkek, the Victory (Pobedy) Monument

Nepal[edit]

Philippines[edit]

An eternal flame is featured on the old Philippine 1000-peso bill.

South Korea[edit]

Turkmenistan[edit]

Africa[edit]

Ghana[edit]

  • Accra, Ghana: the Eternal Flame of African Liberation

Zimbabwe[edit]

South Africa[edit]

Caribbean[edit]

Cuba[edit]

Naturally fueled flames[edit]

Fires of Chimera at Yanartaş, Çıralı, Turkey
"The Door to Hell" gas deposit, nearby Derweze, Turkmenistan, has been burning since 1971.

Fueled by natural gas[edit]

Fueled by coal seams[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Takht-e Sulaiman - UNESCO World Heritage Centre
  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. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "Settling the Dead: Funerals, Memorials, and Beliefs Concerning the Afterlife". Asia for Educators, Columbia University. Retrieved 2010-05-04. 
  5. ^ Noted by Pausanias (10.24.5) in the second century CE and earlier mentioned by Herodotus (7.141) and Euripides (Iphigeneia in Tauris)
  6. ^ "Apagan la "Llama Eterna de la Libertad" encendida por Pinochet". ABC Color (in Spanish). October 19, 2004. Retrieved February 22, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Merenkulkijoiden ja mereen menehtyneiden muistomerkki". Julkiset veistokset (in Finnish). Helsingin kaupungin taidemuseo. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  8. ^ Eternal fire at Mamayev Kurgan - photo
  9. ^ Eternal fire at The Square of the Fallen Fighters in Volgograd - photo
  10. ^ Wallace, Ellen (2012-12-22). "Eternal flame in Canton Glarus may go out". Geneva Lunch. Retrieved 2012-12-22. 
  11. ^ Krummenacher, Jörg (2012-12-22). "Keine Versöhnung vor dem ewigen Licht". Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Retrieved 2012-12-22. 
  12. ^ "Eternal Flame: Daley Plaza, Chicago, Illinois, 60601". Chicagoarchitecture.info. Retrieved December 14, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier". UShistory.org. Independence Hall Association. Archived from the original on January 11, 2015. Retrieved December 14, 2014. 
  14. ^ Glenn D. Porter (August 31, 2004). "Eternal Flame Is Out, But Who Cares?". Philly.com. Retrieved December 14, 2014. 
  15. ^ "POW/MIA Reflection Pond and Eternal Flame". Ovmp.org. Ohio Veterans Memorial Park. Retrieved April 14, 2015. 
  16. ^ Nihonsankei. "Miyajima". The three most scenic spots in Japan. Retrieved 2007-06-25. 
  17. ^ Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (2000). "Guided Tours to Peace Memorial Park and Vicinity". Hiroshima Peace Site. Retrieved 2007-06-25. 
  18. ^ "Things to do in Lumbini". BBC. Retrieved 2012-12-23. 
  19. ^ 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. Retrieved July 17, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Obor SEA Games XXVI Mulai Diarak dari Mrapen" (in Indonesian). Tempo Interaktif. 2011-10-23. Retrieved 2011-11-07. 
  21. ^ Krajick, Kevin (May 2005). "Fire in the hole". Smithsonian Magazine (Smithsonian Institution): 54ff. Retrieved 2006-10-24.