Eternal flame

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 a long time.

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. They consume oxygen, transforming it to carbon dioxide. 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. The concept is the same as that of a candlelit vigil.

Religious and cultural significanceEdit

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]

Extinguished flamesEdit

Prismatically broken eternal flame at World War II memorial in East Berlin

Current man-made eternal flamesEdit






Bosnia and HerzegovinaEdit

Eternal Flame in Sarajevo





  • 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.[10] 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.



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






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.


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


  • 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





Eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Moscow






Eternal Flame in Vinnytsia

North AmericaEdit


  • 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 StatesEdit

Eternal flame war memorial in Bowman, South Carolina



South AmericaEdit

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


  • In the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires. It was lit in August 17, 1947 to honor the tomb of General Juan José de San Martín, whose remains rest inside the Nuestra Señora de la Paz chapel; 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.




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



Raj Ghat, Delhi



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 KoreaEdit




  • Accra, Ghana: The Eternal Flame of African Liberation


South AfricaEdit


Trinidad and TobagoEdit


Naturally fueled flamesEdit

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 gasEdit

Fueled by coal seamsEdit

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ 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 May 4, 2010.
  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. ^ "Vayikra (Leviticus): Chapter 6". Jewish Virtual Library.
  7. ^ "Lighting the Perpetual Flame of Brigid - A brief history of the flame".
  8. ^ "Kildare Round Tower and St. Brigid's Fire Temple". September 8, 2010.
  9. ^ "Apagan la "Llama Eterna de la Libertad" encendida por Pinochet". ABC Color (in Spanish). October 19, 2004. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
  10. ^ "Merenkulkijoiden ja mereen menehtyneiden muistomerkki". Julkiset veistokset (in Finnish). Helsingin kaupungin taidemuseo. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  11. ^ Eternal fire at Mamayev Kurgan – photo
  12. ^ Eternal fire at The Square of the Fallen Fighters in Volgograd – photo
  13. ^ "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 (in Spanish). Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Krummenacher, Jörg (December 22, 2012). "Keine Versöhnung vor dem ewigen Licht". Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
  16. ^ "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier". Independence Hall Association. Archived from the original on January 11, 2015. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  17. ^ Glenn D. Porter (August 31, 2004). "Eternal Flame Is Out, But Who Cares?". Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  18. ^ "Eternal Flame: Daley Plaza, Chicago, Illinois, 60601". Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  19. ^ "POW/MIA Reflection Pond and Eternal Flame". Ohio Veterans Memorial Park. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  20. ^ Nihonsankei. "Miyajima". The three most scenic spots in Japan. Archived from the original on December 15, 2007. Retrieved June 25, 2007.
  21. ^ Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (2000). "Guided Tours to Peace Memorial Park and Vicinity". Hiroshima Peace Site. Retrieved June 25, 2007.
  22. ^ "Things to do in Lumbini". BBC. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  23. ^ "The Red House". Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ "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.
  26. ^ Krajick, Kevin (May 2005). "Fire in the hole". Smithsonian Magazine: 54ff. Retrieved October 24, 2006.

External linksEdit