Eternal flame

Enlarge September 11 attacks John F. Kennedy

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 significance

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 flames

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

Current man-made eternal flames






Bosnia and Herzegovina

Eternal Flame in Sarajevo












The eternal flame at Brothers' Cemetery, Riga, Latvia










Eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Moscow






Eternal Flame in Vinnytsia

North America


United States

Eternal flame war memorial in Bowman, South Carolina



South America

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





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



Raj Ghat, Delhi



Peace Flame at the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima, Japan



Bishkek eternal flame



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

South Korea





South Africa


Trinidad and Tobago


Naturally fueled flames

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

Fueled by coal seams

See also


  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. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "Merenkulkijoiden ja mereen menehtyneiden muistomerkki". Julkiset veistokset (in Finnish). Helsingin kaupungin taidemuseo. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  12. ^ "Eternal flame will honour the war dead in Floriana". Times of Malta. January 4, 2012. Archived from the original on January 8, 2012.
  13. ^ Eternal fire at Mamayev Kurgan – photo
  14. ^ Eternal fire at The Square of the Fallen Fighters in Volgograd – photo
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Krummenacher, Jörg (December 22, 2012). "Keine Versöhnung vor dem ewigen Licht". Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
  18. ^ "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier". Independence Hall Association. Archived from the original on January 11, 2015. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  19. ^ Glenn D. Porter (August 31, 2004). "Eternal Flame Is Out, But Who Cares?". Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  20. ^ "Eternal Flame: Daley Plaza, Chicago, Illinois, 60601". Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  21. ^ "POW/MIA Reflection Pond and Eternal Flame". Ohio Veterans Memorial Park. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  22. ^ Nihonsankei. "Miyajima". The three most scenic spots in Japan. Archived from the original on December 15, 2007. Retrieved June 25, 2007.
  23. ^ Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (2000). "Guided Tours to Peace Memorial Park and Vicinity". Hiroshima Peace Site. Retrieved June 25, 2007.
  24. ^ "Things to do in Lumbini". BBC. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  25. ^ "The Red House". Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ "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.
  28. ^ Krajick, Kevin (May 2005). "Fire in the hole". Smithsonian Magazine: 54ff. Retrieved October 24, 2006.