Eternal flame

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

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.

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. 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.

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.

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.

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.

Extinguished flames

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.
  • 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. 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.

Current man-made eternal flames



  • 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.


Bosnia and Herzegovina

Eternal Flame in Sarajevo




Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with eternal flame beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
  • Paris, under the archway at the Arc de Triomphe, which has burned since 1921, and continuously since 1998, in memory of all who died in World War I. It was briefly extinguished during the 1998 World Cup by a drunk tourist.




  • 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.







Eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Moscow






Eternal Flame in Vinnytsia

United Kingdom

  • 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. The flame was extinguished during 2017-2018 by a group of vandals. The flame has since been re-lit.

North America


  • 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

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

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.


  • In the Independence Park, São Paulo, the Pira da Liberdade marks the site of the independence of Brazil
  • Outside the Pantheon of Fatherland and Freedom, Tancredo Neves, Brasília, on top of a tower built on the diagonal, burns an eternal flame which represents the freedom of the people and the country's independence.
  • In São Sepé, central region of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Boqueirão Ranch has a shed that houses a fire that has been lit since the shed was built in 1800. The Simões Pires family, in its sixth generation, currently maintains the bonfire still lit today.




Australia and New Zealand

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.
  • 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
  • At the Buddhist temple Daishō-in, at Mt. Misen, Itsukushima, where the flame is said to have been burning since AD 806, for more than 1,200 years
  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, The remaining fire from the atomic bomb explosion that was dropped by the US. remains burning since 1945. It is now a symbol of peace and to remain lit until all nuclear weapons in the world are abolished.


  • 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





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


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

This page was last updated at 2024-04-18 09:58 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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