The law has allowed for cremations to take place in Greece since 2006 but it is only recently that a crematorium has opened in Ritsona, about 80km north of Athens.

Opposition to cremation in Greece came from several quarters but mainly from the Greek Orthodox Church which has argued that the human body is God’s creation and cannot be burned. It favours the decomposition of the body through burial in accordance with its ancient traditions.

The crematorium which opened in September last year is privately owned by Antonis Alakiotis, a founder of the Greek Cremation Society, who has campaigned for 20 years for a crematorium to be built in Greece. Mr Alakiotis is also  the president of Crem Services, which is a private crematorium and a service for scattering ashes.

The new facility now offers Greeks the chance to cremate their loved ones in their own country and not have to travel to the nearest facility which is in Bulgaria.

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In 2006, the conservative government of the day, along with support from the socialist opposition party passed the law enabling cremation – after years of pressure from people like Mr Alakiotis, human rights groups and state ombudsmen.

The law allows for the cremation of foreigners and Greeks, “whose religious convictions allow the cremation after death.” Under the law, Orthodox Greeks can opt for cremation once they have stated  this in writing before their deaths or if close relatives choose this option.