Tag: church (page 1 of 6)

Views from above: the Mermaid Madonna church and Skala Sykaminias on Lesvos

Share

Skala Sikamneas (Panagia Gorgona) is a 3-minute aerial film by Nick Drone

 

Bird’s eye views: In our previous post, The Mermaid Madonna church at Skala Sykaminias on Lesvos, we recounted a visit to the charming island village, and described interesting information and stories that we didn’t learn about until after we returned home from our holiday.  We also shared some of our photos of the church, a veritable Greek island icon.

We subsequently stumbled upon the YouTube channel for Nick Drone, where we discovered this aerial video from September 2020. The film captures beautiful views of the village, harbour and church as they’re bathed in the golden glow of late afternoon sunshine.  The church and village appear radiant in the warm autumn sunlight, while the sparkling, crystal clear waters below the church look striking. 

The camera makes several overhead passes to capture the impressive landscape and coastal scenery, and it circles above the Panagia Gorgona church for 360-degree views of the building. We think you’ll enjoy the scenic 3-minute flight.

The Mermaid Madonna church at Skala Sykaminias on Lesvos

Share

Panagia Gorgona church of the Mermaid Gorgona on Lesvos

Panagia Gorgona church on Lesvos island

Panagia Gorgona Church on Lesvos

Three views of the church of Panagia Gorgona (the Mermaid Madonna), in photos from our visit to Skala Sykaminias on Lesvos

 

Greek island icon: Sometimes we learn fascinating facts and interesting background details about places we’ve been to in Greece long after we get home from holidays, rather than while we’re there in person, and this certainly proved to be the case for Skala Sykaminias village on Lesvos.

Mid-spring of 2019 found us staying in the beautiful town of Molyvos at the beginning of our first-ever Lesvos vacation — which coincidentally wound up being our last trip to Greece before the Covid-19 pandemic interrupted our annual travels.

During breakfast one morning, we were mulling where to go on a sightseeing drive that day. Our maps and guide books described nearby Skala Sykaminias as one of the most picturesque fishing villages on Lesvos, and other travellers at our hotel in Molyvos agreed, effusively praising it as “lovely,”  “charming,” and “not to be missed.” Since it was an easy, short drive from our accommodations, we decided to make the village our first stop.

We thought it was just as pretty as people had promised, in large part thanks to a quaint whitewashed chapel that gives the harbour much of its unique character and photogenic appeal. Built atop a large rock formation on one side of the port, the small, simple church is the standout feature of the Skala Sykaminias seafront.

 Like the handful of other tourists wandering around the village that late April afternoon, we made a point of popping by for a closer look at the little church. The door was locked tight, so we couldn’t look around inside, but we did enjoy pausing to take in the impressive views of the sea, harbour and village from the elevated position of the building and its adjacent terrace.

Panagia Gorgona Church on Lesvos

Panagia Gorgona church

Skala Sykamineas village on Lesvos

Top: Approaching steps leading from the harbour mole to Panagia Gorgona church. Center: Terrace view of the chapel, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Bottom: Terrace view of the harbour.

 

Some of our travel guides said the church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and called Panagia Gorgona (the Mermaid Madonna), but they didn’t explain how or why it got that name. In fact, they didn’t provide any information about the village’s signature attraction at all, and very little about Skala Sykaminia, either, apart from saying it’s famous for its fish tavernas. During our various travels in Greece, we have seen shops, hotels and tavernas named Gorgona, so it didn’t strike us as odd that a seaside chapel might be called that, too.

It wasn’t until months after we returned home from our holiday that I came across some curious stories and interesting information about Panagia Gorgona and the Skala Sykaminias settlement, and learned that both owe much of their tourist fame to a novel published in 1949 by a locally-born writer, Stratis Myrivilis.

I had never heard of Myrivilis until I noticed his name in the excellent photography book, Aeolian Lesvos (Liza Evert, Constellation Books Athens, 1995), which I had purchased on the island as a personal souvenir from our trip. Captions for two of the book’s beautiful photos of Skala Sykaminias were excerpts from Myrivilis’s novel, The Mermaid Madonna, which is regarded as the writer’s best-known work.

The quote in one of the photo captions described how a group of masons had been travelling by boat to a village in northern Lesvos, where they were scheduled to construct a soap factory. En route, they encountered a sudden storm squall that nearly capsized their vessel. When the masons noticed a rocky crag on the nearby coast, they said a prayer: “Save us and we’ll build you a chapel.” The weather settled immediately, and the masons and boat crew safely reached the shore at Skala Sykaminias. “They tied up the vessel and carried out their vow. That’s why the little chapel looks so like a small oil shop.”

Intrigued, I searched online for more information about Myrivilis, and found an informative PowerPoint presentation that students at the junior high school in Petra, Lesvos, had prepared for an Erasmus+ project entitled Every child matters: refugees and immigrants in education (Ermasmus+ is an EU governmental program for education, training, youth and sport).

Greek writer Stratis Myrivilis and the cover of his book The Mermaid Madonna

Photos of Greek writer Stratis Myrivilis and the cover of his popular 1949 novel, The Mermaid Madonna, are seen in an image from a presentation the Junior High School in Petra, Lesvos prepared for an EU educational program

 

The slideshow provides a brief biography of Myrivilis, a 3-time nominee for the Nobel literature prize, and includes a synopsis of The Mermaid Madonna, the novel he named after the little chapel in Skala Sykaminias. The book tells gripping stories based upon the harrowing refugee crisis that took place in 1922, when Turks torched the coastal city of Smyrna and forced more than a million native Greeks to flee the Anatolia region (Smyrna was part of what is now the Turkish city of Izmir). Besides describing the arrival of refugees at Skala Sykaminias, Myrivilis tells the tale of the masons who built Panagia Gorgona, and recounts some local legends about mermaids and village residents.

One story relates how village inhabitants reacted to a little green-eyed girl who was discovered in a fishing boat, and believed to be the daughter of a mermaid who had seduced a fisherman. Elsewhere, the book describes how villagers began to worship a mural that a sea captain purportedly painted inside the church, depicting the Virgin Mary with a mermaid’s tale. (The painting disappeared from the church decades ago, if it even existed in the first place.)

 

Cafe table painting of Mermaid Madonna Church

The Mermaid Madonna church is depicted in a table-top painting at a harbourside taverna in Skala Sykaminias

 

I felt dismayed that we hadn’t known about Myrivilis and his captivating stories, or the Smyrna refugee connection to Skala Sykaminias, before going to Lesvos. I’m convinced all the background information I discovered afterwards would have enhanced our visit, giving us a much better appreciation for the history of the church and village. We probably would have scoured the seaside for signs of mermaids, and peered through the chapel window to try and spot where the famous mural may have been painted!

Though we didn’t realize it at the time, we obviously had fallen under the siren’s spell simply by going there.

As an insightful article in the Lesvos-based blog Smitaki Boulevard News observes, “Skala Sykaminia is the village of the mermaid, who in modern times, continues her ancient craft, by seducing tourists.” Indeed — her charms had certainly worked their magic on us. I can still feel them sometimes, gently trying to lure us back.

If a trip to Lesvos is in your future plans, be sure to heed the siren’s call and pay Skala Sykaminias a visit.

For more information and photos of the church and village, here are links to several online articles and social media posts:

♦   A detailed description of the Stratis Myrivilis story about the church is outlined in The Mermaid of Sykaminia post on the blog Smitaki Boulevard News Lesvos, which we mentiioned above;

♦ Photos of the chapel, including three pictures of its interior, can be seen on the Ι .Ν. Panagia tis Gorgonas – North Aegean Islands page of the Holy Archdiocese of Athens website of Religious Tourism Destinations;

The Mermaid Madonna post on the NixPixMix blog includes several photos of the church (inside and out) and the Skala Sykaminias harbour, as well as a modern painting that depicts how the legendary mermaid Madonna fresco may have looked;

♦ A few Instagram photos and brief descriptions of the stories about the church are included in the Travelgirl blog post The church of Panagia Gorgona on Lesvos became famous from the novel by Myrivilis.

Below are several more of our photos of the church and harbour:

Panagia Gorgona Church on Lesvos

Panagia Gorgona church

Panagia Gorgona Church on Lesvos

Panagia Gorgona Church on Lesvos

Panagia Gorgona Church on Lesvos

Church bell at Panagia Gorgona Church on Lesvos

Panagia Gorgona Church on Lesvos

Panagia Gorgona Church on Lesvos

 

Video spotlight on: Samos

Share

This is my island, This is Samos by Michali’s Films

 

If you ever get the chance to visit Samos, here’s a few sage words of advice: Stay for at least a week, and rent a car for either all or part of your holiday. You’ll need that time, and access to a vehicle, to see even just a few of the fabulous sites and scenic locations spotlighted in the video This is my island, This is Samos by Michali’s Films.

We spent 4.5 days on Samos during an island-hopping holiday through the Dodecanese and East Aegean regions of Greece exactly 10 years ago this month. (How time flies — we can’t believe a full decade has passed since that vacation).

We knew when we arrived that we would only be scraping the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, by basing ourselves in and near the island’s capital city, Vathy, and not having a car at our disposal.  Samos is a big island, as evidenced by the fact it boasts three ferry ports and an airport; spellbinding mountain, valley and coastal landscapes; dozens of beautiful beaches; charming villages, churches and monasteries; noteworthy historic places and monuments (including UNESCO World Heritage Sites); vineyards that produce the island’s world-famous muscat wine; scores of tavernas serving delicious local and traditional Greek cuisine; and much much more.

We weren’t stuck in Vathy the whole time, though, since we did rent mountain bikes for a day. That gave us the opportunity to take a fun ride to and from the picturesque seaside village of Kokkari, and to explore the countryside north of the city.

Still, we missed out on seeing so much, as This is my island, This is Samos made clear.

The 4-minute film shows dozens of remarkable places all over the island, and captures impressive aerial views of:

♦ the villages of Platanos, Kokkari, Pyrgos, Miloi, Irion, Pythagorion (and its striking Blue Street), Mesokampos, Posidonio, Mitilinii and Ormos Marathokampou;

♦ the beaches Klima, Potami,  Mourtia, Mykali, Proteas, Psili Ammos, Megalo Seitani, Klima, Glikoriza, Tarsanas, Remataki, Livadaki, Limnionas, and Balos; 

♦ the Temple of Hera, Ancient Walls of Samos, an ancient observatory, and other historic sites;

♦ the 2,500-year-old olive tree “Eva” at Miloi village;

♦ numerous churches and holy sites including the Church of Profitis Ilias, Agias Triada Monastery, Agios Nikolaos Church at Pandroso village, Panagia Church at Mitilinii village, the Church of Panagia Eleousa, the Church of Profitis Ilias near Spatharaioi village, the Church of Agiris Chrysostomos of Smyrna at Mykali, the Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi, Agios Nikolaos Church at Posidonio, the Monastery of Panagia Spiliani at Pythagoreion, and Agios Nikolaos Church at Potami;

♦ a flamboyance of flamingos at Alikes Mykali;

♦ the islands of Samiopoula, Karavopetra, Agios Nikolaos, Diaporti and Vareloudi;

♦ Mount Kerkis and the Profitis Ilias mountain region;

♦ the statue of Pythagoras at Pythagoreion village;

♦ tour boats, and more.

If you’d like to see more of the island after taking this aerial tour, you’ll find nearly 20 other Samos videos to watch on the Michali’s Films channel on YouTube.

 

Moments in Molyvos Part 2: Exploring the old market and hillsides below the castle

Share

Houses on the hills below the Castle of Molyvos on Lesvos island

Even though it meant climbing up and down hundreds of stone steps, we couldn’t resist exploring the residential districts that line the steep slopes beneath Molyvos Castle. 

 

My first Moments in Molyvos post included of photos we shot, during our spring 2019 vacation, of sights along on the town’s main road and harbour. 

In this instalment, we venture uphill to explore the residential areas situated on the steep slopes that descend from the hilltop Castle of Molyvos to the main road. Photos in this collection include elegant stone houses, villas and hotels; four of the town’s major churches; shops and restaurants lining the cobblestone lanes of the historic market district; a lovely pine-forested park; the municipal cemetery; and occasional scenic views from the hillsides. We will visit the castle in Part 3.

 

buildings cling to the steep hills below the Castle of Molyvos on Lesvos

Tile-roofed stone buildings, many of which are centuries-old, cling to the steep hills below the Castle of Molyvos. In this post, we enter the maze of lanes and steps between the buildings to take a closer look at what’s there.

 

Please click on the link below to continue the photo tour of Molyvos. 

Page 2 contains pictures from our walkabouts in the town’s traditional market and surrounding neighbourhood, while

Page 3 features photos of our walks on the hillsides below Molyvos Castle.

Page 4 has pictures from our walks on the hills northwest of the castle, high above the harbour.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Pages: 1 2 3 4

Nafplio’s scenic seaside walks: The Arvanitia promenade and the Karathona beach path

Share

Greece, Peloponnese, Arcadia, Nafplio, coast, seaside, walkway, promenade, trail, Arvanitia, Arvanitia promenade Nafplio, Nafplio coastal walkway, walkway, path,

The Arvanitia promenade is a stone-paved walkway that winds along the seaside from Nafplio’s historic Old Town to Arvanitia beach 1 kilometer away

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Karathona, trail, path, coast, seaside,

The sand and dirt path to Karathona beach begins near Arvanitia, and meanders southward along the Argonic Gulf coast. The walking distance between the two beaches is roughly 2.7 kilometers, about a 30- to 40-minute trek.

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Karathona, Karathona Bay, Karathona Beach, docks, harbour, harbor, fishing boats,

Boats docked in the north corner of Karathona Bay. From here, Karathona beach extends nearly 2 kilometers around the bay. It takes half an hour to walk from this spot to the south end of the beach.

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Karathona, church, Greek Orthodox church, Agios Nikolaos Church,

A separate, third trail leads from Karathona beach to Agios Nikolaos church, which sits on a windy slope above the sea. It’s a pleasant, short hike that’s worthwhile if you reach the south end of Karathona Bay and wish to view more coastal scenery before your return walk to Nafplio.

 

Wonderful walks:  Nafplio is commonly called “one of the most beautiful towns in Greece,” and rightly so — its historic Old Town is one of the prettiest places we have seen during our travels to more than two dozen islands plus a wide variety of places on the mainland and in the Peloponnese. 

With its picturesque alleys, lanes and streets, charming old buildings, impressive public parks and squares, myriad monuments and historic sites, and an extensive selection of restaurants, bars and shops, Nafplio is fascinating to visit, whether just on a daytrip or for several days or more.

Though the town itself is lovely, one of the features we personally love most about Nafplio is the surrounding natural scenery — an exhilarating expanse of rolling hills and mountains, rugged rocky peninsulas and shorelines, and captivating sea colours in the bays, beaches, coves and harbours that indent the  Argolic Gulf coast.

Walking is the best way to observe and savour the marvellous scenery, and Nafplio boasts two wonderful seaside paths that rank among our favourite coastal walks in all of Greece — the Arvanitia promenade, and the footpath to Karathona beach. We make a point of walking at least one of the paths each day we are in Nafplio.

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Acronauplia, Acronauplia peninsula, coast, seaside, Argolic Gulf

Aerial view of the Acronauplia peninsula’s south side. The Arvanitia promenade can be seen at the base of the rocky cliffs and is partially visible where it snakes through the line of trees above the shore. The walkway ends at a square above Arvanitia beach (bottom right).

 

The Nafplio Old Town is positioned on the northern slopes of Acronauplia, a thumb-shaped peninsula that juts into the Argolic Gulf (a body of water between the Arcadia and Argolida regions of the Peloponnese). The Arvanitia promenade begins at the Nafplio waterfront area known locally as The Shore, and curves around the western tip of Acronauplia, hugging the base of imposing steep cliffs covered in wide swaths of prickly pear and other cactus plants. The walkway ends at Arvanitia Square, a walking distance of approximately 1 kilometer.  The town’s popular sunbathing and swimming spot, the stone and pebble Arvanitia beach, is a short downhill walk from the square. 

The footpath to Karathona starts a mere stone’s throw beyond the Arvanitia beach entrance. As it meanders south, it passes above several coves and secluded inlets as well as the pebble and stone strands known as Neraki beach. The path is a favourite route for local residents to power walk, jog, cycle and exercise their dogs. At a casual pace, it takes about half an hour to walk the 2.7 kilometer distance to a small harbour at the northern tip of Karathona beach. 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Karathona, Karathona Beach, beach, coast, seaside

Beach view from the south side of Karathona Bay

 

Karathona is an exceptionally wide and gently curved beach that stretches nearly 2 kilometers — almost as long as the path from Arvanitia. While it has several sections organized with beach chairs, umbrellas and bars, there are plenty of wide-open spaces in between.  There is another small harbour at the southern end of the beach, along with several houses and Agios Konstantinos Church.  Across the road and parking area behind the houses is the starting point of yet another coastal path, this one a short, narrow trail that leads up and over a hill to the small whitewashed church of Agios Nikolaos. It takes less than 15 minutes to hike to the church, with superb views of the gulf and the mountainous coast of Arcadia throughout the trek (followed by excellent views of Karathona Bay and beach on the way back.)

Strolling the Arvanitia promenade is often suggested as a “must-do” activity for Nafplio visitors, and we certainly agree. But we recommend that walking enthusiasts also make the invigorating hike to Karathona and onward to take a quick look at Agios Nikoloas Church.  These walks offer a great opportunity to get some exercise and fresh sea air while enjoying the tremendous views of coastal landscapes and the Argolic Gulf.

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolis, Nafplio,Bourtzi castle, castle, fortress, bay, sea, Banieres, coast,

From the Arvanitia promenade, walkers can view two castles: the Bourtzi sea fortress, seen from a lookout spot above the Banieres swimming area …

 

Greece,Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Palamidi castle, castle, fortress, mountain, peak,

… and the massive Palamidi castle on the peak high above Arvanitia beach, seen as evening sun casts a golden glow on the mountain

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Argolic Gulf, bay, sea, coast,

Both walking paths overlook alluring turquoise waters in the Argolic Gulf …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Argolic Gulf, Nafplio, Karathona, coast, cliffs, landscape, mountain, seaside,

…  exhilarating coastal landscapes …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Argolic Gulf, sea, bay, coast, mountains,

… mountains in the Arcadia region of the Peloponnese to the west …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Nafplio, Karathona, coast, seaside, shore, sea, bay, cove, water, Argolic Gulf,

… pretty bays and quiet coves along the rugged shoreline …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Nafplio, Arvanitia, Arvanitia beach, beach, seaside, coast, sunbathers, swimmers, sea,

… organized beaches, like Arvanitia, which offer bars, restaurants, lounge chairs and umbrellas …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Nafplio, Karathona path, beach, Neraki beach, Neraki beach Nafplio, coast, seaside, sea, water,

… and quieter beaches, like Neraki, with no facilities (or crowds)

 

Please click on the links below to continue reading and to see many more photos of the Arvanitia promenade, Arvanitia beach, the Karathona path,  Karathona beach, the trail to Agios Nikolaos Church and of course the church itself.

Page 2 contains some general information about the walking routes, as well as photos of the Arvanitia promenade.

Page 3 features photos of the Karathona footpath and Karathona beach.

Page 4 has pictures of Agios Nikolaos Church and its access trail.

 

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Pages: 1 2 3 4

Greek Island icons & landmarks: The blue-domed church high above the sea on Santorini

Share

Agios Theodori Church

Photos of Agios Theodori Church have inspired countless people to visit Santorini and other places in Greece — or to dream of going there

   

Greek Islands Icons & Landmarks is a series of occasional posts about curious, unusual and extraordinary sights and places we have seen on our travels in the Greek Islands

 

Celebrity dome: It’s a quintessential image of Greece:  a cute white chapel with a shiny blue dome, accompanied by a white belfry with three bells, sitting high above the sea on Santorini.   

It’s called Agios Theodori, but like thousands of other churches in Greece, few people outside the country know its name. Nevertheless, it’s a familiar sight to millions around the world, since photos of the church have appeared for decades on travel posters, tour materials and in guidebooks, newspapers and magazines. Along with the Acropolis in Athens, that little whitewashed, blue-domed church is one of the main images people associate with Greece.

I recall seeing pictures of Agios Theodori in the early 1980s, first at restaurants in Windsor, Ontario and Detroit’s Greektown, and then at travel agencies and restaurants along Danforth Avenue in Toronto’s Greektown, which was just a few blocks from where I was living at the time. That was long before I ever considered going to Greece, but the pictures of that blue-domed church stuck in my mind.

 

Agios Theodori church

 

Agios Theodori church

 

 Over 20 years later we finally made it to Greece,  and Santorini was the last stop on our island-hopping holiday. Although I hoped we would see the famous blue-domed church, I didn’t know where to look for it. I figured that if we came across it while exploring the island, that would be great, but if we didn’t get to see it on this trip, perhaps we would some other time. 

Imagine my surprise and delight when, only minutes after checking in to the Santorini Palace Hotel in Firostefani, we walked to the tip of the caldera cliff nearby to check out the views — and saw Agios Theodori church just a few meters directly below us. I was slightly stunned at first; it felt like the familiar image I had seen in print so many times had suddenly come to life before my eyes. 

So was it as breathtaking and impressive as I had anticipated, after seeing it in photos all those years? You bet! There was absolutely no disappointment here —  the live view was spectacular. And to think the church was only a few dozen meters from the front door of our hotel! Now what were the odds of that happening? 

 

Agios Theodori Church

 

Agios Theodori church

 

Agios Theodori Church

 

We saw Agios Theodori church again, on each of our subsequent visits to Santorini, and it was still impressive to see. If we ever go back to the island I’m sure we’ll pass through Firostefani so we can take another look.

 

Below are several photos I found online, showing the church from perspectives we didn’t manage to photograph ourselves. There’s also a map indicating where Agios Theodori is located, should you want to see it in person yourself.

 

Agios Theodori church

The Agios Theodori belfry is seen in an image from the Petr Svarc Images page on Facebook

 

Agios Theodori Church Firostefani

The front of Agios Theodori church as seen from “street” level — actually, from the footpath that winds along the top of the caldera between Firostefani and Fira. Ting Lin shared this photo on Google Images.

 

Agios Theodori Church

 Also from Google Images is this photo by Charles Cheng, capturing Agios Theodori at sunset

 

Agios Theodori church location

Agios Theodori church is marked as “Three Bells of Fira” on Google maps, but it isn’t in the town of Fira — it’s a 10- to 15-minute walk away if you follow the clifftop footpath from the cable car station and walk north toward Firostefani (keeping the sea on your left side).  To see it from the “travel poster and guidebook perspective,” make your way to the Santorini Palace Hotel. From the hotel entrance, walk up the short slope toward the sea, and head for the low wall at  the edge of the parking area. Look down to your left, and enjoy the view!

Samarina: The beautiful Byzantine church in Messenia

Share

Church of the Virgin Zoodochos Pigi Samarina

The Byzantine Church of Zoodochos Pigi Samarina cuts a striking figure set amidst a valley of rolling hills lush with olive trees

 

Lady of the valley:  There were lovely landscapes everywhere we looked while we drove through Messenia in late May. One of the most memorable and marvellous sights along the way was the Byzantine Church of Zoodochos Pigi Samarina, located between the villages of Ellinoekklisia and Kalogerorrachi. 

We first glimpsed the church from afar — from the top of an access road which winds down a wooded hillside to the clearing in which the 800-year-old shrine sits. From this vantage point, Samarina looks simply sublime: a beautiful Byzantine-style building surrounded by rolling hills and lush green groves of olive trees that extend for miles in all directions.  Although the distance offered a breathtaking panoramic perspective of the impressive monument and its pretty surroundings, we of course had to drive down to take a closer look.

Not surprisingly, the church was locked up as tight as a drum, and nobody else was around, so there was no chance of taking a peek inside. 

 

 

According to an information plaque on the grounds near the church, Samarina is considered to be one of the most beautiful Byzantine monuments in the Peloponnese. It was built in the 12th Century on what some sources claim was the site of an ancient temple that had been dedicated to the goddess Rhea. Originally, Samarina was a church operated by the nunnery of Osia Mary of Egypt. It later was renamed church of Zoodochos Pigi (Virgin Mary), but hundreds of years have passed since any nuns last occupied the building.

Amazingly, “Nothing is known about the monument’s history, while the silence of textual evidence in regard with such a monument is remarkable,” the plaque says.

 

Samarina church

A Messenian mystery: Historians say the church dates from the 12th Century, but they don’t know anything about its history.

 

The plaque describes Samarina as “a two-column, domed cross-in-square building whose careful cloisonné masonry next to the variety of decorative brickwork compose a highly artistic complex.”

Between late 2011 and the end of 2013, a rehabilitation and restoration project was carried out to recover the tiled roof, restore the decorative brickwork, and install new wooden doors. Inside, “the wall paintings were entirely restored and the marble templon screen was cleaned to retrieve its white colour and to preserve the traces of inlaid wax and mastic gum.” 

Nearby are ruins of other buildings, believed to have been monastic cells, along with a vaulted Byzantine cistern.

It would have been interesting to see the interior, with its freshly restored frescoes, but we had to make do with  viewing photos in a brochure I had picked up at Messana Hotel at Ancient Messini the day before.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed examining the building exterior, and exploring its serene surroundings. (I have tried to find the brochure and its images online, so I could post a link here, but so far haven’t had any success.)

If you’re passing through the area on your way to or from Ancient Messini, be sure to stop and take a look at Samarina. She’s a beauty.

Below are several more pictures of Samarina. You can view additional photos in my Samarina  church album on Flickr.

 

Samarina church

 

Samarina church

 

Samarina church

 

Samarina church

 

Samarina church

 

Samarina church

 

Photo highlights from our trip to the Peloponnese and Hydra

Share

Monemvasia

The fascinating fortress town of Monemvasia, where we spent three days and nights in early June

 

Amazing experience: I only need one word to describe our first-ever visit to Greece’s Peloponnese region and  Hydra island this month: Wow!

We weren’t even halfway through our holiday when we noted that the trip was shaping up as one of our best vacation experiences ever in Greece. Now that we’re back home, recalling all the places and sights we encountered and sorting through our photos,  we’ve agreed that it was our favourite trip of all. 

The Argolida and Laconia districts of the Peloponnese far exceeded our high expectations, while a spur-of-the-moment trip to Hydra impressed us immensely as well. The sights and scenery everywhere we went were simply amazing.

 

 

 

We enjoyed exhilarating views of sparkling turquoise seas and mountains extending as far as the eye could see. We roamed around charming villages and towns, visited historic archaeological sites, and walked dozens of kilometers along scenic coastal paths. We saw vast groves of olive trees, thousands of citrus trees laden with fruit, and dozens of picturesque churches, chapels and monasteries. We explored ancient castles, even spending three nights in a fortress town and swimming in the sea below its formidable stone walls. And we drank good wine and dined on delicious traditional and contemporary Greek cuisine. 

I will tell you more about our trip in detailed posts to come, but will launch my 2016 trip report with a series of photos showing some highlight sights and scenes from our travels.

Please click on the link below to view the pictures on page 2.

 

the monastery of Elona

The Monastery of Elona, which clings to the face of a cliff on Mount Parnon, was a breathtaking sight during our drive from Nafplio to Monemvasia

 

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Pages: 1 2

Older posts