greek church

7 of the Most Inspiring Churches in Greece Worthy of a Visit

Churches are an integral part of the Greek landscape, with structures ranging from simple chapels to magnificent displays of architecture and art. A number of renowned architects and builders, not to mention painters, have contributed to the rich collection of churches, cathedrals, and more that exist throughout the country.

The oldest churches date back to the 4th century AD. However, many key structures from the ancient world, such as the Parthenon, functioned as Christian gathering points during certain periods in history.

Travelers in Greece will find churches everywhere. Many of them are worth a visit, especially for people who like the particular style of Greek Orthodox art and design. Some of the must-see churches and cathedrals in Greece include:

 

  1. Church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani

Located on the island of Paros in the Cyclades, the Church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani dates back to the middle of the 4th century. This makes it one of the earliest Byzantine churches in existence.

The name of the structure means “Church of 100 Doors,” although legend has it that only 99 doors are actually visible when people tour the building. The hidden 100th door will appear only when Constantinople is returned to the Greeks, according to local myth.

The building is incredibly ornate. It contains breathtaking stone details and many gold decorations.

 

  1. Church of Agia Anna

In some ways, the Church of Agia Anna is the opposite of Panagia Ekatontapiliani. A small chapel, the church represents a very traditional and simple style with basic white walls and minimal decoration.

Church of "Agia Anna"

Image by Tilemahos Efthimiadis | Flickr

The structure sits on the top of a rock right by the water on Agia Anna Beach on Amorgos. Not far from the church is the Monastery of Hozoviotissa, which is also worth a visit.

The monastery was built directly into the face of a cliff hundreds of meters above the sea in the 11th century AD. A miraculous icon of the Virgin was found at the site, which prompted the construction.

 

  1. Church of the Seven Martyrs

Sifnos has been called the island of 336 churches, although this is actually an urban legend. However, the island does boast an overwhelming number of small chapels and monasteries. The one that attracts the most visitors remains the Church of Seven Martyrs, which is on top of an islet close to the village of Kastro.

The church perfectly represents Cycladic style. Its white and blue dome reflects the clear waters nearby. People may actually recognize the church as they approach. It has become one of the most photographed locations in the Greek islands.

 

  1. Church of Agios Isidoros

Another church that has attracted a lot of photographic attention is the Church of Agios Isidoros on Chios. It is not far from Sykiada on the northern part of the island. This church is in the midst of a bay. A long pier stretches out from the rocky beach to reach the structure.

An early Christian temple once occupied the tiny island and was later replaced by this small chapel. While it looks fairly humble from the outside, Agios Isidoros has some incredible design elements located within. These include mosaic floors and a crypt with holy relics.

 

  1. Church of Agios Ioannis

This church gained fame because it was featured in the movie Mamma Mia. However, it attracted people to the island of Skopelos even before that. The structure is located on the top of a cliff close to a village named Glossa.

Church of Agios Ioannis Prodromos

Image by Ava Babili | Flickr

Visitors need to trek up 106 steps to reach the church. They are rewarded with 360-degree views of the island and the surrounding waters. The cliff itself stretches out into the water. This means the panorama is unlike any other on the island.

 

  1. Church of Megalochari

One of the most important places of worship in all of Greece is the Church of Megalochari on the island of Tinos. Located on a hill above Chora, the church was built to celebrate and house an icon of the Virgin Mary.

Greeks strongly believe this icon can grant miracles. Many people travel long distances to visit the church and ask for assistance. Visitors may see some of the most devout pilgrims enter the church on their knees as a sign of deference to the Virgin.

 

  1. Church of Agios Dionysios

A relatively new church compared to others on this list, the Church of Agios Dionysios was built in the 1890s. Today, the church is recognized as one of the most important in the Greek Orthodox tradition because it houses a great deal of orthodox art.

Because the church was constructed on Zakynthos, it was dedicated to the island’s patron saint, Agios Dionysios. The structure has a unique, calming effect on visitors. Peace and serenity seem to enshrine the building. Visitors are able to put worries out of their minds and enjoy the beautiful architecture.

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delphi

5 of the Top Reasons to Spend Time Exploring Delphi

Located only a couple of hours from Athens, Delphi has emerged as one of the most popular day trips for tourists based in the Greek capital. Most people associate the city with the historic oracle and come to see the wonderful archaeological attractions, but Delphi has grown into one of the largest cities in Greece. For that reason, it has a lot to offer tourists who choose to stay there for longer than a day. From excellent food and world-class shopping to exciting historical and cultural attractions, Delphi has something for everyone. Some of the must-do activities for visitors include:

 

  1. Visiting the archeological site of Delphi

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Delphi archaeological site attracts about 500,000 tourists each year. The site includes the sanctuary of Pythia, a high priestess of Apollo who provided consultations to the Ancient Greeks. The majority of major decisions in the ancient world were not made until after a pilgrimage to see the oracle. Visitors can see what it was like to go through the entire process, from making a sacrifice at the Tholos of Athena Pronaia to bathing at the Castallian Fountain before entering the sacred site. The Sacred Way takes visitors to the main attraction by way of the Temple of Apollo. The Archaeological Museum associated with the site provides some great background on excavation efforts and includes a number of incredible pieces, including the Large Sphynx of Naxos and a bronze statue of a charioteer dating back to 470 BC.

 

delphi

 

  1. Exploring the art scene in Delphi Village

Delphi Village largely serves to welcome tourists as they first arrive to the area. While the two main roads have a handful of cafés, tavernas, and small hotels, they also feature two gems for art lovers. The first must-see attraction is the Angelos and Eva Sikelianos Museum, which occupies the former home of the famous Greek poet. Angelos and Eva organized the Delphic Festival in 1927 and then again in 1930. Eva made the costumes for the dance and theater performances using a loom that is still in the home. The couple also helped found the village’s other major attraction for art lovers: the European Cultural Center. In addition to hosting events, the center features sculptures and paintings from Alekos Fasianos, Yiannis Tsarouchis, and Giannis Gaitis, among other Greek artists.

 

  1. Hiking around the surrounding mountains

Hikers have discovered a number of paths around Mt. Parnassos that were once used by pilgrims coming to see the oracle. Today, visitors can choose from a variety of trails of varying difficulties that provide sweeping views of the landscape, as well as nearby villages and monuments. Trekking Hellas Parnassos is a local business that provides tours of the hills for visitors who do not want to explore on their own. One of the most popular sites is Corycian Cave, situated above the sanctuary of Delphi. The cave has served as the site of pagan rituals since Neolithic times and is associated with the god Pan and the nymphs. Greek mythology explains that the cave was named for Corycia, a nymph who was a partner to Apollo. Hikers can also complete longer treks on Mt. Parnassos to explore other caves, springs, and mountain shelters.

amphitheatre

 

  1. Venturing out to the nearby village of Arachova

Nicknamed the “Mykonos of the Mountains,” Arachova has a number of celebrated restaurants, boutique shops, and trendy cafes among its picturesque stone buildings. One of the most famous ski resorts in Greece is located in the town. Because the area is known for its wealthy visitors, it has attracted a number of global brands to its main street. However, even people who don’t care to shop will still find much to do. Arachova produces some unique local foods, including Formaela cheese, Amfissa olives, and a delicious spirit known as tsipouro. Several restaurants serve unexpected proteins like wild boar, goat, rooster, and other locally sourced meats. Once guests have their fill of food, they can burn off some calories by exploring the church of St. George, which has a massive clock tower that overlooks the whole village.

 

  1. Heading to the coastal town of Galaxidi

Another small town close to Delphi that’s worth a visit is Galaxidi, which is located on the Gulf of Corinth. Here, tourists will find charming cobblestone pathways winding around town and a number of small specialty shops that sell locally produced herbs and spices. The town is also known for its various olive-inspired products. Galaxidi has two different ports, Agora and Chirolaka, so there is an opportunity for guests to venture out on the water if they desire. In addition, Galaxidi has two museums: one that examines the maritime history of Greece and another focused on local folklore and its impact on Greek culture. People who enjoy exploring churches and monasteries will also find a number of them scattered throughout the town.

acropolis

5 Sites from Greek Mythology That You Should Visit

Greece is one of the top destinations in the world for tourists with an interest in mythology. Throughout the country, there are many curated museums that explore the rich mythological heritage of the country. While people can learn a lot from these museums, the most exciting aspect of a trip to Greece is visiting historical sites and learning from firsthand exploration. Today, you can visit a number of sites that are important in Greek mythology. Following are a handful of the most exciting destinations for tourists:

 

1. The Labyrinth of the Minotaur

The myth of Theseus and the Minotaur has become one of the most popular tales from Ancient Greece. Minos, the king of Crete and the son of Zeus, raised a son with the head of a bull and the body of a human. In order to house the minotaur, Minos built a labyrinth and sealed it inside. Today, tourists can explore two labyrinths that may have inspired this myth. The first is in Kommos, which was the home of Minos. This town has some great ruins and wonderful views of the ocean. Another contender for the inspiration behind the myth is the nearby city of Gortyn. People may want to visit both and decide which of them they think better fits the context of the myth.

 

2. Thebes

hercules

In Ancient Greece, Thebes emerged as one of the most powerful city-states and served as the location for a number of different myths. Perhaps the most famous tale is that of Oedipus, the mythical king of Thebes, who became a tragic hero in Greek mythology. Thebes also serves as the birthplace of both Hercules and Dionysus, the god of wine. Mythology also tells the story of how Thebes was founded. Cadmus, a Phoenician, came to Greece to search for Europa, his sister. When he consulted an oracle, he was told to create the city of Thebes and forget about his sister. Thebes still exists today in the Boeotia region, although it now goes by the name Thiva.

 

3. Mount Ida and the Cave of Zeus

In the mountains of Crete stands Mount Ida, which is the place where baby Zeus was hidden from his father Cronos. Zeus’ mother, Rhea, hid her child in Ideon Cave below the mountain to protect him. According to mythology, the cave is where Zeus grew up, which made it a popular pilgrimage site. Visitors can still explore the beautiful cave, which consists of a network of various caverns and underground pools. In addition, tourists can hike along the mountain for some great views of the island.

 

4. Acheron River

 

Throughout Greek mythology, many people must venture to the Underworld, a place overseen by Hades, the god of death. Perhaps the most popular story involves that of Orpheus, who searched for his beloved, Eurydice. However, Odysseus also makes a treacherous trip to the Underworld, as does Hercules, who captures Cerberus, the dog with three heads who guards the gate. According to Greek mythology, five rivers flow into the Underworld. Four of these rivers are underground and are only accessible in stories. However, one of these rivers does still flow in the modern world, the Acheron River. This river is located in the northern part of Greece and can be accessed by a day trip from Corfu. The Acheron River flows from the heart of Greece’s mainland into the Ionian Sea. Visitors can see the source of the river near the city of Zotiko and take in the beautiful landscape of the area while pondering what it would mean for ancient heroes to take the journey to the world of Hades.

 

5. Mount Olympus

One of the most important places in Greek mythology, Mount Olympus was considered the home of the gods. The mountain, located in the middle of the Greek mainland, is a breathtaking sight and the highest peak in the country. Mount Olympus has bare, rocky peaks around it that visitors can explore on hikes. At the top of the mountain, visitors will find some of the most incredible views in the entirety of Greece. In addition, they can explore the area around the peak, which has been a protected national park for about a century. While tourists may not come across any deities or the palaces that were supposedly built in the gorges of the mountain, they will undoubtedly see some exciting flora and fauna along the way. Visitors can access the mountain from Halkidiki, the northern peninsula in the area.

mykonos

9 Things That Tourists Should Do While on the Island of Mykonos

Greece offers visitors with a number of exciting opportunities to explore its islands. One of the most popular island destinations is Mykonos, which is known for its gorgeous beaches and rich nightlife. The island is one of the best places to shop in Greece with a number of popular international brands represented. However, Mykonos has much more to offer visitors. Following are some of the top things to do in Mykonos.

 

1. Visit the Monastery of Panagia Tourliani

Monastery of Panagia Tourliani

Image by Christina | Flickr

Fans of unique architecture should be sure to visit this monastery, which is located close to Ano Mera. The monastery has a colorful dome that provides a striking contrast to the whitewashed walls, as well as intricately carved wooden altar screens and a breathtaking marble fountain. Since the monastery is only open to the public by appointment, visitors should call ahead to ensure that they are allowed to explore the interior. Ano Mera itself is worth a visit due to its fresh produce market and wonderful restaurants.

 

2. Hang with the Pelicans

In 1958, a fisherman found a wounded pelican that was later nursed back to health and named Petros from the Greek word for stone, the predominant architectural element on Mykonos. For three decades, the pelican served as a symbol of the island until it was killed by a car in 1985. The mummified Petros now resides in Thessaloniki. Three more pelicans have made the island their home, one of which is named after the original bird inhabitant. Tourists frequently seek out the pelicans for photo opportunities.

 

3. Learn at the Aegean Maritime Museum

Located in Tria Pigadia, the Aegean Maritime Museum provides visitors with the opportunity to learn more about maritime history and tradition throughout Greece. For 35 years, the museum has adopted various replicas of rowing and sailing ships used in the Aegean Sea from the Classical era until today. In addition, tourists will find an array of maps, sculptures, and ancient coins that speak to maritime life in the country.

 

4. Visit Lena’s House

Lena's house

Image by Guido Jansen | Flickr

Lena’s House, another attraction in Tria Pigadia, provides visitors with an authentic look at a middle-class family home from the 19th century. The house features a large collection of European and local furniture from the same time period and other decorative elements. While there, individuals can learn about what it meant to live on Mykonos a couple of hundred years ago while checking out some beautiful household art objects, such as embroidery.

 

5. Spend Time in Little Venice

One of the most recognizable neighborhoods on Mykonos, Little Venice offers a lot of charm. The area, which was founded in the 18th century by sea captains and wealthy merchants, reminds some tourists of a small Italian town. The homes, which hang out over the sea, feature beautifully colored windows. Many visitors choose to enjoy cocktails in the neighborhood while watching the sun set over the water.

 

6. Wander around Gyzi Castle

Close to Mykonos Town lies the ruins of Gyzi Castle, a structure with a lot of history that provides visitors with a glimpse into the island’s past. The castle was first built in the 13th century as a fortress to protect Ano Mera. However, locals abandoned it once the Ottoman Empire rose to power and then pirates used it as home base for centuries. Several parts of the castle remain for visitors to explore. Visitors can also view the ruins of the ancient Mykonos city, including a cemetery, market, and wall fortifications. In addition, the hilltop on which the castle was built provides a great view of the northern parts of the island.

 

7. Watch a Movie at Cine Manto

In the center of Mykonos Town is Cine Manto, an open-air theater surrounded by palm trees, cacti, and pines. After a long day, visitors can unwind by watching a movie under the stars and enjoying food from the nearby café. The cinema shows foreign films with Greek subtitles. Offering films for both children and adults, the theater is open from early June to the end of September.

 

8. See the Panagia Paraportiani

church-of-panagia-paraportiani

Mykonos features more than 360 different churches, the most iconic of which is Panagia Paraportiani. Located in Chora, the picturesque church features whitewashed walls and a large central door that opens up to a sweeping view of the Mediterranean Sea. The space is ideal for undertaking personal reflection on spirituality before taking some inspiring photos of the structure and the blue waters beyond it.

 

9. Photograph the Windmills

The windmills on Mykonos have become one of the most recognizable symbols on the island. Visitors will find the windmills between Little Venice and Niochori. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Mykonos had more than 20 windmills that were used to produce wheat. However, only seven of them have been well maintained. Still, they are an impressive sight and provide an interesting glimpse into the agriculture history of the island.