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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.