When a monk makes camp

one of the most unique churches in the world inside a cave on top of a mountain
Panagia Kakaniotissa
image from greekcitytimes.com

Just a few kilometers West of Myrina is a church that is not like any other. Without a roof but covered by the tip of the mountain it was built in. This small church is one of the most unique churches in the world.

Hideout for the monks

The church was built in the 13th century when the Ottomans took over the island of Lemnos. A few monks were able to escape from the Turks. Trying to find a place to hide, they found a secluded and inaccessible cave. Covered by the roughness of the volcanic landscape around, they felt safe enough to make camp.

But what would a monk in a camp be without a church? Nothing. So the monks built the Panagia Kakaniotissa church and were able to survive here throughout time. Not being found by the occupants of the island.

Volcanic rock shows the face of an angry man on the path toward the church.

Visiting today

Today the church is still in use and made accessible to the public. Well, for as far as possible on its very remote location. Just north of the church is a parking lot, accessible by a dirt road. From here a poorly constructed path leads you through the volcanic landscape, up to the cave.

On the way, you will be surprised by the beauty of the landscape around. Although the area seems pretty dry, there are so many different colors around you. The volcanic stones in the area are like sculptures while the sea is visible on the horizon.

You’ll visit not only one of the most unique churches in the world, but you will hike through a special landscape as well.

Volcanic landscape on Lemnos overlooking the sea

Tips:

  • When going to this church, make sure to navigate to the parking lot. Navigation might make a mistake when you try to drive directly towards the church.
  • The hike to the church takes about 20 minutes.
  • Bring enough water and sunscreen with you. And when visiting in summer, it is better to go either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. But make sure to be back before it’s dark, because the path, as well as the dirt road, can be dangerous in the dark.
  • Although the stairs of the path are not very well constructed, it does make this hike safe for children.
  • Don’t try to visit during Easter, or maybe do if you want to explore the Greek culture. To this day, the church is still in use to celebrate this important Greek holiday.
  • Halfway the path towards the church is a little seating area from which you can enjoy the view over the mountains and the sea.
  • Combine with a visit to the castle of Myrina or the traditional windmills in Kontias

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