During the early Byzantine period, many beautiful churches and monasteries were built in Thassos, some were invaded and destroyed while others have survived to this day. Why not renting a car to discover them?
More than 60 small churches and chapels can be found throughout the island which is a relatively large number in comparison to the population – clear proof of the orthodox faith. Many of these churches are freely open to allow visitors to enter. Upon entering a church/chapel it is customary to light a candle and offer a prayer for either personal needs or that of a family member or friend. It is said the candle is lit as a sign of one’s faith and hope in God’s help.
The Byzantine Monastery of Archangelos
Located in south Thassos and possibly the most stunning building on the island! Although called a monastery, it is in actual fact a convent run by a group of nuns and is situated on the cliff edge providing panoramic views over the Aegean Sea and Mount Athos.
The monastery has a collection of religious artefacts, in particular, a nail said to be from the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Each year, on the first Tuesday after Easter, the nail is carried from the village of Theologos to the convent.
Please note when visiting the monastery you should be appropriately dressed – no shorts are allowed and women must cover up too! If you are caught short and find yourself at the monastery door in unsuitable clothing, the friendly nuns have usually a selection of garments, usually skirts and trousers which they have sewn themselves, for you to “borrow” for the duration of your visit.
Beneath the monastery, next to the sea, there is a cave with holy water – Agiasma (please see our blog).
Opening hours: Every day 08:00 h -14:30 h & 16:00 h – 19:30 h
Tel. +30 25930 31 500
St. Panteleimon Monastery in Kazaviti
Built in 1843, it became a monastery in 1987. It was built using rock from the mountains and behind the southern wall, there is a narrow uphill passage leading to a small cave. Inside you will find a natural rock basin with holy water.
As the story goes, someone wanted to build the temple in honour of Saint Panteleimon. The workers began building it approximately 3km away from the cave. The following morning when they arrived to continue with construction, the section they had previously built was destroyed and their tools were missing – this went on for several days. They are said to have realised that a miracle was taking place. Seeing footprints on the ground they followed them until they reached the cave. Here they found their tools so decided to build the temple there.
Saint Panteleimon is said to have performed many miracles, so annually on the 27th of July, on the Saint’s name day, a large number of believers from all over Greece visit the monastery to pray for wellbeing and to drink the holy water. The monastery is accessible from Prinos, Kallirachi, Maries and Limenaria.
Tel. +30 25930 71 235
The Monastery of the Assumption in Maries
The monastery is situated on the road leading to the village of Maries in an area with an abundance of olive and pine trees.
Apart from the central temple dedicated to the Assumption, there is the northern side of the monastery’s buildings where the ” Timiou Padromou ” chapel is situated- a real work of art to be marvelled at.
Of all the Saints’ pictures in the church’s wooden temple, the most special is that of the Mother of Christ. This picture is the monastery’s priceless treasure. It is The monastery was named after this historical and miraculous icon. Thousands of believers of all ages visit the monastery every year to kneel before the holy picture and pray to the Mother of Christ for good health.
Opening hours: Every day 08:30 h – 20:00 h
Tel. +30 25930 51 394
The Church of Maries
Located in the village of Maries, on the south east coast of the island. It is dedicated to the archangels and is one of the oldest churches in Thassos and home to impressive handmade adornments made by monks.
The church of Agios Athanasios in Kastro
The church of Saint Athanassios can be found in the mountain village of Kastro, a traditional settlement located in the central part of Thassos. It is said that the church dates back to 1804. The stones used for the construction of the church are believed to have been taken from the walls of the village. The church is a three-aisled basilica with a wooden roof and an arched arcade. It is a typical example of the local ecclesiastic architecture.
On the 18th of January the church celebrates the feast of Saint Athanassios and welcomes many worshippers from all over the island.
Opening hours: The temple is open every last Saturday of each month. But you can always ask the owner of the tavern (Kostas) next to the church to open for you the door of the church.
The church of Virgin Mary in Panagia
This church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, “Panagia” in Greek, and is found in the mountain village of Panagia.
The construction of the church began in 1831, however, there were not sufficient funds available to complete the church, so the inhabitants of the village asked the help of the monasteries in the holy state of Agion Oros (known in English as Mount Athos). Help came from the Batopediou Monastery which, unlike many of the others, was in the financial position to donate.
The church is a basilica with a high, octagonal dome with three aisles consisting of semi-circular domes. The temple is wood carved, decorated by craftsmen from the mainland and has five entrances. The church has architectural characteristics of the Byzantine churches of Kastoria (mainland Greece) as some of the technicians working on the Panagia church came from that area. Its walls are built with marble slabs from the ruins of ancient temples. An icon dating from 1814 representing the Virgin Mary can be seen in the church as well as the flag that was said to be carried by Richard the Lionheart on one of his crusades.
Sitting in the picturesque old harbour of Limenas, the“Kalogeriko” is a two-storied building constructed during the 19th century. Nowadays, the building is used to host various cultural events throughout the year but it originally belonged to the Batopediou Monastery of Mount Athos and was occupied for many years by Orthodox monks.
The Church of Saint Nicolas in Limenas
The church of Saint Nicolas, one of the oldest churches in Thassos, is located in Limenas near the ancient Agora, “market place” and the Archaeological Museum of Thassos.
Built in 835 AD, it sits on the ruins of an ancient church. The dome is covered with hagiographies. The date 1861 is engraved on the rim, which was the year the frescos were created. Unfortunately, they are all in poor condition today. The entrance is in the vestibule which, in recent years, was incorporated into the church.
▶ ALSO READ: All you need to know about Meteora – Greece
The little monastery of St. Daniil, Krambousa Island
If you find yourself in the vicinity of Skala Potamia, you will probably notice a small island, Krambousa, just beyond the bay. It is adorned by a tiny monastery which was founded in the 9th century by the topical saint, St. Daniil. Known to be a wise and humble man, St. Daniil is honoured on 12th September every year when locals can be seen flocking to the island by any means possible in order to pay their homage.
Have you ever visited any of the churches and monasteries mentioned above? Let us know!
Sunny Greetings from Thassos,
Potos Car Rentals Team
▶ ALSO READ: Potos in Thassos – Best Things You Need to Know