A church without a roof seems impossible. What kind of a church is it… You’re probably wondering.
And I was suspicious. But when I saw it, I was speechless!
Well, it is the church Panagia Kakaviotissa.
This small, orthodox church is located on the beautiful island Lemnos in the northern Aegean Sea.
The Island of Lemnos
Lemnos has fantastic sandy beaches and crystal water, mountain villages and interesting archaeological cities as well. It is the eighth largest Greek island. Administratively it belongs to the department of the island Lesvos.
According to Greek mythology, Lemnos was the island where the Olympian god Hephaestus had his copper workshop. Hephaestus was the Greek god of blacksmiths, sculptors, metallurgy, fire, and volcanoes. And this is why the town called Hephaistia was constructed on the island in his honour.
One of the must-see places on this beautiful island is the little church “Panagia Kakaviotissa”.
The church got its name after the mount “Kakavos” upon which it had been built. It is located close to the village of Thanos, 4 km southeast of Myrina, the capital of the island.
It is hard to access because it is situated in an inaccessible cave on the top of the mountain. The best time for a visit is early in the morning. Or better in the evening, before the sunset. It requires about 20-25 minutes walking, partly on a dirt road.
Kakavos is a real hiking destination on the island! Walking along the narrow and curved path, through the cliffs and shrub vegetation, you can see the incredible mounting forms of stones and little natural caves.
In one cave at the top of the hill, we saw a small group of white and black goats.
On the other side in the distance, there is the Moudros bay surrounded by hills.
This amazing view, the fantastic feeling of freedom and the silence all around us…
And everything seemed unreal 🙂
Panagia Kakaviotissa, the little church without a roof
When we saw the narrow stairs and a little white cross on the rock, we knew that we found it.
The little church in front of us was without a roof!
The church belongs to the monastery of Megisti Lavra since 1305. Monks from the island of Agios Efstratios (a little island near Lemnos) settled there to be protected from the Turks. The church used to be a shelter for monks and hermits.
It is claimed that in the time of Byzantium this spot was probably an early Christian temple.
Two little spaces are divided by the small blue painting doors.
The white walls are covered with little icons.
There are some old books and tiny candles.
And some little things that people leave after their visit for a blessing.
It is an amazing feeling to stay alone in this small church, enjoying the spectacular view, praying in silence.
Just take a deep breath. Feel calm and take this unforgettable moment with you.
The icon of Panagia Kakaviotissa
”Panagia” means ”Virgin Mary” in Greek. Usually, the place where she showed up is added to the word Panagia.
The chapel of Panagia Kakaviotissa celebrates Easter Tuesday. Every year, the icon Panagia Kakaviotissa is transferred into the chapel from the house of a local family in Kontias.
According to the tradition, the last monk, before leaving this place, found a local labourer and gave him this icon. The monk asked him to take care of it. And to return the icon to the church every Easter Tuesday as well. So, the descendant of this family from Kontias village has been doing all these years.
So the position of the church is not easily accessible. But put your shoes on, bring a bottle of water with you and just move on.
This church without a roof emits some special energy and serenity.
And bring a smile to your face.
In a word, it is definitely a place worth a visit.