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AEGEAN ISLANDS

Panagia Poulariani

You can reach the chapel of Panagia Poulariani if you take the path that begins from a certain point of the rural road to Vathi going southeast. The shape of the rock into which the chapel was built brings to mind the image of the Virgin and Child. This humble Orthodox church is said to be the sailors’ patron. According to old fishermen stories, a light that seemed to be coming from the church inexplicably came on during bad weather and helped the fishermen find their way back.   
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Panagia Flevariotissa

Panagia Flevariotissa is a compound of monasteries, 7km north of the capital. It consists of a main church surrounded by lower buildings forming a courtyard. The Cycladic-style church is cruciform, vaulted and has a dome. The dome is supported by gothic arches. There is a cave at its north wall that was converted to a chapel and is definitely worth seeing. According to a local legend a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary was found in that cave.   
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Panagia Portaitissa

One of the two main streets of the capital – the southwest one that begins at the Town Hall – leads to the church of Panagia Portaitissa. The architectural type of the church is a rare blend of Aegean and neoclassical elements (influenced by the Russian Enlightenment). It was built in the 18th century at the foot of the castle by Anthimos, an Athonite monk, who founded other temples as well in the Southern Aegean Sea. You will notice the ornamental edge tiles at the molding, the ornate three-storey steeple with its pseudo-Ionic columns and the polygonal tympanum of its light blue dome. This church is the most important Orthodox pilgrimage site of the island as the icon of Panagia Portaitissa, the Guardian of the hearth, is kept in it. This icon is a replica of the same icon from the monastery of Iviron on Mount Athos. You will also notice the inlaid Baroque iconostasis and bishop’s throne. The murals of the church have Russian influences. There is also an exhibition of church artifacts in an adjacent room.    
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Agios Ioannis Monastery

The Monastery was built between two slopes and has a panoramic view of the sea and the islets of Pontikoussa and Ofidoussa. There are orchards, streams and even a small waterfall below the church of Agios Prodromos that still exists to this day. Opposite the monastery a castle of the same name used to stand tall on an inaccessible hill. It was said that the two buildings communicated via a secret tunnel. Today, only some ruins and a cistern remain of the castle that was impregnable up until the 16th century when the Algerian corsair Hayreddin Barbarossa plundered it. Its inhabitants were either massacred or sold as slaves at the slave markets of the East. No one resided in the castle ever since. It is accessible either by boat or via a path leading from the northern slopes of Vardia to the ravine.  
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