People are oftentimes left in awe at the sight of grande Church buildings, chapels, or monasteries clinging to steep cliffs, as if suspended in mid-air, monasteries with unique architecture or carrying a special history.
These religious structures make up the incredibly diverse and rich traditions of Orthodox Christianity from one end of Greece to the other. But there is a small church that stands out among them all for a very strange reason.
Panagia Kakaviotissa on the island of Limnos, is the only small church without a roof in the country, possibly in the world.
The picturesque chapel is perched at the top of a mountain in Limnos. Located under a cave, Panagia Kakaviotissa is the only small church in Greece without a roof. It took its name from the mountain Kakavo in which it is located, 4 km southeast of the port of Myrina.
The history of the small church that covers the cave begins in 1,300 when it was erected. There, hermit monks decided to follow their calling and practice asceticism.
In 1305 the church became the property of the monastery of Megisti Lavra of Mount Athos, when monks from Agios Efstratios who belonged to the monastery, settled in the chapel to protect themselves from Turkish raids.
It was then, under the rocky “canopy”, the hermits built the small temple for the monks to perform the divine service. Over the years, the monks passed away and the remaining hermit decided to leave Limnos and go to Mount Athos.
Tradition has it that before leaving for Mount Athos, the last monk found a local shepherd from the Moumtzi family and entrusted him with the icon of the Virgin Mary, “Rodon the amaranth”. The monk asked the shepherd to place the icon in the temple each Tuesday following Easter Day for the mass.
Then, according to folklore legend, the ascetic entered the sea, opened his garments, which became a boat and left for Mount Athos. Young monks did not come to the chapel, which remained an attraction of the island. The chapel of “Panagia tis Kakaviotissa” is a sanctuary for those who want to be isolated and pray.
Access to the temple is via a path that leads to the top of Mount Kakavos.