Religious tourism

Paxos

The Patron Saint of the island is Ag. Charalambos and there are many churches

on Paxos including the ruins of two dating from the 6th century AD at Ozias.

There is also a church with wall frescoes near Loggos and near Lakka the Ipapanti church has a lovely bell tower.

The islet of Ag. Nikolas right next to Gaois has the monastery of the Panagia (the Virgin Mary) next to the remains of a 15th century Venetian castle.


Lefkada

Perhaps the most important religious place on Lefkada is the Monastery of Panagia Faneromeni, the patron saint of the island, just outside Lefkada Town. Founded initially in the 17th century on the site of an earlier Greek temple, it offers beautiful views and a very restful setting. There are many churches in the town itself including the Metropolitan church of Theotokos tis Evangelistras. For information see www.imli.gr

Although Greece is almost entirely an Orthodox country the Ionian region has also been home to Catholic, Jewish and Moslem minority communities over the centuries so the region is rich in diverse religious traditions expressed in churches and monasteries, religious festivals and processions. A sampling:


Corfu

The patron saint of the island is St. Spiridon and the church bearing his name in Corfu Town dates from the 17th century. The Metroplitan cathedral near the old port dates from 1577. The oldest functioning church on Corfu is the 10th century church of St. Jason and Sosipater disciples of St. Paul in Garitsa. In Paleopolis nearby there are the remains of an early Christian basilica dating from the 5th century AD. Monasteries can be found all over the island, many dating from earlier times; the Platytera Monastery for example, near Mandouki in town, dates originally from 1743 and contains the tomb of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first president of Greece after the 1821 revolution. For information see www.imcorfu.gr  Paxos falls under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Corfu.

The Catholic church is well represented in Corfu. In the town there is the cathedral (Duomo)of Saints James and Christopher in the mayor's square, the church of St. Francis of Assisi in Spilia and the church of the Blessed Virgin of Carmel in Tenedos. There are several other Catholic churches, monasteries, convents and chapels in the suburbs and on the island. For information see www.catholic-church-corfu.org    

There is a synagogue in the Evraiki quarter serving the small Jewish community that remains on the island. For information see www.athjcom.gr or www.kis.gr


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Epirus

The whole region is best known for its multitude of Ancient sites such as Dodoni near Ioannina, but it is also famous for the large number of Christian sites and a few remaining religious sites from the Ottoman occupation. The Fethiye Mosque in Ioannina for example dates from 17th century - it has the graves of Ali Pasha and his family nearby. Ioannina also has a small Jewish community and a 7th century AD synagogue. Other religious symbols or examples of the Turkish occupation can be seen in many towns and villages - at Margariti for example near Parga you can still see a number of minarets.

The region abounds in Orthodox churches and monasteries - many dating from the middle ages, some older. Each town and village has a church usually of some historical significance - in Paramythia for example near Igoumenitsa, there is a well-preserved 14th century church and ancient springs. Near Filliates is the beautiful Iera Giromeriou monastery at Giromeri. Nearby is the 17th century monastery of Ag. Georgios Kamitani. For information see www.ecclesia.gr and www.imparamythias.gr

Kefalonia

The Patron Saint of the island is Ag. Gerassimos and the nunnery in his name in Omalos Valley is dedicated to him. There is also a cave near Lassi which was the saint's hermitage and is open to visitors. Kefalonia has a number of fascinating churches, monasteries and nunneries. Near to Lourdas you can find the 13th century Sission monastery inspired, it is believed, by St. Francis of Assisi. On the Palic peninsula near Havdata is the Monastery of Kipouria with majestic views overlooking the sea. High above Ag. Efimia is the Themata Monastery while the Monastery of Atros is high in the mountains above the port of Poros. This is the oldest monastery on the island dating from the 8th century AD. There is also a unique church in the village of Antipata in the north of the island - it was built in the modern era in the design of a Russian Orthodox church and in the shape of a cross. For information see www.new.imk.gr



Zakynthos

Ag. Dionysios is the patron saint of the island and the church in his name dominates the port of Zakynthos Town. Built in 1708, it has one of the highest bell towers in the Ionian. Ag Dionysios spent the final period of his life as a monk at the famous Monastery of Anafonitria in the north west of the island - the monastery has the ruin of an early bell tower and is set in a luxuriant forest. The island has many other fine churches and monasteries, many with spectacular views of settings. In Volimes for example there is a cliff top monastery while at Katastari the Monastery of Ag. Ioannis has fine views of Kefalonia and the western Peloponnese. In Lagopodo the Monastery of Eleftherotria proves how varied in design monasteries can be - it has the air of a fairy castle. For information see www.imzante.gr

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