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Panagia Kalamiotissa – Anafi

The monastery is dedicated to the birth of the Virgin Mary and takes its name from Mount Kalamos  on which it is located. It is also referred to as the monastery of the Virgin of the Reeds.

According to local tradition, an image of the Virgin was found on the cliff top resting on top of some reeds. Workers who were building a church nearby would find that their tools had been moved to the top of the rock each night and it was thus determined that the Virgin wanted the monastery to be built at that location, 460 metres above sea level. The original monastery dates from around 400 years ago but was completely rebuilt after it was destroyed in the earthquake of 1956.

The church is a single-aisled domed church with an octagonal dome drum, a wide semicircular apse and a two-arched neoclassical belfry. The church has an 18th century carved iconostasis. When the French botanist and traveller Jospeh Pitton de Tournefort visited sometime around 1700, he described it as the most awesome location in the world.

Difficulty of access led to the building of a new church, in 1850, at the foot of the mountain on the site of an ancient Temple of Apollo which, legend has it, was built by the Argonauts as thanksgiving after Apollo had rescued their ship, during a heavy storm on their way back from Colchis, by raising the island of Anafi from the sea. The Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi (Monastery of the Life-Giving Spring) grew around the new church and is still an active monastery. Icons and other relics from Panagia Kalamiotissa are now kept in Zoodochos Pigi.

The road from Chora runs almost to the entrance of the Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi and there is a regular bus from Chora. A signpost by the wall of the monastery points the way to Panagia Kalamiotissa, just over an hour’s walk up the mountain track.