Religious Tour Along The Eastern Coast Of The Island

Religious tour along the eastern coast of the island

1. The Prophet Elias and Prophet Amos chapels

Starting from Rhodes town and along the eastern road (main road from Rhodes to Lindos ) to the south of Faliraki rises the hill of Prophet Elias, with two chapels. Both chapels have rare frescoes. At the top of the hill stands the chapel of Prophet Elias with a spectacular view of Faliraki. At the foot of the same hill, in an oasis of dewiness, stands the chapel of Prophet Amos. According to a myth, Amos once got in a fight with Prophet Elias who threw a rock at him.Then Amos struck the rock with his fist and a hole was created. Since then, according to tradition little children go through this hole if they wish to grow taller.

2. Panagia Katholiki in Afandou

Located near the beach of Afandou and within two hundred meters from the sea. By following the eastern road (main road from Rhodes to Lindos) at the intersection in Afandou turn east towards the beach. The church is of great historical, archaeological and religious interest. According to tradition,a temple (3rd century) dedicated to goddess Dimitra used to be at the same location where the church stands today. The temple was destroyed in the 6th century AD and with the materials from the ancient temple three-aisled Christian basilica church was built, which was also destroyed by an unknown cause in the 8th A.D. century but was rebuilt. The new church was built on the ruins of an early Christian basilica and the Middle Byzantine church with neat blocks and Gothic arches and occupies only part of the middle aisle of the sanctuary’s oldest temple. It’s decorated with frescoes from the 14th and 16th century A.D. This new church, which survives to this day, is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The icon of the Virgin Mary for security reasons is kept in the church museum in Afandou, but three times a year is transferred back to the church, accompanied by priests and the people of the city. On the eve of the Assumption (August 14th ), the procession starts from the church in the town square. As soon as the icon is placed in the church the Divine Liturgy and praise begins, followed by a festival with the participation of believers from all over the island. The icon is also transferred to the church for Novena and Monday after Easter.

3. Monastery of Agios Nektarios Kryoneriou and Agios Nicholaos in Fountoukli

At the junction in Kolymbia towards the mainland, before Archipoli at “Kryoneri” area, is the monastery of Agios Nektarios. A monastery of exceptional natural beauty. Passing through the villages Archipoli and Psinthos,you reach Eleousa. By following the road west of the village you arrive in Agios Nikolaos in Fountoukli area. The church dates from the 14th to 15th century A.D. and is a central square building covered with a dome. The frescoes, which date also from the 14th to 15th century A.D., show some iconographic peculiarities. The two portraits of the donors make us assume that one of them was a senior byzantine administrative officer who dedicated the church to Agios Nikolaos. In the south wall of the western apse, the portrait depicts the founder with his wife beneath a decorative bow holding a model of the temple. At the same time, they pray to the statue of Christ that stands above them, receiving his blessing. What’s important in this church is the triple composition of the frescoes in the apse. In the north wall depicts the founder’s three children a girl and two boys, praying beneath the bust of Christ-Emmanuel. From the inscriptions accompanying them, we learn that they have all died. The temple was built and decorated probably in their memory. The artist custom made the frescoes. He drew the children in Paradise. Decorative elements with birds symbolize Paradise. Equally important is that Christ, blessing the deceased children is depicted as a child and not a bearded adult. Many who visit the church claim to hear the voices of the children.

4. The Monastery of Panagia Tsambika

Located on the east coast. Get there by following the eastern road from Rhodes to Lindos and before reaching Archangelos. It consists of the upper and lower monastery. The upper monastery is situated on the hilltop on the left side of Rhodes- Lindos main road, overlooking one of the most beautiful beaches, while the lower is lying on the right side of the road. At the top of the hill at an altitude of 320 meters is the oldest monastery of Panagia Tsambika. Walk on a winding and steep path, about 500 meters long, passing through a forest of cypress trees. The hill offers panoramic view of the surrounding area. The new monastery was renovated in 1760 A.D. It is a temple of Dodecanese type and the floor has traditional shingles also observed in other churches in the area. The wooden temple is very beautiful and it is believed to be older than the 17th century A.D. The monastery celebrates on September 8th , the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. The small icon of the Virgin Mary was miraculously found on the hill. The name Tsambika, according to tradition, came from the local dialect word “tsaba” which means spark and refers to the way the icon was retrieved. A shepherd was sitting near the fountain Aimachiou (an Archangel historic site that is in a lower area across the mountain), when he saw sparks coming from the top of the mountain.

All night the shepherd starred at the light to see whether it moved , assuming that someone was holding it. The light remained in the same position. Two more days went by and the light remained in the same position. Then the shepherd, curious and also scared in case there were bandits in the mountains called his armed villagers to see what was happening. As they reached the top, paradoxically, they saw a silver icon of the Virgin upon a cypress and a lit candle in front of it. This incident circulated everywhere and also reached Cyprus. The Cypriots were missing an icon from one of their monasteries. Commissioners from Cyprus came to Archangelos to identify the icon and return it to their homeland but the icon once again left Cyprus and came to the mountain top. Cypriots once again came back to retrieve the icon. For both sides to be certain that this was the same icon, they burned some wood from the back to leave a mark. This mark is preserved until today. When the icon returned for the third time , the villagers decided to build a chapel dedicated to the Panagia Tsambika.

For security reasons, the miraculous icon is currently at the lower monastery. Many are the miracles of the Virgin. Most of them refer to childless women who pray to the Virgin Mary to gift them with a child and they promise either to baptize the child to that monastery or to name their child Tsampikos (for boys) or Tsambika (for girls). Therefore this name is widespread in Rhodes. One of the oldest miracles of the Virgin Tsampika, which is associated with the large estates around the monastery is the following: The land belonged to a Turkish Pasha, whose wife couldn’t bear children. She heard about Panagia Tsambika , prayed in front of the icon and then ate the wick of a candle burning by the image. The miracle happened and the woman got pregnant. Her husband would not believe it was a miracle. But when the baby was born, it was holding a small piece of wick from the candle. So the Turkish Pasha believed the miracle and, donated all the land surrounding it, to the monastery.

5. Monastery of Archangel Michael Kammyrioti

Located in the northwest of the village Massari, on the side of the namesake mountain. The monastery has existed since the 12th century A.D. and celebrates on September 6th in memory of the “ Chonais miracle”.

6. The church of Panagia in Lindos

Is located in the center of the village and is a cruciform church of the 14th century A.D. with an octagonal dome, whitewashed walls and tiled roof. At one entrance there is the emblem of the Grand Master D ‘Aubusson with the dates 1489/90. The interior floor is made of black and white pebbles, and the frescoes of the 18th century A.D. painted by Gregory from Simi. From these, an array of rare paintings of biblical scenes stand out. There is also a series of depictions of torture taking place on Judgement Day. In one of the frescoes, Agios Christoforos is depicted standing. He’s wearing a military uniform and a red cloak. In his right raised hand he’s holding a cross, indicative that he’s a martyr. What’s unique about that is that Agios Christoforos has a dog’s head instead of a human’s. In this iconographic, Agios Christoforos is characterized as “kynokefalos” or “skylokefalos”. Icons like this, can also be found in Cappadocia (14th century) and at a temple in Antroni Ilias (8th century AD) as well as in other countries like Serbia and Russia. The icon legends and traditions that accompanied this strange display of Agios Christoforos have also disappeared and the western iconographic type of the bearded elder is depicted.

7. The chapel of Apostle Paul

Located near the namesake port of Lindos and below the Acropolis. It was built according to tradition, at the point where the Apostle himself preached the word of Christ, during his visit to the island. The news that Christianity was introduced to Rhodes since these apostolic times, gives domestic tradition and is confirmed by the Acts of the Apostles. According to them, when the Apostle Paul, while completing his third apostolic career, returned to Jerusalem, he visited Philippous, Troas, Lesvos, Samos and Miletus, and from there he went to Kos, then to Rhodes and from Rhodes he went to Patara. In front of the church lies a beach full of umbrellas and sunbeds. The chapel of the Apostle Paul is a magnet for religious and civil marriages, domestic and foreign.

8. The Monastery of Archangel Michael “Tharri”, Holy Monastery of the Assumption in Ypseni and Agios Georgios of Igkos

All three of them are located in the hinterland of the island. Arriving in Lardos, leave the main road and head south towards the hinterland. From the Lardos, if you turn right, you arrive at the Monastery of the Assumption Ypsenis located on a hill from where it got its name. It acts as a convent and has about fifteen nuns. Following the main road from Lardos to Laerma, right after Laerma turn left. The road leads to the monastery of “Tharri”. It stands out high on a hill, surrounded by a green forest. In the 5th century A.D., the ruins of an old church were restored to an early Christian basilica. The existing church is dedicated to Archangel Michael, dated between the 9th and 11th century A.D. and since then, historical data has emerged from all the centuries up until today. The tradition says that a princess was suffering from an incurable disease coming from Constaninople to Rhodes. Her father brought her to this place hoping that the ideal climate would help. One night she dreamed of the Archangel Michael who told her “Have courage, and that she would get better”. When the princess healed she decided to build this monastery. To determine the length of the monastery, she threw one of her rings with all her might. So the princess and her followers started looking for the ring but it was difficult to find, so they kept saying “I think it fell here” and “I think it fell there.” The Greek word for “I think” is “tharo”. For these reasons, the monastery was named Thari.

The architecture of the temple consists of 6 phases and the frescoes of 4 phases. From the Byzantine church the only thing that survives until today is a Byzantine building with a cross form. The imposing dome, which is connected to the stone church is very impressive . The grace of the Byzantine building has managed to survive amidst dozens of disasters and reconstruction and displays its orthodox character. In the courtyard of the church old buildings have been repaired and extended. In the monastery there are also two chapels: Agios Nektarios and Agios Eleftherios. During the various phases of building the temple, frescoes were kept depicting scenes from the first Byzantine period to modern times. The oldest murals: the two full-length Hierarchs, Agios Eleftherios and Agios Grigorios Akragantinos, date from late 12th A.D. century and are preserved in the Byzantine Museum of Rhodes. The largest fresco of the church extends from the Temple to the dome, most of it can still be seen and dates from the 13th A.D. century. Also at the top,God Almighty is pictured with angels in two concentric circles. In the southern and northern walls, Basin and the Last Supper are depicted respectively.On the eastern arch three miracles of Christ, the healings of the blind from birth, the paralytic of Bethesda and the ten lepers, and the Samaritan woman are depicted and the Ascension on the western.

Archangel Michael is honored with an imposing mural, most parts of it are damaged, while he’s surrounded by the archangels Gabriel and Raphael. Just outside the entrance to the monastery’s garden , there is a spring of water. As the popular saying goes, “He who has never been to Tharri, hasn’t enjoyed the world.” Those who visit the beautiful ancient Byzantine land find it peaceful and relaxing. The missionary monastery, which also has a TV and radio station, is known for its warmth and cordial hospitality and attracts many pilgrims every day. The monastery celebrates the Synaxis of the Archangels on November 8th, the feast of Saints Constantine and Helen on May 21st and the feast of Agios Eleftherios on December 15th . From “Tharri” turning right, you will arrive at the chapel of Agios Georgios of Igkos. It is a reconditioned chapel dated from the 13th century A.D. and surrounded by lush forest.From “Tharri” turning left you arrive at Asklipio to continue your religious tour to the south.