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The Open-Air Greek Church that Looks Up to the Skies

Panagia Kakaviotissa
Credit: I love LIMNOS/Facebook

The church of Panagia Kakaviotissa is one of the most impressive Greek Orthodox places of worship in the world.

Perched on top of Kakavos mountain on Limnos island, it is as if it was built so that the faithful could have direct communication with God.

Panagia Kakaviotissa is named after the mountain on the North Aegean island and is included in lists of the most beautiful churches in the world.

Built inside a partially-open cave, it is not only a holy place of worship but also a popular travel attraction as well.

The difficult-to-access location of the church, situated in the midst of a range of cliffs and on top of a mountain, indicates that it was a place where monks and hermits church lived during the Byzantine era.

Panagia Kakaviotissa has belonged to the Megisti Lavra Monastery since 1305 AD, when monks from the island of Agios Efstratios settled there in order to protect themselves from the Ottomans.

The ascetic monks, who lived a strict lifestyle of prayer and fasting, completely separated from the outside world, lived in the surrounding caves in the mountain and built the church for their liturgies.

As years went by, the monks began to pass away and and very few new monks came to replace them. The last one who remained there, finally decided to leave the island and go live at the monastic community of Mount Athos.

The church holds a Divine Liturgy every Tuesday after Easter, when the holy icon of Panagia Kakaviotisa is said to return to its place on that day of the year. It is a unique ceremony attended by Limnos islanders and visitors as well.

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