The floating monastery of Saint Nicholas (Agios Nikolaos) in Porto Lagos, Xanthi in northern Greece is a unique religious monument, not simply because of its location but also due to the serenity and beauty which surround it.
The small monastery, which is part (metochion) of the Holy and Great Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos, is built on two tiny islets in the lagoon of Porto Lagos in Xanthi, where mainland Greece and Lake Vistonis (Vistonida) meet the Thracian Sea.
The monastery attracts a large number of visitors and pilgrims each year, due to the magnificent views over the Thracian Sea that people can enjoy from there.
A few meters from the Monastery on the neighboring smaller island connected by a small wooden bridge, there is the Church of Panagia Pantanassa, where the miraculous image of the Mother of God, Pantanassa, which means “Queen of All Things,” is located. Many ill people and their families visit the church to worship and ask for healing.
According to tradition and testimonies the Monastery was inaugurated by the patriarch Nectarios in the presence of the Byzantine emperor Arcadius, to honor the Mother of God Pantanassa, who saved him during a shipwreck on the way from Rome.
The whole surrounding landscape is fascinating as well, since dozens of bird species flutter over visitors’ heads and the dive spectacularly into the clear, shallow waters of the lake in search of fish.
Cormorants are regularly seen stretching their wings and ”sunbathing” on the docks that form the boundaries between fish farms and the properties nearby.
A wooden pedestrian bridge connects the islets with one another and both of them with the mainland, making this place easily accessible while still keeping its air of being completely out of the ordinary world.
Anyone who is lucky enough to visit the coastal part of Greece’s Xanthi county should pay a visit to this humble yet amazingly beautiful and tranquil place.