Churches / Chapels
The Christian faith has constituted a cornerstone of island tradition for centuries. The chapels scattered on hilltops and shores, in villages and valleys, testify to the truth of this assertion. On Antiparos, the 50 or so churches may be considered an excessive number, perhaps, in relation to the population and the size of the island; however, upon rugged, historic footpaths the islanders drew strength from this faith and continue to do so, marching along with ‘God shall provide’ in their thoughts.
Through their architecture and aesthetic, the Cycladic chapels seem as though they are a part of Creation, and without them the sea, the sun, the valley and the seagulls would be an incomplete unit. Clad in white, they reflect the sun rays and with their small size proclaim the grandeur of faith, which—in contrast to other cultures—does not need size to assert itself.
All of the churches on Antiparos hold mass, and their upkeep is overseen throughout the course of the year by the Church, the families of residents and the Municipality. Even though they are dispersed throughout various points of the island, they are accessible via the road network. A celebration is set up for their feast day, and pilgrims are transported by Municipal bus.
A brief guide follows below containing the most important churches and chapels on Antiparos, for those interested in the holding of the sacraments of baptism or marriage, in taking a walk, in attending a local religious celebration and viewing the customs maintained, in taking a breather from the summer sun, in organising a picnic with friends, in becoming inspired, in gaining strength for the winter that’s on its way, or in embracing the saying ‘God shall provide’.
Ayia Marina – feast day 17 July
Ayia Marina welcomes the visitor to the island. The Lady of the Harbour ‘sits’ next to the old windmill and holds a separate place in the hearts of locals, who celebrate the church with a three-day celebration and with all of the honours.
The celebrations and happenings begin on 15 July and wrap up on 17 July. These include sailboat races, road, swimming and cycling races, music concerts, theatre happenings, dance performances presented by the local dance groups, a celebration with mezedes, tsikoudia, island and popular music. Most events take place in the Ayia Marina square, at the Port and in the village.
See the programme of this year’s events here.
Ai Yiannis Spiliotis – feast day 8 May
As its name indicates, the little church of Ai Yiannis is located at the entrance to the Spilaio [Cave] of Antiparos. It has lent its name to the entire location, which is named ‘vounali tou Ai Yianni’ [hillock of Ai Yiannis] or ‘Ayioyiannitiko vouno’ [Ai Yiannian hill]. It connects internally with the smaller and older (350 years old) chapel of Zoodohos Piyi.
The chapel of Ai Yiannis was renovated in 1714 by the Antipariot Neofytos Mavrommatis—the Metropolitan of Nafpaktos and Arta [in west-central / northwest mainland Greece]—who, according to information passed down, also pieced together the icon of the Saint, which had been broken into two, having recognised the Saint as the venerable old man who had appeared to him in a dream and had cured him of a very grave illness.
On the eve of and day of Ai Yiannis—on 7 and 8 May, respectively—a celebration is held with local delicacies and tsikoudia.
HOW TO GET THERE:
By vehicle or bicycle: The paved road that leads to the Cave begins to the left of where the ferry boat from Paros docks in the Port area of Antiparos.
By Municipal bus: The Municipal bus stop is located in the Port area of Antiparos, opposite Ayia Marina, where the ferry boat from Paros docks. There are frequent departures for the Cave.
On foot: This walk is an enchanting experience and is estimated to take about an hour and a half from the Port. If starting from the south, from the little village of Ayios Yeorgios, the walk will also involve a bit of hiking, and takes about two-and-a-half hours, but will surely enthuse nature lovers. This was the route taken in older times by those wishing to visit the Cave when weather conditions did not permit transport by sea.
Prophitis Ilias – feast day 20 July
The little church of Prophitis Ilias reigns supreme, built atop the highest peak of the island at an altitude of 308 metres. Owing to its location, the ‘sentinel’ of Antiparos offers a panoramic view. Depending on the degree of visibility, the visitor may discern many of the neighbouring islands. Its yard is flagstone-paved, its surroundings are prim and the entire ensemble is picturesque, just as would beseem the Prophet Ilias [Elijah], the conqueror of peaks.
The little church was constructed by inhabitants in 1937. Special reference must be made to Ioannis Patelis, who at the time worked in the local mines. With tenacity, patience and his little donkey, whenever given the opportunity he would load building supplies and transport them to the top, for the construction of the church.
HOW TO GET THERE:
By jeep or mountain bike: The paved road leading to Ayios Yeorgios starts at the Port. The road to Prophitis Ilias begins at the village of Ayios Yeorgios, and is a dirt road. The route is uphill, some four kilometres long.
By conventional automobile: The road as far as Ayios Yeorgios is paved, and begins from the Port. From there, it is a good idea to ask the locals about the condition of the dirt road before attempting it. If they do not recommend it, continue this wonderful course on foot.
By Municipal bus / on foot: Take the Municipal bus heading to Ayios Yeorgios (there are frequent departures) from the stop located opposite the church of Ayia Marina, in the Port area. After arriving at Ayios Yeorgios, continue on foot, on a splendid route of about four kilometres. The astounding view and connection with nature will surely reward you!
Panayia Faneromeni – feast day 8 September
Built by fishermen for the grace of the Virgin Mary, the church of Panayia Faneromeni, on the southern tip of Antiparos, attracts a wealth of faithful pilgrims to its celebration on the eve and day of its feast, on 7 and 8 September, respectively. The church is reached by caique, and the vespers is held with much solemnity in this extremely beautiful little church, on the rocky cape, practically in the sea.
Ayia Paraskevi – feast day 26 July
You will come across this church on your way towards the Kambos. An older brick church of the same name once stood in the same spot. It was rebuilt in 1962, on a vow, and since then is celebrated on the eve and day of its feast, with local delicacies and tsikoudia.
Ayios Ioannis Prodromos and Ayia Zoni, in the area of Monastiria
Two chapels of exceptional aesthetic, in the area of Monastiria, next to the beautiful beach. Ayios Ioannis is a tiny, square chapel, built by people who worked in the area’s mines in the old days.
The roof of Ayia Zoni, before its repair, was supported by old metal railcar tracks from the mine.
The Churches in the Kastro area of Antiparos
The churches of Prodromos, Yennisis tou Christou and Ayios Antonios are located inside the Kastro.
Outside of it, on the edge of the village square, one finds the church of Ayios Nikolaos, built in the mid-17th century. Its construction took place at the expense of Damengeaux, the vicar of the village, in 1703, as revealed by the inscription above the west door of the church. The year 1783 appears on the transom of the north door. Ayios Nikolaos is the patron saint of the village.
Next to Ayios Nikolaos are the churches of Evaggelistria and Ayios Athanasios. In the former, one sees wondrous icons by hagiographers of the Cretan School. Particularly important is the one that depicts Ayia Paraskevi and Christ as Great High Priest, a work of the 17th century. The single nave of the Antiparos church is also historically significant.
The Environmental Education Group of the Junior High School of Antiparos (1996), The Chapels of Antiparos
The Community of Antiparos (undated publication), Antiparos
Antiparos (entry), available at the website http://el.wikipedia.org