Greece is a land full of rich and ancient history, with most structures and artefacts still pretty much intact. Located somewhere within the Eastern Aegean Islands lies the Church of Panagia Kakaviotissa, a church with literally no roof as it was carved into the mouth of a cave. This roofless church is located on the island of Lemnos, it’s name Kakaviotissa, is derived from ‘Kakavos’, the mountain it was built on.
This Greek Orthodox Church was built by refugee monks who fled to the mountain as early as around 1,416 AD. This strategic location was chosen by the monks and priests as a hidden and secluded shelter as they ran from the Turkish invasion in Agios Efstratios. This roofless church sits right at the entrance of the mountaintop cave and serves as a popular hiking destination for travellers who seek spiritual enlightenment as well as curious travellers who want to bask in the beauty of this unique structure.
The Church of Panagia Kakaviotissa sits on the top of Mount Kakavos, located closely with the village of Thanos. It’s a strategic spot that showcases the beauty of the Aegean sea and mountaintop surroundings beautifully from the roofless church. From the vantage point of the roofless church, you’ll be treated to a glorious view of the Moudros bay, a perfect view that frames the crystal clear ocean amidst the stone hills and mountain range that will truly be an unforgettable sight.
A popular hiking destination, it takes a 20-minute walk through a dirt road to get to the mountain. The path takes you up some pretty steep-looking steps that will get you to the top of the mountain and the chapel, so it’s best to make sure you’re it peak physical health before attempting the hike.
It is advisable to visit the roofless chapel sometime around the evening where the setting sun beautifully illuminates the structure, allowing you a blissful time for spiritual enlightenment. Another alternative is to visit early in the morning as the sun rises, either way, be prepared for the hike up the precarious mountain slopes.
The roofless church is a mainly white structure but what sticks out design-wise is its bright and stunning blue fence. There are many icons and items of worship dedicated to the Virgin Mary that decorate the chapel, including trinkets left behind by visitors in exchange for blessings. The chapel’s most notable time of worship is during Easter Tuesday where every year, the icon of Panagia Kakaviotissa is transported into the chapel from its guarded home in Kontias.
While you’re exploring this unusual yet beautifully unique church, the island of Lemnos also has much to offer for the curious traveller. It is home to numerous sandy beaches as well as various archaeological cities which makes it a haven for any Greek mythology and history buff. Lemnos is Greece’s eighth largest island so there’s plenty more to explore from the crystal clear oceans of the beaches to the mountaintop villages that are rich with history and artefacts worth exploring.