5 sacred places in Greece that you must visit
The pace of our daily lives often means we don’t have adequate time to connect with sacred spaces and monuments. This is of course what holidays are for – slowing down, relaxing and reflecting. Whether you are a religious person or not, many people find the peacefulness of holy sites rejuvenating, making the hectic routine of everyday life ebb away into insignificance.
For such people there is no more exciting destination than Greece, the cradle of Western Civilisation. From the capital city of Athens to the Greek Islands, this country has enough sacred sites to fill a library of guidebooks.
The Parthenon, Athens
High above the low rumble of Athens, the Parthenon stands majestically overlooking the city. Designed and built by the famous Greek sculptor Phidias on the parched summit of the Athens Acropolis, the temple is synonymous with the golden age of Greece and it has stood for almost 3,000 years. Once a shrine to the goddess Athena, it used to be full of the most incredible sculptures and paintings – today it is a noble ruin, but still very impressive. One of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, the Parthenon is a highlight on any tour of Greece.
Delphi, Mt Parnassus
Northwest of Athens, towering over the beaches of the Gulf of Corinth, travellers will find the holy mountain of Parnassus. The Ancient Greeks once considered this the centre of the earth, presided over by the earth goddess Gaia. It was later home to the Oracle of Delphi, a mystical priestess who could foretell the future. Those with a passion for history and hiking will love Parnassus. These days there are also ski centres on the mountain that attract many adventurous tourists looking to hit the slopes.
Panormitis Monastery, Symi
Settled between the seafront and a tree-studded hillside in the little village of Panormitis is the Holy Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis. One of the most interesting churches on the island of Symi, it's a must visit if your Greek holidays take you to the Dodecanese. Rumoured to have been built on the ruins of an ancient temple, the current monastery was rebuilt in the 18th century, with some parts thought to date back even further. Paintings, frescoes and beautiful wooden carvings fill the interior, while the little library is stocked with religious and philosophical manuscripts. A silver icon of the Archangel Michael (patron saint of Symi) is said to watch over local sailors and fishermen. Pilgrims from Symi and neighbouring islands flock here on 8 November each year to celebrate the Archangel - it's the biggest religious festival on the island.
The Chapels of Santorini
Famous for its sugar-cube whitewashed buildings, vivid sunsets and dramatic volcanic caldera, the island of Santorini is a picture-postcard destination. Religion is an important part of local life on the Greek Islands and Santorini has countless fine Greek chapels for visitors to appreciate. If you're visiting Santorini as part of a cruise holiday, you'll likely have the chance to wander through the cliffside towns of Oia and Fira. Here, you'll spot countless bell towers and blue domes - peep inside the chapels and churches and you'll find a cool, calm sanctuary from the crowds outside. If you feel like venturing a little further afield, visit the chapel of Panagia Katefiani, a remarkable hilltop chapel in Perissa with unrivalled views.
Monasteries of Meteora
This is one of the most awe-inspiring places in Greece. The clifftops and vertical rock formations of Meteora were first settled by religious hermits in the 9th century, who climbed them to escape persecution. Before long there was an entire community of rock monasteries that survived in some form for centuries. Today six of the monasteries remain as museums.
Travel to Greece and the Greek Islands with us and nourish your spirit with sacred art and architecture.
Nicola considers herself very lucky to have had the opportunity to visit a number of places around the world and these experiences usually involve searching for as many kinds of wildlife as possible. Recent highlights include penguins in Antarctica, bears and whales in Canada and Alaska and sea otters in California - but there are always more animals to search for.
Nicola | About the author
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