Meet Panagia Tsampika, Rhodes’ Famous Monastery (Photos, Video)

View from Panagia Tsampika

The Monastery of Panagia Tsambika (Virgin Mary of Tsampika) is a very popular place of pilgrimage among Orthodox Christians. It is located in the island of Rhodes, in Greece.

The new monastery was renovated in 1760 and is a temple of Dodecanese type with traditional shingles on the floor that are also observed in other churches of the area.

The monastery is located about 25 kilometers (15,5 miles) south of the town of Rhodes, between Kolymbia and Archangelos village.

The old and very first monastery of Tsambika was built on top of a hill with amazing views of the sea and the surrounding fields, while the new monastery, which is still active today, is located a bit further out on the road that connects Archangelos village to Rhodes Town.

Experts are not sure about when the old monastery was established but many believe that an altar to goddess Artemis stood on the very same site, thousand years ago. It is believed that sacrifices of animals used to take place there.

The new monastery has many icons that date from the 19th century, while the iconostasi is much older.

The story behind the icon of Panagia Tsampika is quite extraordinary. Many centuries ago it was located in Cyprus and more specifically in the famous Monastery of Kykkos.

Under unknown circumstances, miraculous for many, the icon left Cyprus and went to Rhodes where it was found on Zambiki mountain under a cypress tree. The story goes that a local shepherd saw a light coming from the mountain of Zambiki and went to see what was going on.

There, he found the icon that cast a light like that of a vigil light. That is the reason why the icon was called Tsampika, which means ‘sparking’ in the local dialect of Rhodes.

After many unsuccessful attempts to bring the icon into the town, the worshippers believed that it was God’s will to have a Church over the mountain. That is when the first Monastery of Panagia Tsampika was built at the exact spot where the icon was found.

The monastery celebrates its feast day on September 8 to honor the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.