The Open Top Greek Church that Looks to the Sky



Credit: I love LIMNOS/Facebook

The church of Panagia Kakaviotissa is one of the most impressive of Greek Orthodox places of worship. Sitting on top of Kakavos mountain on Lemnos island, it is as if it was built so that the faithful have direct communication with God.

Panagia Kakaviotissa is named after the mountain on the North Aegean island and is included in “most beautiful church” lists. Built inside an open cave it is not only a place of worship but also a popular travel attraction.

The hard-to-access location of the church in the midst of cliffs and on top of a mountain, indicates that monks and hermits used to tend to it during the Byzantine era. The church belongs to the Megisti Lavra Monastery since 1305 AD, when monks from the island of Agios Efstratios settled there in order to be protected from the Ottomans.

The ascetic monks lived in the surrounding caves of the mountain and built the temple for their liturgies. As years went by, the monks were dying and no new ones were coming to replace them. The last one who remained there, finally decided to leave the island and go to Mount Athos.

The church holds a mass every Tuesday after Easter, when the holy icon of Panagia Kakaviotisa is said to return to its place on that day of the year. It is a unique ceremony attended by Limnos islanders and visitors.