Visiting Panagia Evangelistria of Tinos 

The 15th of August is one of the biggest religious celebrations in Greece, as it’s a national holiday celebrating the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary).

On this day thousands of pilgrims from Greece and overseas make their way over to Tinos to visit Panagia Evangelistria, also known as the Lady of Tinos, who is the Patron Saint of Greece. Known for many miracles, people come to pay their respects and to also pray for Panagia to intercede for them.

Insights Greece - Visiting Panagia Evangelistria of Tinos 
Panagia of Tinos

History of Panagia Evangelistria

In July 1822, a nun named Pelagia, who lived in a monastery in Tinos, had a dream of Panagia (Virgin Mary). In the dream, Panagia explained that Her miraculous icon was buried in a field and asked Pelagia to organise the excavation of the holy icon and the construction of a church. Soon afterward, the procedures began and the Metropolitan Bishop, along with authorities and the locals of Tinos all became involved in the search.

On January 30, 1823, the miraculous icon came to light. It depicted the Annunciation of the Virgin, along with the Archangel Gabriel. Locals also discovered a spring of holy water on the site. The imposing Church of Evaggelistria was built at this site where the Icon of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary (Evaggelismos) was discovered.

The Holy Icon of Panagia Tinos 

The icon was unearthed at the time of Greece’s Independence War against the Ottoman Empire and its discovery was seen as a miracle and message from Panagia. Immediately after the discovery, the message rapidly spread throughout Greece and people arrived from every corner of the country to worship the Holy Icon and pray for the liberation of the Nation. Important historical figures of the revolution arrived at Tinos to pay respect to the icon. 

The Church

Insights Greece - Visiting Panagia Evangelistria of Tinos 
The church was completed in 1826

The Panagia Tinos church was built on the exact site where the icon was discovered and the materials used included marble from the nearby island of Delos. The construction of the Panagia Tinos church was completed in 1826 and the wonderful courtyard was finalised several decades later, in 1880.

Located on a prominent site in the Hora of Tinos, the Holy Church is a three-aisled Basilica with a cupola over the Holy Altar. It consists of two five-arched colonnades with four marble columns each. 

When entering the church from the central gate, to the left of the entrance you can see the iconostasis where the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary is kept, which is surrounded by votive offerings (small metal plaques) left by pilgrims.

The Church remains to this date without substantial changes, except for the main facade and the bell tower. Next to the Church to the west, is the old (pre 19th century) Church of John the Precursor. The bell tower stands dominant and imposing and today it stands 29 metres high and it has retained its original stone base.

The Holy Icon inside Panagia Evangelistria 

Today, you will find the miraculous icon on your left-hand side upon entering the main church. You will also see many votive offerings that have been left by pilgrims. 

Red Carpet Panagia of Tinos 

Insights Greece - Visiting Panagia Evangelistria of Tinos 
A red carpet leads pilgrims to the church

The church of Panagia is located up on a hill in Chora and as you make your way over you will find a long red carpet stretching across the town, all the way from the church entrance down to the port. The carpet has been made for people visiting Tinos on a pilgrimage. Many of them head towards the church of Panagia on their hands and knees, as they make their way over to pray to Panagia. 

Zoodohos Pigi (Life-giving Spring)

This church is located directly beneath the Church of Evangelistria and is the exact site of the discovery of the holy Icon, above which the church was built. The first arcade, where the holy water is kept, is also the location where the Holy Icon was discovered.

Museums and collections

Surrounding the church you will find many museums and exhibits that feature important icons collected by the Holy Foundation from the Parish Churches of Tinos, promoting the island’s tradition of Orthodox Iconography. It includes icons that are the product of dedications made by the faithful from various places, as well as the wooden carvings, engravings, and ecclesiastical relics.  In other spaces around the church, you can also see works of ecclesiastical silver smithery and gold embroidery, exhibited in elegant showcases

Insights Greece - Visiting Panagia Evangelistria of Tinos 
Panagia Evangelistria’s main Feast Day is on August 15

Small Chapel

There is a small chapel located in the exterior central entrance of the complex, where pilgrims may light their candles, as this is not permitted inside the main Church in order to protect it.  


Guesthouses are located nearby, and each pilgrim may be accommodated free of charge for up to three days.

Tips for travelling to Panagia Tinos 

-When you take a ferry to Tinos you will arrive at the main port. The church sits at the top of a hill, about 800 metres away. 

-August and especially August 15, is the most popular time for visitors, so if you would like to avoid the crowds it is best you visit during another time. 

– When visiting the church keep in you must dress appropriately; knees and shoulders must be covered. 

Getting there

Tinos can be reached from both Piraeus and Rafina ports in Athens, but Rafina is a better choice if you’re going direct from Athens airport. Tinos is 3 hours and 40 minutes by ferry from the port of Rafina, a 30-minute drive from Athens airport. From Piraeus, you will need 4-5 hours to reach Tinos. If you don’t want to pass by Athens, you can take a flight to Mykonos and then you will reach Tinos by boat in 20 minutes. 

Top 12 Things to Do on Patmos Island

Patmos is an island where you feel a sense of peace as soon as you arrive. With the old town, the Holy Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, and the Cave of the Apocalypse, all named UNESCO-protected monuments, Patmos not only attracts those seeking a rich spiritual and cultural experience but also those who want to holiday on an authentic Greek island with a cosmopolitan feel.

Local and international artists, authors, fashion designers, business people, academics, and thousands of pilgrims arrive here each year to take in the natural beauty of the island, as well as its laid-back yet chic style. Although it’s located in the Dodecanese it features a Cycladic look with its whitewashed mansions, pretty beaches, and lots of lovely spots to wine and dine.

Here are the Top 12 Things to Do when visiting Patmos

Insights Greece - Top 12 Things to Do on Patmos Island
Holy Monastery of Saint John

1. There are around 360 churches on the island, and you can definitely sense the island’s unique spiritual energy as soon as you step off the ferry. Patmos is known around the world as the island where around 95 AD Saint John the Baptist wrote The Revelation, in a cave that can now be visited in the island’s Holy Monastery of the Apocalypse. Also make sure to check out the Monastery’s museum next door, containing a number of ancient texts and religious items dating back hundreds of years.

2. Patmos’ capital and main town Hora, is filled with charming alleyways, beautiful chapels, and lush courtyards. If you walk through the small streets you will come across whitewashed homes and mansions that belonged to very wealthy families, including the Nikolaidis Mansion, which has now become a museum. Hora also offers gorgeous boutiques, and a wide range of restaurants, taverns, bars, and cafes to suit all tastes.

3. Also spend time at Skala Town and the charming village of Kampos, which both have a unique beauty and are perfect places to bump into locals who make visitors feel welcome. The port town of Skala is where most people head to at night, as soon as Hora goes quiet after a certain hour. Skala is filled with lots of shops, tavernas, and all-day cafes and bars, where you can grab a drink and enjoy the town’s squares and charming little streets. Among the many sights of Skala are the ruins of the ancient acropolis and the convent of Zoodochos Pigi. 

Insights Greece - Top 12 Things to Do on Patmos Island
Skala Town

4. It’s definitely worth making your way around the bay of Skala to the 18th-century Monastery of Panagia Koumana, one of the Holy Seats (or Kathismata) of the island, serving as hermitages for monks. This one was built against a rock on of a hermit’s cave.

5. Swim at Agrio Livadi, Psilli Ammos, Plaki, or the pretty little bay of Vagia. Then head to Lambi, which has a great little tavern right on the beach. Livadi Kalagorion is perfect for a peaceful swim as well as Livadi Geranou. Make sure you also add Kambos and Petra to your list.  

6. When it comes to eating, there are plenty of options from casual eateries to fine dining. We recommend Apocalypsis Restaurant, Astir, Ostria Taverna, Oklaca Italian Restaurant, Kyma for seafood, Pernera for great vegan and for something sweet make your way to Glykaki Patmos. If you have time also try Pandelis on Marathi islet (you can only reach by boat) and Giakos Pantheon. 

7. For an after-dinner drink head to Thalami, Stoa Bar, or Koukou. 

8. For a very special evening, make a reservation at Nautilus and watch the sunset while sipping on your favourite beverage and tasting some modern Greek flavours. 

9. Get up close to Patmos’ iconic windmills, which have been operating for the past four centuries. The one windmill is a museum. Organic flour is ground there, with the milling process open to the public. The second windmill turns wind power into electricity. A contemporary use that benefits the island, for sure! And the third windmill focuses on water. Ever since they have been the true power of the island and its people. 

Insights Greece - Top 12 Things to Do on Patmos Island
Petra Beach

10. Explore the Nunnery of the Annunciation, a convent that started off as a small chapel with a hermitage until 1613 when Nikiphoros, an abbot from the monastery of St. John the Divine, renovated the building and dedicated it to Luke the Evangelist. The nunnery is home to over 40 nuns who always pray for and support their local community. The sisters also grow their own vegetables and herbs, make honey and create Byzantine embroidery called the”spitha” (spark). 

11. Make a note of visiting the gorgeous nearby islets Makronissi, Aspronissi, Tiganakia, Arki, and Marathos that are all visitable by boat. From Skala, boats leave daily for all the isles. They are quite remote but offer good taverns, crystal clear water, and beautiful coves to swim in. 

12. If you are looking for some Greek jewellery, sandals, or art, head to Ivli, Thanos, White Greek Designers Store, Kapopoulos Art Gallery, or Tourlou Art Shop. 

Stay at

Insights Greece - Top 12 Things to Do on Patmos Island
Stay at a historic house by Chora Patmos 360

There are some great accommodation options on the island and for some wonderful villas check out Patmos Eye, for boutique-style hotels head to Petra Hotel Suites to Patmos Aktis Hotel. And the beautiful range of historic houses by Chora Patmos 360 is a wonderful choice that is sure to make your stay here extra special. 

Getting there 

Patmos does not have an airport and is reachable only by an eight-hour ferry boat trip from Piraeus port, which departs Athens about 3 times a week. Patmos is also connected by ferry with Rhodes, Kos, Leros, Lipsi, and Kalymnos. 

17th Century Holy Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi in Sikinos 

The Holy Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi, set on the hill above Kastro, offers a magical view of both the sea and nearly all of Sikinos island. This historical site in the Cyclades was built in 1690 and was a monastery for women. 

For many years, the Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi was the only refuge from pirates raids and has now become one of the main attractions on the island. Although it was abandoned over 150 years ago, it’s now in great condition and the church in the centre is still active. Sitting at the edge of the cliff – 370m above sea level- the Monastery is dedicated to Panagia (Virgin Mary) and the Life Giving Spring. 


Built during the period of piracy that spread after the great Cretan war of 1645-1669 between Venice and Christian allies against the Ottomans, the Monastery has the structure of a fortress: except for the northern side, which is naturally inaccessible. It is surrounded by high walls, with ramparts and embrasures. There were two towers on the southern part, of which only the one to the southeast survives, the south-western part having been reconstructed. 

Insights Greece - 17th Century Holy Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi in Sikinos 

The sole entrance on the west side was protected by such a well-made gate, (local Juniper wood was used, clad in sheets of iron), that according to the stories, a pirate raiding party, had to move cannons all the way up, in order to breach the gate. Of course, the present door is a replacement, but the original has been kept in storage.

The works for its restoration began in 1978 and in 1979 on the day of its celebration it reopened its doors. 


Inside, there is a large paved yard, with a low safety wall running along the precipice, which has a unique view to the northern sea, with the views of Antiparos (the narrow strip of sea separating Paros and Antiparos) directly across; and to the rest of the central and western Cyclades. From the southern part of the Monastery, you can see Sikinos at its widest. Inside you will also find a range of religious artifacts and historical items. If you are there at the right time, you may be greeted by the lovely nun who lives here and is happy to show visitors around. 

Insights Greece - 17th Century Holy Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi in Sikinos 

Holy and Miraculous Icon

The sacred icon of Zoodochos Pigi, which according to the legend came from Paros, is kept in the church of Aghios Vassilis at Chorio and returns to the Monastery once a year for two days of celebrations during the Feast of Zoodochos Pigi, accompanied by all the faithful.

Feast Day of Zoodochos Pigi 

Zoodochos Pigi, Bright Friday, is commemorated on the first Friday after Pascha (Greek Easter). On this day, the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the Life-Giving Spring, a title given to Panagia (Virgin Mary) and an actual miracle-working spring near Constantinople, with an Icon of the same name. The Monastery features a small outdoor spring with the icon of Panagia right above it. 

Thousand of pilgrims arrive in Sikinos during this time to celebrate with a meal at the Monastery on the eve of the Feast Day; and on the day itself, there is a church service, followed by a Panigiri (festival) which includes traditional dishes, music, and dance. 

Visiting the Monastery 

The monastery can be visited during afternoon hours and please keep in mind it’s best to wear comfortable shoes as it requires some effort during the ascent on the cobbled footpath that starts from Kastro. The Monastery remains open to the public during the summer season from June through to September from 6 pm to 8 pm 

Getting there

You can either drive or reach the Monastery by walking up a stairway on the east side of the village. 

A: 840 10 Sikinos 

Ph: +30 22860 51263

Images by Sikinos Travel © (Copyright) 

Cathedral of Agios Andreas in Patras: Greece’s Largest Church

The Cathedral of Agios Andreas (Saint Andrew), the largest church in Greece, is located in the west side of the city centre of Patras. Along with the nearby old church of Saint Andrew, it is a sacred place of pilgrimage for visitors from all over the world, especially on November 30, the Feast Day of Saint Andrew.

Getting there Insights Greece - Cathedral of Agios Andreas in Patras: Greece’s Largest Church

Patras, the modern capital of the Peloponnese and Achaia, is the third largest town in Greece. From Athens, you can get there by car (2.5 hour drive), ferry or bus. There are coach services from Athens KTEL to Patras, which normally take around 4 hours, or a ferry from Piraeus to Patras takes about 3.5 hours.

Protector Saint of Patras

Apostle Andreas is the Protector Saint of Patras. According to tradition, Apostle Andreas, the first student of Jesus Christ, was crucified in this town, on a site near the port. The large church here has been built on the exact spot where Apostle Andrew was crucified.

Apostle Andreas

Insights Greece - Cathedral of Agios Andreas in Patras: Greece’s Largest Church

The first Apostle called by Jesus was Andreas, who had previously been following John the Baptist. Upon encountering Jesus, he became his follower along with his brother Peter. Saint Andreas is renowned for bringing Christianity to Patras, Romania, Ukraine, Scotland and Russia. Agios Andreas is esteemed as an example of humility for the fact that he refused to be crucified on the same type of cross as Christ because he was not worthy. Many countries venerate Andreas as their patron saint including Scotland, Russia, and Romania.

Agios Andreas Cathedral

The neo-Byzantine style cathedral is the largest church in Greece and was completed in 1979. The Cathedral of Saint Andrew also has the largest dome in the Balkans. With Byzantine architecture, it has many arches and a bell tower. The church has a length of 60m, width of 52 m and has a capacity of 7,000 people. Over the central dome there is a 5-metre-long, gold-plated cross and over the other domes, there are 12 smaller crosses. These crosses symbolize Jesus and His apostles. The interior of the church is decorated with Byzantine-style wall paintings and mosaics. The Holy icons of Saint Andrew and of Panagia, the “Source of Life”, are to be found at the end of the nave; there is also an impressive carved wooden chandelier.

Smaller Church

Opposite this church, there is an older church, also dedicated to Agios Andreas, that was built in 1835 and was designed by the famous architect Lysandros Kaftatzoglou. Right next to it, there is a water spring and it is said that this is where Apostle Andrew left his last breath in 66 A.D.

Insights Greece - Cathedral of Agios Andreas in Patras: Greece’s Largest Church

Relics of Agios Andreas

Relics of Apostle Andreas are found in the church and are displayed at the end of the side aisle in a chased gold casket. They consist of the Saint’s small finger, part of the top of the cranium of the Apostle, and small portions of the cross on which he was martyred. The holy skull of the Apostle was sent there from St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome in September 1964.

A: Evmilou 4, Patra 262 22, Greece

Visiting the Miraculous Monastery of Panagia Tsambika in Rhodes

Panagia Tsambika is very dear to my heart. After two years of unsuccessfully trying to fall pregnant, I was told by my Godmother to visit a sacred monastery on the island of Rhodes, which is known to help couples conceive.

Insights Greece - Visiting the Miraculous Monastery of Panagia Tsambika in Rhodes

On a hot 38 degrees day in August of 2011, my husband and I walked up 300 steps to the small monastery, where we said our prayers. As I walked away, I promised myself to keep the faith, trust in Panagia (Virgin Mary), and left it in the hands of God. The second time we visited this holy site was in July of 2013 when we came back to Rhodes to baptise our beautiful little miracle. 


The trip to Tsampika Monastery requires a turn off the main road, which is just a bit before Tsambika Beach. This leads you halfway up a hill where you can park your car (there is a small shop here) and walk up the remaining part. From there you’ll find 300 wide steps (around 500 metres in total) so if you visit during summer, we suggest getting there early or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat. Also, make sure you wear comfortable shoes and carry a bottle of water with you to keep hydrated.

Insights Greece - Visiting the Miraculous Monastery of Panagia Tsambika in Rhodes

When you reach the top, you will discover the tiny Byzantine Monastery dedicated to Panagia Tsambika. It’s perched at an altitude of 240 metres and offers some truly spectacular views of the coast.

The Miracle of the Holy Icon

Centuries ago the icon of Panagia Tsambika was located at the Holy Monastery of Panagia Kykkos in Cyprus. Miraculously, the icon would leave Cyprus and arrive at the mountain Zambiki of the Archangel in Rhodes. On the opposite side, a humble shepherd saw a light shining, so he climbed the mountain and went to see what was there. He was amazed this light came from the icon of Panagia. It was from this point that the icon received its name ‘tsamba’ which in local dialect means ‘spark.’ The locals brought the icon back to the village, but it would leave and return to the spot it was found. After three repeated attempts, they figured it was the will of Panagia to have a church built at this exact spot.

Praying to Panagia Tsambika for Fertility

One of the oldest miracles associated with Panagia Tsambika is tied to a Turkish Pasha whose wife was unable to fall pregnant. Learning of Panagia Tsambika, his wife prayed to her and ate the wick, which burned the fire of the vigil lamp before the holy icon. Soon thereafter she fell pregnant. The Pasha did not believe it and assumed the baby was from another man. When the baby was born, it held within its hand the wick the mother had swallowed. As a thank you, the Pasha gave all his property to the Monastery.

Panagia Tsambika is now visited each year by thousands and thousands of pilgrims from around the world. Most are couples (both Greek and non-Greek) who have struggled to conceive and others praying for family and friends.

Insights Greece - Visiting the Miraculous Monastery of Panagia Tsambika in Rhodes

The Monastery Up Top

It’s not known when the old monastery was founded, but a monk helped reconstruct the site in 1770.

After walking through a small gate, you are able to light a candle before entering an open space featuring a large icon of Panagia Tsambika holding Baby Jesus. The icon is surrounded by small dolls and photos of children- all in honour of those in need of healing. Here you will also find a book where you are able to write prayers and names of family members and friends who you wish to receive a blessing from Panagia Tsambika. Towards the back, there is also a small room adorned with more icons and privacy to pray.

Insights Greece - Visiting the Miraculous Monastery of Panagia Tsambika in Rhodes

The New Church

A bit further out, on the road connecting Archangelos village to Rhodes Town, you will discover a new monastery dedicated to Panagia Tsambika- this also deserves a visit. Featuring many 19th-century religious artifacts, the actual miraculous icon is also kept here for security reasons. It’s also home to a museum and bookstore for those wanting to purchase icons and other ecclesiastical items. Here you can ask for a blessed ribbon and wick that’s given to couples who are trying to conceive.

The Holy Monastery of Panagia Tsambika celebrates its Feast Day on September 8. This is a special day when thousands of pilgrims from Greece and around the world gather to honour the Nativity of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary). 

*For more information you can call the Monastery on: 22440 22340

All images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright)