The strangest church in the world

Panagia Kakaviotissa is perhaps the only church in the world without a roof. It is located on the beautiful island of Lemnos in the Aegean Sea and was built by the Athonite monks for the icon of the Virgin Mary “The Eternal Rose”.

Panagia and Kakaviotissa, as the church was named after Mount Kakavo on which it is located, is located near the village of Zematas, just 4 km southeast of the port of Mirina, the island’s capital.

According to historians, the church was built in 1300, and ascetic hermits stayed there. In 1305, the church became the property of the monastery of the Great Lavra, when the monks from Ag. Efstratius, who belonged to the monastery, settled in the chapel to protect themselves from Turkish raids.

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Under a stone balcony, the ascetics built a small temple for the monks to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. Years later, the monks passed away, and the latter decided to leave Lemnos and go to Mount Athos. According to legend, before leaving for Athos, he found a local resident from the Mumtzi family, to whom he entrusted the icon of the Virgin Mary “The Eternal Rose”.

The monk asked the shepherd to bring the icon to the temple every Bright Tuesday during a special liturgy. Then, according to popular legend, the ascetic entered the sea, took off his robe, which turned into a boat, and set off for Mount Athos.

Today, a pilgrim who climbed 260 meters above sea level, along a route with a magnificent view of the Mudros Bay, will receive compensation for any inconvenience for the sake of a unique spectacle. A small white chapel with blue doors, full of icons and no roof, a sanctuary for those who want to retire and pray.

A depression in the rock creates a natural hiding place for the ritual. It is only open once a year, on the Tuesday after Easter. On this day, the famous icon “Unfading Rose”, which the descendants of the Mumtzi family keep for the rest of the year, is transported along the stone steps to the church.

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