Ekatontapiliani is located in the capital of Paros, Parikia. It is one of the most famous sights of the island and attracts thousands of visitors each year, both from abroad and from all over Greece. Ekatontapiliani also known as Katapoliani, is one of the finest, largest and best preserved Christian monument in the country. According to historical sources, Ekatontapyliani church, was built by the Emperor Constantine in the 4th century, to fulfill the promise of his mother, St. Helena.
The name of the church comes from the 99 doors, while the latter, the hundredth, will be revealed when Constantinople turns back in the hands of the Greeks.
Ekatontapiliani has suffered a lot of damage in its long history. One of the first damages happened in the time of Justinian by fire and he was involved in its reconstruction. Severe damages were also caused by the raids in 1537 by Hajredin Barbarossa, in 1666 by Mustafa Kaplan and especially by the great earthquake in 1733. During the church restoration after 1733, many additions were made to strengthen the building, which changed its form making it an important architectural monument. The combination of early Christian, Byzantine and post-Byzantine trends and materials from ancient temples of Paros, like marble, add to Ekatontapiliani another element, in addition to its history, which makes it a major attraction of Paros.
In 1965, the restoration was completed in the form from the time of Justinian, from the academic Anastasios Orlandos. This restoration took six years to complete.
Visiting Ekatontapyliani, you will have the opportunity to admire the whole complex, which consists of the main temple, in which there are the chapels of St. Philip of Saints Anargiri and Saint Theoktisti.
The interior of the main temple is very impressive. There you will find four Corinthian columns, the sacred image of Virgin Mary Ekatontapyliani of the 17th century and several marble sculptures. The dome of the church is colorful and just below it there is a representation of cherubim Seraphim, similar to the Hagia Sophia frescoes.
Apart from the main temple, you will find the Baptistery, the Cathedral of St. Theodosia, the chapel of Saint Dimitrios and the Basilica of St. Nicholas.
The Baptistery, which lies off the main temple was also built in the 4th century and is considered as one of the best preserved of the Orthodox Church worldwide. The impressive in this part of Ekatontapiliani is the baptismal, made of marble in cruciform.
It is worth knowing that Ekatontapiliani is one of the largest pilgrimages in Greece and the sacred image of Our Lady is the most important pilgrimage image of Cyclades, after the image of the Virgin Mary in Tinos island.
If during your visit to Paros, you do not live in Parikia, it is worth making the trip to see up close this gem of the island. Moreover, you can combine a visit to Ekatontapiliani with one of the nearby beaches (Livadia, Marcello, Aries) and the views of the fantastic sunset. You can also visit other attractions of the capital, such as the Venetian Castle, the Ancient Cemetery or get lost in the alleys, where there are plenty of shops.
The Venetian castle in Parikia is one of the most famous sights of Paros. Known as Fragokastelo, is located on a hilltop and dominates proudly over the island’s capital. The castle was built by Sanudo in the 13th century, who at that time had the title of the Duke of Naxos. For the construction of the castle were used raw materials, various pieces of ancient temples, such as columns, etc. It is worth noting that the castle was built on the ruins of five churches, two of the classical era and three of the ancient times. Among these temples, only a part of the Temple of Athena from the 6th century BC is saved next to which there are ruins of ancient Cycladic settlement. The beauty of this attraction does not end there. In this imposing hill you will admire many small churches, four of which are: Saint Stylianos, St. Anna, St. Mark, the Cross Virgin built in the castle walls.
Do not forget to bring your camera as the view from the hill at Paroikia Bay and the surrounding area is amazing.
This fantastic attraction of Paros is one of the must-places to visit, even if you are not staying in Parikia. After exploring the hill, we recommend a refreshing swim in either the main beach of the capital, or in one of the beaches in the bay opposite Parikia (Marchello, Krios, Agios Fokas). Alternatively, a visit to the central market, to the alleys or a refreshing coffee at one of the seaside cafes, it is always a good choice.
The Venetian fortress in the picturesque port of Naoussa, adds a touch of history in this traditional place. And its a pleasant surprise of the island’s guests.
The fortress was built in the early 14th century. In the 15th century was renovated by Sommaripa, the family that dominated in Paros until 1517.
To reach the ruins of the castle, a greater part of which is now submerged, you have to walk on the wall that protects the port of Naoussa. When strong winds blow, waves crash before the wall and you may get wet. In the picturesque harbor of this seaside village, you will find many taverns and cafes. Also, we suggest you explore through the narrow streets of Naoussa, that is considered one of the most beautiful villages in the Cyclades.
The Butterfly Valley in Paros is la ess popular attraction on the island, but is a unique atrraction of the Cyclades, located five kilometers from Parikia, the capital of Paros, southeast of Parasporos. The Butterfly Valley is a nature reserve with green landscape with olive trees, cypresses, plane trees, ivy and fruit plants. There is also a natural source of water.
The species of butterflies that visit the valley to mate, are Panaxia Quadripunctaria of the Arctiidae family. Their colors are very impressive brown-black with yellowish margins and strips. When flying, they display two red tail feathers. The butterflies are flying only at night. The migration to the valley in Paros starts in mid June and ends in August, where they remain until the September, when the massive departure happens in search of a suitable place to give birth to the eggs. The mature butterflies in the middle of next June, come to the Valley of the Butterflies in Paros to mate and the cycle repeats.
Butterflies, save energy fueling up in the winter and store fat for the summer months, staying during the day.
It is very important that the visitors of the Valley of the Butterflies, to understand how important is the privacy during their tour. The butterflies can scare and fly, thus consuming the stored energy, which is necessary for them to reproduce.
The region of Butterfly Valley has other interesting attractions such as a Byzantine watermill, the Alisafidon Tower, the church of Saint Arsenios and the Monastery of Transfiguration.
The Environmental Park of Paros is located on the peninsula of St. John Deti in Naoussa Bay and occupies an area of 800 acres. It is a place that fuctions in the frame of alternative tourism. In the area of the Environmental Park of Paros there are beaches and one of them has a water sports center, a cafeteria, an auditorium of 700 seats, network of paths of 7klm length, a museum and parking.
Here various cultural events are organized, such as theatrical performances, festivals, sports activities etc.
The Environmental Park has three beaches. The Monastery beach is the most famous beach. It is protected from winds and waves, situated in a narrow bay. There you will find umbrellas and sun beds as well as the Beach Caffe Park. The beach is sandy and shallow, so it is suitable for children. At the Monastery operates a water sports center.
The two other beaches are Perikopetra and Tourkou or Ammos. The philosophy of these beaches is completely different from the Monastery beach. Both are unorganized and isolated. The serenity and the sense of beauty is the memories with which you leave, if you visit them. To get to these two beaches, you must follow the path from the Monastery, it is very easy and will not get lost.
At the site of the Environmental Park of Paros, you will find four paths: Monastery-Alonaki-Lighthouse of Cora 1920 meters length, Κatholiκo beach-Faros 1050 meters length, Katholiko beach – Perikopetra Tourkou-Ammos 900 meters length and the Tourkou or Ammos -Almyros, 1500 meters long. All paths are very well marked.
In the museum of the park, in the cells of the monks of St. John Deti, you can admire the permanent exhibition “Paros through Russian Cartography 1770-1774”.
There are two ways to get to Paros Environmental Park. One through the road leading to Kolimpithres Beach and continuing to the peninsula and the second and most delectable, by traditional boat from the port of Naoussa, from which there are regular routes.
The cave of Antiparos is not only one of the most impressive sights of the island of Paros, but also of the Cyclades. The impressive entrance to the cave is 170 m above the sea level. There welcomes you the picturesque chapel of St. John, which communicates with an even smaller, that of Zoodochos Pigi. The chapel of the Zoodochos Pigi is the oldest and was built before about 350 years. At the entrance to this attraction, a huge stalagmite welcomes you. It is called Huge Central Column and it is the oldest in Europe.
The cave of Antiparos has an area of 5,600 square meters and a depth of 85 m. The inside of the cave temperature is stable at approximately 15 degrees Celsius.
This area, full of stalactites and stalagmites, is known by locals as “Shelter”, because since ancient times to the twentieth century, it was the vanishing point during wars.
The cave consists of three halls. The first room called “chamber of stone waterfalls” is rich of stalactites and stalagmites, which resemble waterfalls.
The second room is the richest and the most impressive. It is located 85 m. from the entrance of the cave and is called “chamber of the cathedral.” Here in Christmas of 1673 took place the service by Marquis de Douanel. On the right side of the hall, you will see a large number of white stalagmites and stalactites that resemble chandeliers hanging from the ceiling of the cave. Also, in this room there is the well-known formation of “Black Waterfall” and “Altar” stalagmites. At the same level, there is a small room, called “the chasm Hall” (considered part of the second) in which you can admire the stalagmite called “Umbrella”.
The third and last room is called “Royal”. This name comes from the inscription engraved by King Otto and Queen Amalia.
It is noteworthy, that the imformation about human presence in the cave travel back in times of the Stone Age.
The cave is open to visitors from April to October, from 10:00 to 18:00. The ticket costs 5€ and children have 50% discount. It is important that every visitor to come to terms with the rules for their safety and the maintenance of the attraction. You must also know that because of the high level of humidity, access is denied to people who have heart and breathing problems.
The Cave of the Nymphs is practically one of the three entrances, the south, of the ancient quarry of Paros. The quarry is near the village Marathi (please see the map).
The Parian marble was mined here since ancient times to 1881 and is among the best in the world. Investigations showed that the transparency, ie the depth at which the light reaches, reaches 7 cm. To have a comparison, it is worth knowing that the marble from the quarries of Penteli has a transparency to 1.5 cm.
The marble of the Cave of the Nymphs was exported not only throughout Greece but also abroad. It was used for the construction of the Parthenon, for the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, the temple of Apollo at Delos, the ancient agora in Athens etc. This marble was also known in Venice and Istanbul where it was used for the construction of the monastery of Vlacherna.
The marble of Paros was the raw material for local sculptors, such as Scopas the Parian and Agorakritos. The most famous works made of marble exiled from the Cave of the Nymphs and the quarry of Marathi is the Venus de Milo, the Nike of Samothrace, the Paionios Nike etc.
The galleries of the quarry of Paros have a total length of 190 m. The Cave of the Nymphs is the largest,the most impressive and most secure. If you decide to explore, be sure to have a flashlight. The galleries are exposed to nature thus should be especially careful.
If after your visit to the Cave of the Nymphs want to continue to discover Paros, you can continue on the same road and head south to the mountainous village of Lefkes. Then you can reach the quiet beach of Molos or Kalogeros on the eastern coast of Paros. There you will enjoy your bath with a view to Naxos, without disturbed by waves caused by summer winds.
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