Historic Temples

Coordinates: 36.383413, 25.460033

Church of Episkopi

At the foothills of the mountain of Prophet Elijah, south of the village of Mesa Gonia, is situated one of the most remarkable Byzantine monuments in the Cyclades, the church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, which is known under the name Episkopi Gonias or Panagia Episkopi.

It dated from the end of the 11th century and has been built over the ruins of an Early Christian basilica, parts of which have been incorporated to the Middle Byzantine building. An inscription that survived in the church until at least the beginning of the 18th century, mentioned the name of emperor Alexios Komnenos. It was probably Alexios I, which founded some of the most important churches and monasteries at the Aegean islands in the end of the 11th century, even though it has been proposed that it could be Alexios II who lives at a later date. The church was the seat of the diocese of Thira until 1207, when the Latin invaders expelled the orthodox bishop and converted the church into the seat of the Latin bishop. It returned into Orthodox hands in the 16th century and after many years it became a chapel.

Architecturally, the church is an interesting complex, since there have been made various alterations and additions. It is a cross-in-square church with a dome, with smaller chapels on the northern and southern sides and annexed chapels with domes on a higher level, which are accessible from the roof. They have incorporated numerous architectural members to the building as well as parts from the sculpted decoration of the older basilica, something that makes the church more picturesque, in combination with the white roughcasts that were made later. Its interior is decorated with wall paintings that date from the end of the 11th or the 12th century. Also impressive is the marble screen of the same period, one of the most important works of art, is the icon of the Virgin Mary, which is depicted according to the type of Glykofiloussa (sweet kissing) surrounded by six figures of hierarchs.

At the yard there is a cemetery that dates from the period of the Venetian occupation. The church celebrates on the 15th of August.



end of the 11th century


15 August

Holy Metropolis: 
Archdiocese of Athens

Under the Supervision of: 
Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades

Mesa Gonia

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