Panagia Episkopi

The most important attraction of Exo Gonia village is the Byzantine church of Assumption of Mary, or Panagia Episkopi, and that is why the village is also called Episkopi Gonia. It is the most noteworthy Byzantine monument on the island. Located at Mesa Gonia on the foot of the mountain, Profitis Ilias, it is dedicated to Virgin Mary, it was founded at the end of the 11th century by the Emperor Alexios I Comnenos. It is an inscribed-cross, four-columned church with a dome. Preserved in the interior are wall paintings of excellent quality and a wooden, carved templon (iconostasis), decorated in the technique of mastic wax. There are two stories to why it was built at the end of the 11th century. The first says that an icon of Panagia repeatedly moved from its place on a hillside chapel close by to appear again in a different place. The locals understood this as a sign to build a new church for the icon. Another legend says that the Emperor Alexius I Komnenos was the donator of the church because he passed by on the entire countryside outside the villages of Gonia and Pyrgos to the church. After a traditional, almost completely destroyed inscription, the church replaced the predecessor of a three-aisled early Byzantine basilica at the end of the 11th and the beginning of the 12th century. The church is considered the best example of the traditional ecclesiastical architecture of the island. On the walls of the interiors, various icon stands are lined up. The most famous icon that remained in the church is that of Panagia Glykofilousa, which is kept in a special glass case under controlled conditions on the south side of the central church space. The 12th-century portrait is considered the most valuable icon of the church as it refers to Mary as “Sweet Kissing Madonna.” The icon shows her embracing Jesus, who caresses her chin.

Currently there is no tour available for this attraction. You may contact us or select another tour in Santorini.