Chapels & churches of Alonnisos
Chapels & churches of Alonnisos
In contrast to the Cyclades with its countless churches and chapels, in Alonissos there are just a few religious monuments, the majority of which are single-aisled churches with piched roof or small basilicas with low domes.
Even in the settlements, the churches are few and small, a picture that may imply the absence of organized social groups, such as important clans or strong guilds. The smaller settlements had no churches at all - however one comes across a few large and well-kept shrines - and some have very recently acquired a simple chapel offered by a donor.
The most interesting churches of Alonissos in terms of architectural or historic value are the early christian basilica on the Agios Dimitrios beach, the old churches of Chora, the chapel Panagia tou Vounou and the remote chapels of Agii Anargyri and Analipsi.
Finally, apart from the old monastery in Agii Anargyri and the Panagia monastery on Kyra-Panagia Island, there is no monastery on the island.
Agios Dimitrios early christian basilica
Opposite the marshes of Agios Dimitrios, near the same name beach, ruins of an early Byzantine settlement and remains of a basilica of the same period have been identified. Part of the ruins have been recognized as baths, while some more robust walls are considered defensive structures.
A (middle?) aisle of the basilica, supposedly dedicated to Agios Dimistrios, has been excavated recently.
Churches of the Chora
Among the churches of Chora, three interesting stone-built post-Byzantine churches (17th-18th century) stand out - Christos, Agios Athanasios and Agios Georgios, representing the three variants of the single-aisle basilica (domed, wooden-roofed and vaulted).
The church of Evangelistria, as well as the cemetery church of the Dormition of the Virgin, are from the same period.
The church of Christos in the old square of Chora is an imposing, albeit small, single-aisled basilica from the 17th century. It is a cruciform church with a dome, which is completed with a cylindrical drum and covered, like the rest of the roof, with slabs of local schist.
The entrance to the church is on the west side, although there used to be a second entrance on the north side. The church is dedicated to the Nativity of Christ. The wood-carved iconostasis, which depicts the Twelve Apostles, belonged to the church of Agios Nikolaos, an old church of Chora.
The church of Agios Georgios is located on the northern perimeter of the highest zone of the Kastro. It was built during the period of formation of the neighborhood of the Kastro, between the 16th and 17th centuries, as a single-aisled building with a semi-cylindrical dome. The interior walls were decorated with frescoes, which were later covered by plasters. The iconostasis icons belong to the next century.
Like most churches in inhabited castles, this one is dedicated to the pre-eminent military saint of all Christian denominations, Agios (Saint) George, a 3rd century Roman officer who is typically depicted as a horseman slaying the symbolic dragon in front of a high castle.
The church of Agios Athanasios is located at the northern end of the old square of Chora. It is a single-aisled church with a pitched roof supported by a wooden structure. Like the other old churches of Chora, it is a building of the period between the 17th and 18th centuries. The frescoes are from the period of the foundation of the church, while the remarkable icons of the iconostasis are later.
The church of Agios Dimitrios is located near the western entrance of the Kastro, Paraporti. It is also a single-aisled temple with a vaulted roof.
On the southern side of Chora, on the start of the cobblestone alley towards Megalos Mourtias and next to an old public cistern, is the church of Evangelistria, a single-aisled church from the 18th century. The church is kept in excellent condition.
In the place of Agios Nikolaos of Chora there were two smaller churches. The old churches were ruined and then demolished, replaced in 1968 with the present church.
The cemetery of Chora lies to the west of the settlement. The cemetery church, dedicated to the Kimisi Theotokou (the Dormition of the Virgin), is from the 18th-19th centuries period.
Finally, on the tops of the two small hills south of Chora the chapels of Agios Ioannis Prodromos and the Taxiarches (Archangels) can be spotted.
Churches of the villages
The parish church of Patitiri is dedicated to Agia Paraskevi. Between Patitiri and Chora, there is the church of the Agii Apostoli.
The parish church of Votsi is dedicated to Agios Panteleimon.
In Steni Vala, the small church of Agios Konstantinos was built in 1981, while in the neighboring bay, there were already the church of Agios Petros.
Descending by car towards Kalamakia, at the height of Mourteros, we come across the chapel of Agios Nektarios (built in 1976).
In Paleochorafina, next to the road, there is a newer simplistic chapel of Agios Alexandros.
The chapel of Agios Andreas was built in the pine forest above Votsi, while the chapel of Agia Marina is located on the coast between Kalamakia and Agios Dimitrios.
In Gerakas, there only a small church dedicated to Agios Ephrem, in a private estate.
Chapels of the hills
The church of Agii Anargyri is an old church of the cruciform type, with a dome with a low drum. The church was the katholicon of a small monastery, a dependency of the Megisti Lavra monastery on Mount Athos. Remnants of auxiliary buildings, a water gathering facility and a reservoir are visible. The temple was ruined by the earthquake of 1965 and was restored recently.
The church of Panagia tou Vounou is one of the most interesting churches of Alonissos. The single-aisled church was built shortly after 1650, near a spring. It belongs to the cruciform type with a low dome. Both the dome and the roof are covered with slabs of local schist. In the interior, the church has remarkable frescoes and a wooden iconostasis.
The chapel of Metamorfosis Sotira is near the Panagia tou Vounou church.
Agios Konstantinos in Psili Rachi is a small single-aisled building with a roof covered by local schist slabs. It was a point of reference for the vague rural settlements of Megalo Chorafi and Psili Rachi. Near the church there is a double cistern.
The chapel of Prophitis Ilias is located on a small hill, at the southern border of the Vouno area. It is a building of the period from the 18th to the 19th centuries.
Agios Fanourios is located near Prophet Ilias, a newer church in a private land.
The chapel of Analipsi near Gerakas
The chapel of Analipsi is located near the coast, at the northern foot of the Gerakas mountain massif, which is also called Analipsi. It is a single-aisled church of the 17th-18th century, built in a steep and inaccessible area and possibly, housed one or more monks. A half-covered cistern with a tap is preserved next to the building.
Access is by a path from the sea, starting from a small cove on the rocky coastline. The way down from Analipsi peak is rather adventurous.
Text and photos by T. Adamakopoulos
Digital field guide Alonnisos topoguide is available for Android devices as an in-app purchase within the application topoguide Greece. Alonnisos topoguide is a member of the Greek Islands group.
Digital field guide Alonnisos topoguide is also available for iOS (iPhone and iPad) devices as an in-app purchase within the application Topoguide Greece. There also, Alonnisos topoguide is a member of the Greek Islands group.