Churches & Monasteries

Greece is a profoundly religious country with over 90% of the Greek population being of the Christian Orthodox religion.  The Greek Orthodox church is the descendant of the ancient Great Church which formulated Orthodox Christian doctrine.  This was centred on the five ancient Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome and Constantinopole.  In time, the Byzantine Greek city of Constantinople became the centre of faith of this Great Church.  Today, the leader of the National Church of Greece is the Archbishop of Athens, who oversees all religious matters in central and southern Greece, including Argolida.

Saint Paul preached in many parts of Greece between 49 and 61 AD, including ancient Corinth, and this is where the first Christian church in Greece was founded.  Since then, most churches and monasteries on the mainland have been constructed in the Byzantine style.  Ermioni, and the surrounding Ermionida area, has many impressive churches and monasteries from the Byzantine period, some from the early 9th Century AD.  You will be made welcome to look around the churches by the priests and congregation, even during service, to admire the beautifully painted interiors, frescos and icons.  Many unoccupied churches and monasteries are usually left unlocked for local residents and visitors to enter. Please dress discreetly when visiting any place of religious worship.  Icon of Aghia Ermioni

 

MONASTERY OF AVGOU - Distance from Ermioni: 40 kms/1 hour

If you are adventurous and want to explore somewhere off the beaten track, with spectacular scenery, then the Monastery of Aghios Dimitriou Avgou (of the egg), is a must.  A perfect example of a rock monastery, which is built into the imposing rocks of the surrounding countryside, it is truly amazing.  Situated after the village of Pelei, this Byzantine monastery is perched on a steep rock on the northern side of Mount Didyma, by the Charadrokoilada Radou river, beyond the small settlement of Pelei, which is just off the main Ermioni to Epidavros road.  It was originally built in the mid 11th Century, but closed down in 1883, when King Othon passed a series of anti-church measures.  The surviving frescoes in the small cave, east of the central rock date back to the 11th Century.  There is on-going renovation work within the abandoned monastery by the people of Didyma, and it now has an electricity supply.  However, this has led to the monastery being locked to visitors for most of the time.  If you do get access, the view of the valley from the top floor roof is truly amazing.   Please be aware that the last 7 kms, after you pass through the village of Pelei from the main road, is travelled over a rough small stone secondary road, unsuitable for vehicles with low ground cleareance.  Some people may choose to walk the last 200 metre distance, or drive very slowly over the larger rough stones and leave your transport at the monastery car-park, where there is an official sign.  You will have to walk the remaining 250 metres down to the store house and monastery.  Take water with you (or even a picnic) and wear sensible footwear, however, the inconvenience is well worth the trouble.

 

MONASTERY OF AGIOI ANARGYROI - Distance from Ermioni: 5 kms/8 mins

Along the western coastal road, towards Kouverta, is a typical example of Byzantine monastic architecture, with impressive wall paintings and a number of Byzantine icons.  The library of the monastery has a  wonderful collection of old and very rare hand-written books.  The monastery is also famous for its hot water springs, as it is situated on the remnants of an ancient temple dedicated to Asclepios, with a healing fountain that still flows today.  According to some, the monastery was built during the 11th Century, around the small church of Panaghia built in the 9th Century, whilst others seem to suggest that it was built by Emperor Ioannis VI in 1340. Today this monastery is open most mornings for visitors to explore and pray.  Every year on the 30th June, in the evening, thousands of people from all over Greece visit the monastery.  The road to the monastery is lined with many market stalls, when you reach the top of the road you can buy your candle and enter the monastery.  Water is essential, as it gets extremely hot and crowded.  The service goes on throughout the night.  On 1st July, each year, a church service and blessing is held in the monastery, in honour of the Agioi Anargyroi festival.  Anargyroi became a centre for horse and animal treatment many years ago, before the age of the automobile, and many horses and their riders enter the monastery in tribute, in the late morning, to be given a blessing by the priest.  To get to the monastery you can either walk from Ermioni or drive along the coastal road towards Petrothalassa, until you see a small chapel on the right hand side.  From the adjacent roundabout, the monastery is only 1.5 kms away.

  

CHURCH OF AGIOI TAXIARCHES - Distance from Ermioni: 400m/5 mins walk

Situated in the old village of Ermioni, is the Metropolis of Ermioni, a historic Byzantine church of Agioi Taxiarches (Archangels) that originally dates back to the 9th Century, and reconstructed in the 13th Century.  The church is located on the crest of the hill, just above the Ermioni museum, on the same grounds where the ancient Temple of Demeter originally stood, Demeter was the ancient goddess of agricultural fertility.  The temple, and later the original church, was originally surrounded by large Mycenaean walls, with some large stones still in situ on the northern side of the church. The church was enlarged in the mid 17th Century, to the size that one sees today.  A recent restoration programme that exposed the original Medieval stonework was completed in 2016.  It was in this church that the proxies of the Third National Assembly of Independent Greece took their oath in 1827,  following a meeting at the Economou Residence, which today is the Ermioni Museum of  History and  Folklore.  The church is the starting point for many of the celebrations and festivals throughout the year, where the proccessions wind their way down to the war monument at the Limani plateia, and back for blessings.  The church plays host to the annual festivals of the Epiphany (6th January), Independence Day (25th March), 'Ohi' Day (28th October) and Taxiarches Day (8th November).  The present resident priest is Papa Yiannis. 

 

CHURCH OF PANAGHIA - Distance from Ermioni: 425m/5 mins walk

The church of Panaghia (Holy Virgin) is located only 60 metres from the church of Taxiarches in the old village of Ermioni.  It is a much more younger building, constructed and first consecrated in 1920, with a really beautiful traditional interior.  This Orthodox church is the focus of the festival of Dormition/Assumption on the 14th & 15th August.   A mass on the evening of the 14th is followed by a candle-lit evening proccession making its way down to the war memorial at the Limani port plateia, and back for blessings, with holy bread being distributed by the local priests to the numerous congragation.  The next morning there is mass from 08:00 and then the congregation depart to celebrate their holy day.  There is a friendly rivalry between the two churches for many of the religious festivals.  The present resident priest is Papa Dimitris. 

 

CHURCH OF PROPHET ELIAS - Distance from Ermioni: 7.5 kms/15 mins

On the 20th July, the feast of Prophet Elias is celebrated annualy at this small church, situated on a hillside, overlooking Blanket beach and the bay at Kouverta.  Bread, coffee and cakes are given out by the patron Orthodox priest and his family, who lovingly prepare the church and reception area each year for this feast day.  Although the church is small, there is a charming warmth about the place, and the view of the bay from the church grounds is wonderful.  You may have to leave your car at the bottom of the hill leading up to this small church, and walk the last 200 metres.  It's best to visit in the mid to late morning period.  The Prophet Elias (also known as Elijah) was one of the greatest and most holiest prophets of the Old Testament.  He lived in the 9th Century BC, during the reign of the sinful King Ahab, king of Israel, and his evil wife Jezebel. 

 

CHURCH OF AGHIA ERMIONI - Distance from Ermioni: 1.5 kms/4 mins or 15 mins walk

Walk up to the top of Pronos Hill and enjoy some spectacular scenery of Ermioni and the surrounding mountains, hills, countryside and sea.  This beautiful church, built in 1754, is situated at the summit, built on the foundations of an ancient temple to the goddess Hera, as this hill area was heavily populated during the Hellenistic and Roman period.  The church is only used for special occassions as weddings and christenings, and celebrates its name day on the 4th September.  See the icon of Aghia Ermioni at the top of this page.  Following the annual Spring Carnival festival, the church is also open on Clean Monday.  This is the day that many of the Ermioni residents make their way up to the hill to fly their kites, sit and talk, and have the opportunity to dance together to the traditional Greek folk music, played in front of the church of Aghia Ermioni. 
 

 

AGNOUNDOS MONASTERY - Distance from Ermioni: 64 kms/40 mins

Set in beautiful open countryside, one will find this wonderful 11th Century Byzantine monastery.  Located alongside the main Ermioni to Corinth road, it is well worth stopping and visiting.  A ramp from the parking area takes you through the olive tree gardens to the monastery entrance.  At the entrance there are a couple of small shops, one selling holy relics whereas the other sells various natural foods, all made by the local Orthodox nuns.  The grounds are rustic and offer natural beauty, shade, peace and tranquillity. The holy relics, frescos and icons inside the church of Panaghia are amazing.  Please note that no photo's may be taken inside the church. The resident nuns will put a light on for you, if it is too dark, which will allow you to appreciate the amazing Byzantine artwork. Dress code: no t-shirts or shorts allowed.

                                                                            

Picture Gallery
Monastery of Avgou seen from across the valley Mon. of Avgou - Approach to the rock monastery Mon. of Avgou - Panoramic countryside with the store house Mon. of Avgou - A time to light a candle in the chapel Mon. of Avgou - The roof-top fresco of Agios Dimitrios Mon. of Avgou - Wonderful valley view from the roof-top Mon. of Avgou - Impressive entrance to the rock monastery Mon. of Avgou - Directions from the village of Pelei 11th Cen. Byzantine Monastery of Anargyroi - Ermioni Mon. of Anargyroi - Main entrance to the monastery and church Mon. of Anargyroi - Walkway leading to the Monastery courtyard Mon. of Anargyroi - The interior courtyard Mon. of Anargyroi - The administration offices Mon. of Anargyroi - Church bell-tower and courtyard Mon. of Anargyroi - Early 9th Cen. Panaghia church alter Mon. of Anargyroi - A nun going about her religious duties Agioi Taxiarches - 9th Cen. Byzantine church of Ermioni  Agioi Taxiarches - Beautiful interior of the 'Archangels' church Agioi Taxiarches - Restored exterior completed in 2016 Church of Panaghia - Located in the old village - Ermioni Church of Panaghia (Holy Virgin) - Beautiful church interior Church of Panaghia - A Metropolitan service within Panaghia Church of Prophet Elias - Near Kouverta - Ermioni Church of Prophet Elias - Colouful interior - near Kouverta Aghia Kiriaki church near Aghia Ermioni - on Pronos hill Aghia Ermioni - Mid-18th Century church on Pronos Hill Aghia Ermioni - Mid-18th Century church interior - Pronos Hill Aghios Gerasimos on Krothi Hill - Ermioni in the background Aghios Nikolaos - On the Bisti peninsula - Ermioni Aghios Yiannis - By the Bisti peninsula - Ermioni Small coastal chapel on the way to the Monastery of Anargyroi Marias' countyside church - near Ermioni Agnoundos Monastery - 11th Century Byzantine monastery Agnoundos Monastery - On the main Ermioni-Corinth road Agnoundos Monastery - Entrance to the church of Panaghia Agnoundos Monastery - Courtyard fountain  Agnoundos Monastery - Steps leading to upper dormitories Agnoundos Monastery - Tranquil dormitory courtyard Agnoundos Monastery - Arched entrance to storerooms Agnoundos Monastery - Photo's of church interior are forbidden