Leros

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LEROS PLACES TO VISIT 

Find all the information about sights and places to visit on Leros

kokinos

Apart from the physical beauty that Leros offers the visitor, there are also plenty of activities for entertainment. There are museums that one can visit (such as the archaeological museum, the folklore museum and the Panagia tou Kastrou museum). There are also many archaeological sights which are of interest, such as the castle above Agia Marina, the old castle with its cyclopean walls, Lakki with its unique architecture and the Italian fortifications ( batteries etc). At Gourna the picturesque little church of Agios Isidoros can be found. At Platanos and Agia Marina there are many neoclassical two storied houses, at Alinta there is the Patriarheio and the Mpeleni Tower which now houses the museum of “ Manolis Isihos”. Churches also worthy of note are Agia Paraskevi and Evagelistria.

The Castle of Leros

the Castle of Leros

From Platanos we go up the steps towards the castle which dominates high on the hill. Crowds of people follow the same route every 15th August to go up and pay their respects to the Panagia tou Kastrou (The Virgin Mary of The Castle).

The Paliokastro
The oldest castle in the history of Leros is the castle of the Lepida (Paliokastro) which is located on the top of the hill above Xirokampos. The church of Panagia, which is found in its interior, was built in the 4th Century A.D. and was later renovated. In its forecourt there is a half destroyed mosaic which has lasted till today. The walls to the north east are cyclopean, according to archaeologists, because the stones are square and each one weighs about 500 kilos.

Agia Kioura
The church of Agia Kioura is located behind the bay of Partheni in a wonderful totally blue, small bay. The idea of painting the icons in it came from Manolis Glezos, Kyriakos Tsakiris and Andonis Karagiannis who were political prisoners at the Army base of Partheni in Leros during the seven year dictatorship of Greece.

The Ministry of Culture declared Agia Kioura a monument for preservation and a work of art.

“Agia Kioura of Partheni
and Virgin of the castle

protect my child

and I will bring you holy bread.

Agia Kioura of Partheni

and my St Katherine

bring me my love

into Agia Marina!”

The Painting of Icons in St Kioura
The idea to paint icons in St Kioura came from Manoli Glezo, Kyriakos Tsakiris and Andonis Karagiannis who were political prisoners in the Army base at Partheni on Leros during the period of 1967 – 1972. The idea was made known to the commander of the base, Mr. Panagiotis Spirakis, who along with his approval of the idea, gained the permission of the Bishop Isidoros. In turn father Meletios suggested the renovation and painting of icons in the country chapel of Agia Kioura or Matrona which were near the army base.

The artistic value of the works
It is a fact that the icon painting in St Kiouras has been characterized as a monument of the resistance of certain intellectuals to the autocratic regime of the Greek dictatorship, through the means of Art. Although no one can deny this characterisation, neither can anyone deny the artistic value of the work. As models for the icons simple men and women were used from Leros, priests and even policemen were used. In this way twenty small and large works of art were created. These icons break away from the traditional Byzantine artistic style. From the start of the work, the Lerians warmly embraced the work of the inmates, trying to support them with material and moral support. The Lerians stance on this was of great significance if we take into account the hard years of dictatorship. In the end the responsibility for the icon painting was given to the artists Kyriakos Tsakiris, Andonis Karagiannis and Takis Tzaneteas. The works lasted eight months ( they were completed in 1970 ), consisting of exhausting work, up to twelve hours a day, constantly under the eye of the three prison guards who supervised the inmates, all under terrible working conditions. The conclusion of the work revealed a true masterpiece of contemporary art. The works distinguish themselves through both their distinct style and unique energy where contemporary man is reflected through the faces of the saints, his pain and his steadfastness, his greatness and his grandeur, as K. Tsakiris himself says. This work of Art has been commended from time to time by intellectual circles in Greece and abroad.

Thanasis Paraponiaris
The facts are taken from the offprint “ The icon painting of Agia Kioura”, in the Lerian News, January 1984

The “Panagia Kavouradaina”
One of the most beautiful churches on our island is the small church The “Panagia Kavouradaina”, at Xirokampos. We have drawn information on how it was built from tradition. One version is the following:

While a fisherman was collecting sea shells among the rocks, he was bitten by a crab. At that precise moment he saw the icon of the Virgin Mary on the rocks. He immediately prayed and soon the wound healed. Witnessing this miracle he picked up the icon and devoutly took it to the village church, telling his compatriots about the event. That same night he had a dream of a woman in black who said to him “you must put me back in exactly the same spot where you found me”. The next morning after searching, the icon was once again found on the same part of the rocks as it had been the previous day. After this it was decided that a small church be built on the same spot as where the icon had been found.

A second version of how the church was built is the following: many years ago two fishermen from Kalymnos set out one day to go fishing. The bad weather however did not allow them to fish for long. When the wind started blowing and the weather got worse they decided to moor at Diapori. So that they would not waste a night’s fishing they decided to fish near the beach with a harpoon to catch an octopus or anything they found in by the light of their fishing lamp. As they looked down to the seabed they discerned a big group of crabs. When they filled their fishing baskets with crabs, and they had prepared to leave, a miracle happened: A piece of wood rose to the surface at the exact spot where they were fishing, although the currents were pushing it behind their boat. They stopped, full of curiosity, and took it out of the water. When they cleaned it, they saw that it was the icon of “Panagia”. They kissed the icon and crossed themselves. In the morning, when they arrived in Kalymnos, they both went home. One taking the basket with the crabs and the other the icon of “Panagia”. He hung it in a corner of his house and left a small olive oil lamp alight next to it. On the third night while the fisherman was sleeping, he saw the “Panagia” in his sleep and she said to him: “Take me to Leros and build me a little church, where you found me. Don’t forget to do it!” When he woke up, the fisherman told his friend and they set off for Leros. They arrived at the rocks of Diapori. They tied up their boat and they went to find Lerian builders to build a church. When it was built they placed the icon of “Panagia” on the wooden iconostasis. A few days later, they returned to Kalymnos satisfied that they had realized the “Panagia’s ” wish. However, three days later the fisherman saw “Panagia” in his sleep, whose eyes were full of pain and with an angry look on her face, saying to him: “My child, you set me up well in my corner. Go back again and build me the church where you found me. I’m waiting for you”. The Kalymnian was at a loss when he arrived in Leros and saw the church demolished. He tried to find the icon of the “Panagia”, unsuccessfully. Disappointed he took the road to Xirokampos. To his great surprise he saw the icon against the rocks a little further away from the demolished church. The fisherman thought that as the “Panagia” wanted that spot to be where her church was, there it must be built. This is how it happened and is still located there, up until today. We celebrate her greatness every year on the 8th of September.