The Church of Panagia Paraportiani in Mykonos

The Panagia Paraportiani church complex

The Panagia Paraportiani church complex ©Allan_Grey/Flick

Surrounded by boutiques and places, that have made Mykonos the most stylish and sophisticated of the Greek Islands, in the western port city of Hora, before arriving at the Little Venice, you will discover the imposing Church of Panagia Paraportiani, the most popular and photographed of the 400 churches throughout the island. Built 500 years ago, Paraportiani developed from architectural point of view over a period of about two centuries, starting in 1425.

The church is so famous and unique because its actual construction, being actually an accumulation of five churches in one, since there are five chapels on two different levels.

The Church of Panagia Paraportiani in Mykonos

The Church of Panagia Paraportiani in Mykonos ©photographerglen/Flick

Five churches in one

Four small churches were united for the base of the Church of Panagia Paraportiani in Mykonos and a fifth church was placed over them to form the dome that we see today. This can be reached by following an external staircase. The churches that combine with the main one, Panagia (Virgin Mary) include: Agios Sozontas, Agioi Anargyroi, Agia Anastasia and Agios Efstathios. The five churches were not built all at once, but gradually over the centuries. The oldest of them is Agioi Anargyroi, which was built in the early fifteenth century. The other was built in XVI and XVII centuries, and by 1920 the building underwent several renovations.

The fifth church and the ourdoor stairs

The fifth church and the ourdoor stairs ©HBarrison/Flick

The church of the back gate

The name of the church “Paraportiani” derives from the word “porta” which means “door, gate” because in the past it was located at the entrance of an old medieval castle which unfortunately no longer exists. The whole edifice is built in the area known as “Kastro” or the castle area and is the oldest section of the city. In medieval times, the Kastro was surrounded by a stone wall, and “Paraportiani” which in free translation means “inner gate” it is exacly what the Church of Panagia Paraportiani represented in terms of space because it could be found right after the wall guarding the side door in the castle of the city that was ruined many years ago.

The Panagia Paraportiani church complex

The Panagia Paraportiani church complex ©Allan_Grey/Flick

The Church of Panagia Paraportiani in Mykonos is also known as “The Virgin Mary, Our Lady near the back gate,” and in terms of style, the asymmetrical sloping conglomerate of the five whitewashed chapels is truly a unique combination of autochthonous,  traditional, modern and Byzantine architecture. Its position on the headland above the sea highlights this unique architectural combination. Today presents a formidable sight on the cornice above the city and can be seen from miles. Do not miss the opportunity to take a picture of the bright white church on the background of the deep blue sky of the Aegean Sea.

 

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