PANAGIA EKATONTAPYLIANI WITH ITS 99 APPARENT GATES AND 1 HIDDEN

The historical and artistic value of the church makes it a masterpiece, for which there are very few data from historical sources, while many details remain obscure and are known through oral tradition.

The church is located at the center of the port of Paros, in Parikia, and is undoubtedly impressive, extremely well preserved and beautiful. Panagia Ekatontapyliani or Katapoliani, which means the Panagia who is facing the city, holds both its names since the 16th century. In the nave, the eponymous icon dating from the 17th century is the second icon of the Cyclades in votives after the icon of the Panagia of Tinos.

According to the Christian tradition, founders of the church were St. Constantine the Great and his mother St. Helena and the name Ekatontapyliani is attributed to the 99 apparent gates and the 1 which remains hidden until the Greeks conquer again Constantinople, i.e. when the corresponding hidden door located in Hagia Sophia will open. However, the building does not have so many gates but a significant number of arched architectural structures that create the illusion of gates.

The church is a three-aisled basilica that was built by Constantine the Great around the 4th century and is the largest in size early Christian monument in Greece. The building was completed during the reign of Justinian (6th century) and bears composite architectural elements, early Christian, Byzantine and post-Byzantine. The building also has marble elements which indicate the remnants of antiquity found on the spot and became part of the building complex which includes the main church of the Panagia with its three chapels and the Basilica of St. Nicholas, the church of St. Theodosia, the chapel of St. Demetrius, the Baptistery and cells.

If you visit Paros don’t miss visiting the church of Panagia Ekatontapyliani. You will admire the beauty of the building and experience the sense of mystery for this glorious church which is based on oral traditions and not on historical sources.