Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi

Overlooking Sikinos, on the top of the hill above Chora and at the edge of the cliff – 370m above sea level- it is there that the Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi, (means literally: life-giving spring, an attribute of the Holy Virgin), still stands.

In truth, a former convent which was dissolved during the reign of King Otto (1832-1862), up until 2010, where it was in service again. It was built during the period of piracy that spread after the great Cretan war of 1645-1669 between Venice and Christian allies against the Ottomans.

It has the structure of a fortress: except for the northern side, which is naturally inaccessible, it is surrounded by high walls, with ramparts and embrasures. There were two towers on the southern part, of which only the one to the south-east survives, the south-western part having been reconstructed. The sole entrance on the west side was protected by a such well-made gate, (local Juniper wood was used, clad in sheets of iron), that according to the stories, a pirate raiding party, had to move cannons all the way up, in order to breach the gate. Of course, the present door is a replacement, but the original has been kept in storage.

Inside, there is a large paved yard, with a low safety wall running along the precipice, which has a unique view to the northern sea, with the strait of Antiparos (the narrow strip of sea separating Paros and Antiparos) directly across; and to the rest of the central and western Cyclades. From the southern part of the Monastery, one can see Sikinos at its widest. There is a small opening over the fore boarding cliffs on the north-west side, from which the besieged pulled up on ropes those who were left outside, either because they needed them as reinforcement or to simply rescue them, and through which they could also escape.

The sacred icon of Zoodochos Pigi, which according to the legend came from Paros, is kept in the church of Ai Vassilis in Chorio and returns to the Monastery once a year during two days of celebrations, accompanied by all the faithful.

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