Panagia Tourliani Monastery – The Keeper of the Holy Icon of Virgin Mary
The Monstery of Panagia Tourliani is one of the major Mykonos attractions worth visiting, especially if you love sites of significant religious value. Located some 8km from Mykonos Town (aka the Chora) in a region called Ano Mera, Panagia Tourliani counts many centuries from its construction. It owes its existence to the will of two monks of the Panagia Ekatontapyliani monastery of Paros, who wanted to build a church dedicated to the Assumption/Presentation of the Virgin Mary, in 1542. It was not until 1767 when the monastery was restored and became widely known as the Monastery of Panagia Tourliani (translated as Virgin Mary of Tourlos), though, when an icon of Virgin Mary was found floating in the sea in the neighbouring region of Tourlos. From that point onward, Panagia Tourliani is celebrated as the patroness of Mykonos on August 15th. To date, the icon of Virgin Mary is believed to be sacred and miraculous.
Photos Credits: https://mykonostraveller.com/2018/08/14/celebrating-the-15th-of-august-in-mykonos/
The Impressive Cycladic Architecture
The historical monastery creates awe with its spectacular architecture that has probably defined the current lines of traditional Cycladic architecture. Surrounded by an imposing wall, the whitewashed exterior strikes a beautiful contrast with the red-coloured dome. The marble facade in the main church was built in the late 1600s while the prepossessing marble reliefs in the bell tower date back to the early 1800s. The picturesque yard also features an ornate marble fountain with Venetian influences.
The interior of the monastery is equally striking and breath-taking. Besides the various valuable ecclesiastical gems and religious artifacts that are kept in its museum, Panagia Tourliani is alsohome to a majestic altar screen (aka iconostasis) that was made by Florentine artists, in 1775. The charming wood-carved chancel screen depicts saints and apostles, alongside scenes from the New Testament and icons of Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary. As you enter the monastery, expect to be overwhelmed by the intoxicating aroma of the flower-decorated altar screen. Also bearing elements showcasing an Eastern influence, the monastery is home to hanging incense holders that are seen encircled by silver dragons – each one carrying a red egg in their mouth.
At the monastery’s ecclesiastical museum, you will also have the chance to see from holy icons and vestments to embroideries, wood carvings, and the very first bells of Panagia Tourliani.
Joining the Festivities
The first Sunday of Lent signals a religious practice that takes place every year, where the honoured icon of Virgin Mary is processed from the monastery to the church of Agia Kyriaki in Mykonos Town. The icon returns to the Panagia Tourliani monastery on Lazarus Saturday. All this time, the church of Agia Kyriaki is open to the public. So, if you happen to be around during that time of the year, do consider participating in the procession of the holy icon – it is a one-of-a-kind experience.
To further your Mykonos exploration endeavours after visiting Panagia Tourliani, you may also head to the 12th-century Monastery of Paleokastro, which is about one kilometer away, and just as spectacular.