Holy Monastery of Panagia Tsampika
The Monastery of Panagia Tsambika is located on the east coast of the island, about 28 km from Rhodes Town. The old monastery is perched on top of a hill some 287 meters (984 ft) high and offers some truly spectacular views of the ocean and the hinterland. The tiny Byzantine church with the wooden-carved iconostasis is dedicated to the Virgin and is famous for the miraculous icon of the Virgin, now housed in the new monastery, near the national road that connects Archangelos with the city of Rhodes. It is not known when the old monastery was founded but it was reconstructed in 1770 by a monk. The Holy Monastery celebrates on September 8. That day many people come from all over the country to pray, light a candle and be blessed.
Centuries ago, the Holy Icon was at the Holy Monastery of Panagia Kykkos in Cyprus. Miraculously, the icon would leave Cyprus and go to the mountain Zambiki of the Archangel in Rhodes. Once, a local shepherd saw a light shining, so he climbed the mountain to see what was there. He was amazed to find out that the light came from the icon of the Virgin Mary. The icon was named after this light (‘tsamba’) which in local dialect means ‘spark’. The villagers took the icon to the village but the icon would always return to the spot it was found. After three unsuccessful attempts to bring the icon into the town, they realized that it was the Virgin’s will to have a church built at this spot.
The monastery is a very popular pilgrimage place among Orthodox Christians but it is also visited by thousands of other people from all over the world, many of whom couples who have struggled to conceive. The legend says that if a childless woman wishing to conceive, walks barefoot up the mountain to pray to the Virgin and she will be blessed with children. If a male child is born to such mother is to be named «Tsampikos» whereas the girl «Tsampika». There are so many women worldwide who have said they have fallen pregnant after visiting Panagia Tsambika and they return to the church to baptize the child.
To visit the old monastery, you have to turn off the main road a few meters before the turn to Tsambika beach. The road leads half the way up on the hill where there is a parking lot. From that point on, you have to walk up 350 steps to the small monastery. If you visit it during summer, you’d better get there very early or late in the afternoon and make sure you wear comfortable shoes and have a bottle of water with you. The new monastery apart the miraculous icon houses a museum and a small store where you can purchase icons and other ecclesiastical items.