The Church of the Virgin in Smerna
The church of the Virgin is located east of Lake Kaiafas, at a distance of 5.5 km from Zacharo and 37 km from Pyrgos. Perched on the steep cliffs of Mount Lapitha, at an altitude of 650 meters, between Xirochori (SW), Smerna (NE) and Kotroni, offers stunning views to the Ionian Sea and the plains of Ilia. Due to its endless view, many call it the "balcony of God". The central and northern part of Ilia and a part of the south, all spread right in front. If you climb at the top of the rock where the Fire Brigade watchtower is, then the view is even more amazing.
A narrow path, almost 1000 meters long, followed by some narrow stairs lead to the church. Although, it is not that easy to get there, it is definitely worthwhile. The temple inside the rock is surrounded by dozens of icons, brought as a gift by the pilgrims. The unique atmosphere of the place and the wonderful view are unique. It is believed that the icon of the Virgin Mary was found in the cave by a local shepherd, during the Turkish occupation, thus the cave was later turned into a temple. The church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary - or Panagia Smerniotissa - is one of the most impressive sights in the area.