Monastery of Taxiarches
Distance from Chora: 9,8 km
Distance from Livadi: 11,4 km
Tel: 22810 51027
Between the junction towards Platis Gialos and the village of Galani, on the north part of Serifos, lies the church of Panagia Ζoodochos Pigi (Life Giving Holy Virgin) with the small cemetery and opposite to it stands the male Monastery of Taxiarches, dedicated to the island’s protectors, the Archangels Gabriel and Michael. Its construction date is placed around the end of the 16th century, but it is said that a smaller church used to exist on the same spot, since the mid-15th century.
According to tradition, a Cypriot boat that left Cyprus in 1570 when the island was occupied by the Turks, arrived in Platis Gialos. On this boat there was an icon of the Archangel (Michael), which the captain donated to the little church. During the same period, cells started building around it, for the monks that decided to live there. That icon, which was considered miraculous, made the small church famous around Cyclades and the rest of Greece and brought wealth, thanks to the tributes and donations that the faithful used to send there. It did not take long for the pirates who pillaged the Aegean to get attracted by the gold and silver, so they began to raid the island more often, targeting the church of Taxiarches. Thus the building was repeatedly damaged, till 1959 when it took its present fortress-like form.
The “castle-monastery” of Taxiarches adopted a fortified design with a high surrounding wall, battlements and observatories for the guards, which unfortunately did not survive till today. The one and only small entry was placed high (almost 4 meters) and a ladder was used for the access, which was removed each time the monastery was attacked. Later the hanging ladder was replaced by a permanent stone staircase. Right over it a crevice was opened, through which the monks could defend themselves, by throwing hot oil to the raiders, as the latter attempted to enter.
As you pass the door-step of the Monastery you will see the vaulted temple, with its vividly colored double-door sharply contrasting the wrinkled facade. Behind the double belfry stands the dome of the church, whitewashed, as the whole Monastery. Its interior was covered with frescoes, much of which was destroyed in the early 20th century, but the perfectly preserved wooden temple still hosts a lot of iconography, pictures of saints and votive offerings. The center of the floor is adorned, since the middle of the 17th century, by a marble slab with the Two-Headed Eagle engraved, a holy symbol of the Byzantine Empire that was adopted by the Orthodox Church.
The temple is surrounded by the various rooms of the Monastery, spread over two levels, such as the abbey, the mutual-teaching school, the library, the laundry, the hand mills, the kitchen and the monks’ cells. Formerly, dozens of monks used to live here, taking care of the Monastery and its lands. By 1950 there were only three – the Archimandrite Makarios Kotsikos being one of them. Some years later, the Archimandrite remained on his own, accompanying the visitors with his hospitality and friendliness, while in the meantime, he was a vicar in Panagia, Galani and Kallitsos.
Before visiting the Monastery make sure to contact the telephone number 22810 51027, in order to check the hours that it is open to the public.