Panagia Ekatontapiliani is a church found on the Greek island of Paros and it was constructed in the 4th century CE. It is one of the most significant churches in Greece and it is one of the best preserved. The name Panagia Ekatontapiliani translates to 100 doors although the church does not have the said 100 doors, gates, or any other form of passageways. However, some myths surround how the name came to be adopted with most of them relating to some form of tragedy that befell the people involved in its early construction. The most plausible origin might be a deliberate modification of Katapoliani or the Lower Town Church, since this particular church is found close to the sea occupying the lower part of Parikia, the town close to Paros.
Panagia Ekatontapiliani has a long history of the Greek Christians, and the church has therefore been meticulously preserved to tell the same story it did years ago. The church attributes its founding to St. Helena, the mother of Constantine the great Roman Emperor who ruled between 306 and 337 CE. The church was commissioned as a place of worship for St. Helena on her journey to the holy land where she stopped by the island. Years later from 572 to 656 CE, Justinian the Eastern Emperor initiated further construction on the site where the church stands to date.
Arches and Domes
The magnificent 4th-century church is an architectural marvel. The exterior part on your way towards the entrance is adorned with pots of basil. Its interior is made of windows, arches, and domes of varying sizes. The church is a combination of one main chapel surrounded by two others as well as a baptistery. The main chapel is a sight to behold with its marble pillars that paid homage to Aphrodite the Greek goddess. There certainly appears to be disconnection to the presence of Greek mythology symbols in a church, and this is, one of the reasons the church is a treasure for the people of Paros. The church has been described in some circles as the confluence of Greek tradition and the advent of Christianity.
Tourists visiting the island of Paros would be delighted to see for themselves Panagia Ekatontapiliani. The church is open to visitors all day other places of interest within its compound include a souvenir shop where tourists can purchase replicas of the church. There is also a museum which hosts its special narrative of the church and the period that it dates back to.
Significance of Panagia Ekatontapiliani
The preservation of the church is a combined effort of the locals of the Island of Paros. Efforts to restore it are continuously ongoing to keep the church in good shape for even more generations of locals and tourists to come. As a visitor to Greece, a visit to the church in Paros is one of the many ways to contribute towards these efforts.