Escape to Heaven

Photos: Dimitris Vranas (A.I.F.)

Paros, like all the Cyclades, is studded with monasteries, smaller or bigger, built in the most beautiful spots of the island. Most of them were founded in the 17th century, a remarkable period for the island from many aspects. One of them is the monastery of Agios Georgios in Langada, Marpissa or Faranga (ravine), as it was called, because of the ravine that lies below the monastery.

It seems that the monastery
was built around 1610-1630 and very soon was renovated and became quite well known thanks to the monks who retired there and especially Saint Arsenios, the patron saint of the island. Saint Arsenios , who lived in the 19th century and marked Paros with his personality, was a deeply pious and educated monk and teacher. They say about him that when he travelled in Paros on his little donkey, he would cover his eyes so as not to distract his soul from prayer and that he performed a miracle and it rained after many months of drought and the island was saved from total devastation.

The road for the monastery starts a little off the village of Marpissa and winds uphill offering at each turn a breathtaking view. Perched on the slope, at an altitude of 310 m, with the lush Farangas (ravine) a little below, the monastery oversees all of eastern Paros, the sea and Naxos across.

Externally it resembles a fortress, with the cells surrounding the central court and the main chapel dedicated to St George. To reach the main entrance we pass under a vault, once inside the courtyard we see the church on our right and the guest room on our left. The doors are low, we have to bend to get through, reminding us of one of the basic virtues of a monk: humbleness. A little further, a few steps lead upstairs to the cells where we can admire the bell tower, the cypress trees and the vast view.

The monastery is a fine example of Cycladic architecture, which was perfectly respected in the recent restoration. Everything here exudes harmony and simplicity. Father Meletios, the only monk of the monastery takes care of it and receives, with simplicity and warmth, the pilgrim, the visitor, the hiker. Whatever the reason was that brings you to Agios Georgios in Marpissa, it is certain that when leaving, you’ll take with you some of the peace and spirituality of the place.