Panagia Spiliani

Useful Information

Location: Mandraki, Nissyros, Dodecanese.
Open: All year daily.
Fee: free.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church
Light: electric/bring torch
Guided tours:
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1400 a farmer discovered an icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave.
1600 monastery founded.


According to legend, around 1400 a farmer discovered an icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave near the hot springs of Mandraki. He took it to the church of Panagia Potamitisas (The Virgin Mary of the Rivers). The next day the icon was missing, supposedly stolen, but a few days later it was found by locals in a cave on the 30 m high rock. They brought it back to the church of Panagia Potamitisas and again the icon miraculously returned to the cave on the rock. This happened three times until the inhabitants decided to transform the cave into a holy church and leave the icon there. This cave church was called Panagia Spiliani (The Virgin Mary of the Caves), and later the monastery was built above the cave.

The Virgin Mary is the protector of the island Nissyros (aka Nisyros, Nissiros). The monastery is located on the northwestern side of the harbour of Mandraki on a 30 m high rock. 270 steps lead up to the holy cave which still contains the miracle-making icon of the Blessed Virgin. To be exact there are two churches, the north church is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin and the south church is dedicated to St Haralambos.