Panagia Spiliani

The Virgin Mary of the Cave - Moni Spilianis

Useful Information

Location: North of the town Pythagoreon, Island of Samos.
Open: All year daily 9-14:30, 17-20.
Fee: free.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church SubterraneaWater Supply
Light: electric/bring torch
Guided tours:
Address: Monastery of Panagia Spiliani, Pythagorion, 831 03 Samos, Tel: +30-22730-61361.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1836 monastery founded.


The monastery of Panagia Spiliani (The Virgin Mary of the Cave), offers a spectacular view on the ancient ruins of the old town of Pythagoreon and the nearby Turkish coast. It is a branch of the Hozeviotissa monastery of Amorgos. 95 steps lead down into a huge cave with a cave church inside, dedicated to Virgin Mary. It contains an old tile icon called Panagia Kaliarmenissa (the good traveller). This name is explained by the following legend.

One day some strangers stole the icon and took it to their home town. But when unloading the boat, the icon fell into the sea and broke into five pieces. The five pieces were transported by the sea currents, until finally all five were washed to the coast of Samos and discovered by the locals. After all pieces had returned, the icon was restored and put back to its original place in the cave church. Thats why it is called the good traveller.

This cave is not a natural cave, but an abandoned quarry. It was once used to quarry the limestone blocks which were needed to errect the buildings of ancient Pythagoreon and the famous city walls. It was first inhabited by a sort of hermit, the female diviner named Fyto, during Roman times. The church was errected much later and the cave became a religious monument. During the Turkish occupation, the locals used the caves as a hideout for women and children.

The cave has a pool of dripping water called Agiasma which is considered to contain Holy Water. One of the walls features a Christian cross as a relief.