There are a lot of good reasons to go to Mykonos.
You can go for the beaches, as most people certainly do! There’s enough breathtaking beauty just on Mykonos’ coasts to provide for a lifetime of pictures and videos.
You can certainly go for nightlife, as the island is known to host some of the most outrageous parties on the planet.
As far as travel settings go, suffice it to say you could easily do much worse.
Mykonos is one of those remote and exotic locations that have made a reputation catering to every palate. It’s what makes it one of the prime destinations to look for luxury villas for sale, or an ideal spot to rent a house in Greece.
However, not enough is said about one of Mykonos’ other major reason to draw attention from travelers around the world: Its remarkably unique historical places. Capable of transporting you to a different time and place the moment you set foot on them.
The Panagia Tourliani Monastery and the Monastery of Paleokastro are two of such places.
The Village of Ano Mera
The village of Ano Mera sits right in the innermost part of Mykonos, and it’s the second largest settlement on the island after the town of Mykonos itself.
Not exactly what you’d imagine as prime Mykonos real estate, it is, however, a place that many of the island residents call home. Lively even during the winter when seaside resorts lie empty.
A less crowded spot within the island, the village of Ano Mera isn’t readily thought as the touristic destination when people bring up Mykonos. Nevertheless, the town sports its fair share of outstanding restaurants, shops, hotels, and a handful of traditional bakeries that are almost worth the trip themselves.
It’s also a point of interest for anyone looking to remain close to two of Mykonos’ most famous beaches: The lively Kalo Livadi, and the tamer Kalafatis.
Save for the constant buzz of the nearby highway leading to and from Mykonos town, Ano Mera remains one of the few “unspoiled” parts of the island. Ideal for those seeking a more subdued, traditional interaction with the island’s culture and legacy.
Like many other historic towns, life in this village revolves around its marvelous, white-tiled central square. Which acts as a hub for many taverns and souvenirs shops. It is also on this square you’ll find Ano Mera’s most famous ancient structure: The Panagia Tourliani Monastery.
Panagia Tourliani Monastery
Much like some Mykonos’ better known historical spots, the island’s famous windmills, the Panagia Tourliani Monastery offers a unique opportunity for quiet exploration.
Located right at the edge of Ano Mera’s town square, the monastery is a humbling, captivating sight even from a distance.
Panagia Tourliani dates back to the 16th century. Its impressive bell tower and marble fountain founded in 1542 by two monks from Paros island, and then restored in 1767. There is a quiet, yet imposing gravitas to the structure, and its white walls – visible even from a distance – are a sight to behold.
For many years, the monastery had a different name, but after an icon of the Holy Virgin Mary was found on Tourlos, it was renamed to its current moniker. Panagia Tourliani, or “The Holy Tourlos”.
It is open to the public from 09:00 to 13:00 o’clock, and then from 15:30 to 19:00, and visitors are required to dress appropriately for a place of worship.
For those looking to experience first-hand classical art and architecture, it’s is an obligatory stop.
Intricate folk carvings adorn its marble bell tower. Its massive baroque iconostasis (altar screen) dates back to 1775. It was made by a Florentine artist and depicts small, carefully placed icons in the wooden structure of flowers painted in green, red, and gold.
Hanging incense holders display silver molded dragons holding red eggs in their mouths, betraying an eastern artistic influence. In the hall of the monastery, you’ll find an intriguing collection of embroideries, liturgical vestments, and wood carvings.
All in all, a must-visit spot when you pass through the town. That said, Panagia Tourliani isn’t the only monastery accessible from Ano Mera.
The Lesser Known Monastery of Paleokastro
On the opposite hills in Ano Mera, you’ll find the lesser known, yet equally interesting Monastery of Paleokastro.
This one dates back to the 18th century, and it’s a worthy visit if for nothing else than to see the remains of a Byzantine Gizi Castle nearby.
It is the type of structure you might dismiss due to its humble exterior, and that would be a mistake.
Inside, the Monastery of Paleokastro houses an amazing display of Byzantine art, décor, and architecture. An outstanding addition to your schedule when you are in the area.
Whether you are a person of faith, an art and architecture buff, or just someone who enjoys exploring exotic and interesting places, the town of Ano Mera and its monasteries hold plenty of things worth your attention. This location will likely fill you with memories you’ll treasure for as long as you live.
Make sure to contact Mykonos Estates to secure luxury accommodation during your stay in Mykonos.