The church of Saint Spyrídon (Ayios Spyridon) in Corfu Town is a must-see site and contains the silver casket of the island’s patron saint.
Always busy with locals and visitors, this church seems surprisingly small considering its importance: it houses the relics of Saint Spyridon, Corfu’s patron saint. It is richly decorated with icons, frescoes, silver and gilt ornaments, and the elaborate coffin of the saint himself.
Born on the island of Cyprus, Saint Spyridon was a shepherd who became a monk and a bishop. He was credited with many miracles before his death in 350 AD. After the fall of Constantinople (now Istanbul) his remains were brought to Corfu in 1456, and a church was built to house them. It was later torn down, and the present church was built in 1590. Its red-domed bell tower is the tallest on the island, a landmark of Corfu Town.
The church’s plain facade belies the ornate interior. It contains a splendid iconostasis, or altar screen, made of white Cycladian marble. Set into its upper panels are scenes of the Annunciation, the Last Supper and the Transfiguration, as well as numerous religious figures.
The stunning ceiling murals depicting scenes from the life of Saint Spyridon were originally painted by Panayiotis Doxaras, master of the Ionian School; they were redone in the mid-19th century after the originals were damaged by damp. There are so many silver chandeliers, candelabras and thuribles (incense burners) that the church is said to contain the greatest weight of silver of any church in Greece, outside Tinos.
Saint Spyridon lies in an elaborate silver casket studded with a dozen enamel medallions, in a tiny chapel to the right of the altar. Hanging above it is a forest of silver thuribles, dangling with little silver ships and votive offerings. Spyridon is the patron saint of sailors, protecting them from shipwrecks and helping them to safe harbour during storms.
The faithful queue up to kiss his coffin and leave notes with prayers for help. Four times a year and on his name day, 12 December, the coffin is opened to expose the saint’s mummified face, under glass. On his feet are embroidered slippers. Each year he receives a new pair, as the old ones are said to show wear from his night-time strolls around town.
On Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday, 11 August and the first Sunday in November, the saint is paraded through town upright in his open casket. The four processions commemorate the four occasions when he saved the island from disasters: once from famine, twice from plague, and once from Turkish invasion. Throughout the year, the brass candle holder outside the church receives a stream of lighted offerings.
Islanders make a huge variety of pies. They roll out sheets of pastry like silk or make fluffy pockets of dough, and fill them with wild greens and delicious cheeses.
A new coffee table book by travel writer Isabella Zambetaki presents the enormous variety and wealth of Crete's handicrafts, past and present.
Read on for the best summer hangouts on charming Tinos, from village cafes and tavernas to spectacular beaches and cultural tours, in one mini guide.
From lush and historical natural sites with jaw-dropping views to shopping, dining and fun activities, this route offers a cornucopia of things to discover.
Even though close to Attica, Kythnos knows how to stay under the radar. This carefree island is the ideal destination for our first summer excursions.
When thinking about summer in Greece, one of the first things that pop into your mind, except for the sandy beaches and turquoise waters, is the unsurpassed sunsets of the Greek islands. Indeed, sunse…
Sun-drenched beaches with crystal-clear waters and fine sand are what Greece is mostly known for all around the world. And, justifiably so, since Greece has a coastline of a whopping 13,676 kilometers…
Summer is already here, and the summer holidays are fast approaching. So, if you plan to enjoy them with your family, it would be great to have some activities planned. As you know, children (and adul…
Greece’s Ministry of Culture announces its decision to make 11 wrecks accessible to divers, under the supervision of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities.
Monemvasia, on the southeastern shores of the Peloponnese, Greece is Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited castle town. Founded in 583 by inhabitants of the mainland seeking refuge from the Slavic an…