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My Favourite Planet > English > Europe > Greece > Macedonia > Kavala > gallery
Kavala, Greece Kavala gallery 20 of 29
Church of the Virgin Mary (Panagia), Kavala, Macedonia, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Kavala's Panagia district. Church of the Virgin Mary (Panagia).
The largest church in the Panagia district is known as the Ekklisia Kimisi Theotokou (Ιερός Ναός Κοιμήσεως της Θεοτόκου). Roughly translated, "Kimisis Tis Theotokou" means "falling-asleep" (or Dormition) "of the mother of God", the death of the Virgin Mary (in Greek Παναγία, Panagia, "all holy"); known to Roman Catholics as the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

In the Greek Orthodox Church this event is celebrated on 15th August and is one of Greece's most important public holidays, after Easter and to many here more popular than Christmas. The holy day is usually celebrated with large public parties, music and dancing, particularly in villages.

The present church, also known simply as εκκλησία της Παναγίας, the Church of Panagia, was built in 1965, after the demolition of a much older post-Byzantine church of the 15th century, which was in the form of a three-aisled basilica with a small dome and a tall belltower. This itself replaced a small early Christian church, also dedicated to Kimisi Theotokou, which was the property of the Pantokrator monastery of Mount Athos. It is thought that this earlier church was demolished by the Turks, or it may have been destroyed during one several sieges which Kavala endured.

The Panagia district and peninsula were named after the Virgin Mary and this church after Macedonia gained its independence from Turkey in 1912.

It may now seem criminal that the 15th century church was demolished to make way for this modern building, however, during the 1960s attitudes to history and preservation were quite different. At this time old buildings were being demolished all over Europe in the name of "progress" and "modernity". It seems certain that some people would have considered the old church unsuitable for the requirements of a modern parish, and those who wished to make a statement with a newer, grander place of worship and symbol of Christianity and the new independent Greece. It may also be the case that the old structure was unsound and too expensive to restore and maintain.

At the end of Poulidou, Kavala 65201, opposite the House of Mehmet Ali.

The first church dedicated to the Virgin Mary is thought to have been
the 5th century Aghia Maria (Church of the Virgin) in Ephesus.
  photos and articles:
© David John
Photos, maps and articles: © David John

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